Posts Tagged ‘costs’

ObamaCare Will Increase Insurance Premiums

December 1, 2009

One of the fundamental promises of Democrats is that their massive takeover of health care would deliver lower costs, delivering an economy of scale.

The problem is that government has never been very good at lowering the cost of anything.  Quite the contrary.

And what has always been true before turns out to be true again.

Let’s get right to the nitty gritty of the CBO report:

“CBO and JCT estimate that the average premium per person covered (including dependents) for new nongroup policies would be about 10 percent to 13 percent higher in 2016 than the average premium for nongroup coverage in that same year under current law. About half of those enrollees would receive government subsidies that would reduce their costs well below the premiums that would be charged for such policies under current law,” the report says.

Now, Democrats are trying to argue that about the “about half of those enrollees” who would have lower premiums due to receiving government subsidies.  But understand: the costs are objectively higher by 10-13% than they would have been had we done absolutely nothing at all.  The mere fact that some people are getting transfer (i.e., welfare) payments from the government (i.e., from still more government taxing and borrowing) doesn’t in any way change that fact.

Stop and think about it: it would be a lot cheaper for the government to provide people with subsidies based on the lower costs of doing nothing else to mess with the health care system.  It is an outright fraud for Democrats to say they will lower costs.

I like the way Mitch McConnell put it:

“The bottom line is this: After 2,074 pages and trillions more in government spending, massive new taxes and a half-trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare for seniors, most people, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will end up paying more or seeing no significant savings,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement. The health insurance industry’s lobbying arms also proclaimed that the report confirmed their similar warnings.

This is just a terrible bill, and a terrible philosophy.

Democrats have done absolutely NOTHING that will reduce the costs of healthcare.  They are diametrically opposed to tort reform, which would lower the costs of premiums by lowering doctors’ exposure to risks, simply because the sharks – I mean lawyers – who sue everything that walks, crawls, swims or flies are a major Democrat special interest group.

In the same way, Democrats talk about “increasing competition,” and yet they are fundamentally opposed to actually doing anything of the sort.  A primary reason healthcare costs have increased so much is due to the fact that insurance companies are specifically forbidden from being allowed to compete across state lines.  Republicans want competition; Democrats do not.  Rather, Democrats want to continue to mandate special interests-based coverage by dictating to insurance companies what coverage they must offer.

The other thing is that Democrats talk about the fraud they are offering is “deficit neutral.”  It is no such thing.  They played budget gimmicks, taxing for four years before having to pay out any benefits.  If you look at the costs of the NEXT ten years – when benefits will actually be paid out for all ten years – the cost will be $2.5 trillion, rather than the $848 billion that the Demcorats talk about in their tax-for-ten-year-spend-for-six plan.

Taxes will be raised by over $500 billion.  Medicare will be cut by $500 billion.  $500 billion is another way of saying half a trillion dollars.  That’s how the Democrats get their “savings”: they bleed it from taxpayers, and they steal it from their previous commitments to senior citizens.

The Democrats’ bill raises taxes, guts Medicare, and raises premiums.  You can start to understand why the Dean of the Harvard School of Medicine gave the bill a failing grade.

Ten Things You Should Know About The Government Healthcare Takeover

November 1, 2009

Whether you support it or not, whether you know anything about it or not, the Democrats’ plan will have dramatic and sweeping impact over our lives.

The thing that frightens me the most is the word “shall.”  It occurs 3,425 times in the Democrats’ H.R. 3692.  That means there are three thousand, four hundred and twenty-five times that the government forces you to do something whether you want to do it or not.

