Saturday, October 12, 2013

ObamaCare: It's all about control

Pittsburg Tribune-Review ^ | October 11, 2013 | Robert Moffit, senior fellow in the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation

On health care, the president's pile of broken promises keeps getting higher. Consider this gem from Aug. 20, 2009: “Let's be clear about the fact that nobody has proposed anything close to a government takeover of health care.”
Well, yes, somebody did. President Obama is now well on his way to orchestrating the federal government's takeover of Americans' health care.
Commandeering the resources of major federal departments, particularly the Department of Health and Human Services and the IRS, the administration and its allies in Congress have created numerous federal bureaus, commissions and programs and have issued thousands of pages of rules, regulations, guidelines and directives, all reinforced by unprecedented mandates and new taxes, fees, fines and penalties. Central planning and coercion holds this sprawling thing together.
Virtually all key health care decisions will be made by government officials. Not you. Not your employer. Not your insurance company.
Beginning Jan. 1, government officials will require you to buy a federally approved health plan or pay federal fines or tax penalties. They will define and redefine, at their pleasure, the content of your health benefits package, meaning the medical treatments and procedures you must have; the kind and level of preventive health care services you must have; the level of coverage you must have; the level of cost sharing, deductibles and co-payments that are acceptable — to them, not you.
Writing in the October 2010 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine, Sara Rosenbaum, professor of law at George Washington University and a supporter of the law, perhaps best described ObamaCare's transformative effect on private insurance: “It will take on certain characteristics of a public utility.” In other words, private insurance will be “private” in name only.
You will get what government officials say you will get.
Because the statutory language is often vague, “experts” at HHS and the IRS are free to write detailed regulations that cover a multitude of thorny items, such as the definition of “quality care” or “value” in doctor- or hospital-care delivery. Of course, officials who make the rules can make exceptions to the rules, issuing waivers, or exemptions, or securing special treatment for favored groups. The most obnoxious example is the Office of Personnel Management's decision to give hefty taxpayer subsidies to members of Congress and congressional staff to offset their premium costs in the new health insurance exchanges next year. Those special subsidies are bereft of statutory authority.
Government officials will exercise more control over the flow of your health care dollars and subject you to mandates and penalties. Your personal freedom will be curtailed by those who claim to know what is best for you.
Meanwhile, the president and his allies will insist that what you are witnessing firsthand is not a “government takeover” of health care.
You can either believe them or your own eyes.

American Graffiti 40 Years Later ^ | October 12, 2013 | Bill O'Reilly

On Saturday nights at my house, I often trot out classic movies and force the urchins to watch them. There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I think it's important to teach kids about American culture, and films certainly are a big part of it. Actors like John Wayne, Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn are worth seeing and remembering.
So the other night I trotted out "American Graffiti," a film released 40 years ago. The movie was directed by "Star Wars" creator George Lucas and chronicles one night in the lives of some California teenagers in the year 1962.
The first thing the kids noticed was Harrison Ford playing a young hood driving a hot rod. That got their attention. The movie features other great actors such as Richard Dreyfuss and Charles Martin Smith, along with Ron Howard and Cindy Williams, who turned the "Graffiti" success into the television hits "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley."
About 20 minutes into the movie, which is heavy on dialogue and light on explosions, the urchins pulled out their iPads and began typing away. Dismay enveloped me.
"So you don't like this?" I asked the 14-year-old.
"It's OK. I'm listening."
"But you're playing with that machine!"
"I can multitask!"
A few minutes later, the 10-year-old demanded popcorn. I told him we'd get some halfway through the flick.
"Do they ever get out of the cars?" the urchin wailed.
"That's the culture in California. They cruise around in cars listening to the radio."
"But there are so many cars!"
I was losing them.
So I paused the movie and brought in snacks. I demanded they shut off the machines while eating.
"Why?" the 14-year-old asked.
"Because you can't text, eat and watch a movie at the same time."
"Yes, I can. I always do that."
"They're still in cars," the 8-year-old said.
We got through the movie, but just barely. Their interest peaked when The Pharaohs, a gang of juvenile delinquents, forced Dreyfuss to vandalize a police car. Finally, some destruction!
After "American Graffiti" concluded, I asked for their reviews. I got them while their heads were down looking at their iPads.
The consensus: It was OK. Too many cars.
These days, the machines and awful films that blow things up every 10 seconds are delivering heavy blows to American culture. The graffiti is on the wall. The attention spans of young people average about 30 seconds. Baseball? Forget it. Chess? Are you kidding me?
We live in a time where machines that deliver instant gratification rule. But I will continue to fight the cyberspace power. Coming attraction: Hitchcock's "The Birds."
Let the texting begin.

