Posts Tagged ‘agencies’

Health Care Reality In Obama’s Hype Hope And Change Era

June 19, 2010

“Yes we can!  Yes we can!” Well, unless you mean we can keep seeing our doctor, as Obama repeatedly promised.  Then it’s, “No, you can’t!  No, you can’t!”

Doctor’s Office Closes Up Shop Without Warning
By AMANDA RAUS
Updated 12:15 AM EDT, Sat, Jun 19, 2010

Laura Wojcik‘s little girl, Elizabeth, is due Saturday. So imagine her surprise when she learned she’d have to find another doctor for the delivery and find one in just one day.

“I was pretty upset because I love going here and everything. They’re good doctors, and then I had to change,” said Wojcik.
A doctor from the Norwich OB-GYN Group will be on call this weekend, but inside the office, the waiting room is empty, and there are no doctors in the exam rooms. The office stopped taking patients Thursday when it decided it could no longer meet the financial demands of running the practice.

“We’ve had a reduction in reimbursement from the state-funded insurances, because the budget situation, things had slowed down, so April, May were very slow, and June continued to be slow,” said Bernadette Grecki, the practice administrator.
Add to that the payments from the largest state-funded insurance provider wouldn’t be arriving till July, and the office says it had no choice but to close.
“It was too much for the doctor. He realized he couldn’t keep funding the practice,” said Grecki.
The group says it is working with other OB-GYN’s in the area to accommodate patients, and the files of pregnant patients who are at 32 weeks or more have already been transferred to Backus Hospital, so doctors will be prepared when the women go into labor.
“We’ll be able to provide them the care that they need, being able to take a look at their medical history, assess any special needs they may have,” said Keith Fontaine, Chief Communications Officer at Backus Hospital.
Even though the office isn’t seeing patients, it will be open for the next three months with staff available to answer any patient questions, give referrals and to make sure patients have access to their records.

I saw the words, “because the budget situation,” and I couldn’t help but think of this:

The 1974 Budget and Impoundment Act requires Congress to pass a budget resolution by May 15 of each year. Congress hasn’t done so yet in 2010. But that isn’t so unusual. Delays are common.

They are usually the result of interparty or intercameral disputes. But this year is different. Congressional Democrats aren’t simply delaying, they’re deliberately refusing to offer a budget until after the November elections. They’re simply choosing to ignore the law.

“Budget situation”?  WHAT BUDGET?!?!?!?

Democrats are running around Congress like the bandits in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre saying, “Budget?  We don’t need no stinking budget!” And of course, like bandits, not needing a budget just allows them to steal more and more of the taxpayers’ money from generations yet uncollected.

In the age of Obama, in the age of pseudo “hope and change,” budgets are irrelevant.  They are practical realities in an era in which neither “practical” nor “reality” have anything to do with anything.

We could talk about where the rubber meets the road.  Only there’s no rubber, and there’s no road.  Just a bunch of meaningless rhetoric and empty demagoguery.

It’s all pretty much just about “Just words” now.  And how dare anyone think that the facts should get in the way of all of Obama’s oratorical gibberish.

Laura Wojick’s situation of suddenly realizing she doesn’t have a doctor just when she needs one most is not a random coincidence.  It is part of a very real pattern of ObamaCare:

You’re losing your plan
ObamaCare’s true face emerges

By SCOTT GOTTLIEB
Posted: June 14, 2010

Late last week saw the first leaks of the administration’s draft regulations for implementing the ObamaCare law — and everything is playing out just as the critics warned.

The 3,000-odd pages of legislation left most of the really important (and controversial) policy decisions to the regulations that government agencies were told to issue once the bill passed. Now that those regs are starting to take shape, it’s clear that the Obama team is using its new power to exert tight control over the payment and delivery of all formerly “private” health insurance.

The ObamaCare law references the Secretary of Health and Human Services almost 2,200 times and uses the phrase “the secretary shall” more than 725. Each reference requires HHS to set new rules on medical care, giving control to an existing federal office or one of 160 new agencies that the bill created.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (who was once the Kansas state-insurance commissioner) has taken to these tasks with zeal. In some circles, she’s now known as the nation’s “insurance regulator in chief.”