That said, here’s a list of ten facts you should know:

  1. RAISES TAXES ON MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES. Speaker Pelosi’s health care bill imposes a range of tax increases on families with income below $250,000, breaking a promise made by President Obama.  Tax increases on middle class families include: an individual mandate tax of up to 2.5 percent of income for taxpayers earning as little as $9,350; repeal of a tax break on medicine purchased with funds from an HSA (health savings account); limits to tax relief through FSAs (flexible spending accounts); taxes on medical devices that will inevitably be passed on to consumers; and a new tax on all insurance policies.
  2. MASSIVE CUTS TO MEDICARE BENEFITS FOR SENIORS. Despite grave warnings from CBO, FactCheck.org, and the independent Lewin Group that cuts to Medicare of the magnitude included in Speaker Pelosi’s bill would have a negative impact on seniors’ benefits and choices, Speaker Pelosi’s health care bill stays the course and cuts Medicare by hundreds of billions of dollars.
  3. NO PROTECTIONS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES. Speaker Pelosi’s health care bill claims to exempt small businesses from the steep eight percent ‘pay or play’ employer mandate.  The facts tell a different story.  Using Census data compiled by the Small Business Administration, this so-called ‘exemption’ hammers small employers with only, on average, 17 or more employees to new taxes and mandates.  The outfits affected employ 70 percent of all small business employees, or 42.3 million workers.  Adding to the assault on small businesses, the bill does not index the small business “exemption” amounts, meaning more and more small businesses will be ensnared by this job-killing employer mandate each year.
  4. INCREASES THE COST OF HEALTH INSURANCE. Imposing a new $2 billion tax on insurance policies will be passed on to patients in the form of higher premiums.  Changes to the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit will, according to estimates by CBO, will raise Medicare Part B premiums by $25 billion and Part D premiums by 20 percent.  And imposing an unfunded mandate on the states to pay for the bill’s Medicaid expansion will shift the burden of this expansion on state taxpayers who may experience tax increases to cover the cost.
  5. USES GIMMICKS TO HIDE BUDGET-BUSTING COST, PILES UP DEBT ON FUTURE GENERATIONS. Speaker Pelosi’s health care bill claims to be deficit neutral, but uses budget gimmickry to hide its massive total cost.  Working families across America know they cannot simply decide that a bill they get in the mail doesn’t exist, but that’s exactly what congressional Democrats are doing.  In order to meet the President’s ‘target’ spending total of $900 billion, Democrats have simply swept costly provisions under the rug, including the $245 billion ‘doc fix.’
  6. IMPOSES JOB-KILLING EMPLOYER MANDATES. Additional taxes on employers and new government mandates that dictate acceptable insurance will place new and crushing burdens on employers.  These are burdens that will ultimately fall squarely on the backs of workers in the form of reduced wages, fewer hours or lost employment. CBO agrees that “[e]mployees largely bear the cost of… play-or-pay fees in the form of lower wages.”  According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s largest small business association, an employer mandate of this magnitude will disproportionately impact small businesses, triggering up to 1.6 million lost jobs.  Two-thirds of those jobs would be shed by small businesses.
  7. TILTS THE PLAYING FIELD IN FAVOR OF THE GOVERNMENT-RUN INSURANCE COMPANY. Speaker Pelosi’s health care bill promises not to give the government-run plan advantages over private insurers in the market, but the opposite is true.  The bill provides billions in start-up funding for the government-run plan, and while it requires the plan to repay the money over time it does not require the plan to pay interest on this “loan.”  This interest-free, taxpayer-subsidized loan is potentially worth millions of dollars and tilts the playing field in favor of the government-run plan.
  8. THREATENS CASH-STRAPPED STATES WITH UNFUNDED MANDATES. Speaker Pelosi’s health care bill swells the number of Americans on the government rolls by expanding Medicaid eligibility.  Medicaid is financed through a federal-state partnership, but the bill dumps nearly ten percent of the mandated expansion included in the bill onto the states.  States, already struggling with fiscal constraints, would be left on the hook for billions of dollars due to this unfunded mandate.
  9. CREATES A NEW MONSTROSITY IN THE TAX CODE. Starting in 2011, Speaker Pelosi’s health care bill imposes a 5.4 percent tax on adjusted gross income above $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for married couples.  Yet, the dollar amounts for which the tax kicks in are not indexed for inflation.  We’ve seen this horror film before: the Alternative Minimum Tax, another Frankenstein’s monster of the tax code, also wasn’t indexed for inflation and now affects millions of middle class families with incomes below the Democrat’s surtax.
  10. MISSES AN OPPORTUNITY TO CURTAIL JUNK LAWSUITS. Speaker Pelosi’s health care bill misses a critical opportunity to rein in junk lawsuits and costly defensive medicine.  The bill includes only a voluntary grant program to deal with the medical liability crisis instead of including real reform, which would produce tens of billions of dollars in savings, improve efficiency in our health care system and reduce costs for patients and providers.