6 Things Every American Should Know About Obamacare ^ | October 12, 2013 | John Hawkins

If you think every American should know these facts about Obamacare, do your part to spread this column around and make it happen.

1) Millions of Americans are paying much more for health care because of Obamacare. Obama's new health care law has a lot of new requirements, restrictions, and red tape. That means the cost of plans is going up and the amount of competition in many states is going down. Because of this, the price of health care is soaring all across the country. Here are a couple of examples of how bad it is already getting.

Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.
Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.

Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four.

How many American families can afford an extra $10,000 a year to pay for a service that they were already receiving?

2) Millions of Americans have LOST their health care plans because of the law. One of Barack Obama's most famous promises about Obamacare was, "First of all, if you've got health insurance, you like your doctor, you like your plan - you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you."

However, health care plans are being dropped all across the country by insurance companies because they don't meet the minimum standards of the expensive new plans that are preferred by Obamacare. How bad has it already gotten? 800,000 Americans lost their health care plans in New Jersey alone.

3) The Obamacare website costs more than Facebook and it doesn't work. How do you in good conscience roll out a product that just doesn't work when people's health is on the line? Worse yet, if the product costs this much and performs this badly, what does it tell you about how well it will work in the future? Facebook took six years to spend 500 million dollars, while the Obamacare website has already managed that same trick. Yet, the glitches on the website were so bad, that as few as five thousand Americans may have managed to sign up so far across thirty four states. When you are quite literally asking Americans to put their lives in your hands, that's a stunning level of incompetence.

4) Obamacare is a terrible deal for young Americans. As a general rule, older Americans tend to have more experience, more money, and more assets built up. Yet, for Obamacare to work financially, young Americans have to take a big financial hit to supplement the cost of insurance for senior citizens. In fact, most young Americans would be better off getting a cheap plan that doesn't qualify under Obamacare and paying the tax than they would signing up for an Obamacare approved plan.

A recent study by the National Center for Public Policy Research shows that:
About 3.7 million of those ages 18-34 will be at least $500 better off if they forgo insurance and pay the penalty.

More than 3 million will be $1,000 better off if they go the same route.

When young Americans are already struggling with an anemic job market, piling on these extra costs is helping to put them even further behind.

5) Americans are losing their jobs because of Obamacare. America's economy has been sluggish throughout Obama's entire tenure as President and according to a study by numbers guru John Lott, 97% of the jobs added to the economy this year have been part-time. Obamacare is one of the biggest reasons that's happening. Retailers are cutting worker hours at a rate not seen in more than three decades to try to make sure their employees don't qualify under Obamacare. Full time workers are even being cut back to part-time because 50 full time workers is the cut off for a business being forced to comply with Obamacare's mandates. In other words, not only is Obamacare causing a lot of problems with health care, it's hurting our economy almost as badly.

6) America is still going to have tens of millions of Americans that are uninsured. The primary selling point of Obamacare was supposed to be that everyone would have health care. In fact, we heard over and over again that we had to pass Obamacare because"Forty million Americans don't have health care." According to the Congressional Budget Office, guess how many Americans won't have health care in 2023? If you guessed thirty-one million, give yourself a pat on the back.

So these soaring insurance premiums, people losing their jobs, horrific website problems, and young Americans being hit with crippling bills along with forcing Catholics to do treatments that violate their religious beliefs, upcoming doctor shortages, and government shutdowns are all so we can insure a few million more Americans over the course of a decade. Is it really worth it to hurt so many tens of millions of Americans just for that miniscule benefit?