Sunday, December 27, 2015

December, 2015, Part 3, The Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care: America Is Still Obese, Killing Small Businesses, and More

Every month for years now we have had to discuss how bad Obama Care is turning out to be under the continuing theme, “the unfolding disaster that is Obama Care.” This month is no different. As the legislation continues to march through America, driving up health care and health insurance prices as it serves as dead weight on economic growth, it cements it rightful place as the worst piece of legislation Washington has ever produced.

It never had a chance to be successful since it really never addressed the underlying root causes of our ever increasing health costs in the country:
  • Americans eat too much of the wrong kind of food, resulting in obscenely high obesity rates for the country.
  • Our food chain is infested with overdoses of high fructose corn syrup, salt, and other unhealthy additives.
  • Americans smoke too much.
  • Americans do not exercise enough.
  • The country is in serious need of health care tort reform.
  • Barriers to insurance company competition across state lines need to come down.
  • Obama Care never “followed the money” to find out who is actually profiting from the ever escalating health care costs in this country and how to get those factors under control.
  • Obama Care never got the immense amount of fraud and abuse in current government health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid, under control in order to save money to efficiently fund other government health care initiatives.
  • Obama Care never put serious research money towards curing the major diseases that drive high health care costs such as high frequency cancers and dementia type diseases.
You cannot resolve any problem unless you understand and address the underlying root causes. No difference here but with a big exception: Obama Care legislation never addressed these listed root causes and thus, has no chance of ever being successful.

But it is not just missing the root causes of our health care costs that makes Obama Care so horrible. It resulted in millions of Americans losing access to their favored doctors, hospitals, and insurance policies. It has caused deductibles and co-pays to escalate substantially. It will likely add trillions of dollars to the national debt. It has exposed millions of Americans to higher than necessary identity theft chances. It has created government bureaucracies that are wastefully spending taxpayer wealth and being exploited by criminal elements. It has stifled economic growth and job creation.

These are just a sample of the types of idiocy that we have been reviewing for the past several years in this blog relative to Obama Care., To read those past posts, just enter the phrase, “the unfolding disaster,” in the search box above. Today we continue this month’s update of Obama Care that we began earlier this week, the worst piece of Washington legislation ever passed.

1) Yesterday, we discussed the reality that restaurants are being hit especially hard by Obama Care’s rules, fines, taxes, and regulations because the industry’s margins are so tiny and narrow. Any incremental expense of any magnitude places them in jeopardy of going out of business very quickly.

Such a situation was recently documented in a Heritage Foundation article on December 11, 2015 by Melissa Quinn. The details of that Obama Care disaster include the following:
  • Quinn discusses the reality that a Nashville deli, Noshville Authentic New York Delicatessen, is soon to go out of business in part because of the cost of complying with Obama Care regulations.
  • The motto of the deli had always been, “anyone is welcome here from ages 0 to 99, because you’ll find something on the menu.”
  • The deli has been around and profitable for almost twenty years with more than half of the employees having been working there for at least 10 years and on quarter of the employees having worked there for almost 15 years.
  • Thus, this had been a successful business, serving both customers and employees well for a very long time, in some cases serving food to three generations of the same family.
  • But the owner, will be closing the deli on December 27 because of Obama Care: “Having more than 50 full-time employees means you have to comply with the Affordable Care Act, and it was an unknown risk of how much it was going to cost. But it was going to be significant, and take a lot of time and labor to take care of the transition and the reporting and the forms.”
  • He estimated that the incremental cost of Obama Care would be between $70,000 and $100,000 a year, an expense that his deli's financials could not withstand.
  • For three years he tried to find ways to stay in business and comply with the regulations and bureaucracy of Obama Care but could not find a way to make it work.
  • Congresswoman Diane Black who serves the deli’s Congressional district, spoke about the plight of this deli and other small businesses on the House floor recently: “I hear from especially the small business owners about how difficult the health care coverage is for them. They’re trying their best, but they’re also having insurance companies come into the office saying they’re going to have to increase their employees’ premiums by 35 percent which means they have a decision to make...Do they [business owners] pass that [added cost] onto the employee? Do they take that up themselves? And many of them are saying, ‘Look, we’ve done that for the last couple of years where we absorb these increases, but we can’t afford to keep on doing that.’ And so they’re having to pass them on to the employees."
  • This deli is just one example of why the Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that Obama Care would cost the economy two million jobs over time.
  • Some businesses will try to stay in business by turning their full time workers into part time workers in order to avoid the Obama Care mandates, which will then create a situation where many Americans not only do not have healthcare but have lower wages to boot.
  • The Congresswoman struck a blow for liberty, freedom and personal choice when she recently went on to say: “The government shouldn’t be telling people that this is what we’re going to require you to have when they know best what they need. One size does not fit all, and you shouldn’t be pushing everybody into this pipeline. Different needs, different costs, all of that should be considered by the individual, not the federal government.”
A real life example of real life people, business owners, employees, and customers being screwed by this horrid piece of legislation.

2) One way to bring down healthcare costs and make health insurance more affordable, as mentioned in the above list, is to make people healthier. One way to do that is to encourage them to eat better, exercise more, and lose weight. Reducing obesity reduces a full range of healthcare and medical costs including diabetes, heart disease, joint distress, and probably to some degree, cancer.

But five years into the Obama Care era, years into Michelle Obama’s disastrous attempt to get kids to eat healthier, the results of addressing this root cause of high healthcare costs is another miserable failure. According to a Daily Beast article that was summarized in the November 27, 2015 issue of The Week magazine, “Despite efforts to improve the American diet and lifestyle - like the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign - the percentage of obese Americans has actually increased. About 38% of U.S. adults were obese in 2013 and 2014, compared to 35% in 2011 and 2012.”

