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Posts Tagged ‘Obamacare’

How Strange Can It Get?

six-degrees-of-separation

Some people believe in the Six Degrees of Separation Theory: the idea that everyone in the world is separated from everyone else by six links. 
Some people believe all of us are in this thing together, and that diversity is our strength and I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

Even if we are all connected in ways we cannot know I believe the world is filled with strangers.  Take a ride and as you pass through country, town, and city you are constantly presented with the faces of people you will never know, and all of whom have lives and families that will never know you or your life or your family.  Every day we see people we have never seen before and will never see again.  They rise out of the mist beyond the pale of our personal knowledge and immediately are submerged again never to rise again.  Our only connection will forever be that one fleeting moment when we moved through a single frame of the separate sagas which are our lives.

Unlike Cain I do believe we are our brother’s keeper, and unlike Scrooge I believe we should help our brothers in need instead of seeing them boiled with their own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through their hearts.  However, unlike the rhetoric of Marx, Lenin, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders I do not believe that life should operate on the basis of from each according to their ability to each according to their need, or as we say in America today, spreading the wealth around.  In other words, I am not a socialist.  I believe in personal liberty, individual freedom, and economic opportunity.  Sadly I find myself out of phase with the Progressive Clique which has successfully maneuvered its way to power using the education system, the media, government handouts, and uninformed, uninvolved, and emotional voters.

Out of phase or not, I believe in the equality of opportunity which gives everyone a shot at success as opposed to the equality of outcome which our Dear Leader and his fellow-travelers wish to foist upon us, and which gives everyone the assurance of mediocrity.   No matter the consequence, no matter the sacrifice we must stand up for what we believe or we will stand by while our nation is transformed into what we won’t be able to believe is still called the United States of America.

Day by day the bean counting pencil pushers who make up the nameless faceless bureaucracy grind out rule after rule and regulation after regulation with the force of law.  President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, Obamacare, churns out thousands upon thousands of pages of federal requirements all meant to fill in the blanks in a 2600 page bill that we had to pass to find out what was in it.

Hope and change has become bait and switch. In the last presidential election Mr. Obama wasn’t even trying to win votes from those who disagree with him.  He wasn’t trying to change minds. He was blatantly buying votes.  He was betting that generations of entitlements had finally birthed the lumpen proletariat that his theories of government proclaim must exist for History to reach its summit.  He bet his second term on the belief that there were enough people dependent upon the government that they would vote for a handout instead of voting for a hand up.  He bet that America had been dumbed down enough and bribed enough to trade our heritage of freedom for the yoke of a guaranteed something instead of the opportunity for everything.

Class warfare, penalizing success, dividing America into interest groups and voter blocks this was the strategy Mr. Obama thought would win as he worked to build a coalition of leftist intellectuals and those convinced they were disenfranchised.  Looking at the polls it appeared he had the solid core of 40+% who will vote for a Democrat even if he is the devil himself.  The question was would the unengaged and uninformed voters when combined with the illegals and the dead who at least get to vote in Chicago be enough for him to win?  In the end it didn’t matter when Romney decided to take the last month of the campaign off after throwing the last few debates.

Can you imagine what a third Obama term (or as some call it Hillary’s first term) will look like won on the basis of her promise to double down on social democracy, a complete disregard for the balance of power, and a desire to totally transform America?  What will be left of the America we have known?  How would we ever get back to where we came from?  No entitlement once enacted has ever been repealed.  The size of government never shrinks.  The power it usurps from the people and the States is never surrendered and the check and balance of the Supreme Court will be frozen into a Progressive rubber stamp.

A world filled with strangers keeps getting stranger all the time.  No matter how many degrees of separation we should never be as divided as our Progressive Leaders try to portray us.  We are Americans, and we can do better than this.  Reject the siren song of free entitlements which are never free, and embrace the liberty our forefathers won for us.  Let us renew our great experiment in human freedom and strive to see our nation rise again to be the last best hope of man that it is meant to be.  The shining city on a hill that can light the way to a future worthy of free men and women held together by unity.  Not a falling empire of competing special interests cobbled together as a ruling coalition led by an elitist clique who promotes separation and hyphenated Americans.

Even if it takes more than six degrees of separation to connect to others what does it matter how connected we are to people around the world if we are in terminal disagreement with our fellow Americans?  As a nation we are divided between those who want to strive to achieve and those who thrive because they receive.  The Progressives have bred generations of passive takers who believe they are entitled to the fruit of others’ labor.  They pay no taxes so they don’t care how high taxes go.  They have no conception of paying for what they have, so they don’t care about the national debt.  They see America as a vending machine, so they don’t believe in our unique place in History.  They desire a shabby world of bread and circuses based on equality of outcome, so they don’t long to be all they can be.

