I was reminded of one of the more egregious features of Obamacare while watching this interview with one Julie Rovner from NPR, on News Hour last night.
The new health care reform law that President Obama signed last year not only expands the number of people who get coverage, it also requires the secretary of health and human services to determine which preventive benefits should be provided by all insurers.
There were three categories of preventive care that were automatically covered [under the new law]…
There was a fourth category that was listed — that came about because Sen. Barbara Mikulski from Maryland actually got an amendment added that the secretary would have discretion to add, and these would be preventive services for women, because over the years preventive services for women have thought to have been left out by the Preventive Health Services Task Force.
And those were left to the secretary’s discretion.
[The HHS Secretary] is determining — first she’s going to determine whether this will be part of this preventive health package that will be made available with no co-pays, but she’s also determining these essential — what kind of things will be included in the essential benefits package.
The story focuses on contraception being left to the HHS Secretary’s discretion as to whether it’s included in government-subsidized healthcare, ie taxpayer-funded healthcare. But let’s not kid ourselves. Going forward, this will morph into other controversial services being covered at the whim of the HHS secretary. Someone who’s unelected and unaccountable to anyone, playing politics with an industry that accounts for nearly 15% of the economy.
Where are the liberals screaming about imperialism in the government?
NHS managers are blocking hospital appointments for patients to save cash, a survey of family doctors has revealed, and at least one health trust proposes to stop sending obese people and smokers for routine hip and knee surgery because their unhealthy lifestyles lower the chance of the operations’ “success”.
With the health service asked to find an unprecedented £20bn efficiency savings over the next few years, many are resorting to moving procedures out of the NHS. In Kent hospital managers say abortions will now be provided by the charity Marie Stopes with hospitals only dealing with complicated cases. Last winter local GPs were asked to “stop referrals” for many procedures.
Health trusts are having to pare back costs in new ways. NHS North Yorkshire and York, the area’s primary care trust, is planning to stop patients who smoke, and those with a body mass index of more than 35, from having routine hip and knee operations.
The rules of economics apply to the English as well as to Americans. When the government needs to rein in costs in a regulated healthcare market, the inevitable result is rationing. Plain and simple.
And here’s the money quote:
It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.
If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power” [...] and we would have a Constitution in name only. Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended.
Judge Roger Vinson issued the ruling earlier today:
Vinson rejects the administration’s argument that the health care market is unique since nobody can truly opt out. Vinson mocks this argument a bit, writing: “Everyone must participate in the food market… under this logic, Congress could [mandate] that every adult purchase and consume wheat bread daily.” Later he offers another analogy: “Congress could require that everyone above a certain income threshold buy a General Motors automobile — now partially government-owned — because those who do not buy GM cars (or those who buy foreign cars) are adversely impacting commerce and a taxpayer-subsidized business.”
Vinson concludes: “The individual mandate exceeds Congress’ commerce power, as it is understood, defined, and applied in the existing Supreme Court case law.”
As the piece notes, the law will probably end up in front of the Supreme Court at some point.
UPDATE. This is a bit inconvenient:
In ruling against President Obama‘s health care law, federal Judge Roger Vinson used Mr. Obama‘s own position from the 2008 campaign against him, when the then-Illinois senator argued there were other ways to achieve reform short of requiring every American to purchase insurance.
“I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that, ‘If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’” Judge Vinson wrote in a footnote toward the end of his 78-page ruling Monday.
Here’s a glaring case of waffleitis on the part of a Democrat politician, doing the opposite of what he proposed as a candidate. I wonder if anyone outside the conservative commentariat will
notice point this out?
And just as an aside, if a Federal court deems a statute unconstitutional, shouldn’t that require the executive branch to immediately cease enforcing said statute? I’m waiting for the wailing and lamentations from the virtuous left about respecting the judiciary branch of government and the Constitution in 3…2…1…
[Hat Tip: The Other McCain]
Who would’ve thought that Michael Moore is a lying sack of…er, something?
Cuba banned Michael Moore‘s 2007 documentary, Sicko, because it painted such a “mythically” favourable picture of Cuba’s healthcare system that the authorities feared it could lead to a “popular backlash”, according to US diplomats in Havana.
The revelation, contained in a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks , is surprising, given that the film attempted to discredit the US healthcare system by highlighting what it claimed was the excellence of the Cuban system.
