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Posts Tagged ‘Regulation’
March 28th, 2014 at 7:14 pm
The Party of Science Goes Full Luddite
Posted by Troy Senik Print

From The Hill:

The Food and Drug Administration isn’t ready to embrace mandatory labeling regulations for foods made with genetically engineered ingredients, despite an aggressive push from lawmakers and advocates who cite health concerns.

Testifying before a House panel, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told lawmakers this week that the agency remains comfortable with a 1992 policy decision concluding that food made with genetically modified organisms — or GMOs — is not materially different from other products.

“We have not seen evidence of safety risks associated with genetically modified foods,” Hamburg said during a House Appropriations Committee hearing to assess the FDA’s 2015 budget request.

She said the FDA is working on fresh guidance backing a voluntary system for GMO labeling, an approach critics regard as insufficient.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) criticized the FDA’s unwillingness to impose mandatory labeling requirements, saying the action is the least the government can do to give consumers more information about the food on their dinner table.

“It’s beyond me that we can’t have accurate labeling,” Lowey told Hamburg at the hearing. “The labeling can’t hurt anybody but it’s possible that the lack of adequate labeling could, of course.”

Actually, neither of those statements are true. The labels could hurt people and the lack of labeling won’t.

First let’s get some basics out of the way. What qualifies as a “genetically modified organism”? Have a purebred dog in your house? That’s one. A rose bush in your garden? Yep, that too. In essence, any living being that has been bred for certain traits is a genetically modified organism. What the critics are upset with are industrial processes by which companies can cultivate these traits in the lab instead of breeding for them over the course of generations.

So, is there a reason to be concerned? Over to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Gregory Conko, writing in the Washington Examiner earlier this week:

The primary thing that makes genetic engineering unique is the power and precision it gives us to make those changes and then test for safety afterward. It has also given us food that is both safer for our families and better for the environment. Plants with a built-in resistance to chewing insects, for example, have allowed farmers to use millions of gallons less pesticide every year.

Dozens of the world’s most prestigious scientific bodies, including the National Academies of Science, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, have studied genetic engineering for more than 30 years and concluded that such foods are at least as safe as, and often safer than, conventionally bred ones.

The other thing that makes genetically modified plants different is they are subject to intense scrutiny by three different regulatory agencies in the U.S. alone. It takes an average of five to 10 years to develop and test a crop for consumer and environmental safety. This is followed by an additional two to four years of review by the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency. And because most American farmers will not plant genetically modified crops they cannot export to global markets in Europe, Asia and South America, the wait is even longer in order to secure approval overseas.

The regulatory costs alone for testing and getting approval for a genetically modified plant variety average more than $35 million. By the time a new crop makes it to market, its safety has been confirmed by regulators in dozens of countries.

In 30 years of testing and commercial use in more than two dozen countries, genetically modified foods have caused not a single sniffle, sneeze or bellyache. This outstanding safety record is why the FDA does not require blanket labeling of such foods. It does, however, require labeling any time a food differs from its conventional counterpart in a meaningful way – such as a reduction in nutrients, the introduction of an allergen, or even a change in taste or smell.

The science here is overwhelming — and has a decades-long track record. That’s part of what makes the labeling idea such a bad one. Proponents often brush the evidence aside and claim that, even if the produce is safe, consumers should know what’s in their food (though, in many cases, what’s in it is no different with GMOs than organics). But that’s not cost-free. There’s the price, of course, of actually producing the labeling, but the bigger potential cost is the loss of business that would occur if GMO labeling became pervasive.

The point of labeling as a tool of regulation is to increase consumer knowledge. In this area, however, it’s likely that labeling would only fuel ignorance. The public is already poorly informed about GMOs. Mandating they be labeled — which gives the appearance of a warning — would only fuel fears that have no basis in science.

Those who care the most about GMOs are those who are already eating organic foods — foods, it should be noted, that go out of their way to market themselves as an alternative to GMOs. In other words, the market has already solved their problem. There’s no compelling reason — as a matter of science or policy — for them to be allowed to brand the GMOs that feed hundreds of millions of Americans with a scarlet letter just because of their scientific illiteracy.