BONUS: Republicans have offered better solutions to lower health care costs and expand access to quality, affordable coverage at a price our nation can afford.  Learn more by visiting healthcare.gop.gov.

Courtesy House Republican Leader John Boehner

Obama Loses On ‘Don’t Think, Just Vote’ Health Care: Grandma Gets A Reprieve

July 24, 2009

Barack Obama gave a national presidential news conference on July 22.  And he did such a great job selling his Obamacare that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put the kibosh on Obama’s imperious August deadline the very next day.

Even the New York Times turned on Obama’s presentation and faulted his “facts.”  And in the lexicon of liberal heresies and heretics, that’s almost like the Apostles turning on Jesus.  The Associated Press also found plenty of Obama’s “facts” to be somewhat deficient of truth content.  The biggest gripe of all about Obama’s news conference is that he didn’t actually tell us anything.  When you’re talking about taking over 1/5th of the US economy, a few details would have been nice.

That said, it would have helped Mr. Obama if he had bothered to actually bother to read the legislation before calling a national infomercial to sell it.  Eventually Democrats are going to have to actually read the provisions of the major legislation they ram down the country’s collective throat, after all.

But no, it was a lot easier to just go out and demonize the Republicans as being the fearmongering forces opposing reform instead.  Campaigning on vague notions of “hope” and “change,” without ever bothering to really describe what “hope” and “change” actually meant – and at the same time demagoguing against those opposing said amorphous “hope” and “change” – has worked wonderfully for Obama thus far.  So it’s really no surprise that he would go back to that same magician’s hat again.

The good news, though, is that the Frankenstein monster of health care has been driven back into the castle for at least the time being.  Grandma and grandpa have a reprieve.

Obama’s answer to a question that a woman asked about her mother’s health care is incredibly illustrative as to the bullet the elderly dodged today:

Member of the audience. Jane Sturm: “My mother is now over 105. But at 100, the doctors said to her, ‘I can’t do anything more unless you have a pacemaker.’ I said, ‘Go for it.’ She said, ‘Go for it.’ But the specialist said, ‘No, she’s too old.’ But when the other specialist saw her and saw her joy of life, he said, ‘I’m going for it.’ That was over five years ago. My question to you is:  Outside the medical criteria for prolonging life for somebody who is elderly, is there any consideration that can be given for a certain spirit, a certain joy of living, a quality of life, or is it just a medical cutoff at a certain age?”

Obama: “I don’t think that we can make judgments based on people’s ’spirit.’ Uh, that would be, uh, a pretty subjective decision to be making. I think we have to have rules that, uh, say that, uh, we are going to provide good quality care for all people. End-of-life care is one of the most difficult sets of decisions that we’re going to have to make. But understand that those decisions are already being made in one way or another. If they’re not being made under Medicare and Medicaid, they’re being made by private insurers. At least we can let doctors know — and your mom know — that you know what, maybe this isn’t going to help. Maybe you’re better off, uhh, not having the surgery, but, uhh, taking the painkiller.

You can watch the exchange for yourself:

What is remarkable is the fact that this woman Jane Sturm was seeking reassurance that Obama would clearly and unequivocally affirm the elderly mother’s right to life, and Obama responded by telling her that maybe mom should just take a painkiller and die as a drugged-out zombie-veg due to government-sanctioned medical neglect.

