Wednesday, January 1, 2014

ObamaCare’s latest whopper (Here come the Deathpanels)

NY Post ^ | Jan 1, 2014 | Betsy McCaughey 

In 2013, the American people learned what whoppers the key promises of ObamaCare turned out to be. But the biggest whopper about the Affordable Care Act is yet to be exposed: the tightening grip the federal government will have over your doctor — even if you’re paying with private insurance.
Section 1311(h)(1)(B) of the health law gives the secretary of Health and Human Services blanket authority to dictate how doctors treat patients. Not just patients in government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, but patients with private plans they pay for themselves. On Dec. 2, 2013, we learned from the Federal Register that the rules are now being written. Starting in 2015, insurance companies will be barred from doing business with doctors who fail to comply.
Obama’s nominee to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Dr. Donald Berwick, also insisted the federal government must step in between doctors and their patients to curb and redistribute the use of medical resources. Berwick said resources should be allocated based on “important subgroups.” These groups, rather than the individual patient in the doctor’s office, he said, should be the “unit of concern.”
(Excerpt) Read more at nypost.com ...

Report: Only half of new ObamaCare enrollees in 17 states have paid first month of premiums!

Hotair ^ | 12/31/2013 | AllahPundit 

No way to know yet if the federal exchange is also seeing a 50 percent payment rate system-wide, but if it is, we’re looking at close to500,000 people whose new coverage will begin tomorrow in some sort of limbo. Or maybe more, actually: At least one insurance company is seeing payment rates closer to 35 percent, and the Journal found one man who signed up in late November who still hasn’t been billed yet by his new insurer. That’s the fruit of chaos imposed on the industry by Obama and HHS in moving around deadlines haphazardly to protect themselves politically. They moved the sign-up deadline back nine days, to Christmas Eve, and then they “suggested” that the payment deadline be moved back to January 10th, all but forcing insurers to cover people retroactively. Expect a new “suggestion” for them to move the payment deadline back further into January, as some insurers have already done, if that 500,000 can’t get their acts together in time to pony up the 10th.
How chaotic is it right now? One insurance exec predicts that people will be bringing printouts from the exchange websites to the doctor in lieu of insurance cards because the industry simply can’t meet the logistical demands created by the White House to send everyone their card in time.
Normally, insurers require payment for coverage before the coverage begins. They count an enrollment as complete only when the first month’s premium has been received from a customer. As of Monday, however, only about half of enrollees billed for plans offered by more than 100 insurers in 17 states had paid their first month’s premium, said Mark Waterstraat, chief strategy officer at Benaissance, a third-party billing firm that works for those insurers…
After the federal government extended the deadline to sign up for coverage from Dec. 15 to Christmas Eve, most insurers in turn extended their deadlines for payment, some as late as Jan. 10 for coverage starting Jan. 1. Some, like Independence Blue Cross, a Philadelphia-area insurer, pushed the deadline as far back as Jan. 28. Humana Inc. said Monday that it would accept payments as late as Jan. 31.
Independence Blue Cross is pre-emptively sending insurance cards to consumers before they have paid, said Brian Lobley, a senior vice president. The insurer dispatched 20 workers over the weekend to create the plastic membership cards and ship them to presumptive enrollees. The plans won’t be “active” until the new customers actually pay Independence, but mailing the cards early will allow them to start using their plans right away once they have paid, Mr. Lobley said.
I’m guessing HHS will announce this weekend, while the media’s still in its holiday slumber, that they’re “suggesting” insurers follow Humana’s lead and extend their own payment deadlines from the 10th to the 31st. That’s the beauty of these White House “fixes”: There’s no limit to them, really, because insurers are in no position to resist even if what Obama wants doesn’t technically carry the force of law. HHS already threatened to exclude companies that don’t comply with its every ass-covering whim from the exchanges next year, a potentially terrible financial blow given how many millions more consumers will have been forced onto them by then. This is what a government takeover of health care looks like.