Those of us who want America to be what America has been and what it should be, the home of the brave and the land of the free can’t let divisions divide us anymore!  We must unite to save liberty or we will stand alone at the end of the day.  We may be strangers to one another.  We may not know each other but if we are fellow believers in the personal liberty, individual freedom, and economic opportunity we must unite over what connects us to save what has always made us E PLURIBUS UNUM.

Either that or we admit we are merely strangers in a strange land looking around at the social and cultural turmoil of today wondering how strange can it get.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2016 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

High Obamacare Deductibles Make Mandated Insurance Practically Useless

by Kristina Ribali

Remember the Affordable Care Act? The law that was supposed to lower the cost of health care by providing health insurance plans to the masses that were more affordable. That’s what we were promised, but the reality is that millions have seen their formally affordable premiums skyrocket, and now they’re also stuck with deductibles that are hard to swallow.

One man from New Jersey told the New York Times just how worthless his newly mandated plan has become.

“The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor,” said David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain. “We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.”
Deductibles in the thousands of dollars are not uncommon. In fact, “in many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through HealthCare.gov, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more.” Once you add in several hundred dollars per month for your plan premium, a rate that may or may not be lower than it used to be and add in a $3,000 or more deductible, the average individual could be paying over $5,000 out of pocket in a year before their “affordable” insurance kicks in. This is true for employer sponsored plans as well.

Just this past September, I wrote about the Kaiser Family Foundation study showing deductibles on employer sponsored plans rose by almost 9 percent.

How many American families who need to get insurance via Obamacare have the ability to absorb more than $3,000 or $5,000 into their yearly budget? In this economy, with fairly stagnant wages, and millions of Americans leaving the labor force, it’s doubtful that’s an easy cost to absorb for low income earners or even the middle class.

Kevin Fanning of Texas told the New York Times that “Basically I was paying for insurance I could not afford to use.” Fanning said that he and his wife “had a policy with a monthly premium of about $500 and an annual deductible of about $10,000 after taking account of financial assistance. Their income is about $32,000 a year.” That’s nearly one-third of their income just to get the insurance company to cover them if they actually need to seek care.

Unsurprisingly, Fanning dropped his plan.

But it gets even worse.

“Our deductible is so high, we practically pay for all of our medical expenses out of pocket,” said Wendy Kaplan, 50, of Evanston, Ill. “So our policy is really there for emergencies only, and basic wellness appointments.”
Her family of four pays premiums of $1,200 a month for coverage with an annual deductible of $12,700.

Twelve thousand, seven hundred dollars! Is that what this Administration considers affordable?

And let’s not forget, people are required to purchase this unaffordable insurance, or face a fine from the IRS.

Clarissa Morris, 47, has been a server at the Golden Corral here for five years, earning $2.13 an hour plus tips. On a typical day, she leaves the restaurant with about $70 in tips. Her husband makes $9 an hour at Walmart but has been offered only a part-time schedule there, without benefits. Their combined paychecks barely cover their rent and daily essentials.

“It’s either buy insurance or put food in the house,” she said.
A study in 2014 found that 56 million Americans under age 65 will have trouble paying their health care bills. A whopping 10 million Americans between the ages of 19 and 64 “will be unable to pay for basic necessities like rent, food, and heat due to their medical bills.”

Furthermore, “In 2013 over 20% of American adults were struggling to pay their medical bills, and three in five bankruptcies in 2014 will be due to medical bills.”

For millions of Americans, the insurance plans they are now required to purchase under Obamacare could potentially bankrupt them – forcing them to choose insurance or food, insurance or rent, insurance or heat during a cold winter. And if they don’t choose insurance, a hefty fine awaits as well.

It’s long past time for Congress to start rolling back these senseless government mandates on health care. Real solutions that put families back in charge of their health care costs and help the uninsured are already being pioneered in the states, but first the federal government needs to get out of the way.

Update (Ed), 11/18 12:33 pm: At Kristina’s request, I edited the post slightly to remove a reference to deductibles increasing $5,000 per person, which was an error in cross-referencing some of the data.

Bombshell: Federal Judge Says Americans Can't be Forced to Follow Obamacare Mandates!

OBAMA HIRED THEM IN KENYA

Ambulance.pages

ObamaCare Beyond the Handouts - Wall Street journal June 24th

We’ve already proved we can subsidize health care. But which subsidies make sense?
By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.

bramhall-world-affordable-care-act-train-wreck

By one standard no government program can fail, and that’s the standard being applied to ObamaCare by its supporters: If a program exists and delivers benefits, the program is working.

Paul Krugman, Nancy Pelosi and others consistently point to the fact that people are willingly receiving ObamaCare benefits as proof of the program’s value. Mr. Obama himself says: “When you talk to people who actually are enrolled in a new marketplace plan, the vast majority of them like their coverage. The vast majority are satisfied.”

