Tag Archive | health care

Supreme Court Justices Seem Ready To Rule On ObamaCare

The first question before the Supreme Court this morning was whether or not they could even rule on ObamaCare, because of an old and somewhat obscure law that might stand in the way. Heritage explains:

The 145-year-old Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) provides that courts may not hear most cases to block tax collections until the challengers first pay the tax and seek a refund.  The individual mandate in Obamacare doesn’t kick in until 2014, and one court ruled that no one may challenge it until they pay the penalty for not buying insurance in 2015. The United States no longer takes that position; it thinks the AIA doesn’t apply to the mandate penalty because it is not a tax. The challengers argue there are four other reasons why the AIA doesn’t apply.

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Romney Follows Obama’s Lead In Blaming Others For His Own Errors

The news broke today that under RomneyCare, illegal immigrants are eligible for medical care under a program called Free Care, which is pretty self-explanatory.

This would be enough of a problem for Romney, but given how hard he’s been hammering Perry over the college tuition for illegal immigrants issue, it’s doubly dangerous, because now Romney looks like a flaming hypocrite (which he is).

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Asthma Sufferers Forced Into More Expensive Medications By Obama’s EPA

What’s driving the cost of health care up, up, and up? Well, this may be only one instance, but it’s indicative of the type of thing that certainly contributes to it.

Asthma patients who rely on over-the-counter inhalers will need to switch to prescription-only alternatives as part of the federal government’s latest attempt to protect the Earth’s atmosphere.

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The Debt Deal Could Lead To Big Cuts In ObamaCare

Looks like Boehner and the GOP snuck a provision past the Democrats that they probably wish they’d caught:

The debt ceiling agreement could jeopardize millions of dollars, and perhaps billions, in initiatives from President Barack Obama’s health care reform law if the super committee can’t come up with required spending cuts.

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ObamaCare Forcing Insurers To Cover Birth Control

And didn’t some people say that ObamaCare was going to impose these kinds of regulations on what used to be at least a semi-free market?

Health insurance plans must cover birth control as preventive care for women, with no copays, the Obama administration said Monday in a decision with far-reaching implications for health care as well as social mores.

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Federal Appeals Court Seems Not To Like ObamaCare Mandate

If their questions are any guide, these judges seem downright skeptical of this Congressional power-grab:

But during almost three hours of oral arguments, the judges asked pointed questions about the so-called individual mandate, which the federal government says is needed to expand coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans. With other challenges to the law before other federal appeals courts, lawyers expect that its fate will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Chief Judge Joel Dubina, who was tapped by President George H.W. Bush, struck early by asking the government’s attorney “if we uphold the individual mandate in this case, are there any limits on Congressional power?” Circuit Judges Frank Hull and Stanley Marcus, who were both appointed by President Bill Clinton, echoed his concerns later in the hearing.


Hull also seemed skeptical at the government’s claim that the mandate was crucial to covering the 50 million or so uninsured Americans. She said the rolls of the uninsured could be pared significantly with other parts of the package, including expanded Medicare discounts for some seniors and a change that makes it easier for those with pre-existing medical conditions to get coverage. Dubina nodded as she spoke.

If the mandate goes, the rest of ObamaCare will probably crumble, because the mandate is the thing that holds it all together.

Of course, this is probably headed to SCOTUS anyway, regardless of how this court rules, but a defeat here could make it a lot harder for the pro-ObamaCare forces to win in the end.

Whatever Happened To “If You Like Your Coverage, You Can Keep It”?

During the debate over ObamaCare, many people–including those of us on this here blog–said that employers would drop coverage in favor of the government plan. These concerns were poo-poohed by the pro-socialized-medicine lefties.

Turns out we were right and they were wrong:

LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Once provisions of the Affordable Care Act start to kick in during 2014, at least three of every 10 employers will probably stop offering health coverage, a survey released Monday shows.

While only 7% of employees will be forced to switch to subsidized-exchange programs, at least 30% of companies say they will “definitely or probably” stop offering employer-sponsored coverage, according to the study published in McKinsey Quarterly.

I’m sure the lefty pencil-pushers had some formula that made them think that it wouldn’t happen… but then, lefty formulas are frequently wrong–like the one that said the stimulus would keep unemployment under 8%.