March 20th, 2014 at 3:48 pm
ObamaCare Rate Hikes Might be THE Issue in 2014

The Hill is reporting that ObamaCare’s politically-motivated delays may come back to bite Democrats this fall.

“[One] insurance official, who hails from a populous state, said his company expects to triple its rates next year on the ObamaCare exchange.” And, “In Iowa, which hosts the first presidential caucus in the nation and has a competitive Senate race this year, rates are expected to rise 100 percent on the exchange and by double digits on the larger, employer-based market,” says the website. (Emphasis added)

The spikes are coming primarily for two reasons. First, the percentage of young and healthy people enrolling for coverage is too low to off-set the cost of care for older and sicker enrollees. Second, insurance companies don’t trust the Obama administration to follow the law.

Delaying parts of ObamaCare that force people to do things they don’t like – such as pay more for less generous plans – feels good politically, but it skewers carefully laid business plans that rely on the government to faithfully apply its own regulations.

After watching the Obama administration change the rules at the eleventh hour this year, insurance companies are hedging their bets by passing the costs of arbitrary regulation onto consumers, starting with next year’s premiums.

The Democrats’ midterm dilemma is really a refusal to engage in delayed gratification. Had the Obama administration stood firm and applied the law as-is, an entire year would have elapsed before the party that passed ObamaCare would be held accountable. By then, people might have grown used to the frustrating parts of the health law, much like they have with the never-ending delays. But now, fiscal reality is staring Democrats in the face. And thanks to their backstabbing of the insurance industry, they have no one to blame but themselves.

February 27th, 2014 at 7:09 pm
Obama Administration Forcing Food Companies to Spend $2 Billion to Change Fonts
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Following on Ashton’s post below, there’s yet another Obama Administration initiative that will reach deep into the pockets of the food industry.

As Politico notes, the FDA is overhauling the labeling requirements for nutritional information on consumer products. The new labeling requirements will more conspicuously display calorie counts, change the definitions of serving sizes, and mandate the description of added sugars. Unsuprisingly, this push is being spearheaded by the First Lady’s office (which invites the question of who empowered Mrs. Obama to do anything in the lawmaking department).

There’s certainly some limited utility to this nutritional information, though I imagine it probably would have emerged (albeit perhaps in a slower fashion) from market demand as Americans became increasingly diet conscious. That said, these changes are incredibly minor. Here, courtesy of Politico, is what the current labels look like by comparison with the new ones:

Current Label

Current Label

Proposed Label

Proposed Label

Now, you may be thinking “What’s the harm?” And that’d be a reasonable response if this was a cost-free exercise. According to the FDA, however the cost to the food industry to make this change will run around $2 billion. That, by the way, is enough to finance about 150,000 lap band surgeries.

It says something remarkable about the Obama Administration’s failure to engage in even the most basic cost/benefit analysis that that would be a less crazy way to tackle this supposed problem.

February 26th, 2014 at 5:29 pm
ObamaCare Menu Regulations Could Decrease Food Options

“Tucked deep in the Affordable Care Act is language requiring all restaurants with at least 20 locations to list nutritional information alongside each and every item on the menu,” writes Peter Doocy at Fox News.

The purpose is to inform customers about the nutritional value of a menu item before ordering.

This regulation hits made-to-order eateries particularly hard, since in practice the restaurant would have to provide customers with things like calorie counts on-the-fly – a nearly impossible task for places like Domino’s where up to “34 million different pizza combinations [are] available at the chain, when all crusts and cheeses and toppings are factored in.”

To make matters worse, the cost of compliance will fall on franchisees; i.e., the small business owners most at risk under the new regulation.

Domino’s and other groups are pushing for a solution that would deem restaurant owners compliant if they provide the nutritional information online or through an app.

But if that fails, it’s easy to see eateries cutting back on menu options and clamping down on substitutions. “Have-it-your-way” may soon become “Talk to the FDA.”

