Month Archives: November 2013

Obamacare Comes into Sharper Focus

by Chris Gacek

November 1, 2013

If you want to know at the human level why Obamacare is going to be a huge problem for the O-care supporters, watch this interview from Larry Kudlow’s CNBC program.  The guest is a nurse, Joan Carrico, who lives in Michigan and has been fighting cancer for six years.  She’s being dumped from her Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy – which she desperately wants to keep.  (The details of her insurance struggle are infuriating. E.g., she can’t even get on the Obamacare website.)  She is only one of many real people who are going to be suffering real injury after 12/31.  The casualty lists may total in the millions.

The website Red State borrowed a phrase from Stalin on Thursday to make a point.  Stalin said the death of one man is a tragedy, but the death of millions is a statistic.  So, if we have 10 million or 93 million victims of Obamacare, does statism win?  In this case, I don’t think so.  Already Kudlow, Megyn Kelly, and Hannity are really focusing on these personal stories of loss.  Other news outlets are being forced to as well.  The Left knows the “optics” of this; this is how it pushes all its various agendas.  Now, the tables are turned.  That is why politicians like Senator Mary Landrieu are running for the hills.

Kudlow’s guests were: Robert Laszewski, Health Policy & Strategy Associates; Avik Roy, Manhattan Institute senior fellow; and, Scott Gottlieb, M.D. of American Enterprise Institute.  Laszewski raises the possibility of using an “early renewal” for Mrs. Carrico – a little known insurance option that might allow her current policy to be extended into 2014.  Health care bureaucrats hate this “loophole” because the cattle aren’t forced into Obamcare fast enough.  So, many states have made it impossible to do this.  Check with your insurance agent to see if it is possible for you.

Obamacare: High Stakes for Liberalism

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 1, 2013

The Left protects its own:

Obamacare scandal!!!! No. Just Republican talking points

Why Letting Everyone Keep Their Health Care Plan is a Terrible Idea

Don’t Like Obamacare? It Was the Republicans’ Idea, Says Liberal Democrat

And my personal favorite:

Despite Problems, Obamacare Remains Fairly Well Liked

This is sort of like the old joke, “Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” I’m sure knowing that some people still like certain parts of his plan is causing Mr. Obama no end of jubilation.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a substantive and technical disaster, poorly crafted, invasive, exorbitant, and statist. But it is on that last point – statism – that loyalty to it follows from the Left as night follows day.

That a powerful central government with practical supervisory control of all governments beneath it is a moral good is central to the belief system of modern liberalism. Since no philosophy can exist without authority (as a source of truth and implementation of its program), it is only logical that a political system that jettisons God and transcendent truth must claim an alternative to Him.

Thus, aggregations of political power are seen as substitutes for the divine. If there is no God, or at least One with any relevance to human affairs, the state becomes the instrument for personal and social transformation.

So, to challenge the premise of “Obamacare” is not just mean, uncompassionate, and unfair (the standard ripostes of the Left), it is political heresy. Asserting that huge, complex, and controlling federal programs are arrogant by definition, dubious in motivation, ineffective in implementation, and disastrous in effect — even if these contentions can be demonstrated logically, mathematically, and in practice — is an intolerable proposition that has to be squashed.

As a result, the liberal critique of Obamacare will never include a realistic appraisal of the plan itself, only of how to make it work better. It is for this reason that a number of commentators are proclaiming that modern political liberalism is in crisis.

Obamacare is the fruition of progressive hopes, a major leap forward to a statist society and one subtly but indelibly marketed as the harbinger of all government can and should do for its subjects — I mean, citizens. An axiological (functional) failure will force people to reconsider liberalism’s ontology (the very nature of its being).

It is for this reason that Obamacare’s defenders are writing just about anything they can, from blaming Republicans for the system’s poor launch to diminishing its inherent unworkability, to defend it. They are playing for high stakes — the very credibility of their comprehensive understanding of the meaning and purpose of the state — and they know it.