H/T: Weasel Zippers

The Future Under ObamaCare: Waiting Lines For Mass. Doctors Getting Worse

David Axelrod once stated quite categorically that MassCare (sometimes called RomneyCare) was “a template” for ObamaCare, and Mitt Romney himself defended the individual mandate as recently as last month, so is this any surprise?

BOSTON — If you thought the wait time to see a doctor was getting longer, you’re right. The latest survey from the Massachusetts Medical Society shows that finding an appointment in six of seven specialties is either harder this year or no better than last.

If you’re a new patient and want to see a family physician, about half of all practices aren’t taking anyone new. If you have a public insurance plan, such as Medicare and Medicaid, then you may have some additional trouble receiving care.

The report has serious implications for health care costs in the state, the doctors group said, because patients unable to see a primary care physician are likely to seek more expensive emergency room treatment.

“Massachusetts has made great strides in securing insurance coverage for its citizens,” said the MMA’s president, Dr. Alice Coombs, referring to the state’s landmark 2006 universal health insurance law. “But insurance coverage doesn’t equal access to care.”

Let me highlight that last statement from Dr. Coombs:

“But insurance coverage doesn’t equal access to care.”

And even for those who already have a doctor, there are longer waits:

Even for patients fortunate enough to have a primary care doctor, waits for appointments continued to be lengthy. The average wait for an appointment with an internist was 48 days, which was five days shorter than last year, but the average wait for family medicine was 36 days, a week longer than in the 2010 survey.

Patients were also waiting longer to see specialists. The average wait for gastroenterologists, obstetricians/gynecologists, orthopedic surgeons and cardiologists were all higher than a year ago, the report said.

This is pretty much what all the conservative commentators said would happen under government-run healthcare, and it’s what we can expect if ObamaCare isn’t repealed.

Given Romney’s defense of the individual mandate, though, can we really expect him to sign a repeal bill if he becomes President?

I don’t wanna take that chance. I will not be supporting Mitt in the primaries, due primarily to RomneyCare.

Medicare Illegally Paid For Viagra

Your tax dollars at work:

The U.S. Medicare program improperly spent more than $3 million in 2007 and 2008 to buy Pfizer Inc. (PFE)’s Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs for senior citizens, government investigators said.

The purchases violated a 2005 ban on covering the drugs under the U.S. health program for the elderly and disabled. Medicare administrators blamed the spending on a software error and said they would try to recover payments to private insurers who administer the program’s drug plans.

Medicare “should not have covered these drugs,” George Reeb, acting deputy inspector general for audit services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, wrote in a report released today. He recommended that Medicare work with the Food and Drug Administration to maintain a list of prohibited drugs. Medicare administrators, in a response to the report, rejected the suggestion as unnecessary.

Medicare paid a total of $3.1 million for erectile dysfunction drugs in the period examined, more than $3 million of which was for Viagra, which had 2010 sales of $1.9 billion based on data compiled by Bloomberg. Other drugs purchased included Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY)’s Cialis, the report said.

The purchases were a fraction of Medicare’s drug spending in 2007 and 2008, which totaled $133 billion, according to the report

And Medicare is run by the same government bureaucrats who think they can run the rest of the health care sector cheaper than private companies can.

Hand-Held Scanner Can Detect Cancer, Says Inventors

If true, this is huge:

Dr Ralph Weissleder of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and colleagues have developed a miniaturized nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) scanner that identifies molecules by the way their nuclei are affected by magnetic fields. It also attaches magnetic nanoparticles to proteins to allow specific proteins, such as those found in tumor cells, to be identified.

The gadget was tested on suspicious cells collected by fine needle aspiration from 50 patients. Because the samples needed are so small, cells could be taken from several areas of the suspected tumor. The samples were labeled with magnetic nanoparticles and then injected into the micro-NMR machine.

The results can be read by connecting the device to a smartphone loaded with a specially-programmed application. The samples tested revealed nine protein markers for cancer cells. When the results for four of these proteins were combined they allowed the team to produce a diagnosis.

Keep your eyes peeled for more news on this one.

Obama Administration To Judge Vinson: Please Tell States To Ignore Your Ruling

Just proving that life is really stranger than fiction:

The Obama administration is asking a federal judge who struck down the healthcare reform law to clarify that states must still implement the overhaul as the appeals process plays out.

Some states are saying the Jan. 31 ruling relieves them from implementing the sweeping reform law because the federal judge in Florida found it to be unconstitutional.