If the proposed nutritional rule goes into effect as-is, Americans can add food to the growing number of health-related choices – including doctors, hospitals and insurance plans – that are being reduced thanks to Obamacare.

February 6th, 2014 at 2:48 pm
An Idle Generation
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Following on Ashton’s post below (many of the themes of which appear in my column for this week), it’s crucial to note that the hazards presented by Obamacare’s incentives for lower-income Americans to stay out of the workforce are compounding a pre-existing problem. As noted by Mark Peters and David Wessel in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

More than one in six men ages 25 to 54, prime working years, don’t have jobs—a total of 10.4 million. Some are looking for jobs; many aren’t…

… The trend has been building for decades, according to government data. In the early 1970s, just 6% of American men ages 25 to 54 were without jobs. By late 2007, it was 13%. In 2009, during the worst of the recession, nearly 20% didn’t have jobs.

To the crisis amongst men, we can add the crisis amongst youth. As noted earlier in the week by Zara Kessler at Bloomberg:

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, 36 percent of the country’s 18- to 31-year-olds were living in their parents’ homes in 2012 — the highest proportion in at least 40 years. That number is inflated because college students residing in dorms were counted as living at home (in addition to those actually living at home while going to school). Still, 16 percent of 25- to 31-year-olds were crashing with mom and pop — up from about 14 percent in 2007 and 10 percent in 1968. In a Pew survey conducted in December 2011, 34 percent of adults aged 25 to 29 said that due to economic conditions they’d moved back home in recent years after having lived on their own.

Every trend line is pointing in the wrong direction. Yes, there are structural issues (technology, offshoring) that complicate the employment picture, but free markets generally resolve such issues given enough time. Markets can’t resolve, however, the pathologies imposed on the economy by government — whether Obamacare’s perverse incentives or the consistently anti-growth policies of the White House.

If nothing changes, the upshot will be the Europeanization of the American economy: fewer workers toiling to support a growing class of government beneficiaries.

Future generations may note the irony of Mitt Romney being so thoroughly pilloried during the 2012 election for his infamous 47 percent comment. While you can quibble with the statistics, the underlying theme is correct: we’re headed towards an economy with fewer makers and more takers. Changing that trajectory will be the responsibility of the next president — and it won’t be an easy one.

January 24th, 2014 at 12:38 pm
Podcast: Is the Government is to Blame for Recent Meningitis Outbreaks?
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Sally Pipes, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Research Institute, discusses how the federal government fumble on the meningitis vaccine Bexsero is partially to blame for outbreaks of bacterial meningitis on college campuses and how other regulatory hurdles in the healthcare arena must be taken down.

Listen to the interview here.

January 21st, 2014 at 7:46 pm
Time to REIN-in State & Local Govt. Too

Steven Hayward is out with a blistering piece on the need to remember that state and local governments can be just as mind-numbingly bureaucratic as the feds.

“A key principle of federalism is that state and local government would resist the centralization of power in Washington, and defend the principle of ruling with and by the consent of the governed,” writes Hayward. “It is time to recognize that this kind of government no longer exists…”

As proof he cites several stories of local cops shutting down kids’ lemonade stands, and county air pollution regulators that make more than the top officials at the federal EPA. One could add to this Santa Monica’s “ban the [plastic] bag” campaign, and any of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s wars on salt and soda, among many others.

And it’s not just in deeply blue states that bureaucrats revel in meddling. The four lemonade stand shut-downs that Hayward spotlighted occurred in Texas, Georgia, Iowa and Wisconsin.

In a nutshell, states and localities have succumbed to a me-too mentality that simply creates mirror images of federal bureaucracy all the way down. In order to justify their existence, each level imposes fines, collects fees and issues regulations – many times at odds with each other. The duels over rule have gotten so pervasive, there’s even a judicial doctrine called “preemption” to help courts sort through competing claims over which gang of regulators gets to control citizens’ lives.

One way to limit any bureaucracy’s social footprint is to make its decisions subject to approval by the legislature that creates it. At the federal level, the REINS Act would require congressional approval before any regulation costing $100 million or more annually goes into effect. Similar efforts, with lower thresholds, could and should be pursued at the state and local level.