She’s starting off by applying new regs to health plans offered by large employers — even though these costly rules were supposedly only going to apply to plans sold in the state insurance “exchanges” that don’t get created until 2014. This twist is spelled out in an 83-page draft of a new regulation that leaked late last week.

Bottom line: Sebelius means to dictate what your insurance plan must look like almost from day one, no matter how you get your coverage.

Indeed, the draft regs envision more than half of all policies having to change within three years — an unmistakable break with President’s Obama’s oft-repeated promise, “If people like their insurance, they will be able to keep it.”

Yet that may be the least of the broken promises.

Ultimately, these rules force consumers to buy one of just four health policies — which vary mostly only by trading off higher co-payments for lower premiums, while offering essentially the same actual benefits. In arguing for passage of the law, ObamaCare’s defenders claimed the rules were aimed at health plans sold in the “exchanges.”  Oops: Now Sebelius is applying them to employer plans.  Eventually, this would force all but the very wealthiest Americans into a single government-designed insurance scheme.

This is far from the only area where Secretary Sebelius is exploiting the law’s fuzzy language to tighten her control over the private insurance market.  In recent weeks, she has said that the new law gives her authority to review and even set the rates on health policies sold in private markets, a role previously left to state insurance regulators.

The ObamaCare bills were written to paper over an intellectual divide between White House economists and HHS policy wonks. Some economists wanted genuine competition to take root in the new federally managed insurance “exchanges.” The HHS crew favored a one-sized government plan with tight federal regulation over benefits.

The law itself didn’t explicitly side with either school — but it did leave the writing of the implementing regs to those same HHS wonks. Unfortunately, those more moderate White House economists are now leaving the administration, including the rumored departure of widely admired businessman and health-care expert Robert Kocher.

Washington insiders refer to this HHS team as “true believers” — a group of earnest, left-leaning activists who’ve long favored a single nationalized health plan. They are massaging the law’s vagueness to give themselves the tight federal control over health care that will bring their vision into practice.

Critics warned that the Obama bill meant a federal takeover of health care, with Washington bureaucrats making core decisions about medical care. With ObamaCare taking shape, that’s exactly what consumers are getting.  Saying “we told you so” is no consolation to those who took the president at his word.

Scott Gottlieb, a physician and American Enterprise Institute fellow, was a senior official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is partner in a firm that invests in health-care companies.

What else can I say but, “I told you so”???  Nobody would believe that the effect of the bill was inherently socialist; nobody would believe that the bill would be filled with death panels (160 death panels, in point of fact).

And that article above dovetails with another bit of info from Investor’s Business Daily:

Administration: 51% Of Companies’ Health Plans Won’t Pass Muster
By Sean Higgins and David Hogberg
Fri., June 11, 2010 5:05 PM ET

Internal White House documents reveal that 51% of employers may have to relinquish their current health care coverage by 2013 due to ObamaCare. That numbers soars to 66% for small-business employers.

The documents — product of a joint project of the Labor Department, the Health and Human Services Department and the IRS — examine the effects new regulations would have on existing, or “grandfathered,” employer-based health care plans. […]

According to the report, by 2013 51% of all employers — 66% of small employers (3-99 employees) and 45% of large employers — would have to relinquish current coverage.  In a worst-case scenario, 69% of firms would lose their grandfathered status.

This could pose a serious threat to President Obama’s claim that if you like your coverage, you’d get to keep it.

Hint: if Obama’s lips are moving, he’s lying.  If the Obama administration says anything about anything, it’s lying.  The only time these people wouldn’t be lying is if they said, “We’re lying.”

You voted stupidly, Americans.  And now you’re going to increasingly start paying dearly for it.

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Who REALLY Exploded Your Economy, Liberals Or Conservatives?

