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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics
is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato
Friday, July 31, 2015
With Republicans Like These
When is the DOJ going to Enforce The Law and Stop Planned Parenthood From Selling Baby Parts?
by Erick Erickson, OpEd: The Export-Import Bank is the height of crony capitalism. The bank uses taxpayer subsidies to make it possible for some American companies to sell their manufactured wares overseas at a lower price. It leads to absurd results like Boeing being able to sell its planes to foreign airliners at a cheaper rate than American aviation companies can buy them.
There have been indictments and charges of corruption galore related to the Export-Import Bank. It disrupts the free market, wastes taxpayer dollars and is overwhelmingly unpopular with Republicans and even some Democrats. But Washington lobbyists love it, and they have been writing fat checks to Republicans to keep it going. Senate Republicans in Washington are doing everything in their power to fund the Export-Import Bank.
While Republicans in Washington are doing everything in their power to prop up a crony-capitalist regime for lobbyists, they are not putting even half as much energy into defunding Planned Parenthood. More videos continue trickling out about Planned Parenthood. The latest video showed Planned Parenthood employees actually taking people into rooms full of children’s harvested organs where they could haggle over price.
Several political consultants tell me the Planned Parenthood videos are doing serious damage to the left. In fact, the organization had to hire a Democrat-affiliated communications firm to do damage control. Part of that damage control was an effort to press media outlets to refrain from covering the story.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that within 24 hours of a lion being killed in Africa, ABC, CBS and NBC combined had given more coverage to the death of the lion than they had given to the Planned Parenthood scandal in two weeks. Credible political operatives tell me that in addition to firing up evangelical voters, the Planned Parenthood story angers Hispanic voters. Hispanic voters are, after evangelicals, the most pro-life voting constituency in the United States.
But Republicans in Washington would rather focus their energies on helping lobbyists, not helping children. They will go to the mats for a crony-capitalist regime that uses taxpayer money to pick corporate winners and losers. They will not stop giving taxpayer dollars to an organization that cracks open the skulls of children to remove and sell their brains.
This is where rubber meets road for Republicans. Virtually all of the 2,317,000 [snark] Republican presidential candidates (the list keeps growing) have demanded that Congress investigate and defund Planned Parenthood. Senate Republicans intend to do a show vote that will not get enough votes to overcome a filibuster. Will they then let it die? Will they decide they cannot defund Planned Parenthood? Or will they fret over a presidential veto?
Ultimately, the question is whether Republicans will risk a government shutdown to cease funding an organization that kills American children and harvests their organs for money. What the nation is learning about Planned Parenthood is that it makes a lot of money selling livers, hearts, lungs, brains and other body parts. Why should taxpayers fund it?
Since the rise of Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party has been the pro-life party. But it has been more a legacy of Reagan than a desire of its party leaders. Republican leaders in Washington talk a good game about pro-life issues, but they never really have been willing to put points on the board unless pushed by a Republican president. They throw the movement occasional bones, but what about now?
The national media will not cover the savage butchery by Planned Parenthood. Forcing this fight in Congress will force coverage. They will spin it against Republicans, but every member of Congress who speaks up could stand surrounded by the images of butchered children so that all Americans can see what they are fighting for.
Shut down the government if that is what it takes. Shut it down now. If Republicans cannot stand on this high ground, they should not stand at all. Children are being ripped apart and their hearts, brains, lungs and livers sold. Is this not a fight worth having?
------------------ Erick Erickson, also known as Erick-Woods Erickson, is a politically conservative American blogger and editor-in-chief of the blog site RedState.com. Tags:Erick Erikson, Republicans, Export-Import Bank, defund, planned parenthood, abortion, selling baby partsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
22 of 23 Taxpayer-Backed Obamacare Co-Ops Lost Money In 2014, Audit Finds
by Melissa Quinn: A new report from a government watchdog examining the success of taxpayer-funded Obamacare co-ops found that the vast majority lost money last year and struggled to enroll consumers, throwing their ability to repay the taxpayer-funded loans into question.
According to the audit from the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general, 22 of the 23 co-ops created under the Affordable Care Act experienced net losses through the end of 2014. Additionally, 13 of the 23 nonprofit insurers enrolled significantly less people than projected.
Co-ops, or consumer-oriented and operated plans, are nonprofit insurance companies created under Obamacare. Co-ops exist in a variety of capacities, and lawmakers hoped the entities would foster competition in areas where few insurance options were available.
The co-ops received $2 billion in loans from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to assist in their launch and solvency. However, the government watchdog warned that repayment may not be possible.
“The low enrollment and net losses might limit the ability of some co-ops to repay startup and solvency loans and to remain viable and sustainable,” the report said.
Andy Slavitt, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, attributed the co-ops’ financial losses to the difficulties of moving into a new market.