Congress Does Something Right! (And it’s bipartisan, too.)

by Robert Morrison

November 1, 2013

The bitter joke around the country these days is that, while President Obama’s approval ratings are the lowest they have been, Congress’ approval rating is lower than the Taliban’s. Well, there’s good reason for that. Most of us approve of what the House is doing and are angry at what the Senate is doing. Or, we love what the Senate is doing and loathe those crazy folks in the House. The key to all that loving/loathing is not what we think of Congress, per se, but what we think of our own representatives and senators.

But today, I want to salute Congress — both parties — for doing something right. They have just installed a bust of Winston Churchill. It was a special project of Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio). Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joined in the praise at the ceremony.

And John Kerry, the longtime U.S. Senator from Massachusetts (D), is certainly right to point out that is may seem strange for the British Prime Minister to be so honored in the same Statuary Hall where our great revolutionary, Sam Adams, is honored. But, as Sec. of State Kerry says, it is right to do it. Sam Adams stood for liberty. He was willing to pledge to his fellow Signers of the Declaration of Independence his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor.

Winston Churchill, before and during, and after World War II, pledged his life, his fortune and his sacred honor to the cause of freedom. In 1938, he stood in the British House of Commons to warn his countrymen of the false dawn of hope represented by then-Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s “historic” meeting with Hitler at Munich.

Churchill was then out of power and certainly out of favor with his party’s leaders. No one wanted to hear that “peace in our time” — as Chamberlain called his agreement with Hitler — was a mirage. “We were offered a choice of war or dishonor;” Churchill told a disbelieving parliament and people, “We have chosen dishonor and we will have war.”

In less than one year from the day he pronounced those grim words, Britain was at war with Hitler’s Germany.

Churchill almost never went to church. When in 1940 an Anglican vicar greeted him at a national prayer service, he told Churchill the Prime Minister he would like to see him come back and to call him “a pillar of the Church.” Churchill, leaving early, lighted his cigar and told the vicar “you may call me a buttress of the Church; I support it, but from outside.”

Even so, Churchill knew his people. And he knew his American cousins. When he had had delivered that famous address in Commons on the Czech crisis of 1938, he used biblical language.

I do not grudge our loyal, brave people, who were ready to do their duty no matter what the cost, who never flinched under the strain of last week — I do not grudge them the natural, spontaneous outburst of joy and relief when they learned that the hard ordeal would no longer be required of them at the moment; but they should know the truth. They should know that there has been gross neglect and deficiency in our defences; they should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies:

Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.”

What strikes me about this passage — from the Book of Daniel Chapter 5 — is Churchill’s generosity toward his errant fellow citizens. He clearly loves the British people—even though he thinks they are wrong to cheer Chamberlain’s dishonorable sellout.

This is an important lesson for us today. We have always thought ObamaCare was wrong. We have always opposed it. And yet, the American people twice have chosen Barack Obama to lead them. We must not now be found to be exulting in the misery of millions who voted for this president and who have been so cruelly deceived.

But they should know the truth.

Churchill did not always say the popular thing, but he said the necessary truth. And he said it with Christian charity — even when he may not have shared his countrymen’s Christian faith.

It will be vitally important for us and the causes we champion not to engage in that ignoble exercise known as schadenfreude. That German word means “taking enjoyment from the sorrows of others.”

Millions of our fellow citizens are suffering from the shock and disappointment of the “debacle” of the ObamaCare rollout. Many of them voted for this administration and for its supporters in Congress. We can take no joy from their distress.

Churchill was able to unite his country and lead it against the most monstrous tyranny the world had known — Hitler and his Nazis — because he never said “I told you so.” Everyone knew he had told them so.

When some young supporters wanted to drive out of public life the “guilty men” who had appeased Hitler and allowed him to grow strong, Churchill said no. “If we open up a quarrel between yesterday and today, we shall lose tomorrow,” he wisely said.

Thus, some of the worst appeasers of the 1930s became staunch warriors against Hitler and Nazidom in the 1940s.

Even today, when this administration is failing so clearly at home, and when its policy of appeasement is so evidently collapsing abroad, Churchill offers us wisdom we can apply in our own time. 

