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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, November 15, 2013

Obamacare Remains Above The Proverbial Fold In D.C.

Obamacare Today Still Above The Fold
Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov. 15, 2013
The House reconvened today at 9 AM. and immediately focused on the Keep Your Health Plan Act, H.R. 3350 — "To authorize health insurance issuers to continue to offer for sale current individual health insurance coverage in satisfaction of the minimum essential health insurance coverage requirement, and for other purposes." By 1:36 PM, the bill had passed 261 - 157. The breakdown in votes: 226 Republicans and 39 Democrats voted for the bill and 153 Democrats and 4 Republicans voted against the bill. Eight democrats and two republicans did not vote. While 39 Democrats stood with the Republicans, again the majority of democrats showed their opposition to helping people "keep their healthcare policy if they like it."

Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR) commented on the need for the bill: “As President Clinton recently acknowledged, millions of families are losing their health insurance plans because of Obamacare. President Obama looked Americans in the eye and promised that wouldn’t happen, but that’s just not true. While our bill will allow folks to keep their plans for another year, it’s clear that Obamacare is a broken law, and its broken website is only the beginning. Obamacare must be repealed so we can pass real, patient-centered health care reform.”

With duplicitous actions by the Democrats with President Obama saying one thing yesterday but also threatening to veto the "Save Your Health Care Act" if it was passed has sent a clear signal to Democrats to keep in lock-step opposing all efforts to help individual Americans from losing their healthcare. We can expect Senator Harry Reid to block the bill in the Senate or if were to allow the bill to be voted on then Senate progressive democrats would act to defeat the bill rather than helping to relieve the catastrophic pain inflected on their constituents and all other Americans over healthcare. Their agenda is clear. If pain leads to a single payer system with absolute government control of healthcare in America, the democrats are all for it.

Yesterday the House passed H.R. 2655 (228-195) — "To amend Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to improve attorney accountability, and for other purposes."
The House also passed (347-76) a motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 3080 – the Water Resources Reform Act. The Senate had amended the House bill and the majority of the House disagreed with the Senate action. Speaker Boehner immediately appointed 16 Republicans as House Republican negotiators to serve on the House-Senate Conference Committee. In doing so, the speaker said, "Reforming the way our country develops and maintains vital ports and waterways will strengthen our economy and help create new job. The vote for the House bill was nearly unanimous. It cuts red tape, increases accountability, and protects taxpayers – all without earmarks. I’m confident our negotiators will come to a quick resolution that includes these reforms – one that both the House and Senate can pass and the president can sign.”

The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene on Monday at 2 PM.
At 5 PM Monday, the Senate will begin a very short debate on the nomination of Robert Wilkins to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Wilkins is the third in a series of left-wing nominees to that court whom Democrats are pushing in an explicit attempt to both distract from Obamacare and “switch the majority” of the court so it can rubberstamp the president’s executive branch excesses. Senate Republicans have blocked the last two nominees Democrats tried to push through, Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard. At 5:30 Monday, there will be a cloture vote (i.e. to cut off debate and advance the nomination) on the Wilkins nomination.

If cloture is not invoked on the nomination, the Senate will then vote on cloture on H.R. 3204, the FDA pharmaceutical drug compounding bill. If cloture is invoked, the Senate will then vote on final passage of H.R. 3204. Finally, there will be a vote on cloture on the motion to proceed (i.e. whether to take up) S. 1197, the Defense Authorization bill.

Despite President Obama’s lengthy excuse-ridden press conference yesterday to try to announce a “fix” to an Obamacare provision that violates a promise he made repeatedly that “If you have health insurance and you like it, and you have a doctor that you like, then you can keep it. Period,” editorial pages were decidedly unimpressed.

The president’s hometown Chicago Tribune writes, “As Friday dawns, here's what a health insurance crisis looks like to many millions of Americans: Barely six weeks shy of 2014, they do not know whether they will have medical coverage Jan. 1. Or which hospitals and doctors they might patronize. Or what they may pay to protect themselves and their families against the chance of medical and financial catastrophe. How much, that is, they may pay in order to satisfy the Democratic politicians and federal bureaucrats who are worsening a metastasizing health coverage fiasco. For perhaps 5 million of those Americans thus far — estimates vary — the Washington-ordered cancellation of their policies is especially maddening. In the past these people took responsibility for their coverage and bought policies that balanced their needs, finances and personal choices. Congress and President Barack Obama, by enacting the Affordable Care Act, in effect ordered insurers to dismantle many of those individual plans — and cancel those policies. . . . So, what Obama presented Thursday as a favor looks like one more mess for state governments, insurers and ... American citizens. Under the policy Obama articulated, the states and insurers aren't required to do anything. The American citizens? Under Obamacare, they're still required to have health insurance. Or pay a government fine.”