“The co-ops enter the health insurance market with a number of challenges, [from] building a provider network to pricing premiums that will sustain the business for the long term,” he said. “As with any new set of business ventures, it is expected that some co-ops will be more successful than others.”
Roughly half of the nonprofit co-ops struggled to enroll consumers, and the vast majority experienced significant losses in 2014.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general report, Arizona’s co-op, Meritus Health Partners, saw the lowest enrollment when compared with its projections. Through the end of 2014, the insurer enrolled just 869 Arizona consumers, compared with its projected enrollment of 23,998.
By contrast, New York far surpassed its enrollment projections. As of Dec. 31, Health Republic Insurance of New York signed up 155,402 people. It expected to enroll 30,864.
Additionally, 22 of the 23 co-ops experienced net losses as of Dec. 31, with the exception of Maine Community Health Options, which was profitable.
Just two insurance companies, including the co-op, offered plans on the federal exchange in Maine. Maine Community Health Options offered the lowest-priced coverage and enrolled 80 percent of marketplace consumers in the state, according to the inspector general.
In South Carolina, Consumers’ Choice Health Insurance Company exceeded profitability projections as of the end of 2014. However, the co-op still incurred net losses of $3.8 million. It expected a net income loss of $8.1 million.
Information regarding income for the co-op serving Iowa and Nebraska, CoOportunity, was not available, as the insurer was liquidated in March. CoOportunity received $145.3 million from the federal government in startup and solvency loans.
The report from the Department of Health and Human Services watchdog came after Louisiana’s co-op, Louisiana Health Cooperative, Inc., announced last week it would be discontinuing operations at the end of the year. The nonprofit insurer projected to enroll 28,106 Louisiana consumers in 2014 but signed up just 9,980 through the federal marketplace.
Additionally, Louisiana Health Cooperative incurred $20.6 million in net losses as of Dec. 31.
Similarly, Tennessee’s co-op, Community Health Alliance Mutual Insurance Company, froze enrollment during Obamacare’s second open enrollment period, which began in October. The co-op cited its financial conditions as a reason for its enrollment freeze.
According to the inspector general’s report, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services placed four co-ops on “enhanced oversight and corrective action plans.” Two were put on notice for low enrollment.
------------ Melissa Quinn (@MelissaQuinn97 ) is a news reporter for The Daily Signal. Tags:audit, Obamacare Co-Ops, lost money, 2014, Milissa Quinn, The Daily SignalTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Congress Leaving Town Without Passing Defense Bill
Attention Readers: If you know or have a friend or family member that is either on active duty or retired from the military, please share this article with them. MOAA Reports: Despite early optimism from lawmakers, Congress was unable to pass a final defense bill before leaving town for a month long summer recess.
Stuck in a stalemate over several key compensation and benefits issues, House and Senate lawmakers will have to return to the negotiation process in September.
The following table shows the compensation and benefits positions of the House- and Senate-passed defense bills:
In its initial draft, House lawmakers rejected proposals to nickel and dime servicemembers and their families, but the Senate is pushing to keep them in the final version of the defense bill.
In a reported memo to negotiators, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said, “The House believes it must keep faith with our military retirees and their families and that we should seek to make other improvements in TRICARE before digging more deeply into the pockets of our servicemembers and retirees.”
Senate lawmakers argue that personnel costs are “eating the defense budget alive,” a tired piece of rhetoric MOAA has repeatedly debunked.
The silver lining to Congress failing to pass the defense bill before the August recess is that now you have the chance to influence your lawmakers.
Most elected officials return to their home districts to meet with constituents during the August recess. Use this opportunity to visit your elected officials and discuss:
Preventing the further erosion of pay and benefits;
Authorizing full concurrent receipt of military retired pay and disability compensation; and
Eliminating the dollar for dollar offset of military survivor pay and VA indemnity compensation.
--------------- Attention active and retired military: MOAA has developed fact sheets on these three issues for you to use. For more information, check out our August 2015 recess package. Tags:Congress, leaving town, Defense Bill, active duty, retired military, pay, benefits, disability compensation, support services, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
The Senate reconvened at 10 AM today for a pro forma session and will next convene on Monday at 2 PM.
At 5:30 PM on Monday the Senate will vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to (i.e. whether to take up and debate) S. 1881, the bill to defund Planned Parenthood and redirect the money to women’s health programs.
Yesterday, the Senate voted 65-34 to pass H.R. 22, as amended, the 3 year paid-for highway bill. The Senate later voted 91-4 to pass H.R. 3236, the House-passed 3 month extension of the current highway authorization. The extension bill now goes to the president for his signature.
In the News:
Over 5 years after Democrats jammed their unpopular health care law through Congress, barely a week passes without yet another news story documenting the problems it has created in the American health care system. Nearly as common are stories revealing how the law has failed to live up the lofty but implausible promises Democrats made when they were writing and passing it.