Conscience, Convenience or Misguided Conviction?

by Sherry Crater

November 1, 2013

Commuting and working in Washington, D.C. affords many opportunities to engage in lively conversations with people who hold diverse opinions on controversial issues. With religious liberty currently being a hot topic, a recent discussion on First Amendment rights and religious expression turned into an instructive session for a group of adult men and women.

The conversation began with a recounting of the case of a New Mexico photographer who was fined $7000 for declining to photograph a same-sex “commitment” ceremony due to her deeply held religious beliefs. The discussion then turned to the provision in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) which mandates that businesses and organizations provide contraceptives, abortion inducing drugs and sterilization procedures in their insurance plans.

Against this backdrop, the question was posed, “If you are the only pharmacist in a community and you don’t believe in the use of contraceptives, do you have an obligation to distribute contraceptives to the community regardless of your personal beliefs?” The consensus of the group, with a couple of exceptions including me, was yes; the pharmacist should comply and distribute the contraceptives for the “common good” of the community. One gentleman asked why the individuals seeking contraceptives could not simply travel to the next town to purchase them. A young woman responded, “It isn’t fair that I should be inconvenienced in getting my contraceptives.“

Her response raises a couple of important thoughts. First, why should the pharmacist have to violate his or her conscience for the convenience of others who can easily obtain abortion- inducing drugs or contraceptives elsewhere? The purchaser probably would not have to go far to obtain them, as access to contraceptives is certainly not a problem. Birth control and emergency contraceptives are available at grocery stores, every major retailer like Wal-Mart and Target, or online. Why does the purchaser’s convenience trump the pharmacist’s conscience?

Second, the assumption was made that the pharmacist would just be willing to acquiesce to the law, discard his or her moral convictions and distribute the objectionable pharmaceuticals. This assumption underestimates the strength and sacred nature of religious or moral convictions. A person with deeply held religious beliefs may very well choose to find another profession or move to another community rather than violate their conscience about such high priority personal matters. In such a case, the attempt to force the pharmacist to dispense the contraceptives against his or her will ends with the pharmacist taking their business to another community, thus leaving the original community potentially without a pharmacist at all.

Many well-intentioned but misguided people could benefit by better understanding the ramifications of limiting the freedom of people to live out their religious beliefs. Perhaps what seems best for one individual’s notion of the “common good” might have unfortunate consequences for many other members of the community. Americans have recognized since our founding the fundamental right of all citizens to free expression of religion and exercise of conscience as inherent, unalienable rights granted to us by God and secured and protected by the Constitution.

Pick a Card, I Mean Health Care Plan

by Emily Minick

November 1, 2013

DC HealthLink is the first Affordable Care Act (ACA) healthcare exchange to begin being transparent about what plans on the Marketplace, including both private plans and Multi-State plans (MSP), cover elective abortion. Other states in charge of operating their own exchange and the federal government should follow their lead and give the American people real choice in health care by disclosing whether their premiums will cover elective abortions.

FRC’s Anna Higgins documented her attempt to find a pro-life plan on DC’s exchange and her repeated assurance from customer service representatives that elective abortion is an “essential benefit” and thus all plans on the exchange covered it. Shortly after her article’s publication, DC Healthlink contacted Anna saying she had been given wrong information and that there are indeed some plans that do not offer abortion coverage because abortion was not considered an, “essential benefit.” To ensure that other customers are not given wrong information and are able to make an informed choice, DC Healthlink updated the FAQ section of the website to list the pro-life plan providers available to consumers, posted information on their social media outlets, and gave new guidance to customer service representatives.

In DC there are 34 healthcare plans available for individuals on the Marketplace and 4 of those plans are MSP plans. The ACA requires that at least one MSP on the exchange must be pro-life (Section 1303) and come to find out all four of the DC MSPs, offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, are pro-life. A DC resident would never have known this prior to the clarification posted by DC Healthlink.

Picking a healthcare plan on the Marketplace should not be akin to picking a card from a 52 card deck and hoping for the best. However, due to the abortion secrecy clause located in the ACA, this is precisely what people are being forced to do—- picking a healthcare plan from a stack and hoping that they are not violating their conscience in the process.

