Friday, December 16, 2016

December, 2016, Part 2, The Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care: Drugs Costs Up, Root Causes Not Addressed, and Illegal Immigrants and Their Medical Burden On the Country

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 its 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 healthcare 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 healthcare 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 healthcare 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: 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 healthcare 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 insurance premiums, 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.

This week we will be reviewing the latest unfolding disasters from the worst piece of legislation ever written by Washington:

1) Often we have discussed the lies and/or deceptions of Obama when it comes to Obama Care. How he often promised that the Obama Care legislation would reduce what an average family annual pays for health insurance by up to $2,500.  How the Obama Care legislation would “bend the cost curve” downward on health care services.

We have just as often pointed out how wrong both of these lies were. How Obama Care premiums and deductibles continue to skyrocket upwards, most often by double digit values. How overall costs have not bent downwards as promised.

A recent article the New York Times that was summarized in the November 18, 2016 issue of The Week magazine provides additional proof of how wrong the President was: “In a recent review of more than 1,400 generic drugs covered under Medicare Part D, the Government Accountability Office found that more than 300 of the drugs had at least doubled in price between 2010 and 2015.” So much for bending the cost curve. Down.

And keep in mind these are generic drugs, not leading, cutting edge, expensive-to-develop new drugs. These drugs should have been old hat to the generic drug companies, not requiring any new research, testing, or massive government approval, they are generic. I cannot imagine what the newer, better drug costs have done over the same period, roughly the same period that Obama Care has been in effect, if hundreds of generic drugs more than doubled in price. Insanity.

2) One of the root causes that we constantly come back to is smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products. Smoking causes a whole slew of health issues that often require extensive medical and health care which drives up the nation’s health care and health insurance costs. Attack this root cause of high healthcare costs, something that Obama Care never really did, and you drive down healthcare costs, it is that simple.

How critical is it to cut down the smoking of tobacco when it comes to health care costs? Consider some facts from a recent article in The Week magazine:

  • According to a recent study by the American Cancer Society, a whopping 30% of all cancer deaths in the country are related to tobacco use.
  • 167,000 Americans over the age of 35  die every year from smoking.
  • Three quarters of these deaths are related to lung cancer caused by smoking but at least 11 other fatal diseases that occur in the kidneys, bladder, and liver are also caused by smoking.
  • And you can bet that a lot of medical resources and costs were expended prior to these 167,000 deaths, resources that are costly and expensive and which drive up overall healthcare costs in this country.
  • 34% of deaths in American men are due to smoking.

This obvious cause of ever higher and higher national health care costs is a public health issue and should be attacked with a public health campaign and solution. Insead, Obama Care attacked this and every other root cause of high healthcare costs with a hoaky health insurance solution which has obviously not attacked and minimized the root causes of high healthcare costs.

This is not rocket science. It is a direct linkage between the stupidity of smoking and high healthcare costs to treat the ramifications of smoking. So sad that the Washington political class cannot make this simple deduction and come up with a simple solution, a solution that the lead author, Joanie Lortet-Tieulent,  of the referenced American Cancer Society proposed, based on her findings: increase the excise tax on cigarettes, ban smoking in public places, and reduce the nicotine levels in cigarettes to non-addictive levels. No massive government bureaucracies, no massive health insurance company subsidies, no IRS penalties, no meddling in the patient-doctor relationships, just a simple, straight forward public health initiative to attack this root cause.

3) One reason that American healthcare costs and the taxpayer dollars that support ever rising government healthcare costs could be the reality that the American taxpayer forks over billions of dollars every year to pay for the healthcare costs of illegal immigrants in this country. According to a November 4, 2016 article by Robert Tenery on the Lifezette website:

  • The National Research Council estimates that the cost of supporting an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in this country is about $346 billion annually.
  • If we assume there are about 125 million U.S. households, than theoretically, every American household pays about $2,800 every year to provide medical care, housing, education, and police protection to the 11 million illegal immigrants.
  • This is $2,800 that an average American household cannot spend on the needs of their own family including their own healthcare and health insurance needs.
  • The center For Immigration Studies estimates that $4.3 billion a year is spent to provide medical treatment for illegal immigrants just by the use of emergency rooms and free clinics, the $4.3 billion does not include the billions more incurred by hospitals and inpatient care.
  • In a 2010 analysis,  the Texas Health and Human Services Commission found that an estimated $717 million in uncompensated medical care was incurred by undocumented immigrants just in the state’s public hospital districts that included 99 facilities.
  • That same report showed that prenatal care for the unborn children of low-income women who were undocumented immigrants just in Texas was $118 million.

Look, I am not a heartless bastard, If another human being needs medical care in this country, legal or illegal, they should be able to get it. But maybe those people here illegally should not be here in the first place and the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend over time would be better spent on the people who actually earned those dollars, the American taxpayer and their family’s medical and healthcare needs.

4) One of the problems with fixing the Obama Care debacle is that while it has failed on so many fronts, it has provided some needed health insurance coverage to about 20 million Americans. The coverage and resultant medical treatment might be too expensive via Obama Care health insurance policies or poor and possibly ineffective, via expanded Medicaid enrollments, but some people are getting some benefit, with the quality and quantity of that benefit often subpar.

So how do you fix the whole mess without making those getting at least some benefit out of the mess suffer? Long term, you put forth a public health drive and program that addresses the root causes of our high healthcare costs listed above. Short term, you take the advice put forth by Dick Morris, former top advisor in the Bill Clinton administration:
  • Effective immediately repeal any requirement that anyone has to buy health insurance or any mandate that any employer purchase it for him.
  • Let people choose how much insurance they want and repeal the Obama Care requirement that everyone buy expensive, full soup-to-nuts coverage.
  • Continue Obama Care requirements that bar discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions and that make parental plans cover children through age 26.
  • Make health insurance premiums deductible on Federal tax forms
  • Allow inter-state competition among insurance firms to broaden choice and reduce costs
  • Continue subsidies to those who qualify --whether or not they buy policies through the Obama Care exchanges.
  • Let people keep their Obama Care policies if they like them.

Why would this work? Consider Morris' logic: “And then, let Obama Care wither away from the inside out.  Millions now covered will want to switch to lower cost policies more closely tailored to their needs.  Why pay extra premiums to cover drug abuse therapy or sex change surgery if you don't want it?  Many young and healthy men and women will opt for low cost catastrophic coverage since it's all they need.”

In other words, let the market dictate what products and services people want rather than the bureaucrats in Washington and their high paid consultants. This approach protects those currently covered by Obama Care policies but allows them a wider array of policies that may better suit their specific needs and affordability levels.

Over time, as the public health initiative kicks in, Americans will be healthier, as the root causes of their unhealthiness are attacked, which in turn will reduce demand for health care services. Basic economic theory and reality tells us that if you reduce the demand for a product or service, the price of that product or service will go down, which should have been the main objective of Obama Care in the first place. Instead, Obama and his cohorts forced an insurance solution on a public health problem, failing miserably, and saddling with the disaster we live with today.

Tomorrow we will wrap up this month’s discussion on the unfolding disaster that is Obama Care to review specific American family hardships and stress that this legislation has imposed on millions and millions of Americans.

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