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RINO-Care: A more insolvent version of Obamacare … except this time GOP owns it!

Bucket leaking water.

By: Daniel Horowitz
Conservative Review

The first thing to understand about the GOP healthcare bill is that it is not merely Obamacare-lite or a bad “replacement” bill. It doesn’t repeal the core of Obamacare in the first place. In fact, the few parts that it repeals or tweaks within a few years will actually intensify the death spiral of Obamacare when mixed with the core regulatory structure, exacerbated by the subsidies that they do keep. And this time, the GOP will own it politically. All of it.

The most dangerous myth about the GOP plan is that it repeals Obamacare. At least if GOP leadership would be honest and say they are too scared to repeal the ACA and are just tweaking it a few years from now (after the death spiral is made worse), then we can blame the Democrats for voting for it. Now that a bill codifying Obamacare in the worst possible form is being sold as “repeal and replace,” Republicans have bailed out Democrats from their most toxic political issue without securing a single concession.

Continue reading….

 

From The Office Of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 15, 2017

www.texasattorneygeneral.gov

PRESS OFFICE: (512) 463-2050

Kayleigh Lovvorn: Kayleigh.Lovvorn@oag.texas.gov

AG Paxton Leads Multi-State Coalition for Final Judgment in Lawsuit to 

Protect Texans and Physicians from Obamacare Mandate 

 

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today asked a federal judge for summary judgment in a case against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over a regulation that redefines “sex” to include “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy” under Title IX. The Affordable Care Act expressly adopted Title IX’s protection against “sex” discrimination. The motion requests a permanent injunction against the rule and a final judgment in the lawsuit.

 

Last December, Attorney General Paxton won a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking new federal health rules from forcing doctors to perform controversial operations and abortions, even if they believed the procedures were not in the best interests of their patients, or violated their deeply held religious or conscientious beliefs. Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Texas ruled that the State of Texas and the other the plaintiffs in Franciscan Alliance v. Sylvia Burwell were likely to prevail in court on their claim that HHS enacted the new rule without legal authority under the Administrative Procedure Act, and that it infringes on the rights of health care providers under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

 

“Doctors’ best medical judgment and deeply held religious beliefs should not be voided by political agendas in Washington,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The doctor/patient relationship should remain between doctors and their patients, and the government has no business telling doctors what their patients need. We’re asking the court for a permanent injunction against the rule based on a pure legal question that the court has already answered: the Obamacare rule is unlawful.”

 

The new rule would have significant impact on Texas, other states and health care providers. It requires taxpayers to fund all treatments designed for one to transition to a different sex. Physicians could be in violation of the rule if they believe certain treatments are not in a patient’s best interests, or, if they cannot perform a particular procedure for religious or conscientious reasons and refer a patient to another health care provider. In addition, the rule would force the Employee Retirement System of Texas and others to amend its insurance coverage for some 500,000 participants to provide for gender reassignment and abortion.

 

Texas is joined in the motion for summary judgment by the states of Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Wisconsin and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, as well as Franciscan Alliance, Inc., Specialty Physicians of Illinois, LLC, and Christian Medical and Dental Associations.

 

View the motion for summary judgment here.

View the appendix ISO of the motion here.

View the brief ISO the motion here.

 

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In 2017 women and minorities are buying guns – here’s why…

Image result for second amendment rights images

During the 8 years he was president, Barack Obama’s administration experienced an explosion in gun sales, with annual background checks more than doubling between 2008 and 2016.  In the eighteen months leading up to the 2016 election, gun sales set one new record after another.

So when a pro-Second Amendment candidate won the election most observers figured that gun sales would at last begin to drop. But it hasn’t worked out that way.

Conventional wisdom held that the sharp rise in gun sales over the course of Obama’s presidency was supposedly driven, at least in part, by the threat of gun control. That’s why everyone expected gun sales to decline after Trump’s victory.  Yet, the average monthly gun sales from November through February are up from the already very high level in October.

In fact, there was a large increase in gun sales immediately following the election.  November had a record-setting month for FBI background checks. On Black Friday, there was a single day record of 185,713 checks.  While December sales were not quite at record levels, they were still the second highest monthly total ever.  January’s and February’s sales data slipped below last January’s and February’s, but they were still the second highest January and February sales on record.

Continue reading…

Report Finds Obamacare Coverage Options Disappearing Nationwide

Nearly a third of U.S. counties will be left with just one insurance option next year on the Obamacare exchanges, according to a new analysis fueling warnings about the impact of the insurance company exodus from markets across the country.

The Kaiser Family Foundation study found residents in Pinal County, Arizona are even at risk of having no insurance options on the exchanges, which provide subsidized plans.

Republicans seized on the report Monday to claim that the health care overhaul is not providing the choices promised by President Obama and others.