Although, according to Nancy Pelosi, we had to pass Obamacare to find out exactly what was in it, now that its law consumers should not be forced to purchase a healthcare plan before they are able to find out what it covers, i.e. elective abortion.

The clarification provided by DC Healthlink, and now available to all DC residents shopping for health care, is indeed a victory. But it still doesn’t address the underlying ACA problem that federal healthcare subsidies will assist in paying for healthcare plans that do cover elective abortion.

Anna’s experience and confusion trying to find out what health care plans do or do not cover abortion is not unique. The ACA abortion secrecy clause is putting a brick wall up in front of pro-life Americans who want to know whether they are purchasing a plan that violates their conscience. We know that residents in Rhode Island and Connecticut do not have any pro-life plans available to them on their respective state exchanges, a violation of their health care choice and a violation of Section 1303 of the ACA.

If a grocery store told customers they had to purchase a box of cereal before they could be given a copy of the list of ingredients or if a car dealership required customers to purchase a car first before they could drive it to test the breaks, these business establishments would undoubtedly lose business.

Shopping for health care should be no different than shopping for any other product in a marketplace. Details matter, fine print matters and transparency matters even more.

Representative Smith’s bill, the “Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act” would address the concerns of pro-life Americans by requiring health care plans to clearly state whether they do or do not cover elective abortion and if they do cover abortion, how much of their premium is for that coverage.

Americans searching for a pro-life healthcare plan should not have to resort to the old picking a card trick and hoping for the best. Real choice in healthcare must include transparency in all healthcare plans.

If there is no transparency we all know the slim probability of picking the right card in a deck, and it’s the American people who will ultimately lose.

Sebelius and Transparency at the Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing

by Bethany Brock

November 1, 2013

On Wedneday morning, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the roll-out debacle of Obamacare. Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) called the members of the Committee to order and stated that the purpose of the hearing was to “achieve fairness for the American people, and transparency” in the flawed launch of HealthCare.gov.”

Americans were assured that their experience would be equivalent to other online experiences such as booking a flight or ordering pizza,” Upton said as he looked straight at Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “Today’s hearing is about fairness for the American people who are losing their coverage or seeing their premium skyrocket as high as 400 percent,” Upton said.

Once Sebelius was sworn in and seated before the Committee, the room stilled, reporters positioned cameras and prepared notepads, and all waited with anticipation.

In the summary of her written statement, Sebelius apologized for the flawed launch of HealthCare.gov. She agreed that the flawed launch was a “miserably frustrating experience,” and affirmed the American people that they deserved better. In addition to reporters, interns, and Hill staffers attending the hearing, the members of the gallery ranged from veterans wearing Vietnam or Korea ball caps to tourists who came to the hearing in jeans and tennis shoes.

Questions from members of the Energy and Commerce Committee ranged in topics from the security of Americans’ personal information, the cost of the creation and the maintenance of the website, the lack of freedom in choosing health care options, to how the HHS plans to deal with the November 30 deadline for nationwide coverage.

When Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) asked a question about the cost of the website, she requested that it be pulled up live. As everyone looked towards the screen, HealthCare.gov appeared with a page saying that the system was down.  Blackburn asked for a ballpark price for this disabled website; and Sebelius reported that this non-functioning website cost $118 million and has cost an additional $56 million to fix so far. This report was met with a noticeable rise in tension and awkward glances around to gauge others’ reactions.

Overall, the atmosphere of the room was inquisitive and people seemed genuinely interested to get answers on the Obamacare .

One question, however, that didn’t receive a clear answer was Rep. John Shimkus’s (R-Ill) transparency question. Shimkus asked if the American people would be able to see which healthcare plans in the federal exchange offer abortion coverage, and if Sebelius would provide committee members a list of these plans.  Sebelius said she “thought” she could provide a list and when pressed further said, “Sir, I can’t tell you what I don’t firmly know right now.” As the time expired, and the floor was given to another congress member for questioning, this question was left with an unsatisfied silence.

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