And the polls indeed show that 74% of ObamaCare’s eight million enrollees are “satisfied” with their plans, because the polls fail to count the 12 million who are eligible but decline to enroll.

Of the eight million who have signed up, some 87% are receiving taxpayer subsidies. In other words, they are getting health care partly or wholly at someone else’s expense. The latest data reveal that the average monthly benefit amounts to $276 per person (up from $268 in February), allowing the typical HealthCare.gov user to buy a plan for $69 per month out of pocket.

To put it another way, the annual subsidy amounts to $3,312 per recipient. Which is excellent if you’re one of the recipients.

Steve Rattner, a Wall Street figure and President Obama’s former auto-bailout czar, insists in a recent New York Times op-ed that ObamaCare “is working,” by which he apparently means it’s in operation, which nobody denies. Mr. Rattner, like a lot of analysts, writes as if costs are benefits—as if millions of people lining up for something from the wallets of their fellow citizens, ipso facto, is proof of a worthwhile program.

Mr. Rattner, in a throwaway line—really, a partisan pleasantry—adds without evidence or elaboration that health-care costs are lower than they otherwise would be at least partly due to the new law.

Now, if this were true, it would be the greatest validation of ObamaCare as public policy but there is no reason to believe it’s true.

The right question about any program is whether the benefits justify the expenditure of taxpayer money. ObamaCare’s cheerleaders provide not cost-benefit analysis but benefit analysis—as if money grows on trees or is donated by Martians or can be printed in limitless quantities by the Fed.

ObamaCare, with its subsidies to those with low incomes, is not the worst thing in our health-care system by far. Medicare indiscriminately subsidizes everyone in Warren Buffett’s age group; and, more insidiously, trains Americans from an early age to expect somebody else to cover their medical costs in retirement. And the giant tax handout to employer-provided insurance perversely treats the richest taxpayers as the neediest.

It pays to remember, however, why the pending Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell is such a lethal threat to ObamaCare. King v. Burwell argues the IRS is illegally misreading the law to grant subsidies to 6.7 million users of the federal ObamaCare exchange known as HealthCare.gov.

King is a threat to ObamaCare because, without subsidies, ObamaCare is nothing. It fixes no problem in our health-care system, except to subsidize more people to consume health care at taxpayer expense. Not that subsidies are always undesirable: They help some people get necessary care. But subsidies do the most good when used sparingly, because subsidies also tend to inflate prices for everyone as well as encourage inefficient consumption that doesn’t improve health and may even endanger health.

In a final irony, many Republicans, seeing the damage an adverse Supreme Court ruling would do, take the statesman-like view that a GOP Congress must stand ready to find a new way to extend subsidies to the 6.7 million people who, since the advent of ObamaCare, expect themselves to be subsidized.

Fine, but let’s also have a major rethink of who should be subsidized and who shouldn’t, across our whole range of health-care programs, including Medicare and the workplace tax benefit.

Never going to happen? It will, if the GOP summons the courage to fix ObamaCare along the lines of the original, rational, “reform” that has motivated health-care thinking for four decades. A place to start would be reducing ObamaCare’s costly coverage mandates so policies would be genuinely attractive to people spending their own money; subsidies could then be trimmed back because fewer people would need subsidies to induce them to buy coverage.

We’ve always said that ObamaCare, for all its flaws, could become the instrument by which responsible reformers renew their push for health care that delivers value for money. In the meantime, however, no worthwhile thoughts about ObamaCare, pro or con, are to be heard from people who count a program as a success just because Americans enjoy receiving benefits at the expense of other Americans.

Guess How Many Changes Obama Has Made Unilaterally to the Affordable Care Act

By our count at the Galen Institute, more than 49 significant changes already have been made to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: at least 30 that President Obama has made unilaterally, 17 that Congress has passed and the president has signed, and 2 by the Supreme Court.

CHANGES BY ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION

1. Medicare Advantage patch: The administration ordered an advance draw on funds from a Medicare bonus program in order to provide extra payments to Medicare Advantage plans, in an effort to temporarily forestall cuts in benefits and therefore delay early exodus of MA plans from the program. (April 19, 2011)

2. Employee reporting: The administration, contrary to the Obamacare legislation, instituted a one-year delay of the requirement that employers must report to their employees on their W-2 forms the full cost of their employer-provided health insurance. (January 1, 2012)

3. Subsidies may flow through federal exchanges: The IRS issued a rule that allows premium assistance tax credits to be available in federal exchanges although the law specified that they only would be available through an “Exchange established by the State.” (May 23, 2012)