August 3, 2009

From Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny, pages 67-71:

From where does the Statist acquire his clairvoyance in determining what is good for the public?  From his ideology.  The Statist is constantly manipulating public sentiment in a steady effort to disestablish the free market, as he pushes the nation down tyranny’s road.  He has built an enormous maze of government agencies and programs, which grow inexorably from year to year, and which intervene in and interfere with the free market.  And when the Statist’s central planners create economic perversions that are seriously detrimental to the public, he blames the free market and insists on seizing additional authority to correct the failures created at his own direction.

Consider the four basic events that led to the housing bust of 2008, which spread to the financial markets and beyond:

EVENT 1: In 1977, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to address alleged discrimination by banks in making loans to poor people and minorities in the inner cities (redlining).  The act provided that banks have “an affirmative obligation” to meet the credit needs of the communities in which they are chartered.1 In 1989, Congress amended the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act requiring banks to collect racial data on mortgage applications.2 University of Texas economics professor Stan Liebowitz has written that “minority mortgage applications were rejected more frequently than other applications, but the overwhelming reason wasn’t racial discrimination, but simply that minorities tend to have weaker finances.”3 Liebowitz also condemns a 1992 study conducted by the Boston Federal Reserve Bank that alleged systemic discrimination.  “That study was tremendously flawed.  A colleague and I … showed that the data it had used contained thousands of egregious typos, such as loans with negative interest rates.  Our study found no evidence of discrimination.”4 However, the study became the standard on which government policy was based.

In 1995, the Clinton administration’s Treasury Department issued regulations tracking loans by neighborhoods, income groups, and races to rate the performance of banks.  The ratings were used by regulators to determine whether the government would approve bank mergers, acquisitions, and new branches.5 The regulations also encouraged Statist-aligned groups, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, to file petitions with regulators, or threaten to, to slow or even prevent banks from conducting their business by challenging the extent to which banks were issuing these loans.  With such powerful leverage over banks, some groups were able, in effect, to legally extort banks to make huge pools of money available to the groups, money they in turn used to make loans.  The banks and community groups issued loans to low-income individuals who often had bad credit or insufficient income.  And these loans, which became known as “subprime” loans, made available 100 percent financing, did not always require the use of credit scores, and were even made without documenting income.6 Therefore, the government insisted that banks, particularly those that wanted to expand, abandon traditional underwriting standards.  One estimate puts the figure of CRA-eligible loans at $4.5 trillion.7

EVENT 2: In 1992, the Department of Housing and Urban Development pressured two government-chartered corporations – known as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – to purchase (or “securitize”) large bundles of these loans for the conflicting purposes of diversifying the risks and making even more money available to banks to make further risky loans.  Congress also passed the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act, eventually mandating that these companies buy 45% of all loans from people of low and moderate incomes.8 Consequently, a SECONDARY MARKET was created for these loans.  And in 1995, the Treasury Department established the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which provided banks with tax dollars to encourage even more risky loans.

For the Statist, however, this was still not enough.  Top congressional Democrats, including Representative Barney Frank (Massachusetts), Senator Christopher Dodd (Connecticut), and Senator Charles Schumer (New York), among others, repeatedly ignored warnings of pending disaster, insisting that they were overstated, and opposed efforts to force Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to comply with usual business and oversight practices.9 And the top executives of these corporations, most of whom had worked in or with Democratic administrations, resisted reform while they were actively cooking the books in order to award themselves tens of millions of dollars in bonuses.10

EVENT 3: A by-product of this government intervention and social engineering was a financial instrument called the “derivative,” which turned the subprime mortgage market into a ticking time bomb that could magnify the housing bust by orders of magnitude.  A derivative is a contract where one party sells the risk associated with the mortgage to another party in exchange for payments to that company based on the value of the mortgage.  In some cases, investors who did not even make the loans would bet on whether the loans would be subject to default.  Although imprecise, perhaps derivatives in this context can best be understood as a form of insurance.  Derivatives allowed commercial and investment banks, individual companies, and private investors to further spread – and ultimately multiply – the risk associated with their mortgages.  Certain financial and insurance institutions invested heavily in derivatives, such as American International Group (AIG).11