Another Obama Care failure. A root cause is getting worse instead of better under the legislation, which means this root cause will continue to contribute to the ever rising healthcare costs in this country. It is a root cause that Obama Care obviously has not come close to remedying.

3) A recent article by Guy Benson on the Townhall website on December 11, 2015 described how Obama Care was hurting real people in need of medical treatment in the state of Texas:

"Last summer, the state's largest insurance carrier dropped all preferred provider organization plans from both the Affordable Care Act's federal exchange in Houston and the private individual market. Now, with only weeks to go before existing plans expire, patients, doctors and hospitals are scrambling to find what care is available under the insurer's replacement health maintenance organization plans. "Jody would be dead if she didn't have her oncologist," said Steve Schoger of his wife, his voice catching. The Woodlands couple had their plans canceled. Both have cancer; both are in experimental clinical trials at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center they fear cannot be replicated elsewhere. They are at turns furious and terrified...Dr. Robert Morrow, president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas' Houston and Southeast Texas Region, said in a recent interview that the decision to drop 367,000 PPO plans across Texas, even though customers were paying more for them, was driven by economics. 

He called the plans "unsustainable" after his company lost $400 million by paying out more in claims than it collected in premiums...Dan Fontaine, executive vice president of administration at M.D. Anderson, has similar concerns about the disappearance of exchange coverage for Houston's prestige medical institutions: "The management of risk used to be handled through denials of pre-existing conditions," he said of pre-ACA days. "It is now being handled through the narrowing of the marketplace.""

So, Obama Care supporters claim that 10 million Americans got health insurance coverage as a result of Obama Care. But that was before hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their healthcare coverage when Obama Care co-ops went out of business almost overnight. It does not include the 367,000 Texans who have now lost their Obama Care policies that they signed up for and now have to scramble to find other, likely less optimal policies for their coverage. Seems the more Obama Care policies that get written today, the more Obama Care policies disappear tomorrow, causing stress and health issues for untold thousands of Americans.

4) We have often talked about how more than half of the Obama Care co-ops have already gone out of business or are going out of business due to financial hardships. The financial future of the remaining co-ops grew more dim with the recent signing of a large budget bill by the President last week. 

That budget legislation included an explicit condition that taxpayer money never be used to bailout any Obama Care insurer via the legislation’s risk corridor program which includes the co-ops. Given the shaky financial of the co-ops, this restriction on the risk corridor potential makes them an even riskier bet to be around for the long term. 

Which makes this a good time to review how many co-ops have already failed, how much taxpayer money they took down the drain with the, and how many hundreds of thousands Americans lost their insurance coverage as a result, graphic courtesy of the Heritage Foundation (click on the graphic for a better view):

5) Let’s finish off today’s unfolding disaster that is Obama Care review with a few more heartbreaking stories of Americans who have suffered as a result of this putrid legislation:
DAVID - NEVADA: I was really looking forward to my $2,500 savings I was promised. My total yearly cost instead went up by $2,620 with a higher deductible. President Obama could not have been this far off in his prediction which means he knew he was lying and said it anyway.DR. DANIEL CRAVIOTTO - CALIFORNIA: Daniel is a physician who wrote an op-ed in WSJ expressing his frustration with ObamaCare: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services dictates that we must use an electronic health record (EHR) or be penalized with lower reimbursements in the future. There are "meaningful use" criteria whereby the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services tells us as physicians what we need to include in the electronic health record or we will not be subsidized the cost of converting to the electronic system and we will be penalized by lower reimbursements. Across the country, doctors waste precious time filling in unnecessary electronic-record fields just to satisfy a regulatory measure. I personally spend two hours a day dictating and documenting electronic health records just so I can be paid and not face a government audit. Is that the best use of time for a highly trained surgical specialist?[. . .] Meanwhile, our Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements have significantly declined, let alone kept up with inflation. In orthopedic surgery, for example, Medicare reimbursement for a total knee replacement decreased by about 68% between 1992 and 2010, based on the value of 1992 dollars. How can this be? Don't doctors have control over what they charge for their services? For the most part, no. Our medical documentation is pored over and insurers and government then determine the appropriate level of reimbursement.I don't know about other physicians but I am tired—tired of the mandates, tired of outside interference, tired of anything that unnecessarily interferes with the way I practice medicine. No other profession would put up with this kind of scrutiny and coercion from outside forces. The legal profession would not. The labor unions would not. We as physicians continue to plod along and take care of our patients while those on the outside continue to intrude and interfere with the practice of medicine.MARIA - CALIFORNIA: Maria Berumen, a tax preparer in Downey, was uninsured for years because of preexisting conditions. The 53-year-old was thrilled to find coverage for herself and her husband for $148 a month after qualifying for a big government subsidy.
She jumped at the chance in early January to visit a primary-care doctor for long-running numbness in her arm and shoulder as a result of bone spurs on her spine. The doctor referred her to a specialist, and problems ensued. At least four doctors wouldn't accept her health plan — even though the state exchange website and her insurer, Health Net Inc., list them as part of her HMO network.
"It's a phantom network," Berumen said.It was no surprise to her family doctor, Ragaa Iskarous. She has run into this problem repeatedly with other patients in the last month, the doctor said. "This is really driving us crazy."One last update tomorrow, a post that will focus on the personal pain and suffering of real Americans whose real lives were upended by Obama Care, the worst piece of legislation ever passed by Washington.


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