4. Closing the high-risk pool: The administration decided to prematurely halt enrollment in transitional federal high-risk pools created by the law, blocking coverage for an estimated 40,000 new applicants, citing a lack of funds. The administration had money from a fund under Secretary Sebelius’s control to extend the pools, but instead used the money to pay for advertising for Obamacare enrollment and other purposes. (February 15, 2013)

5. Doubling allowed deductibles: Because some group health plans use more than one benefits administrator, plans are allowed to apply separate patient cost-sharing limits to different services, such as doctor/hospital and prescription drugs, allowing maximum out-of-pocket costs to be twice as high as the law intended. (February 20, 2013)

6. Small businesses on hold: The administration has said that the federal exchanges for small businesses will not be ready by the 2014 statutory deadline, and instead delayed until 2015 the provision of SHOP (Small-Employer Health Option Program) that requires the exchanges to offer a choice of qualified health plans. (March 11, 2013)

7. Delaying a low-income plan: The administration delayed implementation of the Basic Health Program until 2015. It would have provided more-affordable health coverage for certain low-income individuals not eligible for Medicaid. (March 22, 2013)

8. Employer-mandate delay: By an administrative action that’s contrary to statutory language in the ACA, the reporting requirements for employers were delayed by one year. (July 2, 2013)

9. Self-attestation: Because of the difficulty of verifying income after the employer-reporting requirement was delayed, the administration decided it would allow “self-attestation” of income by applicants for health insurance in the exchanges. This was later partially retracted after congressional and public outcry over the likelihood of fraud. (July 15, 2013)

10. Delaying the online SHOP exchange: The administration first delayed for a month and later for a year until November 2014 the launch of the online insurance marketplace for small businesses. The exchange was originally scheduled to launch on October 1, 2013. (September 26, 2013) (November 27, 2013)

11. Congressional opt-out: The administration decided to offer employer contributions to members of Congress and their staffs when they purchase insurance on the exchanges created by the ACA, a subsidy the law doesn’t provide. (September 30, 2013)

12. Delaying the individual mandate: The administration changed the deadline for the individual mandate, by declaring that customers who have purchased insurance by March 31, 2014 will avoid the tax penalty. Previously, they would have had to purchase a plan by mid-February. (October 23, 2013)

13. Insurance companies may offer canceled plans: The administration announced that insurance companies may reoffer plans that previous regulations forced them to cancel. (November 14, 2013)

14. Exempting unions from reinsurance fee: The administration gave unions an exemption from the reinsurance fee (one of ObamaCare’s many new taxes). To make up for this exemption, non-exempt plans will have to pay a higher fee, which will likely be passed onto consumers in the form of higher premiums and deductibles. (December 2, 2013)

15. Extending Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan: The administration extended the federal high risk pool until January 31, 2014 and again until March 15, 2014 to prevent a coverage gap for the most vulnerable. The plans were scheduled to expire on December 31, but were extended because it has been impossible for some to sign up for new coverage on healthcare.gov. (December 12, 2013) (January 14, 2014)

16. Expanding hardship waiver to those with canceled plans: The administration expanded the hardship waiver, which excludes people from the individual mandate and allows some to purchase catastrophic health insurance, to people who have had their plans canceled because of ObamaCare regulations. The administration later extended this waiver until October 1, 2016. (December 19, 2013) (March 5, 2014)

17. Bay State bailout: More than 300,000 people in Massachusetts gained temporary Medicaid coverage in 2014 without verification of eligibility, with the Obama and Patrick administrations using a taxpayer-funded bailout to mask the failure of the commonwealth’s disastrously malfunctioning

18. Equal employer coverage delayed: Tax officials will not be enforcing in 2014 the mandate requiring employers to offer equal coverage to all their employees. This provision of the law was supposed to go into effect in 2010, but IRS officials have “yet to issue regulations for employers to follow.” (January 18, 2013)

19. Employer-mandate delayed again: The administration delayed for an additional year provisions of the employer mandate, postponing enforcement of the requirement for medium-size employers until 2016 and relaxing some requirements for larger employers. Businesses with 100 or more employees must offer coverage to 70% of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95% in 2016 and beyond. (February 10, 2014)

20. Extending subsidies to non-exchange plans: The administration released a bulletin through CMS extending subsidies to individuals who purchased health insurance plans outside of the federal or state exchanges. The bulletin also requires retroactive coverage and subsidies for individuals from the date they applied on the marketplace rather than the date they actually enrolled in a plan. (February 27, 2014)

21. Non-compliant health plans get two year extension: The administration pushed back the deadline by two years that requires health insurers to cancel plans that are not compliant with ObamaCare’s mandates. These “illegal” plans may now be offered until 2017. This extension will prevent a wave cancellation notices from going out before the 2014 midterm elections. (March 5, 2014)

