Most Americans — even those who are legislators — know very little about the details of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, so-called Obamacare. Next year, when it goes into effect, we will learn the hard way.
Many people lazily assume that the law will do roughly what it promises: give insurance to the uninsured and lower the cost of health care by limiting spending on dubious procedures.
Don’t count on it.
Consider just the complexity: The act itself is more than 906 pages long, and again and again in those 906 pages are the words, “the Secretary shall promulgate regulations …”
“Secretary” refers to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Her minions have been busy. They’ve already added 20,000 pages of rules. They form a stack 7 feet high, and more are to come.
Our old health care system was already a bureaucratic and regulatory nightmare. It had 16,000 different codes for different ailments. Under our new, “improved” system, there will be more than a 100,000. More
Candice Lanier – Beginning in 2014, patients’ overall health, eating habits and body mass index (BMI) will be part of an electronic record, shared with various government bureaucracies, in addition to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Doctors will be required to record your BMI, which measures whether or not you are overweight. This will be done every you receive any type of medical treatment. This information will be sent to HHS who will keep track your BMI and your updated information will be forwarded to various other agencies.
There’s also a good chance your employer will try to bait you into enrolling in a wellness program in which employees will need to reveal their height, weight, body fat percentage and other personal data. A fine will be imposed on those who refuse to do so. The employer will not have access to the employees’ personal health information—it will be sent to a third party administrator. According to Health Affairs:
“The Affordable Care Act of 2010 will, as of 2014, expand employers’ ability to reward employees who meet health status goals by participating in wellness programs–and, in effect, to require employees who don’t meet these goals to pay more for their employer-sponsored health coverage. Some consumer advocates argue that this ability to differentiate in health coverage costs among employees is unfair and will amount to employers’ policing workers’ health.”
In the U.K., smokers and overweight patients are viewed as “undeserving” and are denied treatments such as cataract surgery and knee and hip surgery, and left to suffer through the symptoms. American Thinker reports:
“Some of the U.K.’s ‘trusts,’ which regulate the national health care system for various zones of the country, go farther, denying all operations to those who don’t meet the government’s weight dictates except for lifesaving surgery on their hearts, brains or to remove cancer.”
A recent study shows that a majority of the U.K.’s doctors think the national health system should go farther still and deny all non-emergency care to patients who don’t meet certain weight and health criteria. By law, they still must pay for their health care, of course, even though they are denied the ability to get treatment.”
State employees in North Carolina self-report height, weight and whether or not they smoke to their state health plan administrators. Those who admit they smoke or are overweight pay higher premiums. However, even employees who are not overweight and who claim to not smoke are subject to random health “inspections” by agents of their health care plan. And, these little checkups can occur at an employee’s home, school, or at work; a pursuit carried out to ensure the given quarry has maintained a proper weight and does not smoke.
Obamacare incentivizes these programs:
“These fat taxes and punitive charges are relatively small now, but under provisions of ObamaCare, they have the potential to grow to financially crippling proportions in the coming years. As the New York Times reported, current regulations allow corporations to charge employees who fail to meet specific government health standards up to 20 percent of their insurance costs. That jumps to 30 percent in 2014 and eventually up to potentially half their insurance costs.”
Given the incentives in ObamaCare, these monitoring activities will no doubt soon be employed on the population as a whole. Corporations are already beginning to adopt them. The only way to escape them will be to decline health insurance coverage in violation of the law and pay a fine.”
In fact, new data from Aon Hewitt, a global human resources consultancy, suggests that nearly 60% of U.S. employers plan to “impose consequences on participants who do not take appropriate actions for improving their health” in the next few years; this can include completing a health risk questionnaire.
CVS has been in the news recently for having announced to its workforce that they must participate in a “wellness review” or face an annual penalty of $600. Such reviews ask employees to have their physicians determine various health indicators such as weight, blood pressure and body fat.
Obamacare’s intrusion into your life begins with a 21 page health care application. Upon completion of the monstrosity, it will be analyzed by three separate federal agencies, including the IRS. You can take a look at the application here.
It’s also important to be aware of the fact that the electronic record, on which all of your medical information will be stored, can be hacked. Government agencies have fallen victim to hackers in the recent past. In an article in the Washington Times, it is noted that, “despite stringent privacy laws (called ‘HIPAA protections’ after the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), the new health care law will actually make it easier for accidental exposure or hacking of your private data to an unlimited number of strangers. Anyone with an ounce of media consciousness during the last decade knows that if hackers can break into the Pentagon, and millions of military medical files can be lost, then your medical records are not safe on a host computer or stored online.”
The long revered doctor-patient relationship is expanding to include a network of bureaucracies and perhaps a network of hackers.
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff talk about the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. Even though Ezra forgot the cake, Sarah Kliff talks about how this is the year that the health care industry needs to figure out how to exactly implement the new law.
