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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)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Train Wreck: Obamacare 'Premiums Test Limits of Affordability’ -- Excessive 'Copayments And Deductibles

Train Wreck Continues
Today in Washington, D.C. - Sept. 26, 2013
The Senate reconvened at 10 AM today and resumed consideration of H.J. Res. 59, the House-passed continuing resolution. Last night, the motion to proceed to H.J. Res. 59 was agreed to by unanimous consent and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on the bill and filled the amendment tree (closing off amendments).

Unless an agreement is reached by unanimous consent to hold it earlier, the Senate will vote on cloture (to cut off debate) on the CR on Friday. Yesterday, the Senate voted 100-0 in invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.J. Res. 59.

The House convened at 10 AM. The House will take up as unfinished business bills which have been addressed but not voted on.

Yesterday the House passed H.R. 1961 (280-89) — "To amend title 46, United States Code, to extend the exemption from the fire-retardant materials construction requirement for vessels operating within the Boundary Line." They also approved H.R.527 with a Senate Amendment (367-0) - "A bill to amend the Helium Act to complete the privatization of the Federal helium reserve in a competitive market fashion that ensures stability in the helium markets while protecting the interests of American taxpayers, and for other purposes." The amended version of the bill passed (97-2).

At a press conference with Republican leaders today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) previewed upcoming House legislation – the Spending Control & Economic Growth Act – that will tie an increase in the debt limit to spending cuts and pro-growth reforms, a policy backed by the majority of Americans. At the briefing, Boehner also urged the Senate to approve House-passed legislation protecting all Americans from the president’s health care law. Following are Boehner’s remarks:
“Listen, the American people don’t want the president’s health care bill and they don’t want the government to shut down. Republicans are listening, we passed a bill last week that would do just what the American people have asked. It’s time for the Senate to listen and pass the bill that we sent over there.

“On the debt limit, we’re going to introduce a plan that ties important spending cuts and pro-growth reforms to a debt limit increase.

“Now the president says, ‘I’m not going to negotiate.’ Well, I’m sorry, but it just doesn't work that way. We’re not going to ignore Washington’s spending problem and we’re not going to accept this ‘new normal’ of a weak economy, no new jobs, and shrinking wages.

“So, we need to strengthen our economy for all Americans - and we need to deal with Washington’s spending problem.”
Speaker Boehner (R-OH) also responded to today’s report from the Joint Economic Committee analyzing the economic and deficit reduction effects of various reforms included in the House’s plan to increase the debt limit – the Spending Control & Economic Growth Act, expected to be formally introduced in the House this week. The report concludes that, taken together, these policy changes will result in considerable economic growth and, therefore, deficit reduction.“To tackle our debt and put us on a path to a balanced budget, we need to both cut spending and strengthen our economy. We've long said that economic reforms must part of the solution to our imminent debt crisis, and this report confirms that our pro-growth policies will not only create jobs, but also produce significant deficit reduction. While most of Washington’s flawed and outdated budget models don’t recognize it, good policy leads to economic growth, which means more revenue and less borrowing. There should be little doubt that the reforms included in a House debt limit package, paired with real spending cuts, will ensure the deficit is reduced by an amount greater than the debt limit increase.”NOTE: The report from the Joint Economic Committee concludes, “The Spending Control and Economic Growth Act includes a host of pro-growth policy reforms that will address some of the biggest challenges and opportunities in the American economy. The scoring conventions used by JCT and CBO do not consider the fiscal effects of changes in economic growth due to the enactment of legislation. The fact is, however, that passage of this legislation will lead to increased economic output, higher revenue for the federal government, and less federal borrowing. Using CBO’s own growth-to-deficit reduction estimation, the Spending Control and Economic Growth Act will produce a significant increase in federal revenues and contribute to the Speaker’s goal of reducing federal budget deficits by more than the federal debt ceiling is increased.”