In his speech to a joint session of Congress in September 2009, President Obama boasted that his health care plan “will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.” Later that year, as the Senate debated the bill, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), then the Assistant Majority Leader, said, “Bringing down costs of health insurance and making it more affordable is job one for this health care reform.”A few months after that, as he was selling the bill to House Democrats, President Obama claimed that “every single good idea to bend the cost curve and start actually reducing health care costs are in this bill.”
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) toldThe Coloradoan newspaper in 2009, “Health-care reform that focuses on driving down health-care costs is essential to Colorado families and our long-term effort to put our fiscal house in order … health-care reform that is focused on reducing cost is not only the smart way to go; it's the only way to go.” In an interview, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said, “My statement all along is it has to slow down the increase of health care costs over time, and that is bending the cost curve . . . .” Sens. Durbin, Bennet, and McCaskill all helped provide critical votes, without which, the bill could not have passed the Senate.
Now fast forward to this week. Politicoreports, “Health care spending is rising at a faster clip than at any time since the Great Recession, with costs ticking up by 5.5 percent in 2014, CMS announced Tuesday. Over the next decade, health care costs are expected to rise by 5.8 percent annually, according to the agency’s latest projections. The growth in spending is being driven by the coverage expansion provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the continuing economic recovery and a population that’s steadily aging. . . .
“The projected health care cost increases over the next decade would exceed growth in the gross domestic product by 1.1 percent. As a result, the share of the economy devoted to health care will increase from 17.4 percent today to 19.6 percent in 2024.”
The Wall Street Journal adds, “Growth in national health spending, which had dropped to historic lows in recent years, has snapped back and is set to continue at a faster pace over the next decade, federal actuaries said Tuesday. The return to bigger growth is a result of expanded insurance coverage under the 2010 health law, a revived economy and crunchtime as Medicare’s baby-boom beneficiaries enter their 70s. . . .
“The consequences are also significant for Washington and state governments, which by 2024 will be responsible for paying around 47% of the nation’s health bills, up from 43% in 2013. In all, health care will comprise about a fifth of the U.S. economy by 2024, and the growth rate will exceed the expected average growth in gross domestic product by 1.1 percentage points. . . .
“The actuaries pointed to the rising numbers of people who have health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, projecting that around 8.4 million fewer Americans were uninsured in 2014 than in 2013 and noting their increased use of medical services.
“Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income Americans, was expanded under the health law in most of the country. The report projected 78.1 million people will be enrolled by 2024, continuing to outstrip Medicare, the federal insurance program for people 65 and older, which will have 70.3 million enrollees. Those Medicare beneficiaries will become increasingly expensive, however, as they age and seek more care, from hospitals in particular.”
During the health care summit the White House held with Congress in February 2010, Vice President Joe Biden said, “Unless we bend that cost curve, we're in trouble.” This week’s reports suggest Obamacare still isn’t bending that cost curve down.
Meanwhile, Obamacare keeps causing trouble at the state level, where, once again, costs are growing. According to a Monday AP report, “State-run health insurance markets that offer coverage under President Barack Obama's health law are struggling with high costs and disappointing enrollment. These challenges could lead more of them to turn over operations to the federal government or join forces with other states.
“Hawaii's marketplace, the latest cautionary tale, was awarded $205 million in federal startup grants. It has spent about $139 million and enrolled 8,200 customers for individual coverage in 2015. Unable to sustain itself, the state marketplace is turning over sign-ups to the federal HealthCare.gov for 2016.
“Twelve states and the District of Columbia fully control their markets. Experts estimate about half face financial difficulties. Federal taxpayers invested nearly $5 billion in startup grants to the states, expecting that state markets would become self-sustaining. Most of the federal money has been spent, and states have to face the consequences.”
The AP runs down the list of the latest financial difficulties in several states:
“Hawaii is the third state exchange going to the federal sign-up system, following Nevada and Oregon, which made the switch last year. Among the problems confronting states:
“Minnesota's MNsure faces a murky financial future. Its budget is balanced as a result of repeated cuts when enrollment has come in below projections, a tactic that cannot work forever. Despite a slew of proposals, no concrete changes came out of the state's most recent legislative session. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has signaled that MNsure's fate is on the table, including the option of shifting operations to HealthCare.gov. . . .
“A federal audit concluded that Maryland used exchange establishment grants from Washington to pay for $28.4 million in costs that should have been allocated to the state's Medicaid program. State officials dispute that, but federal officials say Maryland should pay the money back. Separately, the original lead contractor for the state website has agreed to repay $45 million to avoid legal action over rollout problems last year.