22. Reducing cost sharing reductions. The ACA originally called for out-of-pocket maximums to be lowered for enrollees with incomes between 100-400% FPL (Sec. 1402), but the provision proved unworkable for those 250-400% of FPL in combination with prescribed actuarial value requirements and was changed through regulation to apply to only those 100-250% of poverty. (March 11, 2014)

23. Delaying the sign-up deadline: The administration delayed until mid-April the March 31 deadline to sign up for insurance. Applicants simply need to check a box on their application to qualify for this extended sign-up period. (March 26, 2014)

24. Canceling Medicare Advantage cuts: The administration canceled scheduled cuts to Medicare Advantage. The ACA calls for $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage over 10 years. (April 7, 2014)

25. More Funds for Insurer Bailout: The administration said it will supplement risk corridor payments to health insurance plans with “other sources of funding” if the higher risk profile of enrollees means the plans would lose money. (May 16, 2014)

26. Exempting U.S. territories: Despite earlier administration claims that “HHS is not authorized to choose which provisions [of the ACA] might apply to the territories,” HHSwaived six major requirements – such as guaranteed issue, community rating, and essential benefit mandates – that were causing serious disruption to health insurance markets covering 4.5 million residents of U.S. territories. (July 18, 2014)

27. Failure to enforce abortion restrictions. A GAO report found that many exchange insurance plans don’t separate charges for abortion services as required by the ACA, showing that the administration is not enforcing the law. In 2014, abortions were being financed with taxpayer funds in more than 1,000 exchange plans. (Sept. 16, 2014)

28. Risk Corridor coverage: The Obama administration plans to illegally distribute risk corridor payments to insurers, despite studies by both the Congressional Research Service and the GAO saying a congressional appropriation is required before federal agencies can make the payments. (Sept. 30, 2014)

29. Transparency of coverage: CMS delays statutory requirements on insurance companies to disclose data on the number of people enrolled, disenrollment, number of claims denied, costs to consumers of certain services, etc. (Oct. 20, 2014)

30. Tax penalty pass: Approximately 50,000 taxpayers filed income tax returns based upon inaccurate subsidy data they received from the federal government. The administration declared that if they received too large of a subsidy, they will not have to repay the government. The ACA requires, in Sec. 5000A, that “Any penalty imposed…shall be included with a taxpayer’s return…” (February 24, 2015)

CHANGES BY CONGRESS, SIGNED BY PRESIDENT OBAMA:

31. Military benefits: Congress clarified that plans provided by TRICARE, the military’s health-insurance program, constitutes minimal essential health-care coverage as required by the ACA; its benefits and plans wouldn’t normally meet ACA requirements. (April 26, 2010)

32. VA benefits: Congress also clarified that health care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs constitutes minimum essential health-care coverage as required by the ACA. (May 27, 2010)

33. Drug-price clarification: Congress modified the definition of average manufacturer price (AMP) to include inhalation, infusion, implanted, or injectable drugs that are not generally dispensed through a retail pharmacy. (August 10, 2010)

34. Doc-fix tax: Congress modified the amount of premium tax credits that individuals would have to repay if they are over-allotted, an action designed to help offset the costs of the postponement of cuts in Medicare physician payments called for in the ACA. (December 15, 2010)

35. Extending the adoption credit: Congress extended the nonrefundable adoption tax credit, which happened to be included in the ACA, through tax year 2012. (December 17, 2010)

36. TRICARE for adult children: Congress extended TRICARE coverage to dependent adult children up to age 26 when it had previously only covered those up to the age of 21 — though beneficiaries still have to pay premiums for them. (January 7, 2011)

37. 1099 repealed: Congress repealed the paperwork (“1099”) mandate that would have required businesses to report to the IRS all of their transactions with vendors totaling $600 or more in a year. (April 14, 2011)

38. No free-choice vouchers: Congress repealed a program, supported by Senator Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) that would have allowed “free-choice vouchers,” that the Hill warned “could lead young, healthy workers to opt out” of their employer plans, “driving up costs for everybody else.” The same law barred additional funds for the IRS to hire new agents to enforce the health-care law. (April 15, 2011)

39. No Medicaid for well-to-do seniors: Congress saved taxpayers $13 billion by changing how the eligibility for certain programs is calculated under Obamacare. Without the change, a couple earning as much as much as $64,000 would still have been able to qualify for Medicaid. (November 21, 2011)

40. CO-OPs, IPAB, IRS defunded: Congress made further cuts to agencies implementing Obamacare. It trimmed another $400 million off the CO-OP program, cut another $305 million from the IRS to hamper its ability to enforce the law’s tax hikes and mandates, and rescinded $10 million in funding for the controversial Independent Payment Advisory Board. (December 23, 2011)

41. Slush-fund savings: Congress slashed another $11.6 billion from the Prevention and Public Health slush fund and $2.5 billion from Obamacare’s “Louisiana Purchase.” (February 22, 2012)

