Archive for June, 2011

  • How Obamacare Threatens Medicaid

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    The so-called “Misery Index” is back and is rivaling that of Carter Administration. Gearing up for his reelection effort, President Obama’s approval ratings are hovering near their lowest points during is presidency. Add to this the fallout from Obamacare, and things aren’t looking good for him or the country.

    As Obamacare implementation marches forward, the focus has been on Medicare. But we should not forget about Medicaid, which is another threat from Obama’s signature law.

    Let’s take a look at two scenarios for Medicaid as Obamacare rolls over the country.

    Medicaid Scenario I

    One very dismal forecast shows that by 2014 most employees will lose their private Employee Sponsored Insurance. Faced with rising costs, many of employers will have no choice but to abandon employer-based health insurance, opting instead to pay the $2,000 penalty as mandated under Obamacare.

    By choosing to pay penalties over providing benefits, employers will save thousands of dollars while unfortunately driving their employees into the welcoming arms of the government. Unable to pay the skyrocketing health insurance premiums, the only option available is the government-run health insurance, or Medicaid. Individuals will have to endure “least common denominator” health care quality while both federal and state governments will struggle to manage the growing financial strain.

    Medicaid Scenario 2

    The Democrats attacked Paul Ryan’s plan to save Medicare by privatizing it with select options. However these same Democrats are creating a scenario that threatens both Medicare and Medicaid. Key to this is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) as mandated in Obamacare. This controversial provision, effective in 2015, creates a 15-member panel to be appointed by the President and accountable to the Department of Health and Human Services. Note that Congress abdicated their oversight role, essentially creating 15 health care Czars!

    The structure of our new health care system: Obamacare

    IPAB will be responsible for decreasing Medicare spending by slashing reimbursements to health care providers. The result will be Medicare reimbursement rates that are lower than Medicaid rates. If doctors today are turning away Medicare patients because of lower reimbursement rates, I predict that soon with the fallout from the IPAB, doctors will not take any Medicare patients.

    It is predicted that by 2015 there will be a mandatory requirement for all Nurse Practitioners to have a Doctorate/Nurse Practitioner Degree. The DNP will most likely be the sole prescriber and the one treating patients. A perfect storm is brewing to create a crisis-level health provider shortage as we shove more and more people into Medicaid while health providers run away.

    And what about “RyanCare”, Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to save Medicare? RyanCare proposes to empower seniors to make decisions to control their Medicare dollars and save the Medicare system by controlling costs and avoiding a mass exodus to Medicaid. Democrats don’t want you to have such a say and would rather empower an unaccountable committee of 15 to apply rationing measures and drive seniors to Medicaid with almost no access to doctors.

    If this were a multiple-choice test, I would choose RyanCare over Obamacare and the Democrat’s unaccountable decision-making panels any day.

  • The Rounds: Obamacare sinks; Medicaid battles, and proud new owners of the economy

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    Real Clear Politics’ David Paul Kuhn looks at the prospects for Obamacare in the coming few years and why Obama’s definitive “achievement” is in jeopardy (court battles, legislative prospects), along with his legacy. We can only hope.

    In the New York Post, Betsy McCaughey explains how Obamacare is destroying our privacy with a new national health database:

    Section 1311 of the Obama health law says that private health plans can pay only doctors who implement whatever the federal government dictates to improve “quality.” This is the first time the federal government has asserted a broad power to control how doctors treat privately insured patients.

    In The Washington Post, George Will calls Obamacare a “travesty of constitutional lawmaking”.

    The point of [Obamacare] is cost containment. This supposedly depends on the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB, which is a perfect expression of the progressive mind, is to be composed of 15 presidential appointees empowered to reduce Medicare spending — which is 13 percent of federal spending — to certain stipulated targets. IPAB is to do this by making “proposals” or “recommendations” to limit costs by limiting reimbursements to doctors. This, inevitably, will limit available treatments — and access to care when physicians leave the Medicare system.

    Shikha Dalmia looks at the numbers to compare Obamacare with Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposal and comes to the following conclusion:

    ObamaCare is the worst thing that could happen to seniors in their old age; inaction is the next and RyanCare is the least bad. As a senior in the making, if those were my only options, I would ignore Democratic demagoguery and take RyanCare in a heartbeat. ObamaCare, however, I’d avoid like the plague.

    Obamacare continues to sink in the court of public opinion. Keith Koffler points to a new Rasmussen poll:

    The survey of likely voters finds that 54 percent at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law while 35 percent are at least somewhat opposed. And the passion is with the opponents. Some 41 percent strongly favor appeal compared to 28 percent strongly oppose it…. Obamacare remains a political weakness for Obama, and not one he is likely to solve before Election Day.

    This week, 29 GOP governors joined together to call for relaxation of federal rules on Medicaid spending.

    Across the country, governors are concerned about the burgeoning cost of Medicaid, which in fiscal 2010 consumed nearly 22 percent of state budgets, according the National Association of State Budget Officers. That’s larger than what states spent on K-12 public schools.

    More on Medicare: Politico reports that Senate Democrats are having a tough time resisting GOP efforts to reform and save the program.

    Economist Lawrence B. Lindsey does a great job in the Weekly Standard explaining the financial straightjacket America finds itself in.

    Right now, thanks in large part to Federal Reserve policy, Uncle Sam can borrow at an average cost of just 2.5 percent. The average borrowing cost over the last three decades was 5.7 percent. Our debt is now $14 trillion and scheduled to grow to $25 trillion by the end of the decade. If interest rates normalize over that period, the added interest costs in 2021 alone will be $800 billion—more than 20 times the mere $37 billion in budget cuts that tore up Congress in March… we are stuck in a world in which the Fed must keep rates artificially low in order to prevent a budget disaster.