“The president repeatedly promised that his health care law would provide more choices, ‘bend the cost curve,’ and allow Americans to keep the plans they liked and could afford. He failed to live up to those promises, and families are paying the price,” Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt said in a statement, noting the majority of counties in Missouri could be left with just one insurance option on the exchanges.

Continue reading HERE.

With Open Gates: The forced collective Suicide of the European Nations…

Texas A&M Pulls Trigger To Allow Campus Carry!

Guns on campus
AUSTIN – The generally permissive campus carry rules proposed for the Texas A&M University System’s schools received on Wednesday what amounts to a final OK, as the system’s Board of Regents took no action to amend the suggested policies.

Come August, the licensed concealed carrying of handguns will be allowed in all classes, nearly all dorms and likely most all faculty offices at Texas A&M and other schools. Guns will remain barred at sporting events, patient care facilities and some other areas.

“I know this was not an easy task,” board chairman Cliff Thomas said. “These rules, as submitted, strike an appropriate balance. They will serve our system well going forward.”

The decision means at least 17 state schools have final approval on their rules, according to The Dallas Morning News’ campus carry tracker. The process has been ongoing since the law was passed last year to allow licensed concealed carry in most college buildings.

Unlike private schools, state colleges and universities cannot completely opt out of campus carry. But public school officials can establish some “gun-free” zones, so long as they are “reasonable” and don’t have the effect of generally prohibiting guns on campus.

The contentious proposal, which goes into effect in August, generated little discussion among the A&M regents.

The only point to get any follow-up was the policy by some schools, including the flagship, to allow faculty to petition their campus presidents to ban guns in their offices if they can prove that the presence of a gun would lead to “significant risk of substantial harm.”

A task force at Texas A&M had originally recommended that faculty and staff have more leeway to declare their offices off-limits to guns. But President Michael K. Young ultimately settled on a more limited rule after seeking input from state Attorney General Ken Paxton.

A&M Chancellor John Sharp on Wednesday made sure that point was clear.

“You can’t simply say, ‘I don’t like guns, so I am going to ban them in my office,’” he said.

To take a closer look at the campus carry proposals for the A&M System schools and other public colleges and universities in Texas, see The News’ campus carry tracker.

Research Explains Why the Obamacare Marketplace is Slowly Failing

By Devon Herrick Filed under Health Alerts on November 16, 2015

With great fanfare, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a press release in mid-October estimating enrollment in the Obamacare Marketplace (i.e. the exchange) at 10 million by the end of 2016. HHS Secretary Burwell said, “We believe 10 million is a strong and realistic goal.”

Before you burst out with excitement, keep in mind enrollment for 2015 is estimated at 9.1 million. As recently as March 2015, estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected 21 million would sign up in 2016. Enrollment is only about half what the CBO originally estimated and is likely to gradually decline into what actuaries sometimes refer to as an adverse selection death spiral.

In a nutshell, Obamacare exchange plans are premised on the idea that young healthy people would be overcharged to help pay for older, less healthy enrollees – who would otherwise find their coverage unaffordable if charged premiums based on their health risk. In theory, sliding-scale subsidies would make premiums affordable for moderate-income families, while the law would force healthy, wealthier families to subsidize the poor and those in poor health.  The only problem: people know when they are getting a bad deal and resist in any way they can!

This was tried once before in the 1990s. At the time, states passed perverse regulations to force insurers to accept all applicants — including people in poor health — at rates reflecting average health in a community rather than individual health status. What happened was young people (who already had lower demand for health insurance because they were healthy) were charged too much and abandoned the market. As healthy people dropped out, sicker people remained in the insurance market. As this progressed, the risk pool of enrollees that remained became increasingly costly to ensure. Premiums increased in response to higher costs of the remaining enrollees, prompting an new round of healthier enrollees to drop out.

Under these perverse incentives, the only enrollees who were sure to stay put were those in poor health — whose medical benefits far exceeded the cost of their premiums.  This is what’s known as an adverse selection death spiral; it’s the vicious cycle of healthy individuals dropping out as their premiums rise too far beyond their expected benefits. Before long, health coverage is only a good deal for those in poor health. But, the  customers in poor health are not profitable ones for health insurers. When insurers are left with money-losing customers, they have no choice but to increase rates even higher or leave the market entirely. That is precisely what happened in virtually all the states that passed these regulations. As a result, state lawmakers quickly repealed them in most states. In the states that retained these laws prior to Obamacare, premiums were between two and three times the average in states that didn’t retain these provisions.