42. Less cash for Louisiana: One of the tricks used to get Obamacare through the Senate was the special “Louisiana Purchase” deal for the state’s Democratic senator, Mary Landrieu. Congress saved another $670 million by rescinding additional funds from this bargain. (July 6, 2012)

43. CLASS Act eliminated: Congress repealed the unsustainable CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports) program of government-subsidized long-term-care insurance, which even the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee dubbed a “Ponzi scheme of the first order.” (January 2, 2013)

44. Cutting CO-OPs: Congress cut $2.2 billion from the “Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan” (CO-OP), which some saw as a stealth public option, blocking creation of government-subsidized co-op insurance programs in about half the states. Early reports showed many co-ops, which had received federal loans, had run into serious financial trouble. (January 2, 2013)

45. Trimming the Medicare trust-fund transfer: Congress rescinded $200 million of the $500 million scheduled to be taken from the Medicare Part A and Part B trust funds and sent to the Community-Based Care Transition Program established and funded by the ACA. (March 26, 2013)

46. Eliminating caps on deductibles for small group plans: Congress eliminated the cap on deductibles for small group plans as part of the SGR “doc fix.” This change gives small businesses the freedom to offer high deductible plans that may be paired with a Health Savings Account. (April 1, 2014)

47. Making the risk corridor program budget neutral. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 provides that CMS may not transfer funds from other accounts to pay for the risk corridor program. Expenditures cannot exceed the funds collected in 2014, blocking CMS from making multi-year calculations. (December 16, 2014).

CHANGES BY THE SUPREME COURT:

48. Medicare expansion made voluntary: The court ruled it had to be voluntary, rather than mandatory, for states to expand Medicaid eligibility to people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, by ruling that the federal government couldn’t halt funds for existing state Medicaid programs if they chose not to expand the program.

49. The individual mandate made a tax: The court determined that violating the mandate that Americans must purchase government-approved health insurance would only result in individuals’ paying a “tax,” making it, legally speaking, optional for people to comply.

This list was originally published HERE on Galen.org and has been published on National Review Online. It was updated to 29 changes on December 10, 2013.

December 13, 2013 UPDATE: 30 changes (PCIP extension)

December 19, 2013 UPDATE: 31 changes (Hardship waiver)

January 14, 2014 UPDATE: 32 changes (Union reinsurance fee exemption)

January 14, 2014 UPDATE: (PCIP extended again)

January 21, 2014 UPDATE: 33 changes (Equal employer coverage delay)

February 3, 2014 UPDATE: 34 changes (Subsidies may flow through federal exchanges) (List is now ordered chronologically)

February 10, 2014 UPDATE: 35 changes (Second employer mandate delay)

March 5, 2014 UPDATE: 36 changes (Subsidies extended outside of exchanges)

March 5, 2014 UPDATE: 37 changes (Consumers can keep non-compliant plans until 2017)

March 26, 2014 UPDATE: 38 changes (Sign-up deadline delayed)

April 7, 2014 UPDATE: 39 changes (Small group deductible cap eliminated-passed by Congress and signed into law)

April 8, 2014 UPDATE: 40 changes (Cuts to Medicare Advantage in 2015 canceled)

May 22, 2014 UPDATE: 41 changes (More funds for insurer bailout)

July 18, 2014 UPDATE: 42 changes (Exempting U.S. Territories) December 26, 2014 UPDATE: 46 changes (Failure to enforce abortion restrictions; Risk Corridor coverage; Transparency of coverage; Bay State Bailout)

January 7, 2015 UPDATE: 47 changes (Making the risk corridor program budget neutral)

February 24, 2015 UPDATE: 48 changes (Tax penalty pass)

March 2, 2015 UPDATE: 49 changes (Reducing cost sharing reductions)

Download a PDF of this article 49 Changes to ObamaCare (PDF)

Most recent listing posted at Galen.org May 11, 2015

http://www.galen.org/newsletters/changes-to-obamacare-so-far/

Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a public policy research organization that she founded in 1995 to promote an informed debate over free-market ideas for health reform.

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A lot of people have to pay back their 2014 ObamaCare Subsidies to the IRS

doc-obama-this-is-gonna-hurt

A lot of people who received subsidies from ObamaCare in 2014 are finding out that the Affordable Care Act is forcing them to pay that money back to the Internal Revenue Service because the administration did a poor job of spreading important information.

When individuals enrolled in the program at the beginning of last year they had to estimate their income for 2014. The amount of the subsidy that the individual would receive was based on this estimate. Some people thought they could get away with receiving higher monthly subsidies if they intentionally estimated a low income for 2014, while many others simply had no idea what their incomes would be.

