Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March, 2017, Part 2,The Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care: The State of Maine Gets It, Bernie Sanders Still Does Not Get It

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 neverfollowed 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.

1) As we have previously reported, the state of Maine and its current governor and state politicians have been quite successful in reducing welfare and food stamp rates in their state without much or any hardship on its citizens. By requiring food stamp recipients to work, volunteer or go to school for a minimal amount of hours a month, they reduced their food stamp enrollment and costs by well over 50%, showing how much corruption and inefficiency there was in the program.

But Maine did not stop there. Their innovative and common sense approach to Medicaid has had fantastic results in spite of Obama Care vs. because of Obama Care. But before we get into their outstanding results, let’s review how bad things were in that state from a Medicaid perspective, as described by Mary Mayhew on March 10, 2017 on the Heritage Foundation website (Ms. Mayhew is the commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services):

  • Between 2000 and 2010 the previous state politicians in Maine had allowed the state’s Medicaid program to double in both enrollment and cost.
  • These additional state Medicaid costs caused the state to continually reduce the amount of money paid to hospitals and doctors under the state’s Medicaid program and caused other, vital state medical services to be slashed since whle Medicaid costs were skyrocketing, government tax revenue was not.
  • Since the state budget had to be balanced every year, more money on the state Medicaid line meant less money on other vital services budget lines.
  • Other programs that saw their budget Ines cut including nursing facility budgets, home care services budgets, and programs for the elderly, disabled and developmentally challenged were also cut.
  • Despite the increase in the state’s Medicaid costs and enrollment levels, the uninsured rate for Maine citizens remained mostly unchanged, i.e. increasing the Medicaid program did not reduce the number of uninsured Maine citizens, a failure caused since individuals dropped their employer sponsored insurance coverage to get cheaper Medicaid coverage.
However, since then, the state and its current political leaders have taken a different approach, one that spits in Obama Care’s face, and have had great results:

  • In six years, the state has reduced its Medicaid program enrollment by 24%.
  • Its annual growth in Medicaid costs is down to a respectable 2% a year, compared to the national annual cost growth rate of 6% a year.
  • The growth rate in 2017 is expected to be just .7%.
  • At the same time, funding for nursing home facilities has increased by 40%, home care funding has increased by 60%, and an additional $100 million was found to support state citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • In addition, the state increased its financial support for primary care to better help individuals with chronic diseases while also increasing support for those with mental illness.
  • And despite slashing the Medicaid enrollment levels, the uninsured rate in the state has actually declined.
The state refocused on what Medicaid was supposed to be: Medicaid’s core mission was to support elderly, disabled, and extremely low-income families, it was never meant to be a default insurance program for mostly able bodied people which probably explains why it failed as part of the Obama Care legislation.

The reduction in the ever growing Medicaid budget for the state has allowed the state to cut state taxes which has stimulated economic growth and has reduced the unemployment rate to a measly 3.8%, far below the overall national unemployment level.
Lower taxes, more help for the sick and needy, higher employment opportunities, more people with health insurance, and a much healthier state budget situation. Now that wasn’t hard, was it? All the things that Obama Care was supposed to do but failed miserably at doing.

2) Much like how we have constantly pointed out how bad Washington politicians' intelligence levels are when it comes to economics, their ability to understand numbers and logic is also quite limited. Remember when Nancy Pelosi screeched that 500 million Americans a week were applying for first time unemployment benefits? Since there are only about 325 million people in the country, including infants and kids, it is quite impossible for 500 million to be applying for first time unemployment benefits every week. Other examples of math idiocy from politicians have been covered often in this blog. 

Well, Ben Shapiro, writing on March 14, 2017, reported on another example of math lunacy from the government that was parroted by Senator Bernie Sanders. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report in the past week that estimated that implementing the initial Obama Care replacement legislation put forth by the Republicans could cause 24 million Americans to lose access to health insurance. 