Castro’s government apparently went on to ban the film because, the leaked cable claims, it “knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them.”
Sicko investigated healthcare in the US by comparing the for-profit, non-universal US system with the non-profit universal health care systems of other countries, including Cuba, France and the UK.
The secret 2008 cable is based on reports from the USINT’s foreign service health practitioner (FSHP) of her conversations with local people, unauthorised visits to Cuban hospitals, and experience of helping USINT American and Cuban personnel access healthcare.
The cable describes a visit made by the FSHP to the Hermanos Ameijeiras hospital in October 2007. Built in 1982, the newly renovated hospital was used in Michael Moore’s film as evidence of the high-quality of healthcare available to all Cubans.
But according to the FSHP, the only way a Cuban can get access to the hospital is through a bribe or contacts inside the hospital administration. “Cubans are reportedly very resentful that the best hospital in Havana is ‘off-limits’ to them,” the memo reveals.
What’s not a surprise is that liberals still need to lie about the “benefits” of the left-wing utopian idealism that they try so hard to push on others.
[Hat Tip: Memeorandum]
Not a death-blow yet, but a massive kick in the groin:
The Obama administration’s requirement that most citizens maintain minimum health coverage as part of a broad overhaul of the industry is unconstitutional because it forces people to buy insurance, a federal judge ruled, striking down the linchpin of the president’s plan.
U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Virginia, said today that the requirement in President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation goes beyond Congress’s powers to regulate interstate commerce. While severing the coverage mandate, Hudson didn’t address other provisions such as expanding Medicaid that are unrelated to it. He didn’t order the government to stop work on putting the remainder of the law into effect.
This is huge, and I’m sure the Obama administration will try to appeal the decision. The law’s other provisions remain in tact, but the premise of the legislation, that the pool of the insured needs to increase in order to lower costs, depended on the individual mandate.
Time to bend over, Connecticut. You wanted healthcare reform? You got your healthcare reform:
The state has given Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield the go ahead to raise premiums by as much as 47 percent for some members, and says health care reform is the reason why.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to Insurance Commissioner Thomas Sullivan on Oct. 6, asking what he called “excessive” increases were approved without full consideration of all the facts. His letter mentioned rate increases for both Anthem and Aetna.
Sullivan responded to Blumenthal saying the new rates included “very rich benefits” mandated by federal law.
“There is not one person in the state of Connecticut who will see an increase in their current premiums based on what the department approved for Anthem and Aetna,” Sullivan said in a release. “The rates that were filed and approved reflect the current cost to deliver care and the impact of more comprehensive benefit designs required under the federal healthcare reform law. If the attorney general wants to complain to someone, he should complain to Congress.”
“I find myself in an unprecedented place and time, as do my counterparts throughout the country, in overseeing one of the most far-reaching policy initiatives enacted by the federal government in recent history,” Sullivan said in the letter. “It is unfortunate that this reform, while addressing insurer behavior, has provided little to no reform of the escalating costs of the health care delivery system.”
Let’s not forget that Dick Blumenthal is also the Democratic party’s candidate for Senate in this year’s midterm election.
So there you have it. Left wing utopian fantasies of “bending the cost curve” and greater accessibility of healthcare always fall to economic reality. The road to full nationalization of healthcare comes at a steep price.
A note to Connecticut voters–this insanity doesn’t end with a Senator Blumenthal as part of your Senate delegation.
Just hit the wire:
States can proceed with their lawsuit seeking to overturn President Barack Obama’s landmark reform law, a Florida judge ruled on Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson had already indicated at a hearing last month that he would reject parts of a motion by the Justice Department to dismiss the lawsuit, led by Florida and 19 other states.
The suit was originally filed in March by mostly Republic state attorneys general.
In his formal ruling on Thursday, Vinson said the case would continue as scheduled. He had previously set a hearing for December 16.
“If you like your existing health insurance plan, you can keep it” was the big pseudo-slogan for President Obama while stumping for healthcare reform last year.
It’s so benevolent and kind for our Federal overlords to bestow upon us the privilege of keeping existing healthcare coverage.
That is until, you can’t:
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has notified customers that it will drop its Medicare Advantage health insurance program at the end of the year, forcing 22,000 senior citizens in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine to seek alternative supplemental coverage.