“In Vermont, a debate has been raging about whether to abandon the state exchange. Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin originally wanted a single state-run system for all residents, along the lines of Canada. Shumlin backed off because it would have meant prohibitively high taxes. He wants to fix the state exchange, still grappling with technology problems that plagued it from launch.”
Piling on, another AP report this week discusses the financial struggles of the nonprofit co-ops created by Obamacare. “Fed up with the insurance industry, Democrats used the health care overhaul to create nonprofit co-ops that would compete with the corporations. Now a government audit finds co-ops are awash in red ink.
“Only one out of 23 — the co-op in Maine — made money last year, said Thursday's report from the Health and Human Services inspector general's office. Thirteen lagged far behind their sign-up goals for 2014. The Massachusetts co-op spent more than six times as much on administrative expenses as it collected in premiums.
“The audit raised questions about whether co-ops will be able to repay $2.4 billion in taxpayer-financed loans that President Barack Obama's overhaul provided to help stand them up.
“‘The low enrollments and net losses might limit the ability of some co-ops to repay startup and solvency loans, and to remain viable and sustainable,’ said the report. . . .
“One of the 23 co-ops in the report has already gone out business. The Iowa/Nebraska co-op was shut down by state regulators over financial concerns. Another one, the Louisiana Health Cooperative, announced last week it will cease offering coverage next year, saying it's ‘not growing enough to maintain a healthy future.’
“Although the audit only goes through the end of 2014, problems apparently persisted into this year. A preliminary review of 2015 data by government officials shows that enrollments have increased, but co-ops continue to report financial losses. . . .
“As recently as the spring, the White House touted co-ops as an accomplishment. 'In states throughout the country, co-ops have competed effectively with established issuers and attracted significant enrollment,’ said a report by the president's Domestic Policy Council on the fifth anniversary of the health law.
“The IG's audit paints a very different picture,” the AP writes. “Among its findings:
“Maine was the only co-op in the black for 2014, with $5.9 million in net income. Losses ranged from a high of $50.4 million for Kentucky's co-op to $3.5 million for Montana's.Most of the co-ops had previously projected losses for 2014, but the actual losses they experienced tended to be higher. Illinois had projected $28 million in income and instead came in with a loss of $17.7 million. New York, the leader in enrollment, had a $35 million loss.
“Thirteen co-ops fell far short of their enrollment projections, and nine met or exceeded them. New York enrolled 155,400 people, more than five times what it had projected. But co-ops in Arizona, Illinois and Massachusetts only hit 4 percent of their enrollment targets. There were no year-end data for the Iowa/Nebraska co-op that was shut down.
“—Low enrollment and medical claims expenses that exceeded the income from premiums contributed to the losses. Nineteen co-ops had medical claims that exceeded premiums. The reasons included higher-than-expected enrollment of people with expensive health problems, lower-than-expected enrollment of younger people, and inaccurate pricing of premiums.” Tags:INSERT TAGSTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday in defense of President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran. In response to tough questions from Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and ranking member Eliot Engel (D-NY), Kerry insisted that there was no better option.
"Let me underscore: the alternative to the deal we've reached isn't a better deal. . . some kind of unicorn fantasy that contemplates Iran's complete capitulation," Kerry insisted.
Kerry later said, "This plan was designed to address the nuclear issue alone, not to reform Iran's regime, or end its support for terrorism or its contributions to sectarian violence in the Middle East."
There it is, my friends. The Obama Administration is claiming that the critics of the deal want a war. Yet Kerry is confessing that the Iranian regime will continue to wage war throughout the Middle East, and it will do it with $150 billion of sanctions relief we are providing!
TAKE ACTION: Your elected members of Congress are evaluating President Obama's nuclear deal right now. They need to know that their votes have consequences and that this issue will influence how you vote in the next election. Contact your elected representatives right now!
Arming Our Enemies
One of the key provisions of Obama's nuclear deal with Iran is that the Islamic Republic will gain access to more than $100 billion in assets currently frozen because of U.S. sanctions. Many have pointed out that this transfer indirectly makes Obama's deal the biggest aid to terrorism ever. And the proof is that Iran is already spending the money.
They are buying a highly sophisticated air defense system from Russia. Russia will use that money to promote unrest in Ukraine and elsewhere. There are reports today that Iran has signed a deal to buy fighter jets from China. China will likely use the money to counter U.S. influence in Asia. And, of course, Hamas and Hezbollah are awaiting their windfalls from the agreement. The deal is a disaster for this reason alone!
By the way, we reported two weeks ago that U.S. personnel are banned from participating in the international inspections of suspect Iranian nuclear sites. Yesterday the Associated Press finally picked up on this news.
------------- Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families Tags:Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, Unicorn Fantasies, Iran Deal, Arming our enemiesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Democrats, ignore reality, Women's Health care, defund Planned Parenthood, funds, Community Health Centers, Local Health Departments, Women Services, S. 1881To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
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