If health insurance regulations that mandate community rating have a history of failure, then what made proponents believe the Obamacare Marketplace would survive? The answer: a combination of taxpayer subsidies and coercion! The Affordable Care Act exchange provision are often likened to a 3-legged stool. The three legs are: 1) a law forcing everyone to have coverage or pay a fine; 2) regulations that force insurers to sell plans to all that apply at prices adjusted age, but not for health status; and 3) generous, sliding-scale subsidies for those who are too poor to afford premiums. Removing any one of these legs upsets the applecart as my father used to say!  The interaction of these three provisions was supposed to mitigate the tendency for healthy enrollees to balk when required to pay premiums far in excess of their expected benefits.

What is likely happening to the Obamacare Marketplace is people are slowly deciding the cost of premiums are not a good value when compared to their medical needs. Last year, 7.5 million people paid the fine rather than purchase coverage. This was far more than expected. Citing an NBER study, Duke University economist, Chris Conover, helps explain why Obamacare is a bad deal — even with subsidies.

“Except for those who are heavily subsidized, Obamacare coverage is a really bad deal for the uninsured.  Consider the poorest members on the Exchange (family income equivalent to 138-175% of poverty). Even after subsidies, the net premium paid by such families to obtain a Silver plan will be nearly triple the average amount they would have spent out of pocket had they remained uninsured!”

Health plans for the near-poor are highly subsidized, with their premiums capped at only about 3 percent to 4 percent of family income.  Data shows that those are the ones most likely to enroll in Obamacare plans. Individuals receiving generous subsidies are about the only ones likely to consider costly exchange plans to be worth their (subsidized) premiums. By contrast, people who don’t qualify for subsidies are getting the proverbial shaft, and avoiding the exchange any way they can.

Consider the example of my wife and me. Neither one of us qualifies for a subsidy. We are both active, eat a healthy diet, watch our weight and try to lead a healthy lifestyle. The cheapest Obamacare policies for us are bronze plans costing about $5,000 apiece. These plans have deductibles of $6,000 or more. Our combined medical bills are probably less than $1,000 per year. Yet, we spend $10,000 on plans that provide us no benefits until we’ve spent another $12,000 out-of-pocket on medical care. Stated another way, our health plans will not begin to provide benefits until we have collectively spent more than $22,000 ($10,000 on premiums and $12,750 towards our deductibles).  Think of it this way: this type of arrangement is only of value if we get hit by an (uninsured) bus, get advanced cancer, have a heart attack or experience a similar catastrophic health complaint. As you can imagine, the possibility of any of those things happen doesn’t make me lose sleep at night. And the possibility would probably not haunt my dreams if I were uninsured.

Writing in Forbes, Conover cautions this bad deal is expected to get worse as premiums rise (due to excessive regulations and probably a dollop of adverse selection). Conover points to research by Stephen Parente that estimates the premiums for bronze plans could double over the next year or so.

How will this play out? Here is what I predict: initially, moderate-income families are excited about getting coverage for a reduced rate.  As time goes by, bills pile up, the car breaks down, the truck needs new tires, etc. Maybe an addition to the family is born, but daycare is now a burden. The couple calculates what their coverage is costing, say, $100, maybe $200 a month after subsidies. But their coverage has deductibles so high most doctor visits are paid out of pocket. They reason dropping their coverage will allow them to get caught up on some bills and they can enroll again at the next open enrollment. But at the next open enrollment, premiums are much higher than they anticipated. As this goes on, more and more people will decide the penalty is better than the cure.

Further reading: Mark Pauly, Adam Leive and Scott Harrington, “The Price of Responsibility: The Impact of Health Reform on Non-Poor Uninsureds,” National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 21565, September 2015. http://www.nber.org/papers/w21565

The House Just Passed Another Bailout, This Time for Highways and Transit

Hwy image

From The Daily Signal
November 5, 2015
By: Michael Sargent

Portrait of Michael Sargent

Today, the House overwhelmingly passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act (STRR) to much fanfare.

The six-year, $325-billion bill reauthorizes highway and transit funding from the federal Highway Trust Fund that was set to expire on November 20. The bill is being heralded as no less than a historic “long-term” measure, emerging after “ten years of short-term band-aids and extensions.”

But make no mistake: Despite the bill’s name and the exhortations of its admirers, STRR is another status quo bailout, plain and simple.

It follows in a long line of short-term bailouts that do nothing to fix the chronic overspending and misallocation of highway trust fund resources. Trust fund spending is still expected to rack up an annual deficit of about $15 billion in the coming years. Instead of reforming the unsustainable system, Congress decided to pad the fund with even more cash from budget gimmicks and unrelated measures.

Here’s the Reason Why So Many Obamacare Co-Ops Are Failing

FROM THE DAILY SIGNAL
THE MORNING BELL – HERITAGE FOUNDATION

Heritage Foundation
A top official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services explained today why 11 nonprofit insurance companies created under Obamacare have shut their doors, leaving more than 690,000 Americans to purchase new insurance.