Tomorrow, the Senate will be voting to end debate on the continuing resolution. Technically, this is the Senate's last chance to temporarily stop Obamacare before it goes into effect. The last chance to defund in full the Medicaid expansion and the insurance subsidies under the state exchanges.  The last chance to stop the screw-up of the best health care system in the world, and to keep you on your insurance policy of choice. Today, Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens urged every senator to vote "no" on ending debate on the continuing resolution that will continue funding for Obamacare. In reality this unlikely to happen. Mehrens said:
"Some Senate Republicans have come forward arguing that it is unfair to characterize those who oppose Ted Cruz's battle to defund Obamacare as supporting Obamacare. Yet, how else should one characterize a vote to close debate on a continuing resolution that ultimately allows Obamacare to be funded?

"Cloture is the only vote that matters in the Senate. Any senator who votes 'yes' on cloture, is casting a vote that will allow Obamacare to be implemented — it is undeniable. That is the only vote the American people are going to care about. If you vote 'yes' for cloture, you support Obamacare.

"It is puzzling that Senate Republicans would then point to the difficulties of passing legislation as the excuse why the Cruz effort is doomed and should have never been attempted, when their alternative is most certainly doomed to failure. Sen. John Cornyn argued on the Sean Hannity program that Republicans just need to get a Senate majority in 2014, and then they could send legislation to Obama that deals with Obamacare, ignoring the fact they will still most likely lack the votes to even get to cloture on such a bill and most certainly will lack the votes to overcome a presidential veto.

"Then, the argument will be that Republicans just need the presidency to undo Obamacare, ignoring the fact that in 2016, the GOP will be even less likely to get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate — something they have never accomplished — than they are in 2014. So, even if they win the White House, when Democrats filibuster any attempt to undo Obamacare, then the argument will again be they just need more senators to be elected in 2018 to get the job done.

"To follow the Cornyn so-called strategy to its conclusion, the earliest the American people might be able to deal with Obamacare would be in 2019, when it will have been the law of the land for almost a decade. In effect, the Senate Republican strategy to get rid of Obamacare is to allow it to be implemented. It accepts failure as its premise, and to call it plan is the most cynical, condescending trick of all, when it is simply surrender."
Today, President Obama held another of his campaign-style rallies about his unpopular health care law where, in between mocking Republicans and declaring he won’t negotiate on the debt ceiling, he tried to downplay the problems the law has had as “glitches” and claimed it would allow Americans to purchase health insurance “for the cost of your cellphone bill or less.”

Apparently the president didn’t check the news before he went out for his speech. In a story headlined, “Obama’s $3,000 Health-Law Premiums Test Limits of Affordability,” Bloomberg News writes today, “Health insurance under Obamacare will cost individuals at least $2,988 a year on average, a price that Republican opponents may target as out-of-reach for many Americans who don’t qualify for U.S. subsidies. While the $249 monthly payment is intended to be discounted through tax credits, less than half of people now buying insurance on their own may get that help.”

Politico reports, “Consumers may have to dig a little deeper into their wallets to pay for health care in the Obamacare insurance exchanges, according to a new analysis by Avalere Health. The study of six states suggests that consumers could face steep cost-sharing requirements — like co-payments, co-insurance and deductibles — layered on top of their monthly premiums.” The AP adds that “the added expense of copayments and deductibles could burn a hole in your wallet,” noting, “Americans looking for a health plan in new state insurance markets that open next week will face a trade-off familiar to purchasers of automobile coverage: to keep your premiums manageable, you agree to pay a bigger chunk of the repair bill if you get in a crash. Except that unlike an auto accident, serious illness is often not a self-contained event. Avalere also found that the new plans will require patients to pay a hefty share of the cost — 40 percent on average — for certain pricey drugs, like the newer specialty medications used to treat intractable chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.” Politico points out that “deductibles for typical exchange plans can run twice as high as the average employer-sponsored plan” and “The study also suggests exchange enrollees could see higher drug co-pays and co-insurance than those in employer-sponsored plans.”

