If you haven’t already, you will soon hear that the Republicans in the House “shut down” the FAA causing thousands to be furloughed, and hundreds of projects stopped. Nothing could be further from the truth. Read more
Remember last September when the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), at the urging of Senator Baucus (D. Mont.), issued “cease and desist” orders against Medicare Advantage insurers from doing the unthinkable…actually communicating with their insureds about the provisions of Obamacare? According to the administration, these communications were “false and misleading”.
Why? Because they actually pointed out the drastic cuts Obamacare would bring to those enrolled in Medicare Advantage programs, and that was something the administration didn’t want us to “see” until the bill was passed.
Between then and now, Richard Foster, the chief actuary for Medicare and Medicaid,
estimated that the $206 billion hole in [Medicare] Advantage will reduce benefits, cause insurers to withdraw from the program and reduce overall enrollment by half.
And, the Congressional Budget Office agrees with Mr. Foster.
This past week, however, the CMS sent a nifty 4 page flyer to seniors extolling the virtues of Obamacare. The flyer includes heartwarming statements like,
The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama this year will provide you and your family greater savings and increased quality health care…[and] if you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will still receive guaranteed Medicare benefits.
I’m wondering, where is Senator Baucus when the seniors really do need protection from false and misleading statements?
We detailed here how the President called the Baucus Bill bi-partisan. Well if Senator Snowe makes a bad health care bill bi-partisan … then the opposition mounting against this bill is truly bi-partisan.
Connecticut’s Junior Senator Joe Lieberman told Don Imus on FBN yesterday that he could not support the Baucus bill primarily because of cost. He reiterated hat stance again today and added that he is not the only Democratic Senator who feels like he does.
Perhaps this is why Joe is so dead set against this crummy bill.
The Baucus plan passed by the Senate Finance Committee yesterday amounts to a massive middle-class tax increase, according to one columnist today, and a dishonest shell game on taxes according to another. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former CBO director, argues that the Baucus plan will hit consumers with a deluge of taxes, many of which deliberately lack transparency, and 90% of which hit the middle class.
Read the rest at Hot Air.
It makes no sense to ask taxpayers to pay what the Cato Institute pegged this morning at $2 trillion, not $870 billion dollars over 10 years to insure 25 to 30 million additional people, under the guise that it will at some point down the road make insurance cheaper. That is doubtful for many of the reasons we have detailed on this blog. Even the CBO says it can only happen if Medicare is cut and everyone jumps in the pool. Add to that a long list of new taxes and penalties on everyone from medical equipment makers to the average American and it, as Joe knows, is the great deception
- It is doubtful they can or will cut medicare by any amount because they never have.
- It is doubtful they will create any savings through medical early intervention (a promise oft made during the HMO debate)
- And it is doubtful that adding young people to the pool will add funding without taxing services any more. Experience shows that if a service is paid for, and offer at below market or subsidized rates … utilization goes up (see HMOs)
- Nor there will be no savings, no cost cutting, only rationing and cuts (see Massachusetts)
Joe is correct to stand against this government care. Count me among the growing list of naysayers.
UPDATE: The politco is reporting this morning pretty much what Joe alluded to last night … no Snowementum.
Now that it’s passed out of “Finance” (with the help of Maine’s Olympia Snowe), you will be outraged about what follows, unless, of course, you live in Nevada, New York, Michigan, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Several Senators have made sure that the Obamacare rules are different there.
The Baucus Unaffordable Health Care Bill proposes to cover many of the uninsureds by having them insured by Medicaid. The only problem is that the states pay a large percentage of the cost of Medicaid, and thus, this bill would stick states with some $37 billion in costs at a time when most states are having difficulty balancing their budgets. Senator Harry Reid (D.NV.), who will be fighting for his political life next November, decided that it would be unfair to shift these costs to his state. So, under his changes to the bill, the federal government would pay all of Nevada’s increased Medicare costs for the next five years. Thus, fewer angry voters.
Then we have the tax on the “Cadillac” insurance plans, designed to make sure that those who can afford the best insurance, pay for those who can’t. Under the Baucus bill, if the value of your employer provided insurance plan exceeds $21,000, you will pay a tax of 40% on any value in excess of $21,000. However, thanks to Senator Schumer (D.N.Y.), this so called “Cadillac” insurance plan is merely a Volkswagen in his home state of New York. There will be no tax in New York until the value of the plan exceeds $25,000.
Then we have the $2.3 billion annual tax on pharmaceuticals, many of which are located in New Jersey. This tax was supposed to go into the Medicare Trust Fund. But, enter, Senator Bob Menendez (D. N.J.)…he negotiated a $1 billion tax credit, but, to show he is a hard-liner, the tax credit only applies to companies investing in R&D. Huh…don’t they all?
And finally, Senators Debbie Stabenow (D. Mich.) and John Kerry (D.Ma.) were able to include a $5 billion reinsurance program for unions that is designed to lower the medical costs of union members. I can only assume that Senators Stabenow and Kerry didn’t get the memo…the Baucus bill is being sold to Americans as something that will “lower medical costs”. Or, do they know something they are not telling us?
As the Wall Street Journal points out,
Most senators are saving up their special state demands for when the bill hits the Senate floor. At that point, we’ll get an even better idea of how much health-care change Democrats truly believe in.
Anyone want to guess what the final tab will be?
