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ObamaCare

The Dirty Little Secret About De-Funding Obamacare

From Big Government:

Several members of Congress, like Rep. Denny Rehberg (R, MT) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R.-Wash.) are offering amendments that would prevent any new spending from being used to implement Obamacare.

Good for them.  Those are important additions to the big spending bill pending in Congress.

But here’s the dirty little secret:  Much of Obamacare is being implemented with money that was already appropriated last year.  These billions are already available for bureaucrats to put Obamacare into force.

Denying additional funding for Obamacare does not de-fund the huge amounts it already is using for implementation.  That requires additional action.

Even though the last Congress failed to pass other appropriations bills (creating the need for the currently-pending spending measure), that former Congress DID provide billions to get Obamacare launched.  The money was directly appropriated as part of the health care legislation, rather than included in a separate appropriations bill as is the normal practice.

The details are in a Congressional Research Service report issued last October, “Appropriations and Fund Transfers in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).”  CRS devotes seven pages to describing the billions of dollars already appropriated and which the Obama Administration even now is spending to promote that law.

 Conservatives agree with the American people that Obamacare should be repealed.  Short of outright repeal, leaders from 32 conservative groups in the Conservative Action Project have unitedly stated that the next-best strategy is defunding.  As their report states, “The safest route for legislatively combating Obamacare is to defund it. Now that the statute has been declared unconstitutional, Congress should use the power of the purse to deny funding for the individual mandate, employer mandates, and writing the 100s of regulations need to impose Obamacare. Such legislation will not in any way jeopardize the ongoing litigation efforts.”

It’s good that a federal judge has declared Obamacare unconstitutional, but the White House insists it’s going forward anyway.  It’s good that the House may cut off any new money to implement Obamacare.  But unless Congress deals with the pot of money already provided, we won’t meet the goal of defunding Obamacare.

Alaska Governor Refuses to Implement ObamaCare

From The Blaze:

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Sean Parnell took a defiant stand Thursday against the federal health care overhaul Congress passed last year, declaring that he will refuse to implement a law he views as blatantly unconstitutional.

Parnell is the latest Republican governor to lash out against the law as the courts weigh the constitutionality of the overhaul. More than half of all states, including Alaska, have sued or joined lawsuits against the government over the health care plan pushed by President Barack Obama.

It’s not immediately clear what impact the unusual, rather bold move would have on Alaskans, an estimated 14 percent of whom are uninsured year-round.

Several experts believe Parnell is on shaky legal ground and that his comments are little more than symbolic. The law won’t fully take effect until 2015 – just after his first term will have ended – and the constitutionality question will not get settled until the U.S. Supreme Court decides it.

Until then, in Parnell’s view the decision by a federal judge in Florida, striking down the law as unconstitutional, “is the law of the land, as it pertains to Alaska.”

Alaska was one of 26 states party to that case. In other cases, two federal judges have upheld the law and another judge ruled a provision requiring citizens to buy health insurance or face penalties – a major point of contention in the Florida case – is unconstitutional but did not strike down the rest of the law.

Federal Judge: Obamacare is Void

From The Heritage Foundation:

Today’s decision by Judge Vinson is another stinging defeat for the administration in its defense of Obamacare. Defenders of the health care bill had tried to paint any legal challenge as “frivolous.”  When then-Speaker Pelosi was asked by a reporter “where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate,” Pelosi responded incredulously, “Are you serious? Are you serious?”  To wit, Judge Vinson offered a serious response, striking down not only the mandate, but the whole of the health care bill.

In a 78-page opinion, Judge Vinson dissects the two major claims at issue in this case: whether Obamacare violates the spending clause, particularly the coercion principles announced in South Dakota v. Dole, and whether the mandate to purchase health insurance violates the Commerce Clause.

On the first claim, Judge Vinson sided with the administration.  In the second, he offered a detailed analysis of the law which reads like a treatise.  Rather than picking and choosing his cases, as many proponents of Obamacare like to do, he went through all of the relevant case law at length before concluding that the mandate violated the Commerce Clause.  He correctly observed that “it would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause.”  He then concluded that “the individual mandate and the remaining provisions are all inextricably bound together in purpose and must stand or fall as a single unit. The individual mandate cannot be severed.”  As such, he appropriately struck down the entire law.  Today’s decision should be a major source of concern for the Obama administration for at least five reasons.