Kaiser Health News summarized the problem well in an interview with a woman in upstate New York: “Michelle La Voie wants health insurance, but as a single mom making $38,000 a year and supporting two teenagers, she's not sure she can afford it -- even with a subsidy through the federal health law known as Obamacare. When enrollment in new online insurance markets begins next month, La Voie will likely qualify for a subsidy to buy private insurance, but would still have to pay $191 a month, or about 6 percent of her income toward the premium. She could also face as much as $2,000 in potential out-of-pocket costs for hospital care and prescription drugs, if she needs those things. ‘What’s the point of having [a policy] if I can’t afford to use it?’ asks the 47-year-old librarian in upstate Franklinville, N.Y., referring to the co-pays and deductibles she might incur.”

Meanwhile, the “glitches” the president is constantly dismissing keep piling up. The Washington Post reported last night, “Just days away from launch, the District of Columbia's health marketplace is announcing a pretty significant delay. While the D.C. Health Link will launch a Web site on October 1, shoppers will not have access to their premium prices until mid-November. The delay comes after the District marketplace discovered ‘a high error rate’ in calculating the tax credits that low- and middle-income people will use to purchase insurance on the marketplace.” Reuters elaborated, “The District of Columbia's online health insurance exchange - one of 51 set up under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law - will be unable to perform two key functions when it opens on October 1, exchange officials announced on Wednesday. The District joins Colorado and Oregon on the list of ‘Obamacare’ exchanges hobbled by problems with information technology (IT), contributing to expectations that Obama's signature domestic achievement will get off to a slow start when the exchanges go live next Tuesday. The ‘DC Health Link’ web-based marketplace, where residents of the nation's capital who do not have other coverage will be able to purchase policies, will lack the ability to calculate whether someone is eligible for Medicaid. It will also be unable to calculate the size of federal subsidies, if any, that a customer qualifies for. . . . Not being able to learn how much of a subsidy one qualifies for could therefore be a significant deterrent to applying for coverage.”

Embarrassingly, right after Obama finished promoting his health care law, Politico reported, “The Obama administration is delaying another piece of Obamacare – this time postponing online enrollment in some of the small-business exchanges scheduled to open Oct. 1,. . . Small businesses looking to enroll in coverage on so-called SHOP exchanges run by the federal government will be able to submit a paper application on Oct. 1 – they just won’t be able to enroll online.”

Speaking on the Senate floor this morning, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell surveyed the health care landscape that Obamacare has left. “[I]t must be frustrating for the President that folks seem to keep tuning out all the happy talk anyway. Well, it’s not hard to see, frankly, why Americans aren't buying the spin. Over the past couple of years, I've participated in more than 50 health care town halls in my home state. I've met with health care professionals, doctors, and nurses. I’ve met with patients. And I've met with everyday Kentuckians– folks who are just concerned about providing health care for their families. . . . And let’s be clear – a person doesn't need a Ph.D. to understand that a law that drives costs up, rather than down, is a bad deal. Kentuckians understand that new government bureaucracies are less likely to lower costs and improve care than they are to just simply get in the way. And so it is for these and so many other reasons that Kentuckians – and people right across this country – are rightly concerned about Obamacare.”

He continued, “We’re going to keep seeing articles like the one that appeared earlier this week in Politico. It’s titled ‘Obamacare: One Blow after Another.’ And I want to read the opening paragraph: ‘The Obamacare that consumers will finally be able to sign up for next week,’ it says, ‘is a long way from the health plan President Barack Obama first pitched to the nation.’ Among other things, the story notes that ‘millions of low-income Americans won’t receive coverage’ and ‘and a growing number of workers won’t get to keep their employer-provided coverage.’ And just yesterday, we heard that the District of Columbia’s exchange hit a huge bump in the road, just days before launch. I wouldn't be surprised if we see more stories of these types of problems popping up all across our country.”

Leader McConnell concluded with another call for Democrats to join with Republicans and vote to undo the damage they've done with Obamacare. “[T]his law is a mess. It needs to go. It’s way past time to start over. And, as I've been saying all week, we need just five brave Democrats to join with us to make that happen. So I hope some of my Democrat friends who voted for this law will look themselves in the mirror and think – truly think – about whether protecting the President’s pride is really more important than helping the American people.”

Tags: Obama care, funding, Continuing Resolution 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 1:17 PM - Post Link


Anonymous Kevin Pritchett said...

There has NEVER been a train wreck more severe, tragic, or that has caused and will cause so much damage!


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