Before we get into the lunacy of Sanders, let’s check back on the track record of the CBO and how horrible wrong it has been in predicting anything related to health care including the impact of Obama Care:

  • The CBO predicted back before the legislation took effect that it would not add anything to the national debt load, something that Obama promised over and over: in reality, it now appears, as predicted by the CBO, that over a trillion dollars in incremental debt will be added to the national debt because of Obama Care over a ten year period.
  • The CBO originally predicted that 24 million Americans would have Obama Care insurance policies by 2017, while less than half have of that number have those policies today, a forecast miss of about 130%.
  • The CBO then predicted that about 21 million Americans would have Obama Care insurance policies by 2017, while about less than half of that have policies today, a forecast miss of about 100%. 
  • Just last year the CBO predicted that about 15 million Americans would have Obama Care insurance policies by 2017 and just one year later that forecast miss is still a whopping 36% miss.
The point of this list is to show that the CBO has a horrible record of predicting the future, to believe anything they forecast even one year into the future is likely to be grossly inaccurate. So take their 24 million people losing insurance coverage with a ton of salt, never mind a grain of salt.

Which gets us back to Senator Sanders and his wild ass prediction that millions of Americans will die if Obama Care is repealed, based on these CBO numbers, and replaced with the initial Obama Care replacement legislation proposed by the Republicans in the House: “If this legislation is passed and millions of people are thrown off health insurance … thousands of Americans will die. I think that legislation is disgusting. It is immoral. It must be defeated and I hope there is enough sense amongst some of the Republicans.”

Let’s examine some realities why this is such a stupid statement:

  • While many people might lose their current arrangements for health insurance under the replacement plan, which is nowhere close to being finalized, it does not mean that they would not pick up better, cheaper insurance once the onerous Obama Care requirements are done away with, e.g. a 60 year old gay man who does not do drugs or alcohol would no longer be required to pay for Obama Care insurance that included mandatory drug and alcohol treatment and maternity expenses.
  • People might lose access to Medicaid which might be a good thing since more than one university study has found that Medicaid does not result in better health results for Medicaid users (which screams ultimate failure if a program designed to make people healthier does not make them healthier despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year).
  • One such study, the massive Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, showed that Medicaid did not decrease hospital visits for those it served vs. those not on Medicaid and that the study showed conclusively that Medicaid “had no statistically significant effect on several measures of physical health,” including blood pressure, cholesterol, or cardiovascular risk. 
  • In addition, only about two out of three doctors in the country take Medicaid patients and only 45% take new Medicaid patients so often Medicaid patients have Medicaid health insurance coverage but cannot get Medicaid doctor access. 
  • Thus, losing Medicaid insurance coverage is not that big of a deal since it does not make people healthier, reduce hospital visits, or give people access to the best and most desired doctors.
  • The Manhattan Institute reports: “The best statistical estimate for the number of lives saved each year by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is zero. Certainly, there are individuals who have benefited from various of its provisions. But attempts to claim broader effects on public health or thousands of lives saved rely upon extrapolation from past studies that focus on the value of private health insurance. The ACA, however, has expanded coverage through Medicaid, a public program that, according to several studies, has failed to improve health outcomes for recipients. In fact, public health trends since the implementation of the ACA have worsened, with 80,000 more deaths in 2015 than had mortality continued declining during 2014–15 at the rate achieved during 2000–2013."
  • Under Obama Care in 2015, life expectancy has dropped and the mortality rate rose for the first time decades, certainly not two trends you want a sweeping and expensive health care piece of legislation to result in.
  • And Sanders fails to mention another recent CBO statistical estimate, namely that in 2018, 14 million people would opt out of the health insurance market if given a choice if they were not going to be fined by the Federal government with 5 million estimated to drop out of Medicaid itself if given the chance to do so without a fine.
So Senator, millions are not going to die, that is just reckless and stupid rhetoric. Medicaid does not make anyone healthier to begin with so if people lost access to Medicaid they would not be in any more danger of dying even if they stayed with Medicaid, who even knows if the CBO numbers are right given their horrendous track record of predicting, and people do not want something if they are forced to take it, especially if it is a shoddy expensive product, something that Obama Care is.

Want to get more people health insurance coverage Senator? Attack the root causes of our high healthcare costs listed above: that would reduce the medical bills in this country which would make insurance so much cheaper and affordable that people would want to have it. 

Obama Care does the exact opposite of what is needed: it addresses none of the root causes and then forces people to choose bad insurance policies that are expensive for medical costs that are still skyrocketing. Until then please shut up, you are contributing nothing to the solution with rhetoric that is baseless and inane.

That will do it for today’s Obama Care disaster stories. One set of politicians in the state of Maine that get it and are making their citizens healthier at a cheaper rate and a U.S. Senator that still does not get it and wants the disasters from Obama Care to keep on coming. More disasters tomorrow.

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