 First, the parties involved. This case involves a majority of the states (26), and the National Federation of Independent Business.  If not completely unprecedented, the very fact that more than half the states marched into federal court on behalf of themselves and their citizens to challenge an unconstitutional federal program falls into the category of “beyond any recent memory.”  The sheer magnitude of the parties involved guarantees that the courts on appeal will pay particular attention to this case.

Second, the case creates a very bad trend for the administration.  Those courts which have taken the time to more fully develop the record in the case, and to have more briefing and hearings (Virginia and Florida), have ruled Obamacare unconstitutional.  This is important because, contrary to the White House spin, litigation is not a scoreboard.  It is not enough to say that you have won some and lost some.  Some district court wins “count” more, because they are more indicative of what is likely to come next.  Here, the cases the administration has lost have been better developed, have significant and sophisticated parties, and are in a better position for appeal than the more cursory cases that they have won at more preliminary stages.

Third, the case strikes down the whole of Obamacare based on the unconstitutionality of the mandate.  The administration has tried to have it both ways on this one, with the President and key proponents arguing how essential the mandate is, while the Justice Department arguing at times that it was absolutely essential, and at times that it was severable.  If the DOJ really wanted to keep the bill severable, perhaps they should not have argued in court that removing the mandate while maintaining the remaining requirements of the bill would “inexorably drive [the health insurance] market into extinction.”  Those who would falsely accuse the Judge of overstepping his bounds must recognize both the standards for severability, which he properly applied, and the damning concession made on this point by the Justice Department.

The fourth problem for the Obama DOJ: Judge Vinson’s decision is thorough, well-reasoned, and likely will be very persuasive to appellate judges, and eventually Justices, who review the case.  He was judicious, ruling against the states on the spending clause claim and for them on the Commerce Clause.  The most important document in any appeal is the decision below, and Judge Vinson’s will give the court of appeals much to consider.  Put simply, Vinson has just made the Obama DOJ’s job much more difficult.

The fifth problem, the Judge granted declaratory relief to the parties, which includes 26 states.  Because the entire act was struck down, the future requirements to expand Medicaid programs will be suspended, at least as to these 26 states, and these states will be relieved of their obligation to make plans for such expansion in the immediate future.  At a time when many states face insolvency, the removal of this burden is welcome news.  The Obama administration, rather than fight the relief for these 26 states, should extend it to all 50 until the case is finally resolved.

Obamacare: A Uniquely Vicious Form of Corruption

From Power Line:

If you haven’t already seen it, don’t miss Karl Rove’s column in today’s Wall Street Journal. Rove explains the vicious strategy at the heart of Obamacare: pass terrible legislation, and then collect a toll by exempting your friends–those who pay you lots of money–from that legislation, while your enemies have to live with it. We have had various forms of corruption over the years, but I don’t believe we have had, within memory, anything quite this disgusting. The worst malefactor here, besides President Obama himself, is AARP:

The Obama administration’s behavior to date suggests that it will not hesitate to take care of its friends. The Senate Republican Policy Committee’s health policy analyst, Chris Jacobs, points out that the administration has already given an extravagant gift to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), a key player in passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The AARP provided a big chunk of the $121 million spent on ads supporting the bill’s passage, as well as $21 million on lobbying in 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. HHS’s proposed regulations on Dec. 21 exempted the AARP’s lucrative “Medigap” plans from the rate review and other mandates and requirements. …

The AARP is also exempt from the new law’s $500,000 cap on executive compensation for insurance executives. (The nonprofit’s last CEO received over $1.5 million in compensation in his last full year, 2009.) It won’t pay any of the estimated $14 billion in new taxes on insurance companies, though according to its 2008 consolidated financial statement, it gets more money from its insurance offerings than it does from dues, grants and private contributions combined. Nor will it have to spend at least 85% of its Medigap premium dollars on medical claims, as Medicare Advantage plans must do; the AARP will be held to a far less restrictive 65%.

It’s not hard to connect the dots. The Obama administration is using waivers to reward friends. On the flip side, business executives will be discouraged from contributing to the president’s opponents or from taking any other steps that might upset the White House or its political appointees at HHS.