The decision by Wellesley-based Harvard Pilgrim, the state’s second-largest health insurer, was prompted by a freeze in federal reimbursements and a new requirement that insurers offering the kind of product sold by Harvard Pilgrim — a Medicare Advantage private fee for service plan — form a contracted network of doctors who agree to participate for a negotiated amount of money. Under current rules, patients can seek care from any doctor.
“We became concerned by the long-term viability of Medicare Advantage programs in general,’’ said Lynn Bowman, vice president of customer service at Harvard Pilgrim’s office in Quincy. “We know that cuts in Medicare are being used to fund national health care reform. And we also had concerns about our ability to build a network of health care providers that would meet the needs of our seniors.’’
Cuts in Medicare you say? There’s a couple hundred Democrats out on the trail right now who will deny this fact to the bitter end of their political careers (in about five weeks), not to mention that healthcare “reform” will eventually price out private healthcare providers, thus leaving consumers with–little choices and higher costs.
Funny how that is the opposite of what Democrats promised healthcare reform would accomplish.
With the passage of Prop C as a backdrop, Michael Barone sifts through the results from this past Tuesday’s primaries, and what appears to be serious trouble for Obama and the Democrats:
Heavy Republican turnout helps account for the 71%-29% majority for Missouri’s Proposition C, which purports to ban any mandate to buy health insurance. But it doesn’t explain the whole thing.
[...] Proposition C carried all 115 counties in Missouri (St. Louis City is separate and apart from St. Louis County, which voted for C; Kansas City, whose results are reported separately, is part of Jackson County, which as a whole voted for it as well. To have the mandate rejected by 71% of voters in a state Obama missed carrying by only 0.2% is a pretty devastating result.
What does Chuck Schumer think about all of this?
Democrats and the media can spin this all they want. It’s looking more and more likely that there really is a groundswell of voter dissatisfaction out there for Democrats and their left-wing agenda.
It’s one battle in what will be a long fight against Obamacare:
Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a federal mandate to purchase health insurance, rebuking President Barack Obama’s administration and giving Republicans their first political victory in a national campaign to overturn the controversial health care law passed by Congress in March.
“The citizens of the Show-Me State don’t want Washington involved in their health care decisions,” said Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, one of the sponsors of the legislation that put Proposition C on the August ballot. She credited a grass-roots campaign involving Tea Party and patriot groups with building support for the anti-Washington proposition.
With most of the vote counted, Proposition C was winning by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1. The measure, which seeks to exempt Missouri from the insurance mandate in the new health care law, includes a provision that would change how insurance companies that go out of business in Missouri liquidate their assets.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Cunningham said at a campaign gathering at a private home in Town and Country. “Citizens wanted their voices to be heard.”
Ed Morrissey breaks down the results:
How big was this victory? Three weeks ago, Rasmussen polled likely voters in Missouri and asked whether they supported repeal of ObamaCare. At that time, 58% said they supported its repeal, with 50% strongly supporting it. Thirty-eight percent said they opposed repeal. That 58/38 split turned into a 71/29 disaster for Democrats and Obama.
Even Rasmussen may be underestimating the power of ObamaCare repeal in its likely-voter turnout, as their last poll on this question in Missouri clearly underestimated (in an indirect survey, of course) the results for this election.
Bear in mind that over 315,000 Democrats turned out to cast ballots in the primary that nominated Robin Carnahan, while over 577,000 Republicans hit the polls. That is about a 65/35 split — which means that a significant amount of Democrats either supported the ballot measure repudiating ObamaCare, or didn’t bother to cast a vote to defend the program. Actually, Prop C got more votes than the combined voting in both Senate primaries — which tells us something even more about the passion in the electorate.
Democrats may have to hit the panic button after seeing the results from this swing state. ObamaCare set fire to the electorate last year, and that may be an inferno for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in November.
As goes Missouri, so goes the nation?
Like I said, this is great news. But I remain pessimistic on the probability of repeal. So much has to fall into place for repeal with teeth to happen. Republicans need a massive victory in November. That includes the Tea Partiers, who better make a big splash in November, if they want to be taken seriously. Other state referendums need to be won.
But more to Morrissey’s point, and this is good to see, the Obamacare push-back appears to be hammering Democrats even harder than expected.
This is a great first step. But it’s a first step in a long walk nonetheless.