This is nothing new: Democrats have been pursuing rationing as an antidote to the costs of their government system all along.

It is simply a fact that the vast majority of health care resources are consumed at the end of life.  And as costs explode – and the CBO director has already told us the ugly truth that the cost of the Democrats’ plan WILL EXPLODE – it’s going to be the “resource-hogging” and “unproductive” senior citizens who are going to start seeing the short end of the health care stick.

AP Rips Obama Infomercial On Facts, Honesty

October 30, 2008

By and large, the media has utterly failed to analyze Obama’s fanciful rhetoric to check for facts or for honesty.  Study after study has shown a profound mainstream media bias favoring Obama and attacking McCain.  A prominent ABC journalist called this bias “a very, very dangerous game … with the Constitution.”

A brand new study by the Project for Excellence in Media came out yesterday with absolutely devastating results on rampant media bias.

We’ll quickly be able to see the media bias, as people appearing on Obama’s infomercial – such as Roberta Johnston, Larry Stewart, and Mark and Melinda Dowell – either get their lives microscopically investigated the way Joe the Plumber did or not.  The media witch hunt (a.k.a. “investigative journalism“) into the life of Joe the Plumber – who drew a vicious media backlash for merely asking Obama a simple question outside his own home – was an unprecedented intrusion into a private citizen by a media machine that was determined to dredge up dirt on him.  If they go after Obama infomercial’s citizens the same way (can she really only afford to buy half a gallon of milk?  Did that mother buy herself a pair of shoes rather than buy snacks for her children?) I’ll be very much surprised.

Still, every so often some reporter actually tries to be fair.  And in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s $3 million infomercial spectacular, in a campaign in which Obama is outspending McCain 4-1 after Obama broke his promise to accept public financing, a little bit of objectivity is better than nothing at all.  So it was refreshing that Associated Press writer Calvin Woodward finally took a critical look at claims that Obama has been making with virtually no media scrutiny for months:

WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was less than upfront in his half-hour commercial Wednesday night about the costs of his programs and the crushing budget pressures he would face in office.

Obama’s assertion that “I’ve offered spending cuts above and beyond” the expense of his promises is accepted only by his partisans. His vow to save money by “eliminating programs that don’t work” masks his failure throughout the campaign to specify what those programs are — beyond the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

A sampling of what voters heard in the ad, and what he didn’t tell them:

THE SPIN: “That’s why my health care plan includes improving information technology, requires coverage for preventive care and pre-existing conditions and lowers health care costs for the typical family by $2,500 a year.”

THE FACTS: His plan does not lower premiums by $2,500, or any set amount. Obama hopes that by spending $50 billion over five years on electronic medical records and by improving access to proven disease management programs, among other steps, consumers will end up saving money. He uses an optimistic analysis to suggest cost reductions in national health care spending could amount to the equivalent of $2,500 for a family of four. Many economists are skeptical those savings can be achieved, but even if they are, it’s not a certainty that every dollar would be passed on to consumers in the form of lower premiums.

THE SPIN: “I also believe every American has a right to affordable health care.”

THE FACTS: That belief should not be confused with a guarantee of health coverage for all. He makes no such promise. Obama hinted as much in the ad when he said about the problem of the uninsured: “I want to start doing something about it.” He would mandate coverage for children but not adults. His program is aimed at making insurance more affordable by offering the choice of government-subsidized coverage similar to that in a plan for federal employees and other steps, including requiring larger employers to share costs of insuring workers.

THE SPIN: “I’ve offered spending cuts above and beyond their cost.”

THE FACTS: Independent analysts say both Obama and Republican John McCain would deepen the deficit. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates Obama’s policy proposals would add a net $428 billion to the deficit over four years — and that analysis accepts the savings he claims from spending cuts. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, whose other findings have been quoted approvingly by the Obama campaign, says: “Both John McCain and Barack Obama have proposed tax plans that would substantially increase the national debt over the next 10 years.” The analysis goes on to say: “Neither candidate’s plan would significantly increase economic growth unless offset by spending cuts or tax increases that the campaigns have not specified.”

