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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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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 (429-347 BC)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Arkansas Legislature Missing The Fact That Obamacare "Is Getting More Expensive And Will...Accomplish Less"

ARRA News Service - Today in Washington, D.C. - April 12, 2013
The U.S. Senate was not in Session today. They will reconvene on Monday. At 5 PM, they will take up the nomination and vote 30 minutes later on Beverly Reid O'Connell to be U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California.

The House was in session and debated and passed (219-209) H.R. 1120 - "To prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from taking any action that requires a quorum of the members of the Board until such time as Board constituting a quorum shall have been confirmed by the Senate, the Supreme Court issues a decision on the constitutionality of the appointments to the Board made in January 2012, or the adjournment sine die of the first session of the 113th Congress." Recall that President Obama appointed without Senate approval people to the NLRB and the Supreme Court confirmed that this was unconstitutional. However, he has not removed these people who continue to make decisions. So the House is moving to defund the NLRB during this Congressional session until this situation is corrected.

The House also passed by unanimous consent. S. 716 — "To modify the requirements under the STOCK Act regarding online access to certain financial disclosure statements and related forms."

The stories detailing the struggles of the Obama administration in implementing its massive and unpopular health care law just keep coming.

Hot Air’s Erika Johnsen and Townhall’s Guy Benson both called attention to a Bloomberg News story yesterday, which reported, “The $1.3 trillion U.S. health-care system overhaul is getting more expensive and will initially accomplish less than intended. Costs for a network of health-insurance exchanges, a core part of the Affordable Care Act, have swelled to $4.4 billion for fiscal 2012 and 2013 combined, and will reach $5.7 billion in 2014, according to the budget President Barack Obama yesterday sent to Congress. That spending would be more than double initial projections, even though less than half the 50 U.S. states are participating.” Further, Bloomberg notes, “[T]he number of Americans projected to gain insurance from the law has already eroded, by at least 5 million people, to 27 million by 2017, the CBO said in February. In addition, as many as 8 million people will lose health-care plans now offered through their employers, almost three times more than the CBO initially projected.”

Bloomberg News also points out, “The unanticipated spending is a consequence of an ambitious timetable dictated by Congress and a complex new way of offering people medical coverage, say analysts, lobbyists and administration officials. Combine that with a majority of Republican governors declining to cooperate with a Democratic president and U.S. regulators are left grasping to get the 2010 health law up and running by a Jan. 1, 2014, deadline. ‘Once you’re behind schedule, the way you solve problems is you write checks,’ said Doug Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office director who is now president of the American Action Forum, which has opposed the health law.”

But Politico reported on Wednesday that Obama administration was “short of money” to write checks for Obamacare. “The White House requested $1.5 billion more for the health law implementation in its budget Wednesday, but health officials know they’re not likely to get it. As past funding requests have been spurned, Health and Human Services officials contend they’ve been able to cobble together the funds and won’t miss the Oct. 1 start of open enrollment in exchanges. Any big delay, or major hitches would be a huge blow to Obamacare and reopen the law to political warfare before the 2014 mid-term elections. . . . HHS to date hadn’t been very specific about how it’s been moving ahead — even when lawmakers asked. . . . Even when the law was passed three years ago, $1 billion for implementation was thought to be just the start. Getting the massive law up and running was expected to cost 10 times that. And that was before the federal exchange task ballooned as conservative states refused to do much to make the law a success.”

So what have Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and her agency done? According to Politico, they’ve been dipping into a slush fund created by Obamacare. “And to fund the race down the home stretch, the agency is dipping into what Republicans have criticized as a ‘slush fund’ in the health care law itself, the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Obama health officials did not specify Wednesday how much they were taking from that fund. It originally included $15 billion over 10 years, but it was cut by $5 billion in a deal to extend the payroll tax holiday last year. . . . James Capretta, George W. Bush’s health expert at the Office of Management and Budget and an outspoken critic of the Obama health law, also raised an eyebrow at the use of the prevention fund.It certainly goes against the spirit of what was intended and it may well be against the law,’ he said.”

Of course Republicans aren’t about to give the Obama administration more money to spend on an awful piece of legislation that is making the U.S. healthcare system worse, as Politico points out. “Are Republicans going to allow the administration to spend more money on Obamacare? Don’t count on it. . . . Republicans have declined requests for more implementation money repeatedly. Just a few weeks ago they refused to add nearly a billion dollars to the latest continuing resolution — and the Democratic-led Senate didn’t push the issue.”

As an aside, unfortunately some Republicans and all Democrats in the Arkansas legislature proved this week that they do not understand the above facts. Arkansas has asked federal officials to let it use the Medicaid money to buy private insurance policies, and the Obama administration is working with the state on that idea. No promises as the Feds are running into funding problems.

Obamacare would be dead in Arkansas if Republicans had stood by the principles they ran on in 2012 when they took control of both branches of the legislature for the first time since reconstruction. Instead, a few Republicans crossed over in the State Senate and voted with the Democrats and in the House this week, 14 Republicans joined all 49 Democrats to pass the Medicaid Expansion Bill. While the bill passed, the funding legislation was not yet passed. A funding appropriations bill to enable the Medicare Expansion Act to be implemented will requires a 3/4 majority of both Houses to pass.

However, Louisiana and South Carolina have both rejected the Arkansas plan for Medicaid Expansion. Business Week reports that "Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration announced Tuesday that it won't seek to replicate a private insurance Medicaid expansion model like Arkansas. . . Jindal's interim health secretary, Kathy Kliebert, told the Senate Health and Welfare Committee that the federal guidelines outlined for the Arkansas proposal don't offer enough flexibility and leave too much uncertainty about future financing and regulations."

The Washington Post addressed "Why South Carolina won’t follow Arkansas’s Medicaid lead." “If Republicans are for this plan, I don’t know what exactly they were against before,” says Keck, who runs South Carolina’s Medicaid program. “It covers the same number of people, with the same benefits and is more expensive. I have a hard time understanding what it is that some of these Republican legislators like about that. . . We’re opposed to spending way too much money, in general, on a health-care system where we get way too little in return,” Keck says. “I’d rather focus on getting more value for our dollars, and improving the system, rather than just making the system bigger.”

So the battle over Obamacare continues in Washington, D.C. and in the states. It is critical for the Arkansas legislature to wake up and to note the previously reported facts surrounding Obamacare. They seem to have forgotten the majority will of the voters was to reject President Obama's agenda in 2008 and in 2012.

However, President Obama has a friend in Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe who is putting pressure on the democrats in the legislature. Arkansas Democrats having lost both the House and Senate appear to be making a successful effort to drag enough Republicans into the muck and mire associated with Obamacare based on short sited reasoning. The bill is passed but the enabling funding bill has not. It is time for wayward Republicans to recant and to reject Obamacare, or as a minimum, to delay funding the legislation until the true consequences of the implicating Obamacare are better understood.

Tags: Obamacare, becoming more expensive, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 6:50 PM - Post Link

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