We’ve heard a lot about “crony capitalism” in recent years, but this is something worse–crony socialism. The Obama administration is running, in effect, a protection racket–nice business you have here, too bad if something should happen to it. We’re passing legislation that may destroy your business, but don’t worry–if you pay us our protection money, we will give you a waiver. By American standards, this is corruption of a uniquely vicious sort

Big Government Pays Google to Direct Searches to Pro-ObamaCare Propaganda

From Moonbattery:

If you type “ObamaCare” into Google, the first link that comes up is to HealthCare.gov, a government site extolling government control of the healthcare sector paid for with government money — that is, your money. Also paid for with your money was the link itself.

Politico’s Ben Smith, in a post entitled “HHS Buys ‘ObamaCare,'” quotes an official from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), who confirms that this clear attempt to influence what Americans read about Obamacare does, indeed, represent your tax dollars at work: “‘We are using a bunch of search term[s] to help point people to HealthCare.gov. [It’s] [p]art of our online efforts to help get accurate information to people about the new law (i.e. [we] also use Facebook, Twitter, blogs and webcasts),’ an HHS official confirmed by e-mail.”

The “accurate information” that Americans will glean about the massive health care overhaul from this HHS website is of the same sort that President Obama has supplied all along — such as that Obamacare would lower health costs (only 17 percent of Americans believe this), increase the quality of care (only 22 percent believe this), and reduce deficits (only 17 percent believe this).

You won’t find anything on the HHS site about how the Medicare chief actuary projects that Obamacare would bend the cost curve upward by $311 billion by 2019 in relation to costs in the absence of Obamacare; about how the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that, by 2016, in the non-group market, the average American family’s health care premiums under Obamacare would increase by $2,100 per year in relation to what those premiums would be without Obamacare; about how the CBO projects that Obamacare would cost over $2 trillion in its real first decade (2014 to 2023) alone; or about how the administration’s internal (“midrange”) estimates are that more than half of all employer-provided health plans wouldn’t be grandfathered in under Obamacare — and that, therefore, if you like your health care, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get to keep your health care.

For that sort of information, you’ll have to consult sites that — because they don’t use taxpayer dollars to pay Google to list them first — appear somewhat lower in the pecking order.

The vicious circle turns and turns: the bigger government gets, the more of your money it has to promote its own growth.

ObamaCare Already Preventing Hospital Construction

From Moonbattery:

ObamaCare is already doing its work — depriving us of healthcare, destroying jobs, and suppressing free market competition:

Under the headline, “Construction Stops at Physician Hospitals,” Politico reports [yesterday] that “Physician Hospitals of America says that construction had to stop at 45 hospitals nationwide or they would not be able to bill Medicare for treatments.” Stopping construction at doctor-owned hospitals might not seem like the best way to boost the economy or to promote greater access and choice in health care, but that exactly what Obamacare is doing.

Kenneth Artz of the Heartland Institute explains, “Section 6001 of the health care law effectively bans new physician-owned hospitals (POHs) from starting up, and it keeps existing ones from expanding.” Politico adds, “Friday [New Year’s Eve] marked the last day physician-owned hospitals could get Medicare certification covering their new or expanded hospitals, one of the latest provisions of the reform law to go into effect.”

This little-noticed but particularly egregious aspect of Obamacare is, by all accounts, a concession to the powerful American Hospital Association (AHA), a supporter of Obamacare, which prefers to have its member hospitals operate without competition from hospitals owned by doctors. Dr. Michael Russell, president of Physician Hospitals of America, which has filed suit to try to stop this selective building-ban from going into effect, says, “There are so many regulations [in Obamacare] and they are so onerous and intrusive that we believe that the section [Section 6001] was deliberately designed so no physician owned hospital could successfully comply.”

But on the positive side, cronies with a special seat at the Big Government table (like the AHA, the AMA, and established giants in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries) stand to profit, at least in the short-term, at the expense of the rest of us.

Obamacare: The Price Controls Begin

From The Heritage Foundation:

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that, starting next year, health insurance companies must receive permission from the Obama administration before they can raise rates higher than 10%. As we warned before Obamacare even became law, this is a form of price control, a government intervention that has a long and well established history of failure.

Way back in 1993, Heritage Foundation scholar Heritage’s Ed Haislmaier was detailing the shortcomings of price controls in health care:

Price controls would not work in health care because they attack the symptoms of runaway costs, not the cause. Medical costs today are soaring because consumers are largely insulated from them…and because the tax system discourages consumers from seeking good value for money in health care.
….
Most policy makers who favor health care price controls view them as a way to curb rapid medical inflation. But most of the blame for that same inflation can be traced directly to previous government health care policies that they support or maintain. Health care price controls also are attractive to Members of Congress because they provide a benefit (cheaper medical care) to a favored constituency (health care consumers) at the expense of less favored constituencies (doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and insurance companies). This is why some Members of Congress are so quick to blame the health care industry for escalating medical costs, when in fact it is largely government laws, regulations, and policies that are responsible.

