Category archives: Health Care

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.

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.

Obamacare Problems Much Worse than Technical Glitches

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 30, 2013

Say that a year from now, after great angst, huge costs, and significant renovation, www.healthcare.gov works well. The technical problems have all been resolved. People can access the site without difficulty; it works like a charm.

So what? The substance of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is destructive and dangerous.

There are many studies showing how the PPACA will hurt businesses, economic growth, lower-income families, private health insurers, and so forth. Since the implementation of Obamacare on October 1, two million Americans have been told that due to the provisions of the PPACA, they will lose health insurance, and it’s going to get worse:

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

Yet, the deepest problem with Obamacare remains its mandate that persons of traditional Judeo-Christian faith have to surrender their convictions concerning abortion and the sacredness of personhood from conception onward. For a comprehensive review of how the “conscience mandate” (you have to provide access to health plans that provide abortions and abortifacient drugs whether this acidifies your conscience or not), see FRC’s letter to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in April.

Moreover, most Americans won’t be able to find out if their new health plans cover abortion until after they sign-up for a given plan. As FRC President Tony Perkins wrote earlier this month:

If an insurer decides to cover abortion in its plan, and the government subsidizes people’s premiums in that plan, every single person is required to pay an extra abortion surcharge! Adding insult to injury, the same section also requires that all information about the abortion coverage and surcharge only be given at the time enrollees receive their overall benefits package.

U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) have introduced the “Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2013,” which would “ensure full disclosure of abortion coverage, requiring prominent and transparent disclosure of abortion coverage for each plan offered on an exchange.”

On the grounds of fiscal, administrative, organizational and ethical concerns, “Obamacare” makes whatever problems (real or imagined) it attempts to fix worse. No “user-friendly” computer program will ever correct these inherent faults.

Representative John Fleming (R-La.) Calling for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ Resignation

by Bethany Brock

October 24, 2013

Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) appeared on Wednesday’s edition of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” and shared more about a potential delay for the individual mandate of Obamacare as well as Secretary Sebelius’s failures as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the rollout of Obamacare:

I called for her resignation and am calling on the President to ask her to resign if she doesn’t do it voluntarily. The Department of HHS, now with Obamacare, fully has under its control 1/6 of the largest economy in the world- the health care of the United States of America,” Fleming said.

Leading up to the rollout of Obamacare, Fleming said Secretary Sebelius was reassuring that it would be launched smoothly. Just days before the rollout of Obamacare , Sebelius said customers would have a wonderful experience going online to purchase their insurance.

She made it sound like it would be like going to the fair or riding on the ferris wheel. Then it was launched on October 1 and it’s been an absolute disaster. Secretary Sebelius is CEO of HHS, so she alone should be held accountable for that. The firing or resignation should begin with her.”

Fleming has been insisting that the individual mandate in Obamacare be delayed stating, “Americans have to sign up, meanwhile hundreds of thousands are being canceled off of their current insurance. So we have millions of Americans caught between a rock and a hard place where they are going to be forced through mandate and taxation to sign up for this but aren’t capable of doing so and they won’t have an alternative insurance because they were canceled off their current insurance.  I think it’s just inevitable that the individual mandate will be delayed for some months or at least a year.”

Click here to listen to the entire radio interview

Three Cheers for the Santa Clara Broncos (and not for a sports victory)!

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 16, 2013

Santa Clara University, a Jesuit school located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay, “is dropping coverage for elective abortions under health insurance for its faculty and staff members.”

According to the Los Angeles Times,Santa Clara president Michael Engh, himself a Jesuit, wrote the school’s 1600 employees that “Our core commitments as a Jesuit, Catholic university are not compatible with the inclusion of elective abortion coverage in the university’s health plans.”  Reporter Larry Gordon notes that “as required by state law, the school still will cover contraception and so-called therapeutic abortions, those deemed medically necessary to save the mother’s life or health, among other factors. Santa Clara, which enrolls about 8,500 students, is not offering the possibility of the unsubsidized plan for elective procedures, according to campus spokeswoman Deepa Arora.”