The Wall Street Journal is unsparing, explaining, “You know the politics of ObamaCare is bad when even President Obama is forced to concede that the rollout is a bloody mess. If only the new ‘administrative fix’ he announced on Thursday did more to help the consumers who are losing their coverage than it does to help Democrats protect their political future. In a major political reversal, the President announced at a surprise press conference that he is suspending the regulations that he now admits are the reason that millions of health insurance plans have been terminated. Only days ago he was saying these were ‘substandard plans’ sold by ‘bad-apple insurers.’ Some of us have been warning for years about the coming insurance market destruction, but Mr. Obama went ahead anyway even though millions of middle-class folks preferred their coverage to ObamaCare. Now these mass cancellations are proving to be unpopular, and Democrats are panicking, so Mr. Obama is offering a temporary stay of execution. He is instructing his health regulators to suspend eight complicated rules that all insurance plans had to meet and had caused the market implosion. There is less reprieve here than Mr. Obama claims. It's hard to un-cancel insurance. The rules Mr. Obama is repudiating were written in 2010, and insurers have been adapting to them for years. They will now have to scramble to revive the policies they can while throwing all of their actuarial assumptions out the window. The faux reprieve also lasts for only one year and applies only to anyone who was covered in 2013. The insurers are essentially being asked to agree to accept losses on behalf of a rump group of policy holders in a legacy business that would then turn into a pumpkin in 2015.”

The Los Angeles Times adds, “The move is a desperate attempt to fulfill a promise President Obama never should have made, and the legal authority for it is sketchy. What's more, it may not be possible at this point for insurers to revive policies they've already canceled. Worst of all, Obama merely punted to next year the fight over the law's insurance reforms, which he has done a remarkably poor job of explaining and selling.”

Today’s headlines tell the tale of panicked Democrats who weren’t very assured by the president’s blame-shifting: “Democratic Lawmakers Running for Cover,” “Obama fails to calm jittery Dems,” “Still skittish: Wary Dems aren't satisfied by Obamacare 'fix',” “Senate Democrats not fully satisfied with Obamacare fix.”

National Journal’s Ron Brownstein explains why Democrats who went all-in for Obamacare have reason to be nervous. “President Obama’s health care law is now compounding a political problem it was meant to solve: the generation-long loss of faith in government activism . . . . For decades, Democratic strategists have viewed universal health care as their best opportunity to reverse the doubt among many voters . . . that government programs can tangibly benefit their families. Now the catastrophic rollout of the health law threatens instead to reinforce those doubts. That outcome could threaten Democratic priorities for years. Even before its disastrous launch, the health care law faced anxiety about its goals. On the plan’s best days, polls found Americans split almost evenly on whether reform would benefit the country overall. But even then, nothing approaching a majority ever said the law would help their own families . . . . With its chaotic launch, the administration has now added derision over the law’s execution to suspicion about its motivation. . . . Donald Kettl, dean of the University of Maryland’s Public Policy School and an expert in public administration . . . . says no major federal initiative has failed so thoroughly upon its unveiling since the ballistic-missile program’s first years in the 1950s produced a succession of explosions and failures to launch. ‘The last time something blew up on the runway like this,’ Kettl says, ‘things were literally blowing up on the runway.’”

Meanwhile, stories of Obamacare’s problems and failures continue. The AP writes today, “Among the concerns surrounding the rollout of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul was that too few young, healthy people would sign up — a problem that could undermine the financial viability of the federal law. The insurance industry has increasing cause for concern as early enrollment reports suggest a trend that could cause insurance premiums and deductibles to rise sharply next year. Along with the paltry enrollment numbers released this week, officials in a handful of states said those who had managed to sign up were generally older people with medical problems.” And The Washington Post reports, “A senior official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid warned colleagues on July 16 he was worried the online enrollment system could ‘crash’ upon its Oct. 1 launch, according to new documents released Friday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.”

In an op-ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer today, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell writes, “For nearly five years, Kentuckians heard President Obama repeat one very familiar phrase: ‘If you like your current health care plan, you can keep it.’ Kentuckians took the president at his word as he echoed this promise over and over again. Now that Obamacare is coming into effect, we’re learning that millions of people won’t be able to keep the plan they have – despite the president’s promise. Unfortunately, it’s not hard to find examples of Kentuckians who are being told, through no fault of their own, that the health insurance plan they have relied on and want to keep is being canceled, and many are finding that Obamacare’s alternatives are more costly. . . . Let’s face it – Obamacare’s failures aren’t restricted to just a website. The law is proving to be a calamity for millions of Americans who, through no fault of their own, are being forced to drop health insurance plans they like and purchase different ones with higher costs. It’s still not too late to act to stop the worst parts of this law.”

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