The Obama administration, in a Thursday evening filing in a Northern Florida federal court, is asking the court to clarify that the 26 states who successfully challenged the law are still required to comply with it.

Ed at HotAir is speculating about why the ObamaCrats are doing this…

Essentially, the Obama administration wants Vinson to tell the states to obey an unconstitutional law.  This isn’t a necessary step for an appeal, although it might or might not be a prerequisite to an application for a stay at the 11th Circuit.  Either way, it’s a fool’s errand.  If a judge declares an entire law void on the basis of constitutionality, he is hardly likely to issue an order telling states to obey it anyway.

Assuming this isn’t fulfilling some arcane check box on an appeal, what’s the point of asking Vinson to do this?  Either Obama’s team doesn’t understand how to read a legal brief — an amusing prospect, but utterly untrue — or they’re trying to delay the appeal a little longer.  Perhaps they’re hoping for a few more decisions to go their way in circuit courts before Vinson’s ruling gets reviewed at the next level.  Frankly, though, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, either.  Except as a political pose, this seems completely futile and meaningless.

All respect to the great Captain Ed, but I think the answer is simple. Obama is acting like the immature person he is, kicking his feet and screaming “Nonononononono! You can’t take away My Signature Achievement!”

Rep. Steve King: GOP Trying To Stop Efforts To Defund ObamaCare. UPDATED and BUMPED: King’s Amendment Passes

From his op-ed today in the Washington Times:

There has been an effort behind the scenes to block my initiative to cut off all funding to Obamacare. One of the tactics is to argue that my proposal violates the rules by legislating on an appropriations bill. It wasn’t a violation when Congress defunded the Vietnam War, and it’s not a violation now. The CR [continuing resolution--CW], the very bill that I seek to amend, has language in it that blocks the use of any funds to move detainees out of Guantanamo Bay. By their definition, they’ve set a precedent and all I ask is to use the same tool to debate and vote on blocking the use of any funds to implement or enforce Obamacare. In fact, the CR as written already addresses Obamacare in at least four places, the 1099 provision among them.

It’s absolutely despicable, and contrary to the results of the 2010 elections for those Republicans that campaigned on stopping ObamaCare to stand in the way of defunding it. I wanna know who’s behind this effort!

I urge Rep. King to name names, so we can put political pressure on these Republicans that apparently don’t want to defund ObamaCare… and in the mean time, everyone that’s represented by a Republican should be on the phone to their Representative’s office, either in the district or in DC, telling them to support King’s effort to defund this monstrosity.

There’s a quick and easy “Find your Representative” link in the upper left area of the US House website.

Update and bump: According to the PJ Tatler, King’s amendment has passed. Results of the roll call vote aren’t available at the Clerk’s website as of the time of this writing, but I am betting it’s either roll call vote 99 or 98, seen here at 2:31 pm or 2:27 pm respectively.

How To Reduce Health Care Costs

James C. Capretta takes a look at the new Ryan-Rivlin plan, and likes what he sees:

The Ryan-Rivlin plan is entirely different because it is based on empowering consumers to find the best value possible for their defined-contribution payment. This is the way to unleash a productivity revolution in health care. The administration says it wants everyone to have access to low-cost, high-quality models, such as the Geisinger Health Plan. The way to bring that about is with a dynamic consumer marketplace in which those kinds of plans are rewarded financially for being more efficient and of higher quality. And the way to bring that about is by giving people the control and financial incentive to become active, cost-conscious consumers both of the insurance they select and the delivery system by which they get their care. And that’s exactly what would happen under Ryan-Rivlin, which is why it would work and Obamacare wouldn’t.

Gee, that sounds like something someone said way back in 2008. Glad to see you on the bandwagon, Mr. Capretta.

CBO: ObamaCare Kills Jobs

Another thing that the Obamacrats denied vociferously has now been confirmed by the CBO:

Yuval Levin has a transcript of the important exchange:

Campbell: You just mentioned that you believe—or that in your estimate, that the health-care law would reduce the labor used in the economy by about one half of one percent. Given that, I believe you say, there’s 160 million full-time people working in 2021, that means that, in your estimation, the health-care law would reduce employment by 800,000 in 2021. Is that correct?

Elmendorf: Yes. The way I would put it is that we do estimate, as you said, that household employment will be about 160 million by the end of the decade.  Half a percent of that is 800,000.