The CBO has scored the Baucus Health Bill and it comes in at a tidy $829 billion dollars … plus reducing the deficit by $81 billion dollars … all over ten years. Setting aside the afront the bill makes to your personal freedom to choose … $81 billion is chump change.
But even if that’s good enough for you, consider … it becomes deficit neutral by adding billions in taxes. Among them, the so called “mommy” tax … a tax placed on medical equipment starting at $100 (which is better than what Baucus originally proposed that would tax all medical equipment including Tampons), a tax on expensive health care plans (listening unions) and taxes on people who choose not to buy insurance.
But the biggest hit comes to seniors. The biggest cost savings will come from $500 billion in cuts to Medicare … more than $100 billion coming from the elimination of Medicare Advantage. Gulp!
Last night on Neil Cavuto’s show, Lindsey Graham said if this goes through there will be riots in the streets.
Topping it all off, it still leaves millions uninsured:
The bill would leave 25 million Americans uninsured – fully 6% of the population, excluding illegal immigrants, according to the CBO. But it would result in coverage for 29 million who currently do not have insurance, the CBO said.
So … we spend $829 billion dollars to insure 29 million people? Hmmm. Money well spent, don’t you think? Karl Rove calls it slight of hand.
Voters likely won’t react well to the price tag of Mr. Baucus’s bill. Yesterday’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report pegs its cost at $829 billion over the next 10 years. The CBO report claims the bill won’t add to the budget deficit until 2015—but the bill only manages that feat by delaying benefits and imposing taxes and Medicare and Medicaid cuts up front.
The battle continues.
When Congress earlier this year passed the Stimulus legislation that, among other things, allowed our tax dollars to be used to pay bonuses for executives of the failed AIG, Americans were outraged. Most in Congress proclaimed surprise at this provision of the bill, explaining that they had absolutely no idea that the legislation included such language.
Then, the first version of Obamacare was released in June, and Americans began to realize that what the administration and our legislators said about Obamacare was, in many instances, in direct conflict with what the proposal actually said.
Given this background, it was not surprising to see “Read The Bill” signs displayed prominently at rallies around the country. Sadly, not only does Congress not read the bills on which they are voting, they don’t even read their constituants’ signs.
the Senate Finance Committee voted 12 to 11 to reject a proposal to require a 72-hour waiting period and a full scoring of the bill by the Congressional Budget Office before the committee casts any final vote. Only one Democrat, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, voted for the waiting period. Chairman Max Baucus said the idea would delay a vote on the final bill for two weeks and he didn’t want to waste another moment.
Imagine that…a bill whose provisions (with the exception of the huge taxes on insurers and the medical care industry) won’t take effect for three years, and Senator Baucus refuses to wait an extra two weeks to enable not only Congress, but also the American public to learn what is being proposed, and how much it will cost.
And, were that not outrageous enough, you need to know what another member of Congress has to say about such proposals that would allow a calm review of a bill before a vote on the bill.
Sen. Kent Conrad, (D., N.D.) who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, claims that go-slow proposals wouldn’t make any difference because only 5% of Americans will be able to understand the legalese in bills. Politico.com reports him as saying: “Anybody who thinks that is going to be transparent to the American people is really not telling it like it is.”
So, bottom line for Sen. Conrad…you are too stupid to understand the simple printed words, or, we’ve made the bill so complicated that no one can understand it. Either way, this is not what I expect from our elected leaders.
However, let me suggest a third (and less condescending) reason for the haste. In the upcoming elections in November, New Jersey and Virginia will be electing governors, and right now, the Republican candidates are leading in the polls. Should the Republicans win both elections before Obamacare is passed, many conservative Democrats in Congress will be forced to rethink their position…a vote for Obamacare may well become a one way ticket out of Washington.
Recently Humana, a Kentucky insurance company that offers Medicare Advantage plans, sent a letter to all of the seniors enrolled in its plans. Although some say the form of the letter may have been an issue, it is the substance of the letter that drew outrage from Senator Baucus (D-Mont.), the author of the Baucus Unaffordable Health Care Bill.
The letter advised seniors that because of spending cuts to Medicare contained within the bill,
millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable.
As a result of the Senator’s ire, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent Humana a cease and desist order claiming that the mailing was “misleading and confusing”.
Just in case the cease and desist order against Humana doesn’t do the trick, the CMS (no doubt at Senator Baucus’ urging) has also banned any provider of Medicare Advantage plans from providing similar information to their insureds.
Here is what Senator Baucus had to say,
It is wholly inappropriate for insurance companies to mislead seniors regarding any subject—particularly on a subject as important to them, and to the nation, as health-care reform…[t]he health-care reform bill we released last week strengthens Medicare and does not cut benefits covered under the Medicare program—and seniors need to know that.
I can only assume that Senator Baucus hasn’t read his own bill as it clearly makes major cuts to Medicare Advantage Plans. Or, he hasn’t listened to the Congressional Budget Office which places the cuts to Medicare Advantage at $100 billion over 10 years. Or, he hasn’t listened to any of the well over 100 speeches given by the President, which also describe the cuts to Medicare Advantage.
And, here is what Senator McConnell (R. Ky.) had to say in response, but Hot Air has the full speech on video.
Update: And who at CMS decided the Humana letter was false and misleading? Jonathan Blum…a former senior aide to Senator Baucus, and a health advisor on the Obama transition team!
Although, the President has called for a civil discourse about Obamacare, it would seem to be difficult to have that discourse with a gag in your mouth.