What many of these people were not aware of was that they were responsible for informing the government if they had an unexpected rise in their incomes that would invalidate their original estimate. If somebody’s income rose past their original estimate and they did not report it, then they would have received a larger subsidy than the law allowed. ObamaCare officials did not make this information well-known, and now people are paying the price for it.

For example, Janice Riddle is a woman from California and couldn’t believe it when she found out she would owe the IRS money. “I was blindsided that the subsidy has to be paid back,” she said. “I’m in shock…but I have no choice. Do I want to argue with the IRS or the Obama administration?” She has to pay back her entire subsidy, which came out to $470 per month.

Her case is not an isolated incident. For example, early data from some taxpayers shows that 53 percent of Jackson Hewitt clients who received subsidies will have to repay part or all of their subsidies–not a trifling sum, since the average monthly subsidy in 2014 was $264. The largest amounts owed in repaid subsidies so far reach as high as $12,000 .

Some of the people whose subsidies have been reduced or lost can no longer afford the full cost of their monthly premiums, so they are choosing to go without health insurance this year. Sadly for these individuals, the individual mandate penalty for being uninsured (which could be as high as $975 per person next year) suddenly looks like a bargain compared to the true cost of ObamaCare’s unaffordable insurance.

Instead of making health insurance more affordable, ObamaCare is merely transferring costs onto taxpayers. When the subsidies are taken away from people, it’s clear that premiums are way more expensive than officials in the government are leading people to believe. It’s an incredibly complicated law and has been impossible to implement without causing headaches and damage for millions of people.

86 Percent of Those Receiving Obamacare Get Subsidies, White House Says

The Obama administration said Tuesday that 11.7 million Americans now have private health insurance through federal and state marketplaces, with 86 percent of them receiving financial assistance from the federal government to help pay premiums.

About three-fourths of people with marketplace coverage — 8.8 million consumers — live in the 37 states served by HealthCare.gov, the website for the federal insurance exchange. The other 2.9 million people are in states that created and operate their own exchanges.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, underlined the importance of subsidies for people in states using the federal exchange — subsidies that could be withdrawn if the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration in a pending case.

Read more at http://visiontoamerica.com/21246/86-percent-of-those-receiving-obamacare-get-subsidies-white-house-says/#48122jgbvrjfRF40.99

Chicago on the Potomac

Back in the Dream Time, elders were honored because of their accumulated knowledge, if Pops knew a better way to saddle horses that knowledge helped Junior since he saddled horses. Today if Pops knows how to tune-up cars what good is that when cars don’t need to be tuned-up anymore? Now the old are relegated to extolling their own relevance while exclaiming, “I’ve never seen that before.” Doddering ancients who use their cell phones merely to talk wonder why their grandchildren never answer their emails as Gen Z tweet each other: “Don’t trust anyone over 15.”

The world is moving so fast not only is today tomorrow’s yesterday the generations are living in different todays today as we continue to charge our Chinese living standard to our grandchildren. Gen X and Y parents with their once hip lap-tops under their arms stare in wonder as their pre-teen Gen Zs text with one hand while Wii skydiving in the backseat. For these new additions to middle-age who’re just old enough to remember Star Trek imagine Captain Kirk visiting Captain Picard pointing at Commander Data and saying, “What’s that?”

After years of being treated as if the Wisdom of the Ages were as relevant as Confucius in a fortune cookie now that we have Chicago on the Potomac the wisdom gained in the City that Works is suddenly spot-on. Of course George the Second’s doctrine of pre-emptive war made one old saying make sense beyond the Southside, “Never start fights but if you have to hit someone back first once in a while that’s all right.”   Then again ACORN before it morphed into numerous faceless organizations with the same mission and different names or just became part of the nomenclature exemplified the everlasting relevance of Chicago’s best known adage, “Vote early and vote often.”

With the Democrats large-and-in-charge even when they lose elections, Windy City Proverbs may help many understand what kind of change we’ve stepped in.   Such as “Everybody cheats so if you don’t cheat you’re a cheater,” or “What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is negotiable.”   Maybe the taxman could use, “They must not have wanted it they didn’t have their hand on it.” Looking at our Congress, “If you’re going to get mad at thieves you’ll never have any friends” comes to mind. Thinking of the proposed Green Home Efficiency Inspectors we may one day deal with when buying or selling a home are reminiscent of the Chicago Fire Marshal conscientiously telling a business owner, “We’ll save the city some gas money if we just do the inspection right here in my office,” while patting his desk indicating where to place the money.