Remember when Nancy Pelosi said that we had to pass ObamaCare to find out what was in it?

Two points about that statement: One, we now know why she didn’t want this stuff out before it passed. Two, given all the bad things that have already come out about this monstrosity of a program, I don’t really want to know more, I want it to be repealed at the earliest possible opportunity.

House Will Vote On Defunding ObamaCare Next Week

(Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to vote to block funding for President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare overhaul when it takes up a budget plan next week, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor said on Tuesday.


Cantor’s office said the language blocking funding for the healthcare law is expected to be offered as an amendment during the House debate next week. Republicans, trying to make good on a campaign pledge for a more open legislative process, plan to debate a number of amendments to the spending bill.

Cantor said he expects the spending bill to include healthcare language when it leaves the House for Senate consideration.

The measure is not likely to get past the Democratic-controlled Senate, which rejected a Republican bid to fully repeal the healthcare overhaul that Obama signed into law last year.

I’ve said it before, but even if it doesn’t survive the Senate, it’s important for the House to include the defunding language. It will both keep a campaign promise and provide a real measure of the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats in Congress.

Of course, if the red-state Democratic Senators hear loud and clear from their constituents, maybe it will survive the Senate after all, and then Obama will have to make a very hard decision that he won’t be able to vote “present” on… either sign the bill (or let it go through unsigned, after 10 days it automatically becomes law as though he had signed it) and let his administration be stripped of the funds to enforce ObamaCare, or make a very public veto and thus reinforce his identification with a very unpopular bill.

I hope the House follows through on this. I’ll have the popcorn standing by.

Blogger vs. The Economist On ObamaCare

The penultimate paragraph:

We request at least consideration of a retraction or correction for the above items, but more importantly, that in the future you consider assigning an individual to write on this key American domestic policy debate with more attention to the facts. In an article of less than 1,000 words, it is rare to see so many incomprehensible inaccuracies abound. This is itself an achievement of a sort—but it is one we hope will not be repeated.

This appears at the end of a tremendous fisking of The Economists’ latest entry on ObamaCare, this one about the result of the Florida lawsuit. Read the whole thing to appreciate the number and seriousness of the “incomprehensible inaccuracies.”

H/T Ed Driscoll

Sanders Explains ObamaCare

“I hope to be able to get waivers from Congress and the white house to allow us to do so. At the end of the day, if you are going to provide health care to all of our people in a cost effective way, you have to get rid of the health insurance companies, not profiteering and bureaucracy,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told MSNBC.

(emphasis added)

RealClearPolitics has the video.

Nice of him to confirm what everyone except tie-dyed-in-the-wool-lefties have known about ObamaCare since the whole debate started.

Virginia Requests Expedited SCOTUS Hearing On ObamaCare

They’re pushing for the Supremes to take on ObamaCare ASAP:

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced today that Virginia will file a petition to ask the United States Supreme Court to take Virginia’s health care lawsuit now, as opposed to waiting for the case to first be decided by the court of appeals. The Petition for Certiorari Before Judgment in the United States Supreme Court in the case of Commonwealth v. Sebelius will be filed pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules of the United States Supreme Court.

“Given the uncertainty caused by the divergent rulings of the various district courts on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we feel that it is necessary to seek resolution of this issue as quickly as possible,” said Cuccinelli.

“Currently, state governments and private businesses are being forced to expend enormous amounts of resources to prepare to implement a law that, in the end, may be declared unconstitutional. Regardless of whether you believe the law is constitutional or not, we should all agree that a prompt resolution of this issue is in everyone’s best interest,” he said.

Normally, appeals of decisions of United States district courts are first heard in the federal courts of appeals. But Rule 11 provides that an immediate review in the U.S. Supreme Court is permissible “upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in” the Supreme Court.

As Ed Morrissey points out, if SCOTUS does take the case quickly, it could easily affect the 2012 elections:

Even if the Supreme Court waited until its next session to accept an expedited case, the decision would still come before the 2012 election. A Supreme Court ruling that supports the mandate still leaves President Obama and his Democratic allies with an unpopular bill under political siege in the Republican-controlled House, no worse or better off than before a final court ruling. Such a ruling might even provide more motivation to the opposition to gain control of the Senate and White House to reverse the PPACA entirely through legislative action.