Putting state legislators and city council members on the record when it comes to imposing increases to the costs of living will likely reduce the number of increases imposed. After all, if it makes sense at the federal level, why not closer to home?

December 23rd, 2013 at 1:39 pm
Obamacare Enrollment Deadline Extended Again

With the Obama administration fearing a surge of users trying to enroll in an Obamacare exchange insurance plan ahead of the midnight deadline today, government officials and IT contractors extended the cutoff over the weekend without bothering to issue a public notice.

The new deadline is midnight of Christmas Eve.

For those trying to lock-in coverage by January 1st – and thus avoid an IRS penalty – the extension is good news. But for the insurance industry, it’s another unwelcome, unaccountable administrative fiat.

“The extension, said the sources, cannot be overridden by insurance companies if they object to it,” reports National Review Online. “It is the latest of several last-minute, ad hoc rule changes issued by the administration, including last week’s announcement that individuals whose insurance plans were [canceled] may receive an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.”

Until Obamacare is repealed and the federal government is divested of its power to dictate – and change – so many important terms at its whim, volatility in the health insurance market looks like it’s here to stay.

October 4th, 2013 at 7:37 pm
One More Reason to Love the Government Shutdown
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Regardless of what you think of the political strategy at work, the federal shutdown we’ve been enduring over the last few days has been an object lesson in how much government we could cut without ever missing it — as I detail in my column this week. In the piece, I look primarily at the bloat in the federal employment rolls, but today brings some underreported news on another key metric: federal regulations.

Last year, the federal government completed work on 1,172 new regulations (less than 30 percent of the full portfolio it was working on). That comes out to about 23 new regulations every week, many of them with massive price tags attached (57 of last year’s new regs were estimated to have costs of at least $100 million apiece). Thus, this bit of news from The Hill is a pure delight:

The Federal Register is practically dried up due to the ongoing government shutdown. There are only two new rules announced for Monday’s edition, and both of them are relatively minor.

The two rules? One limits the hauls of vermillion snapper that commercial fisherman can take in through the rest of the year; the other sets up a temporary safety zone around a bridge in Texas where the Coast Guard is making repairs. Were that this was the way the Federal Register looked every week.

September 17th, 2013 at 5:47 pm
ObamaCare in Your Bedroom?

The New York Civil Liberties Union and the Goldwater Institute are both warning of dire threats to privacy if ObamaCare’s financial incentives and penalties on doctors aren’t changed soon.

The health law’s ‘reforms’ “aim to turn doctors into government agents, pressuring them financially to ask questions they consider inappropriate and unnecessary, and to violate their Hippocratic Oath to keep patients’ records confidential,” writes Betsy McCaughey in the New York Post.

Topics include asking whether a patient is sexually active, and if so, with what number of partners. Whether a person has same-sex partners is also an area the feds want to know about.

And don’t forget to add in the required questions about a person’s drug history.

Combine this with all the routine yet highly sensitive health information people share with their doctor, and you’ve got the makings for a single-source document that could ruin someone’s life if made public.

To do this, ObamaCare uses financial pressure to compel doctors to participate. Answers go into federally mandated electronic health records. Highly portable, the records can be accessed and shared among regulators.

Resistance won’t be easy.

“Doctors and hospitals who don’t comply with the federal government’s electronic-health-records-requirements forgo incentive payments now; starting in 2015, they’ll face financial penalties from Medicare and Medicaid,” according to McCaughey. “The Department of Health and Human Services has already paid out over $12.7 billion for these incentives.”

And it’s just going to get worse.

Best advice: Try to convince your doctor to keep two sets of books. One that’s real; the other for the Feds.

ObamaCare: Bringing people together in opposition to their government.

August 19th, 2013 at 4:16 pm
The Sprawling Administrative State
Posted by Troy Senik Print

The bad news: government is growing. The worse news: the source of this growth is unelected bureaucrats and tinkerers not directly responsible to American citizens. From Ben Goad and Julian Hattem at The Hill:

… [N]ew federal rules are accumulating faster than outdated ones are removed, resulting in a steady increase in the number of federal mandates.