SCU follows the lead of Loyola Marymount University, whose faculty and students last week were informed in a letter signed by university president David W. Burcham and Board of Trustees Chair Kathleen H. Aikenhead that “Catholic heritage and faithfulness to the Catholic Church’s core teaching on dignity of every human being at all stages of life” mandates that it drop coverage of abortion on demand.  Instead, the school will “offer employees a separate, unsubsidized plan to cover those procedures.”

The academic natives are more than restless over these changes: “This really makes Santa Clara University’s express commitment to openness, diversity and inclusiveness ring hollow,” said one SCU history professor.  And Loyola Marymount economics professor Jennifer Pate says the decision demonstrates that LMU “values diversity less than our Catholic affiliation.” 

Diversity, properly understood, simply means that opposing points of view concerning important issues are allowed to flourish.  For example, there are a host of opinions about how best to alleviate poverty and they are welcome as part of the atmosphere of inquiry and debate intrinsic to a college campus.  Diversity does not mean that all preferential practices (you abort a baby, I mainline heroin - hey, everybody’s different!) should be permitted. 

Why?  Because, in the case of abortion, the unborn child is not merely a collection of blood, tissue and DNA.  From the moment of fertilization, the tiny embryo is a person who should enjoy the most fundamental right of a person - the right to life.

Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount have taken modest steps to distance themselves from abortion.  It would be hoped that they would soon join with schools like The Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.), Ave Maria University (Florida), and Belmont Abbey (South Carolina), and other Catholic and Evangelical Protestant colleges in suing the Obama Administration because it requires them “to violate (their)s deeply held religious beliefs or pay crippling fines of up to $15,000 dollars per day, or more than $5 million per year.” 

For now, let’s applaud the SCU Broncos and the Loyola Marymount Lions for bending the arc of political correctness in the direction of life.

What Would and Wouldn’t Shut Down

by Rob Schwarzwalder

September 30, 2013

A “government shutdown” is a misnomer of gigantic proportion. In July, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) released a Congressional Research Service study that makes clear “a ‘government shutdown’ does not cause all government functions to cease.”

Our military will remain vigilant, our ships at sea and our planes ready to fly, and our service members will be paid. According to a study by the Congressional Research Service published last week, “Historically, individuals responsible for supporting the nation’s global security activities, public safety efforts, and foreign relations pursuits have been excepted from furloughs that accompany a government shutdown.”

The federal judiciary will be funded through mid-October. Veterans and recipients of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue receiving their benefits. You’ll still get your mail from the U.S. Postal Service.

There will be massive inconvenience to hundreds of thousands of civilian government employees who will be furloughed until a budget deal is reached. Mortgage loans will halt, although “the Office of Single Family Housing will ‘endorse new loans under current multi-year appropriation authority in order to support the health and stability of the U.S. mortgage market’.” Federal parks and zoos will close, but “Smithsonian and National Park employees responsible for protecting property and providing emergency care, including animal caretakers at the National Zoo, are exempt from the furlough.” And TSA employees and air traffic controllers will remain on the job.

National Institutes of Health employees would continue to treat current Clinical Center patients and provide animal care services, though new patients will be locked out of clinical research,” and federal disaster assistance will remain fully available. More than 40 million Americans would continue to get food stamps unabated.

As to the IRS, why should it be no surprise that “all payments would be processed?”

Perhaps the most serious problem will be “A lack of appropriations (that) will severely limit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ability to respond to outbreak investigations.”

The Food Safety and Inspection Service would continue all safety-related activities” and “the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration would continue inspections to the extent they’re paid by user fees.” However, the “inability to investigate alleged violations could hamper corrective action in the long term and could have an immediate impact on members of industry.” The FDA “would limit its activities but continue to monitor recalls and conduct investigations.”

Of perhaps particular note is that funding for the Patient’s Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) will continue. “It’s looking more and more like Tuesday will be a split-screen day … Obamacare will open for business.”

The above is not an exhaustive explanation, and it is not intended to suggest that limiting government services is trivial. However, if Congress and the President fail to strike a deal, the sky will not fall, Mt. Rushmore will not crumble, and our union will retain all 50 of its states.

Concern is justified. Panic isn’t.

