On Sunday evening, CBS’ 60 Minutes did a feature story on Steven Brill’s new book, America’s Bitter Pill, in which Brill complains that Obamacare didn’t do enough to tackle the exorbitantly high price of U.S. hospital care. “Obamacare does zero to change any of that,” says Brill. That’s not exactly right. What Brill—and CBS—don’t tell you—is that Obamacare is driving hospitals to charge you more than they already do.
The U.S. hospital industry is crony capitalism at its finest
Sen. Tom Harkin, one of the coauthors of the Affordable Care Act, now thinks Democrats may have been better off not passing it at all and holding out for a better bill.
The Iowa Democrat who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, laments the complexity of legislation the Senate passed five years ago.
He wonders in hindsight whether the law was made overly complicated to satisfy the political concerns of a few Democratic centrists who have since left Congress.
“There are certain laws of political physics that just cannot be ignored for long. All the bravado about minuscule midterm turnout or audacious executive actions out of the White House cannot forever mask the fact that two disastrous midterm election cycles have sapped the Democratic Party of authority. In 2015, the party will be in one of the weakest positions it has been in nearly a century. As Democrats begin to internalize that suboptimal reality, the effects are spectacular beyond Republicans’ wildest imaginings.
On Tuesday, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), said aloud what many Democrats had been thinking privately for years when he observed that the party “blew the opportunity the American people gave them” by focusing on passing health care reform amid a recession in 2009 and 2010. Schumer admonished Democrats for being myopically consumed with addressing “the wrong problem” at the time.
“Anyone who has listened to the Gruber tapes has heard Prof. Gruber’s repeated references to the “three-legged stool” that forms the core of Obamacare. However, those who pay close attention to his remarks–variously characterized as “arrogant” (Charles Krauthammer), “ careless” (New York Times), “dumb” (Ezra Klein) “ ill-advised and indefensible” (Times Argus), “offensive” (New York Times), and “stupid” (David Axelrod)–may have detected that Gruber enthusiastically endorses (and Obamacare contains) a more sinister three-legged stool of deception regarding employer health plans.”
“The Obama administration has admitted to erroneously inflating the count of Exchange enrollees by incorrectly including 380,000 dental subscribers. Instead of 7.1 paid enrollments in the Exchanges as of mid-October, the correct figure should have been only 6.7 million. For the same reason, the reported number of paid enrollments in August should have been only 6.9 million rather than the 7.3 million figure originally reported. It’s a bit disappointing that this goof might never have been discovered but for the investigative efforts of Republican staffers for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, using data that took weeks of negotiations to secure from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That said, it’s encouraging to see DHHS Secretary Burwell take the position “The mistake we made is unacceptable. I will be communicating that clearly throughout the department.””
“Illegal immigrants protected from deportation under President Obama’s executive action will be eligible for Medicare and other benefits once they enter the federal system.
The sweeping White House announcement last week means that up to 5 million people will be considered lawfully present in the United States despite having entered the country illegally.
This status makes them eligible for programs such as Medicare and Social Security if they work and submit payroll taxes that flow to those programs. This fact was noted Tuesday in a report by The Washington Post.”
“Jonathan Gruber, the controversial MIT professor and ObamaCare architect caught on video calling the American people stupid multiple times, has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee next month on the lack of transparency surrounding the Affordable Care Act.
In a letter to Gruber, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House committee, asked him and Marilyn Tavenner, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service administrator, to appear and answer questions on repeated transparency failures and outright deceptions involving the Affordable Care Act. The hearing will be held Dec. 9 at 9:30 a.m.”
“Just days before the health law’s marketplaces reopened, nearly a quarter of uninsured said they expect to remain without coverage because they did not think it would be affordable, according to a poll released Friday.
That was by far the most common reason given by people who expect to stay uninsured next year, according to the latest tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) Forty-one percent of individuals without health insurance said they expected they would remain uninsured, while about half said they plan to get coverage in the coming months.”
“The Obama administration is seeking to clarify rules for the coverage of elective abortion in health insurance exchanges. That is the issue that almost scuttled the Affordable Care Act before it became law.
A complicated compromise that got the final few anti-abortion Democrats to agree to vote for the measure in 2010 required every exchange to include health plans that do not cover abortions except in the cases of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the pregnant woman. Plans that do offer abortion other than in those cases are required to segregate funds and bill for that abortion coverage separately.”
“Please consider Friday’s ‘Obamacare losing streak’ post officially updated. Behold, the ‘Affordable’ Care Act at work. Congratulations, “beneficiaries” (via The Hill):
The average price of the most popular ObamaCare health insurance plans rose 10 percent for 2015, according to a new study of premium figures published Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)…Not only are premiums increasing, but if consumers do not pick a different plan, they could pay more due to annual changes in how subsidies are calculated.”