Data collected by researchers at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center shows that the Code of Federal Regulations, where all rules and regulations are detailed, has ballooned from 71,224 pages in 1975 to 174,545 pages last year.

As that timeline suggests, this is a bipartisan phenomenon. We cannot lay the blame purely at Barack Obama’s feet, though the data seems to indicate he’s first among equals:

To be sure, the explosive growth in federal rule-making did not begin with the Obama White House. The 13,000 rules finalized during the president’s first term, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), were slightly fewer than those published during former President George W. Bush’s first term.

Yet the quantity of federal regulations is increasing by some measures at a quickening pace.

More “major rules,” those with an annual economic impact exceeding $100 million, were enacted in 2010 than in any year dating back to at least 1997, according to the CRS.

And over Obama’s first three years in office, the Code of Federal Regulations increased by 7.4 percent, according to data compiled by the Chamber of Commerce. In comparison, the regulatory code grew by 4.4 percent during Bush’s first term.

As the piece goes on to note, the two oversized blank checks to the administrative state from the Obama years have been Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, two cases in which the law really is, in large measure, whatever the regulators say it is. The actual legislation is little more than scaffolding.

In a just world, this would be a bipartisan concern. Even if one agrees with the policies coming out of the bureaucracy, after all, the price is losing any meaningful leash on government. Liberals, however, long ago made the decision that limiting government would only be important to them on a handful of boutique social issues and any instance involving law enforcement or national security. When it comes to the administrative state — well, they’re getting everything they want without having to dirty their hands with the democratic process. Why alter such a sweet deal?

July 26th, 2013 at 9:25 am
Podcast: The Growing Cost of Overregulation
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Ryan Young, Fellow in Regulatory Studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, discusses the soaring cost of overregulation, CEI’s annual survey of the Federal regulatory state, “Ten Thousand Commandments,” and the government’s biggest offenders.

Listen to the interview here.

July 19th, 2013 at 7:16 pm
The Administrative State: Too Big to Scrutinize
Posted by Troy Senik Print

From Obamacare to the current Gang of Eight immigration bill, the only thing more threatening to consensual government than enormous pieces of legislation is the even larger corpus of rules and regulations that they inevitably breed. Consider this analysis of Dodd-Frank, as reported by The Hill:

Rules implementing the Dodd-Frank financial reform law could fill 28 copies of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, according to a new analysis of the Wall Street overhaul [by the law firm Davis Polk]…

All told, regulators have written 13,789 pages and more than 15 million words to put the law in place, which is equal to 42 words of regulations for every single word of the already hefty law, spanning 848 pages itself.

And if that seems like a lot, keep in mind that by Davis Polk’s estimate, the work implementing the law is just 39 percent complete.

I don’t think you have to be a limited government conservative to realize that government of this scope just can’t work. We no longer have a meaningful legislative branch if members of Congress are only responsible for writing 2 percent of what eventually becomes the law (the easiest 2 percent, it should be noted — it’s in the rules and regs, not the statutes, that oxes really get gored). There will be no one capable of enforcing all of these provisions, nor anyone capable of complying with all of them (though you can bet that they’ll be an army of consultants offering compliance services for a pretty penny).

For the rule of law to mean anything, rules have to be few enough to be digestible and clear enough to be intelligible. That’s also, by the way, a good rule of thumb for creating a legal environment that leads to economic growth. Rulemaking orgies like Dodd-Frank? They take us in precisely the opposite direction.
June 13th, 2013 at 7:01 pm
Pro-Texas Ad Campaign in Anti-Business Blue States

Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry is once again visiting Democratic strongholds in an attempt to lure businesses to relocate to the Lone Star State.

Perry is set to meet with business groups in New York and Connecticut, reports National Public Radio. Previously, Perry extolled his state’s low-tax, light-regulation approach in California and Illinois.