    Read Lindsey’s full article, where he deftly dissects the structural issues with Medicare and Medicaid.

    Patrick Buchanan likens the Obama Administration’s position to that of France early in World War II when the Germans smashed their initial defenses and had no reserves to call upon:

    The Obama administration… has drawn and played all its cards: the $800 billion stimulus bill, three straight deficits averaging $1.4 trillion, the Federal Reserve’s mass purchases of bad paper from the world’s banks, and QE2, the monthly purchase of $100 billion in Treasury bills that ends June 30. Yet, from the numbers that came in from May, Obama looks to be holding a losing hand. The anemic growth of the first quarter of 2011 seems to have stalled, and the prospect of a double-dip recession looms.

    About one of those cards played, President Obama chuckled that “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected” when asked about the anemic results of all his economic stimulus initiatives.

    And when DNC chief and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz stated that the Democrats now “own the economy”, Investors Business Daily agrees, and it doesn’t look good for the President or his party.

    Let’s face it. Obama and the Democrats own this economy and the destruction of our great health care system. They own the blame. The misinformed that voted for him are “on to him”. Even his once solid base is turning on him. Is there any question why our economy isn’t improving?

  • What a week in Washington

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    It has been a challenge this week sorting through all the news about the disgraceful behavior of another politician gone morally amok. This behavior is happening too often, creating unacceptable distractions from real issues. You know their names.

    Looking towards 2012, the GOP is getting down to business. Their leading man thus far, Mitt Romney, is holding his frontrunner position with 23% in the polls. He continues to stay on message, has the campaign organization, plenty of cash and a solid understanding of the current woes and dangers posed by our teetering economy.

    Leading, but with one big problem.

    The biggest thorn in Romney’s side is also the most difficult for him to extract: “Romneycare”, the prototype for President Obama’s national healthcare overhaul disaster. Romney simply can’t get around this since stating firmly that he has no regrets and he’d do it all over again, even with Massachusetts now grappling with its destructive consequences. Romneycare, and to a much larger extent Obamacare, are creating intractable problems for business and the health care industry while accelerating the downward spiral of this country.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • The Rounds: Rep. Ryan Exposes Mediscare, Unconventional Wisdom and a Tale of Two States

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    As the 2012 campaign for the White House and Congress heats up, health care has moved to the forefront once again, along with the typical “Mediscare” tactics which I previously discussed. Rep. Paul Ryan, the architect of the GOP’s “Roadmap” budget, rightfully and effectively exposes the latest round of Mediscare attacks, using independent analyses from Politifact, Factcheck, and even the Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog. Read Ryan’s piece here.

    The conventional wisdom, especially after the GOP’s loss in the special election in New York’s 26th district, is that Rep. Ryan’s plan to save Medicare will be a political liability for the GOP in 2012. The Weekly Standard has a different take after looking at polling data and correctly pointing out that “Ryan’s plan would preserve Medicare’s sinking ship, keeping it afloat for future generations.”

    The fact is that Ryan and the GOP are the only ones serious about solving our nation’s looming fiscal disaster and saving Medicare. Even the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, while believing this may be a short term political advantage for the Democrats, points out that at least the GOP is serious about proposing plans to save Medicare.

    The problem for Democrats is, if they want to get serious about reforming the entitlement program, they are putting their own necks on the chopping block AND giving up a hugely potent political issue.

    Andrea Tantaros of the New York Daily News has another takeaway from the NY26 special election: The GOP should attack Obamacare more strongly. Rather than spend time defending Rep. Ryan’s “courageous” plan to save Medicare, the GOP must go on the offensive against Obamacare.

    The GOP has a strong case to make, and it should be out there making it. But instead of defending Ryan’s plan, they should be poking holes in Obamacare. Only then will the benefits of their alternative become clear to the American public.

    Read it here.

    On to Obamacare. Ralph R. Reiland of The American Spectator continues to expose the Obamacare waivers handed out to the politically-connected. It helps if you live in Nancy Pelosi’s district.

    I again ask the question: If Obamacare is so great, why the need for any waivers at all?

    What about the prototype for Obamacare? Heartland.org looks at the failure of Romneycare in Massachusetts.

    Taxes, costs, and political interference in medical decisions have all increased, while access to medical care has deteriorated. It’s now apparent Romney did not give Massachusetts universal private health coverage. Instead, he put the state on a glide-path to a single-payer, government monopoly health system—the same path Obamacare now follows at the national level.

    On the rising costs of health care in Massachusetts under Romneycare, Peter Suderman of Reason explores how the state’s explorations in universal, government-mandated care is working out and provides an ominous forecast:

    The Obama administration has explicitly stated on numerous occasions that RomneyCare was the model for the federal overhaul. Given the Bay State’s spiraling costs, it seems more and more likely that, thanks to ObamaCare, we can all expect higher health insurance premiums in our future.

    Finally, last week I looked at California as an example of where America is headed under Obama. Walter Russell Mead has an excellent piece in The American Interest where he concludes California is now a failed state.

    Let there be no mistake: when you produce so many criminals that you can’t afford to lock them up, you are a failed state.  Virtually every important civil institution in society has to fail to get you to this point.  Your homes and houses of worship are failing to build law abiding citizens, much less responsible and informed voters.  Your schools aren’t educating enough of your kids to make an honest living.  Your taxes and policies are so bad that you are driving thousands of businesses away… California used to be the glory of this country, the dream by the sea, the magic state.  Now it produces so many criminals it can’t pay to keep them locked up.