Common Core Education

Townhall.com ^ | January 1, 2013 | John Stossel 


My TV producers asked our Facebook audience to vote for a topic they'd most like to hear discussed on my year-end show. The overwhelming winner, for some reason: the education standards program Common Core.
Most Americans don't even know what that is. But they should. It's the government's plan to try to bring "the same standard" to every government-run school.
This may sound good. Often, states dumb down tests to try to "leave no child behind." How can government evaluate teachers and reward successful schools if there isn't a single national standard?
But when the federal government imposes a single teaching plan on 15,000 school districts across the country, that's even more central planning, and central planning rarely works. It brings stagnation.
Education is a discovery process like any other human endeavor. We might be wrong about both how to teach and what to teach, but we won't realize it unless we can experiment -- compare and contrast the results of different approaches. Having "one plan" makes it harder to experiment and figure out what works.
Some people are terrified to hear "education" and "experiment" in the same sentence. Why take a risk with something as important as my child's education? Pick the best education methods and teach everyone that way!
But we don't know what the best way to educate kids is.
As American education has become more centralized, the rest of our lives have become increasingly diverse and tailored to individual needs. Every minute, thousands of entrepreneurs struggle to improve their products. Quality increases, and costs often drop.
But centrally planned K-12 education doesn't improve. Per-student spending has tripled (governments now routinely spend $300,000 per classroom!), but test results are stagnant.
"Everyone who has children knows that they're all different, right? They learn differently," observed Sabrina Schaeffer of the Independent Women's Forum on my show. "In the workplace, we're allowing people flexibility to telecommute, to have shared jobs. In entertainment, people buy and watch what they want, when they want." Having one inflexible model for education "is so old-fashioned."
No Child Left Behind programs were an understandable reaction to atrocious literacy and graduation rates -- but since school funding was pegged to students' performance on federally approved tests, classroom instruction became largely about drilling for those tests and getting the right answers, even if kids did little to develop broader reasoning skills. So along comes Common Core to attempt to fix the problem -- and create new ones.
Common Core de-emphasizes correct answers by awarding kids points for reasoning, even when they don't quite get there.
A video went viral online that showed a worried mom, Karen Lamoreaux -- a member of the group Arkansas Against Common Core -- complaining to the Arkansas Board of Education about complicatedly worded math problems meant for fourth-graders. She read to the Board this question: "Mr. Yamato's class has 18 students. If the class counts around by a number and ends with 90, what number did they count by?"
Huh?
But I could be wrong. Maybe this is a clever new way to teach math, and maybe Lamoreaux worries too much. Unfortunately, though, if Lamoreaux is right, and the federal government is wrong, government still gets to decree its universal solution to this problem.
Promoters of Common Core say, "Don't worry, Common Core is voluntary." This is technically true, but states that reject it lose big federal money. That's Big Government's version of "voluntary."
Common Core, like public school, public housing, the U.S. Postal Service, the Transportation Security Administration, etc., are all one-size-fits-all government monopolies. For consumers, this is not a good thing.
With the future riding on young people consuming better forms of education, I'd rather leave parents and children (and educators) multiple choices.
Despite Common Core, Schaeffer pointed out that this year did bring some victories for educational freedom. "We saw new education tax credit programs and expansion of tax credit programs in numerous states -- Alabama, Indiana, Iowa and others. Education Savings Accounts expanded in other states; voucher programs expanded."
This is good news. Vouchers, Education Savings Accounts and tax credits create competition and choice.

Good news from Chicago: Only 413 murdered Americans this year!

The Daily Caller ^ | 12-31-13 | Neil Munro 

Good news from Chicago: The catastrophic murder rate in the Democratic-controlled city was slightly less catastrophic in 2013 than in 2012.
Only 413 Americans were shot, stabbed or bludgeoned to death in the city, where all 50 aldermen are Democrats. Most of the victims in the blue-voting city were African-Americans or Hispanic, and very few were white.
Still, the city’s Democratic leaders cautiously cheered the deaths of the 413 Americans, more than one victim per day, which included one young woman who marched in President Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration parade.
“We continue to make significant progress in reducing crime rates to historic levels, and gains are being made in all communities across Chicago,” said a statement from Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The 413 murders are “good news for our children and families… [and] we will continue working until everyone enjoys the same sense of safety,” said Emmanuel, who worked as Obama’s first chief of staff.
“We’ve seen a major decrease here,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a radical, Democrat-affiliated priest in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, and a former community organizer who worked with Barack Obama in the 1990s. However, Chicagoans must be “very careful that now people don’t kind of lull themselves into a sleep,” he said, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
The toll of 413 dead is down from the 2012 score of 503 dead. Chicago has a population of 2.7 million and has only had Democratic mayors since 1931. By comparison, New York, with more than 8 million, suffered only 333 murders year-to-date as of Sunday.
(Excerpt) Read more at dailycaller.com ...

Alabama Mom's ObamaCare Horror Story Gives America a Glimpse of Government-Run Healthcare

Independant journal Review ^ | 1-1-14 | Emily Hulsey 

Many of us can identify with the frustrating experience that Karri Kinder, a mother of two from Auburn, Alabama, has had with Obamacare. She penned this open letter to share her story:

An Open Letter to the Obama Administration and American Citizens:

My family’s journey with securing our new insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) started on October 1, 2013. I have decided to write this letter to let the American people know what it has been like for us. We are a family of four, with two little boys’ ages seven years old and three years old. My husband and I have had full time jobs for 6 years and 13 years respectively. We have been with the same two companies for those years. We are a middle class family; we own our three bedroom two bath house, we own two cars, and previously provided our own insurance for the four of us. We have coverage through Individual Blue from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama until 12/31/13. Our premiums have been $380.00 a month, which also included dental coverage for all four of us.
On October, 1, 2013 we received our letters like other Alabamians about our new premiums and plans for 2014 from Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Alabama. When I opened our letter to say I had sticker shock was an understatement. Our premiums for the Blue Saver Silver would now be $753.26. This included the ACA tax but did not include the additional $75.00 we would need to pay in order to keep dental for me and my husband. So we would need to pay total $828.26 to keep health and dental insurance for the four of us. This payment is roughly $64.00 less than what we pay for our mortgage each month.
(Excerpt) Read more at ijreview.com ...