But Perry’s initiative is more than just a series of speeches and photo-ops. His moves are coordinated with the work of TexasOne, a coalition of chambers of commerce and corporations funding a $1 million advertising campaign in the targeted states.

YouTube ads like “Texas is Calling” tout the state’s nine consecutive years ranked #1 for business, hosting the world’s largest medical center and welcoming 1,400 new residents a day.

With states like California, Illinois, New York and Connecticut ranking near the bottom in business-friendly taxes and regulations, it’s no wonder Perry sees an opportunity to let wealth creators in those states know there is an alternative.

May 24th, 2013 at 2:39 pm
Insurance Companies Solicited by Sebelius Now Questioned by Congress

The Hill reports that the plot is thickening as key members of Congress ask 15 insurance companies to turn over any records related to potentially illegal fundraising to support ObamaCare by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The request went to industry giants Aetna, Blue Shield of California, Cigna, Coventry Health Care, H&R Block, HCSC Group, Highmark, Humana, Independence Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente, United Healthcare, WellPoint, America’s Health Insurance Plans, BlueCross BlueShield Association, and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

The controversy first surfaced when the Washington Post confirmed that HHS Secretary Sebelius is personally contacting private members of the health care industry – including insurance providers – to ask that they donate six- to seven-figure sums to Enroll America, a pro-ObamaCare non-profit advocacy group running a national summer and fall ad campaign to promote enrollment in state-based insurance exchanges.

H&R Block, one of the companies contacted by both Sebelius and Congress, has already committed to donating $500,000 to fund Enroll America’s efforts, according to the New York Times.

With its records request, you can bet that Congress wants to know what exactly was said/indicated/promised in the Sebelius-H&R Block conversation, as well as any other communications between top health insurance companies and their chief regulator.

If those requests aren’t honored voluntarily, expect to see subpoenas follow very quickly.

May 2nd, 2013 at 8:06 pm
Obama’s Regulatory Legacy To Date: 131 New Major Regs Totaling $70B

With the first half of President Barack Obama’s regulatory legacy behind us, the folks at Heritage tallied up the cost thus far – 131 new major regulations totaling $70 billion.

Major regulations are those imposing a cost on the economy of at least $100 million or more each year.

In 2012, the two biggest profit-killers were (1) a joint EPA-Dept. of Transportation rule to boost fuel-economy standards that will result in an average new price increase of $1,800.00, and (2) an EPA Utility MACT regulation designed to shut down coal plants by making it cost prohibitive to meet new emissions standards.

On deck are the literally hundreds of regulations spawned by ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Since those are still working their way through the bureaucracy, it’s too early to estimate what their financial impact will be. One this is certain, though; they won’t be cheap.

Get a copy of the entire report, Red Tape Rising, here.

April 20th, 2013 at 9:37 am
Calif.’s High Speed Rail Barrels through another Barrier

This won’t make California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown happy.

On the same day a state court blessed a settlement between Brown’s high-speed rail authority and Central Valley farmers that clears the way to begin construction on a Los Angeles-to-San Francisco bullet train, the federal Surface Transportation Board announced it is claiming jurisdiction over the multi-billion dollar project, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

California officials have filed for an exemption, but that might not be an easy sell since the state has angered environmental activists by seeking exemptions from several state regulations already. I wouldn’t be surprised if the assertion of jurisdiction by STB is the result of some closed door lobbying at the federal level to slow down Brown & Co.’s runaway rail project.

Either way, California taxpayers may get an unexpected ally if STB maintains a presence. Originally approved by voters in 2008 with an advertised price tag of $10 billion, the proposed rail line is now estimated to cost at least $68 billion. If the project is made to comply with the federal versions of state regulations California has exempted itself from, the cost of the program will climb higher still.

Further cost overruns and delays could become California’s version of ObamaCare – an idea with a cost structure too big to work that gives partisans on both sides something to hate.

If conservatives want to make headway in Golden State politics, cheering on the train wreck that is Governor Brown’s high-speed rail boondoggle could be one of the ways to start.