Obamacare Endgame: Doctors Will be Fined or Jailed if they Put Patients First

From Big Government:

If Obamacare is completely implemented, doctors will no longer be practicing medicine. They will instead become the drones tasked with deciding who gets the meager healthcare crumbs doled out by the bureaucrats who have the ultimate power over patient life and death. Those who are deemed to have illnesses that require treatments which are not cost effective can expect a one way ticket to a hospice.

Like so many bills passed by Congress, there was a hidden provision in the Stimulus bill passed in 2009. It spends 1.1 billion dollars to create an important piece of the framework for the healthcare bill called the Coordinating Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research. It is based on the false premise that doctors in consultation with their patients don’t have the ability to make the right healthcare choices (see executive summary). The council consists of 15 people appointed by the President.

They all have one thing in common–they are all isolated from day to day patient care; and therefore, are insulated from the real practice of the art of medicine. It makes it easy to see patients as a cost center to be controlled. With views of members like Dr Emanuel, who champions the complete-lives system, it is hard to ignore the probability that senior citizens, those with chronic illness, and the very young will be on the outside looking in. This council is another example of the people of this country being told by the government that it knows what is best for us.

The framework set up by the stimulus bill merely set the stage for the implementation found in the healthcare reform bill. How can the government get doctors to participate in Obamacare thereby a) willingly destroying the doctor patient relationship, and  b) betraying their Hippocratic Oath to provide treatments that they deem to be effective? Simple – fear and intimidation.

A second board created by the stimulus bill called The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology “will determine treatment at the time and place of care”. They are charged with deciding the course of treatment for the diagnosis given by the doctor. Now it becomes obvious why there has been a big push towards the implementation of universal electronic medical record use. It becomes a tool to completely control the physician and the patient. Those physicians and hospitals that choose to practice individualized patient care in consultation with their patients will be punished because they are not “meaningful users of the system over time.” Beginning January 1, 2013 penalties for doing the right thing for a patient will cost the doctor $100,000 for the first offense and jail for the second offense. This will have a chilling effect and may be the straw that completely breaks the foundation of good medicine – the doctor patient relationship.

46% of physiciansin a survey by The New England Journal of Medicine stated that they would leave the practice of medicine if Obamacare was implemented. This will only further decrease the quality of healthcare when the 30 million more people enter the system. Maybe that’s why there is a big push in the healthcare bill to increase the number of other providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners. There is no question that rationing will become our future. If you add 30 million more people into a system with fewer resources how could you possibly avoid rationing? Perhaps those members of Congress who passed this nightmare don’t care since they made sure that it wouldn’t apply to them.

 

A Doctor’s Diagnosis of the ObamaCare Problem

Gov. Mitch Daniels on Obamacare’s Devastating Consequences

From The Heritage Foundation:

We’ve been through a global recession. Now we’re fighting through a stalled recovery. Revenues are the lowest they’ve been in half a century. Their finances a wreck, many states have effectively sunk into bankruptcy.

Indiana is still afloat. In fact, we’ve fared better than most. We continue to meet our obligations without raising taxes, and the reserves we carefully built and protected will get us through the downturn.

But as if we did not already have enough on our plates, the passage and implementation of Obamacare presents us with a whole new set of challenges and a costly to-do list.

I note with special sadness that first and foremost amongst the bill’s consequences will be the probable demise of the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP). This program is currently providing health insurance to 50,000 low-income Hoosiers. With its Health Savings Account-style personal accounts and numerous incentives for healthy lifestyle choices, it has been enormously popular and successful.

Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, soon to cover one in every four citizens, will not only scoop up most of HIP’s participants, but will also cost the state between $3.1 and $3.9 billion over the next decade. It is hard to see how my successors as governor will be able to avoid a steep state tax increase to pay for it. Meanwhile, our medical device companies and small businesses will shed jobs as they wrestle with the taxes and penalties levied to help finance Washington’s “reforms.”

Read the rest at The Heritage Foundation.

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