THE SPIN: “Here’s what I’ll do. Cut taxes for every working family making less than $200,000 a year. Give businesses a tax credit for every new employee that they hire right here in the U.S. over the next two years and eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. Help homeowners who are making a good faith effort to pay their mortgages, by freezing foreclosures for 90 days. And just like after 9-11, we’ll provide low-cost loans to help small businesses pay their workers and keep their doors open. ”

THE FACTS: His proposals — the tax cuts, the low-cost loans, the $15 billion a year he promises for alternative energy, and more — cost money, and the country could be facing a record $1 trillion deficit next year. Indeed, Obama recently acknowledged — although not in his commercial — that: “The next president will have to scale back his agenda and some of his proposals.”

There are some facts to consider about Barack Obama’s health care plan that he failed to tell you last night:

One thing is extremely important to understand: Obama’s health care plan is modeled on the Massachusetts plan.  How are things going there?  Well, in the three years of the program’s existence, the tiny state is now already facing cost overruns of over $400 million.  Does that sound like a rousing success?  Massachusetts is facing a projected 85% increase in its costs by 2009 – which should set up a serious red flag that such programs are MASSIVELY underfunded.

Barack Obama’s health care plan is estimated to cost $1.6 trillion in 10 years.  But that doesn’t take into account the very sort of cost overruns and cost increases that are even now plaguing the very state that Obama is basing his own plan upon.  What is going to happen to our economy given the extremely real likelihood that Obama’s massive national plan runs into similar issues?  Do you believe our economy is strong enough to bear the brunt of these massive cost increases in this current climate?

In the aftermath of the unpopular $850 billion bailout of the economy, it is extremely relevant to question what Obama would do in light of a $1 trillion annual federal budget deficit and an over $10 trillion national debt.  That said, you’d probably want to hear about Obama’s sponsering of an $845 billion Global Poverty Act:

Sen. Barack Obama, perhaps giving America a preview of priorities he would pursue if elected president, is rejoicing over the Senate committee passage of a plan that could end up costing taxpayers billions of dollars in an attempt to reduce poverty in other nations.

The bill, called the Global Poverty Act, is the type of legislation, “We can – and must – make … a priority,” said Obama, a co-sponsor.

And it is also critical to realize that while Obama promises to provide alternative energy which will free us from dependence on foreign oil, his plan will produce nowhere near enough energy to even begin to end our dependence on foreign oil.  Obama has been part of the Democratic trifecta with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, and you simply cannot trust them to dramatically increase our production of domestic oil, which we desperately need.  Gasoline and heating oil have dropped recently, but it is only a matter of time before OPEC cuts its production in order to drive the prices back up, and the very real possibility of a crisis in the Middle East could cripple us at any moment.

It’s too bad that Woodward didn’t more critically examine Obama’s tax plan, and questioned whether it was a good idea to dramatically increase taxes on capital gains, and on corporations and businesses during a time when we need more jobs and a stronger economy.

All that said, it’s good that at least one journalist from one publication took a stab at taking a critical examination of Obama’s infomercial promises and claims.

Obama Health Care Plan Would Send Costs Soaring, Cost Jobs

September 16, 2008

John McCain’s health insurance plan would probably not significantly lower the number of uninsured in the country, and it is possible under his plan that insurers could re-locate to states with less onerous health care mandates, say experts.

But the same experts claim that Barack Obama’s plan “would require new, large, and rapidly growing federal subsidies that are unlikely to be sustainable, fiscally or politically” and that “job losses or pay cuts would result” from his plan.

I don’t know about you.  But I like option A a lot better than option Barack.

But Barack Obama supporters will probably argue that this objective comparison of health care plans fails to consider the fairy dust that Obama would sprinkle over his plan that would make all its pitfalls magically go away.