Corporate America does not normally trumpet price increases. The news is announced with considerable subtlety, full of subdued references to the need to preserve rates of return and recover costs. But with the arrival of Obamacare, that is changing. Major insurers are flat out announcing huge premium hikes. The Wall Street Journal reports:
In a private presentation to brokers late last month, UnitedHealth Group Inc., the nation’s largest carrier, said premiums for some consumers buying their own plans could go up as much as 116%, and small-business rates as much as 25% to 50%. The company said the estimates were driven in part by growing medical costs not directly tied to the law. It also cited the law’s requirements that health status not affect rates and that plans include certain minimum benefits and limits to out-of-pocket charges, among other things.
It should be noted that large corporate plans, which are already closer to compliance with Obamacare, are not likely to see such large increases directly tied to the law. But they will be under pressure nonetheless, as the ripple effect of bringing in new insureds speads throughout the healthcare system, and providers develop strategies to increase prices for some services to recover unreimbursed costs for others under the law’s new mandates.
Understanding Obamacare gets more complicated when you add the factor of government subsidy, which will be available for many Americans:
Subsidies will be available on a sliding scale for people with incomes of up to four times the federal poverty level—currently $45,960 for a single person and $94,200 a year for a family of four. More than half of the 35 million people expected to be in the individual market by 2016 are likely to qualify for credits. People whose incomes are around the poverty level could see almost all of the cost of their insurance subsidized, while people at the upper end will get only a small discount toward their premiums.
Of course, the subsidies are to be provided by a federal government which is drowning in debt, does not have a real budget and is currently unable to pay its own bills.
It is quite possible that Obamacare will be the American equivalent of the euro debacle across the Atlantic: a classic example of top-down thinking and a Pandora’s Box of unintended consequences.
Americans See An Outbreak Of ‘Job Cuts’ & ‘Planned Layoffs’ As Obamacare Bureaucracy Spreads
Federal Reserve: Obamacare ‘Reasons For Planned Layoffs’
“The Federal Reserve on Wednesday released an edition of its so-called ‘beige book,’ that said the 2010 healthcare law is being cited as a reason for layoffs and a slowdown in hiring.” (“Fed: Obama’s Health Law Leading To Layoffs,” The Hill’s ‘Healthwatch’ Blog, 3/6/13)
Federal Reserve: “Employers in several Districts cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.” (“Beige Book,” Board Of Governors Of The Federal Reserve System, 3/6/13)
· “Fifth District—Richmond: Employers across the District continued to cite the Affordable Care Act and its unknown impacts as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.” (“Beige Book,” Board Of Governors Of The Federal Reserve System, 3/6/13)
· “Eleventh District—Dallas: Outlooks were cautious. Some contacts noted concern that client companies are hiring the absolute minimum to get by due to uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act.” (“Beige Book,” Board Of Governors Of The Federal Reserve System, 3/6/13)
· “Higher healthcare costs were also reported in the districts of Chicago, and the Kansas City district reported ‘changes in health care policy and fiscal uncertainty as reasons for delayed hiring.’” (“Fed: Obama’s Health Law Leading To Layoffs,” The Hill’s ‘Healthwatch’ Blog, 3/6/13)
Employers: ‘Job Cuts In Anticipation Of … Obamacare’
“Medical supply giant Stryker is the latest company to announce job cuts in anticipation of coming costs associated with Obamacare, even though the man who inherited a fortune from the company’s founder is a fan. The company will cut 1,170 jobs, or five percent of its worldwide workforce, despite the fact that the founder’s grandson was one of the largest contributors to President Obama’s re-election campaign.” (“Medical Giant Stryker Cuts 1,170 Jobs, Citing Obamacare,” Fox News, 11/16/12)
“This month, Welch Allyn—a maker of stethoscopes and blood-pressure cuffs—announced that it will lay off 10% of its global workforce over the next three years, but all of the jobs being cut are in the U.S.” (“Evan Bayh: Obamacare’s Tax Raid On Medical Devices,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/27/12)
“‘I don’t know what secret [the politicians] know, where they just assume we can write them a check,’ said Sam Facchini, owner of Metro Pizza in Las Vegas. ‘We can’t pay for this. Most of us [restaurant owners] operate on a thin margin and trying to stay in compliance [with the law] will make things much tighter.’ … Metro Pizza employs approximately 200 workers in Nevada, which could mean upwards of $400,000 worth of penalties, should the company not comply with the law.” (“Nevada Restaurant Owners On Obamacare: ‘We Can’t Pay For This,’” Nevada Journal, 11/26/12)
For Virginia restaurateur ‘cost of the penalty could put him out of business.’ “John Motta, who owns 10 Dunkin’ Donuts in New Hampshire and 10 in Virginia, said he offers workers a choice of two insurance plans and pays half the premiums. He is weighing whether to drop coverage but said the cost of the penalty could put him out of business in Virginia, where his stores are struggling.” (“Small Firms See Pain In Health Law,” The Wall Street Journal, 8/1/12)
CBO: Projected ‘Reduction Of 800,000 Workers’
QUESTION: “In your estimation, the health care law would reduce employment by 800,000… DOUGLAS ELMENDORF, CBO Director: “Yes… there would be a reduction of 800,000 workers.” (U.S. House Of Representatives, Budget Committee, Hearing, 2/10/11)
· QUESTION: “The last question is, it’s been argued and was argued here yesterday with the chairman, that the new health care law will create jobs and increase labor force participation. But if I recall from your analysis, it was quite the opposite. Is that not the case?” DOUGLAS ELMENDORF, CBO Director: “Yes.” (U.S. House Of Representatives, Budget Committee, Hearing, 2/10/11)
Americans for Prosperity announced an enormous effort today – with a $9 million price tag – in response to the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act. The effort includes a major TV buy, online activism and grassroots activities in a dozen states including CO, FL, IA, MN, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA and WI. This is AFP’s largest healthcare effort ever.