An adverse ruling by the Supreme Court before the 2012 election would be an unequivocal disaster, however. President Obama and his fellow Democrats spent almost half of the 111th congressional session fiddling on health care while the economy burned, which destroyed their credibility in the midterm elections last fall. They insisted that their work would pass constitutional muster even as the mandate fueled the rise of the Tea Party and came to embody all of the arrogance and elitism of big government, nanny state. A ruling that overturns even just the mandate means that they tossed away their House majority and all of their political momentum for nothing.

What’s more, it will increase the prestige and the credibility of those who fought the passage of the PPACA and who later vowed to repeal it entirely and start reform over from scratch. And that could come just as President Obama runs for re-election and Democrats desperately try to preserve their Senate majority as they defend 13 more seats than Republicans. Not only would their work be discredited, so would their entire approach to governance.

The Obamacrats thought that they were writing a bill that would guarantee them majorities for the foreseeable future… as it turns out, they’ve probably written a bill that will guarantee them minority status for quite some time. At the moment, the only possible hope for the Democrats is that the Supreme Court doesn’t take the ObamaCare cases as expedited appeals.

Buckle your seatbelts, the ride is gonna get a lot bumpier.

Ben Nelson Sees The Light

But is it too late to save his 2012 reelection bid?

Speaking to more than 150 insurance brokers, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) called the individual mandate “the biggest sticking point” in the health reform law.

“It’s time to change the mandate,” Nelson told members of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), gathered in Washington for their “Day on the Hill” event. “People don’t like mandates. I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Gee, Ben, if you didn’t think the mandate was a good idea, why did you vote for it?

The way I see it, there are two options, neither of which really reflects well on Senator Nelson:

  1. Nelson read the bill, saw the individual mandate, and voted for it anyway. This makes his comment above at the very least disingenuous, at the worst, an outright lie.
  2. Nelson didn’t read the bill, which makes him an idiot for voting for something he hadn’t studied.

I really don’t think Nelson’s last-minute flip-flop is gonna do him any good with the mostly conservative voters of Nebraska.

GOP Senators Tries Two Tactics To Further Derail ObamaCare

As if yesterday’s Florida court decision wasn’t enough, today various Republicans in the Senate fired two more shots at sinking ObamaCare:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday introduced a measure aimed at repealing the national health-care overhaul as an amendment to the first Senate bill of the new Congress.

McConnell proposed the repeal measure as an amendment to a Federal Aviation Administration funding bill. The move came one day after a federal judge in Florida ruled that Congress had overstepped its authority by mandating insurance for nearly all Americans. A vote could come as early as Wednesday, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

The push for a vote on repealing the health-care law has picked up broad support among Senate Republicans, although it’s unlikely that full repeal would garner the number of votes necessary to pass the Senate. South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint announced on Monday afternoon that his bill calling for the full repeal of the health-care overhaul had won the support of all 47 Senate Republicans; earlier Monday, some GOP senators had yet to sign onto the bill.

Reid probably has the votes to defeat this, alas… but it will be very good for demonstrating to the voters which Senators got the message of 2010 and which ones didn’t.

And, the second shot:

Other Republicans in Congress are moving ahead aggressively with their effort to overturn the health-care overhaul. Earlier Tuesday, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.) introduced legislation that would allow states to opt out of provisions of the national health care law including the employer mandate, individual insurance benefit mandates and Medicaid expansion.

Graham said that while the full repeal of the health-care law remains Senate Republicans’ “number-one goal,” the State Health Care Choice Act that he and Barrasso are proposing “takes the battle out of Washington to the states” and that if enough states ultimately opt out, it could be enough to render the national health-care law ineffective.

“Instead of requiring states to follow Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all approach to health-care policy, our bill allows states to decide what works best for their citizens,” Graham said at a Capitol news conference.

I would bet that at least 28 states (the 26 that were part of the Florida court case, along with the two that filed separate lawsuits) would opt out, leaving less than half the states opting in to ObamaCare… probably deep blue states, in fact. That would probably lead to a further exodus from these states to deep red states, which would in turn weaken the Democrats even further. Assuming the Democrats understand this (and remember, they thought ObamaCare would be popular, which is a good indicator of what they understand), they’ll probably fight tooth and nail to defeat it. Of course, they might fight tooth and nail to defeat it anyway, on the premise that anything the Republicans propose can’t–in their minds–be good.

The ObamaCare fight isn’t over yet. There’s still lots of innings to play.

H/T PJM Tatler, both here and here.


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