Economists take critical view of health plans

By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer Tue Sep 16, 12:12 AM ET

WASHINGTON – John McCain’s health plan won’t lower the ranks of the uninsured. Barack Obama’s fails to curb the soaring cost of health care, meaning initial gains in helping more people buy health insurance would eventually be undermined.

That’s the assessment of health care economists who critiqued the plans of the two presidential candidates.

The critiques, published in the journal Health Affairs on Tuesday, reflect fundamental disagreements over how to improve access to health coverage. They also sound warnings about what could go wrong with each candidate’s plan.

McCain would dramatically reshape the way millions of people get health insurance. The Republican would do away with income tax breaks for health insurance obtained through the work place, instead treating the payments as taxable wages.

In exchange, he would give people a $2,500 tax credit for individuals who buy health insurance and a $5,000 tax credit for families that do so.

The tax credit could help people buy insurance through their employer. Many would also use it buy coverage directly from insurers in the individual market. They could select from insurers licensed in any state. With more competition, costs would fall and quality would increase, McCain reasons.

Analysts writing in the journal warned against that approach.

They said employers would be less likely to offer coverage if they knew their workers could get it elsewhere. In all, the authors projected that 20 million people would lose their employer-sponsored insurance under McCain’s plan, while 21 million people would gain coverage through the individual market — little more than a wash.

And as monthly insurance premiums rise and the tax break stays the same, even that gain would erode.

Another concern is that insurers would gravitate to states with less onerous coverage requirements. For example, 29 states insist insurers in the individual and small group market cover cervical cancer screenings. They could locate in states without such requirements.

Obama wants the government to subsidize the cost of health coverage for millions who otherwise would have trouble affording it on their own.

The Democrat would set up a kind of government-run shopping mall that would negotiate prices and benefits with private insurers. One choice would be a government-run plan. No participating company could turn someone away because of pre-existing cancer, heart disease or diabetes. Nor would someone have to pay a higher monthly premium based on those conditions.

The government would subsidize the cost for many who buy coverage through this exchange. But analysts say using third parties to subsidize the cost of a product exacerbates health inflation. Consumers and providers act as if any service that might yield some value should be covered. After all, it’s largely somebody else who is picking up the tab.

“Any major expansion of coverage will be costly, and the Obama promise of affordability would require new, large, and rapidly growing federal subsidies that are unlikely to be sustainable, fiscally or politically,” said the authors.

Obama would also require all but small businesses to make a “meaningful” payment for health coverage of their workers or contribute a percentage of payroll toward the cost of the public plan offered through the exchange. The authors said that either way, job losses or pay cuts would result.

The journal subjected the plans to a sort of devil’s advocate analysis. Once the unsolicited review of McCain’s plan was reviewed and accepted, the journal sought out economists who would take a similarly tough look at the Obama plan. The reviewers of the Obama plan included Gail Wilensky, an unpaid adviser to the McCain campaign.

Personally, I would like to see a health care plan that provided businesses with tax incentives to provide coverage for employees and their families, and have health coverage that could not be cut off if a worker lost his job (provided he or she continued to pay the same premiums as the employer had paid).  In other words, just because you are no longer working for a particular employer does not mean you should lose your medical coverage.

In my view, the two biggest problems with health care are 1) soaring costs and 2) transferability.

Socialized medicine has failed everywhere it’s been tried, and the larger the population, the more horrendous the failure.  It invariably results in long waits and rationing of care.  But the privatized system we have now – which historically depends upon employers to pick up the tab – fails to provide suitable controls to limit the skyrocketing costs (i.e., since you are not paying for your own health care, there is no incentive to keep the costs of your health care down).

John McCain’s plan imperfectly tries to deal with these two fundamental problems with our current system by attempting to sever the unhealthy relationship between employees, employers, and health care.  But even though it is ultimately inadequate, it is a FAR cry better than the Obama plan which would send costs soaring and result in a loss of jobs as employers are forced to cut costs.