Sources:

The Battle for Life Continues, Regardless of Outcomes

by Rob Schwarzwalder

September 23, 2013

This past Friday, the Obama Administration asked the Supreme Court “to decide that for-profit corporations cannot deny their employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners”. According to Religion News Service’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey:

In June, the Obama administration issued final rules for the mandate that requires most employers to provide contraception at no cost. While there are exemptions for religious groups and affiliated institutions, there are no carve-outs for private businesses with religious owners. Opponents of the mandate say that they will be forced to provide coverage they find morally abhorrent. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration Friday (Sept. 20) on behalf of four Christian universities in Oklahoma, where Hobby Lobby is also based. Now that two different federal courts have issued contradictory opinions on the mandate, the issue is near certain to be decided by the Supreme Court.

This is welcome news, and it is hoped that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of religious liberty. The owners of Hobby Lobby, the Green family, and others like them did not leave their Christian convictions in the pew on Sunday morning. As attorney Kyle Duncan of The Becket Fund argues:

The United States government is taking the remarkable position that private individuals lose their religious freedom when they make a living … We’re confident that the Supreme Court will reject the government’s extreme position and hold that religious liberty is for everyone—including people who run a business.

Let us hope Kyle is right, for the sake of every citizen of a nation in which religious liberty historically has been the foundation of every other right (our rights come from God, not from the state, and thus our primary duty is to Him, not it – this is the essential premise of the U.S. Constitution).

Yet even if this battle is won, the battle for life in the U.S. will be far from over. For example, attorney Clarke Forsythe of Americans United for Life has just published a new book, Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe. V. Wade in which he explains that

The United States is an outlier when it comes to the scope of the abortion “right.” The United States is one of approximately ten nations (of 195) that allow abortion after fourteen weeks of gestation. The others are: Canada, China, Great Britain, North Korea, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Western Australia, and Vietnam. When it comes to allowing abortion for any reason after viability, however, the United States is joined only by Canada, North Korea, and China (p. 126).

I am always glad for the United States to stand alone when it comes to our defending our national security, the well-being of our citizens or the protection of our other vital interests, but in this case, I wish the land of the free was in league with the majority of the world’s countries in imposing restrictions on post-viability abortions. Of course, all who cherish life know it is immaterial whether the U.S. is in the majority or minority of nations when it comes to the imperative of correcting Roe altogether and affirming the sanctity of every life, from conception to natural death.

Regardless of laws, legislation, or litigation, the movement to protect the unborn and prevent their mothers from being preyed-upon and commoditized will not quit. We’ve achieved some great victories in recent years, and we can be grateful for the growing public judgment that elective abortion is a moral evil.

Yet our criterion of victory is not found in numbers, polls, bills, or laws. Ultimately, it is found in fidelity to the One Scripture calls “the Prince of Life” (Acts 3:15). He deserves our full and unflagging efforts in defense of those He still is forming in their mothers’ wombs. May we always give it to Him.

Business Closures that are Good for the Economy

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 26, 2013

The abortion industry recently has suffered a series of legal and legislative setbacks. From mandatory ultrasounds to fetal pain bills to entirely reasonable clinic health and safety regulations, the womb is a bit less unsafe for thousands of unborn children. Here are summaries of some recent wins for life and human dignity:

  • According to one review, “at least 24 Planned Parenthood sites have closed so far in 2013. This number includes 3 surgical abortion clinics, 3 clinics that dispensed abortion pills, and 19 offices that referred for abortions.”
  • The pro-abortion-on-demand Guttmacher Institute reports that during “the first six months of 2013, states enacted 106 provisions related to reproductive health and rights; issues related to abortion, family planning funding and sex education were significant flashpoints in several legislatures”.
  • The North Carolina Department of Health has suspended the license of Femcare, an abortion clinic in Asheville. That marks the 42nd abortion clinic to close so far this year, eclipsing the 24 that closed during all of 2012.”

The closures of dozens of abortion clinics nationwide means that more persons bearing God’s image will enjoy the warmth of a mother’s embrace. The value of the person is not determined by a cost-benefit analysis but by the decision of her eternal Creator to give her the gift of life. Thus, the economic consequences of abortion are of vastly less importance than the evil of abortion itself, both to the unborn and their mothers. Yet it is undeniable that abortion has contributed materially to the weakening of the U.S. economy. It’s not very often that we can rejoice at the growing demise of an industry or the closure of job-producing businesses, but if there were ever reasons - both moral and economic - for such rejoicing, here they are.

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