April 5th, 2013 at 3:52 pm
HHS Refuses State Requests for Medicaid Expansion Flexibility

States looking for flexibility under ObamaCare in how to structure and pay for expanding Medicaid can take a hike, according to an analysis by the Heritage Foundation.

States like Arkansas and Indiana have requested waivers from the health reform law’s expansion formula that creates millions of new enrollees at an eventual cost of billions of dollars to states.

The hope was to use existing state-based models like Indiana’s successful health savings account for low-income Hoosiers to increase Medicaid enrollment while retaining cost certainty for state budget writers.

But those hopes were dashed after the federal Department of Health and Human Services released a frequently asked questions (FAQ) sheet that flatly denied any request to deviate from ObamaCare’s one-size-fits-all, open-ended spending commitment for Medicaid.

With this announcement, the Obama administration has definitively articulated its idea of bipartisan reform.  Republican governors who capitulate and get in line are welcomed with open arms.  Those like Indiana’s Mike Pence can take their policy entrepreneurship somewhere else.

April 3rd, 2013 at 7:24 pm
ObamaCare’s Small Business Insurance Exchange Delayed

Fox News is reporting that the implementation of one of the two state-based, federally-regulated health insurance exchanges is being delayed for an entire year (2015 instead of 2014).

The decision applies to the exchange that will be created to let small businesses shop for affordable insurance policies, not the similar and more well-known exchange for individuals and families looking for insurance.

While it would be easy to blame poor planning and bad execution on the part of the federal government, another explanation seems just as likely.

As originally written, ObamaCare contained a so-called “public option” that would have been offered by the federal government on the exchange as competition with private alternatives.  Conservatives opposed the public option because it threatened to undercut private competitors with an artificially low price since the government, unlike a private business, doesn’t have to make a profit.

After a few years of running private businesses out of the market with artificially low prices, conservatives reasoned, the public option would become the only option as more and more consumers opted for a deal that would be too-good-to-be-true.  When that happened, government could claim the market failed, paving the way for a government-run, single-payer health system.

Of course, the public option was stripped out of the final version of ObamaCare.  But the intent to move America toward government-run health care did not.  Since there’s no requirement under the law for small businesses to provide health insurance, many may now stop bothering if the small business exchange is delayed.  That puts their employees on the individual and family exchange, which as estimates are showing, will cost people much more than originally advertised, even including the government subsidy.

With private insurance unable to deliver a product that covers the heightened floor created in ObamaCare that is also affordable for the people required to buy it thanks to the individual mandate, don’t be surprised if activists and policymakers start clamoring for government to declare a market failure and nationalize the system.

Such a scenario may sound far-fetched, but can anyone seriously say that with the Obama Administration in charge that it’s not at least possible?

February 26th, 2013 at 5:03 pm
ObamaCare Burden Tracker

In case you haven’t seen it yet, check out the ObamaCare Burden Tracker (pdf), a summary of 157 rules and regulations that will impose an annual paperwork burden of 127,602,371 hours on the American economy.

The ObamaCare Burden Tracker is a joint project of the House Committees on Ways and Means, Education and Workforce, and Energy and Commerce.

Scrolling through one discovers such things as

  • The new “340B Drug Pricing Program Forms” (#6) will impose an annual paperwork increase of 14,504 hours
  • A new “Medicare Enrollment Application” (#32) will be 70,693 hours
  • Navigating the “Process for Obtaining Waivers of the Annual Limits Requirements of PHS Act Section 2711” (#50) will cost 178,183 hours per year
  • The process to file a “Letter Requesting Waiver of Medicare/Medicaid Enrollment Application Fee; Submission of Fingerprints; Submission of Medicaid Identifying Information; Medicaid Site Visit and Rescreening” (#71) will add a whopping 1,248,082 hours per year
  • Changes to Medicaid eligibility (#77) will mean 21,279,702 new hours
  • The form to get credits for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums (#131) will be 40,189,456 additional hours

There are many, many more.

Though depressing to read, the report is due to a lot of tedious work by hardworking committee staff members.  Because of it, Americans can see just how much economic productivity is being sacrificed in compliance costs.