EVENT 4:  The Federal Reserve Board’s role in the housing boom-and-bust cannot be overstated.  The Pacific Research Institute’s Robert P. Murphy explains that “[the Federal Reserve] slashed rates repeatedly starting in January 2001, from 6.5 percent until they reached a low in June 2003 of 1.0 percent.  (In nominal terms, this was the lowest the target rate had been in the entire data series maintained by the St. Louis Federal Reserve, going back to 1982)….  When the easy-money policy became too inflationary for comfort, the Fed (under [Alan] Greenspan and the then new Chairman Ben Bernanke at the end) began a steady process of raising interest rates back up, from 1.0 percent in June 2004 to 5.25 percent in June 2006….”12 Therefore, when the Federal Reserve abandoned its role as steward of the monetary system and used interest rates to artificially and inappropriately manipulate the housing market, it interfered with normal market conditions and contributed to destabilizing the economy.

————————————————————————————————

1 Howard Husock, “The Trillion-Dollar Shakedown that Bodes Ill for Cities,” City Journal, Winter 2000.

2 Stan Liebowitz, “The Real Scandal,” New York Post, Feb. 5, 2008.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Howard Husock, “The Financial Crisis and the CRA,” City Journal, Oct. 30, 2008.

6 Liebowitz, “The Real Scandal.”

7 Husock, “The Financial Crisis and the CRA.”

8 Ibid.

9 Editorial, “Fannie Mae’s Patron Saint,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 10, 2008; Joseph Goldstein, “Pro-Deregulation Schumer Scores Bush For Lack of Regulation,” New York Sun, Sept. 22, 2008; Robert Novack, “Crony Image Dogs Paulson’s Rescue Effort,” Chicago-Sun Times, July 17, 2008.

10 Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, “Report of the Special Examination of Freddie Mac,” Dec. 2003; Office of Federal Housing Oversight, “Report of the Special Examination of Fannie Mae,” May 2006.

11 Lynnley Browning, “AIG’s House of Cards,” Portfolio.com, Sept. 28, 2008.

12 Robert P. Murphy, “The Fed’s Role in the Housing Bubble,” Pacific Research Institute blog.

The government links from footnote 10 have been purged (and I COUNT on left-leaning “news” sources to purge stories that reveal the left for what it is), but there is plenty of evidence that a) Fannie and Freddie were firmly in the hands of Democrats; b) that Democrats and Fannie/Freddie at least twice resisted reforms by President Bush and Republicans; and c) that Fannie and Freddie executives – who were deeply involved with Democrat activismactively cooked the books to obtain huge bonuses prior to the disastrous crash.  We can also demonstrate d) that Barack Obama and Chris Dodd were involved with corrupt Fannie and Freddie (and Obama and Dodd were also receiving large contributions from corrupt Lehman Bros. even as Obama was getting a sweetheart mortgage deal from corrupt Tony Rezko while Chris Dodd was getting sweetheart mortgage deasl from corrupt Countrywide) right up to the tops of their pointy little heads.

When one examines the actual factors that led to the housing mortgage meltdown (as Mark Levin documents), when one examines the Democrat’s patent refusal to even accept that there was even a problem with Fannie and Freddie – much less allow any regulation – prior to the ensuing disaster, and when one examines the record to see which politicians were receiving money from the parties most responsible for the disaster, there is clearly only one party to blame: the Democrat Party.

And they are right back to all their old tricks.  It was rampant and insane spending that got us into this financial black hole – and they want MORE on top of MORE spending.  Meanwhile, Democrats such as Barney Frank are hard at work trying to create the NEXT massively destructive housing bubble, ACORN is trying to seize houses from rightful owners in the name of the “poor,” liberals are making moral hazard that rewards recklessness and irresponsibility and punishes frugality and responsibility official government policy , even as the Obama administration is creating “solutions” to the foreclosure issue that have abjectly failed.