The most transparent administration in history started off with some Southside swag calling the biggest earmark in history a stimulus, continued the virtuoso performance calling ward-heelers czars and followed a time-honored Second City tradition in Al Franken’s endless Minnesota recount by finding a bag of votes. Who says you can’t go home again? They may turn the old neighborhood into Yuppie Heaven by knocking down the middleclass housing and putting up three-story imitation Victorians but right here right now the machine that gave no-show jobs to half the wise-guys on the corner as well as Michelle at the hospital is in the process of not just fixing tickets but fixing everything else. The political descendants of Big Bill Thompson, Richard the First and Richard the Second parlayed community organizing into a national organization that should make the Five Families green with envy.

Having fixed the economy, health care, hate-crimes, immigration, and cap-and-trade BHO has also had the opportunity to fix the highest court in the land. In the Chicago justice system lawyers give out printed pricelists stating how much acquittals cost verses dismissals and the old saying concerning courthouses goes, “It may say justice on the outside but that doesn’t mean there’s any on the inside.” Since the Democratic Machine and their Me-To Republican allies rubber-stamped Mr. O’s picks for the A-Team how do the prospects for judicial restraint and the Constitution look?   Fine if you fit the profile for the protected or promoted classes not too good if you naively look for that lady wearing the blindfold and holding the scales. Well at least we have Chief Justice Roberts there to stop the train on its way to totalitarianism, oh wait, we don’t.

Joining the sisterhood on the bench, Ms. Sotomayor feels her gender and her race make her uniquely qualified to reach wise decisions and believes international law should be consulted when weighing appeals. She should feel right at home with the former chief counsel for the ACLU Ruth Bader Ginsburg who apparently believes American Citizenship is the right of all mankind.   In one decision she said, “You would have a huge statelessness problem if you don’t consider a child born abroad a U.S. citizen.”

 

Ah justice, what is it good for? Or as they say in Chi-town, “How much justice can you afford?” The difference between Chicago Prime and Chicago on the Potomac is in the original version Mayors serve for life, or as long as they want, followed by a power struggle. Hopefully in the DC version we will get a change in 2017. I wonder if it will be a Bush or a Clinton.

 

Vive la Différence! Or as the French also say, the more things change the more they stay the same.

 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2015 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

SMART TALK ON OBAMACARE

pic_giant2_111114_SM_Jonathan-Gruber_0-300x180,Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist who helped fashion the Affordable Care Act, recently gained notoriety for saying the law counted on the “stupidity” of voters, who could be tricked into believing it was not a tax.

His comments conveyed a contempt for the public on the part of the developers of the law that outraged Americans.

But Americans might be further outraged if they considered the analysis of an economist who isn’t interested in misleading voters.

Casey Mulligan, a University of Chicago professor of economics, recently discussed how Obamacare’s taxes would affect economic productivity during a Hillsdale College Free Market Forum in Indianapolis.

His alarming findings are worth attention, particularly as Republicans take control of the Senate next year and consider ways to revise or scrap the law.
(Hillsdale College, founded in 1844, is an independent liberal arts college that does not accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies.)

Mulligan writes how taxes cause “distortions” — changes in business behavior that would not occur were it not for the taxes.

And he describes how two Obamacare provisions represent a tax on full-time employment: the requirement that businesses with more than 50 employees either provide health insurance for full-time employees or pay a penalty, and the exchanges where individuals can buy health care independent of employment.
He explains how the employer mandate discourages employment: “ … the penalty applies only in the case of full-time employees and only to employers that don’t offer health coverage, and it applies only in those months during which those full-time employees are on the payroll. If an employee cuts back to part-time work, the employer no longer has to pay the penalty.”

Obviously, the tax distortion here gives employers a financial incentive to hire part-time workers.

Similarly, the government offering subsidies to citizens seeking health insurance on the exchanges provides a perverse incentive:
“If you want to get the subsidy, you need to become a part-time worker or spend time off the job. In other words, this discount, too, is a tax on full-time employment.”
Mulligan says when you tax something, you get less of it and “if you tax labor, you get less labor. As a result of the ACA then, we are going to have fewer people working and less value created overall.”

Moreover, Obamacare’s requirements will have enduring and profound impacts on business practices.

“Businesses will change the way they do business, whether it’s by bending over backwards to stay below 50 employees or by having more part-time employees and fewer full-time employees — not because these policies create value or satisfy customers, but because they avoid penalties or enhance subsidies.”

Although most Americans could not have put their objections in Mulligan’s terms, they’ve recognized something was terribly wrong with this elaborate federal entanglement of the nation’s economy. It is a major reason, as The Wall Street Journal points out, 30 of the 60 senators who voted for the ACA are no longer in office.

The nation does need health care reform, and the newly empowered GOP needs to remember that the situation prior to the Affordable Care Act was hardly satisfactory, particularly for the working poor. Republicans need to offer reasonable alternatives or revisions.

But as Mulligan details, Obamacare in its present form represents a major obstacle to the country’s economic growth. Change is mandatory

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