President Obama promised that his healthcare law was not a tax increase, but now we know it is actually one of largest tax increases in history. Tell Obama: repeal the healthcare bill and pass patient-centered reform.
Las Cruces, NM — Greg Sowards, businessman and conservative Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, today, has identified a key distinction between his candidacy and that of his opponents in an Op-Ed entitled “The Affordable Care Act: Repeal, Yes; Replace, No.”
By comparing the “repeal and replace” stance of the established Republican candidates, Wilson and Sanchez, to the “hope and change” sloganeering of the Obama ’08 campaign, Greg Sowards distinguishes his approach to the Affordable Care Act as that of a true Constitutional conservative.
The Sowards for Senate campaign has recently upgraded its website at www.Senate2012.com and Greg has released five editorials in as many weeks, which demonstrate his commitment to “Restoring the Promise of Prosperity to New Mexico and America.”
Greg Sowards is leading the Conservative Revolution in New Mexico.
The full text of Greg’s latest op-ed follows:
An Op-Ed by Greg Sowards, U.S. Senate Candidate
The voters of New Mexico should realize that “repeal and replace” is a buzz phrase which translates to more of the same “hope and change” rhetoric.
Most Americans find the thousands of pages of legislation in the Affordable Care Act objectionable. The individual mandate that compels Americans to purchase health insurance, even if they don’t want it, is unconstitutional. Physicians are already warning that the rationing of health care through ethics committees or “death panels” is a disturbing attack on the rights of the nation’s aging population.
Though many provisions of Obamacare are believed to be unconstitutional by scholars and judges, alike, there are no guarantees that the courts will throw out the law in its entirety.
In the race for the U.S. Senate here in New Mexico, the websites of my Republican opponents reveal their desire to repeal Obamacare, which I find commendable. Unfortunately, they both want to replace the law with some other federally mandated and regulated program administered from Washington, D.C.
Replacing Obamacare is not “a solution” to my way of thinking. Any way you slice it, bureaucratic intrusions by the Federal Government into one-sixth of the U.S. economy is a giant step toward tyranny.
Federal programs are constantly overreaching and their costly means seldom have an end. The Founding Fathers understood the problem of centralized power and human nature. In response, they built a federalist system, which clearly limits Congress to the specific set of powers enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. To leave no doubt as to their intentions, they reiterated that concept by adding it as the final item, the Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights.
Heather Wilson states that if the U.S. Supreme Court fails to throw out the law, she “will fight to make sure it is repealed and replaced.”
According to his website, “John Sanchez will vote to repeal and replace Obamacare because, as a small business owner, he understands the burden it places on New Mexico businesses.”
With respect, I have to ask – if my Republican opponents seek to repeal and replace Obamacare, exactly what are they intending to replace it with in the next six years to return certainty to the minds of America’s business owners? An eighteen-hundred page omnibus written by craftier, bi-partisan lobbyists? Or, perhaps a fifteen-hundred page liability reform slash unintended consequences bill loaded with pork?
Unlike Heather Wilson and John Sanchez, I don’t believe America can afford to let bureaucrats in Washington dictate health care policy.
As a leader of the Conservative Revolution in New Mexico, I reject the notion of replacing Obamacare with another federal program. Replacing the Affordable Care Act amounts to business as usual in Washington and will only increase uncertainty for job creators in every state.
America’s once silent majority is now speaking loudly. They know something is dreadfully wrong and are demanding a return to federalism with more local controls.
The rise of the Tea Party movement in 2009 was a direct response to the socialism that has been creeping into our governmental structures over the past hundred years. The American people realized the Affordable Care Act was a gross abuse of power and spoke with their votes at the ballot box in 2010.
And, in 2012, I believe that America, as a whole, will support those candidates that represent their best interests by calling for the restoration of a proper balance between the Federal and State Governments.
It’s high time that Washington listened to the people, respected the Tenth Amendment and secured the Constitutional rights of individuals and States to determine for themselves the best path forward concerning health care.
This is the United States of America. We are a free people. As long as we limit and balance power in a manner consistent with the framework envisioned by our Founding Fathers, liberty will endure.
So, when considering the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare: Repeal, Yes! Replace? The American people have spoken and their answer is, most assuredly, NO!