During testimony before the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, Mandy Cohen, chief operating officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told lawmakers why a number of co-ops have announced their closures in the last few weeks.

“If [consumers are] shopping in open enrollment right now, we wanted to make sure that they knew that the co-ops that remain in the marketplace were financially viable, can make it through the entire year,” Cohen said. “Our first priority was to make sure there wasn’t going to be a mid-year failure next year for any consumers. And that’s how we went about our decision-making. We played it very conservative in that way, which is why I think there’s been so much activity in the last several months.”

Since October 1, seven co-ops in Tennessee, Kentucky, Oregon, Colorado, South Carolina, Utah, and Arizona have announced they will not be selling insurance in 2016. Four more in Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, and New York told consumers earlier this year they were shuttering.

 A top official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services explained today why 11 nonprofit insurance companies created under Obamacare have shut their doors, leaving more than 690,000 Americans to purchase new insurance.

During testimony before the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, Mandy Cohen, chief operating officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told lawmakers why a number of co-ops have announced their closures in the last few weeks.

“If [consumers are] shopping in open enrollment right now, we wanted to make sure that they knew that the co-ops that remain in the marketplace were financially viable, can make it through the entire year,” Cohen said. “Our first priority was to make sure there wasn’t going to be a mid-year failure next year for any consumers. And that’s how we went about our decision-making. We played it very conservative in that way, which is why I think there’s been so much activity in the last several months.”

Since October 1, seven co-ops in Tennessee, Kentucky, Oregon, Colorado, South Carolina, Utah, and Arizona have announced they will not be selling insurance in 2016. Four more in Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, and New York told consumers earlier this year they were shuttering.

“This is costing a lot of money,” Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., said of the co-ops during the hearing. “It seems like at many levels, it’s simply a failure. It’s out of balance. … It just seems like it’s a disaster. Let’s turn the page, call it what it is, and move on.”

Obamacare’s open enrollment period began Sunday, and consumers who previously were insured through the 11 failed co-ops were told they would have to buy a new plan from a new company before their coverage ends at the end of the year. The co-ops that closed their doors directed the more than 690,000 affected consumers to federal or state-run exchanges to select new plans.

Alerting customers of impending closures before or at the start of the open enrollment period avoids consumers having to switch plans in the middle of coverage, which happened for those insured by CoOportunity Health earlier this year.

In January, Iowa’s insurance commissioner announced that CoOportunity Health, which insured residents of Iowa and Nebraska, would be shutting down. As a result, roughly 68,000 people were forced to switch plans or risk a lapse in coverage.

Under the co-op program, instituted under Obamacare, 23 nonprofit insurance companies were created. The consumer-operated and oriented plans, or co-ops, received more than $2.4 billion in startup and solvency loans from the federal government.

Since their inception—co-ops began selling plans when Obamacare was implemented in 2013—11 of the 23 co-ops insuring more than 690,000 consumers have shuttered. Together, the nonprofit insurers received more than $1.1 billion.

At issue for several Republican lawmakers was whether the taxpayer-funded loans directed toward the co-ops would be repaid.

Cohen said that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was in the process of recovering the money awarded to the nonprofit insurance companies but admitted he wasn’t certain the $1.1 billion would be recouped.

“Obviously that money went to provide coverage to Americans over the past two years, so we know all dollars won’t come back to us. But we will be using all tools available to recover any unspent taxpayer dollars,” Cohen said.

“We still have tools at our disposal to recover the funding, as well as that money went to pay claims and coverage from Americans over the last several years,” she continued.

Though co-ops in other sectors have been successful, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., said those operating under Obamacare are different in that they have relied on taxpayer dollars to succeed.

“The reason why they work [in other sectors] is because everyone has skin in the game. It’s not taxpayer dollars. It doesn’t come from some dropping of dollars out of the sky,” she said. “It works because everybody that’s in it has something in the skin of the game. Here we have taxpayer dollars to the point of $2.4 billion, and that’s a real concern.”

The Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on the co-ops is the first to be held this week. The Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will also look at the program later this week.

Continue reading “Here’s the Reason Why So Many Obamacare Co-Ops Are Failing”

From The Heritage Foundation…

BUDGET DEAL
Analysis of the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Deal:

The federal budget is on a dangerous trajectory and immediate corrective action is required. The U.S. national debt is at $18.1 trillion. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), if the government remains on its currently planned course, it will spend $7 trillion more over the next 10 years than it will receive in taxes, piling on even more debt.

Heritage released a proposal in September to address the debt ceiling and fund the government without breaking the bipartisan spending limits established by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011.[1] The proposal recognizes that Congress faces the duty to appropriate funds for government operations and address the statutory debt limit. The proposal recommends that Congress:

  • Put the budget on a path to balance by cutting government spending before considering any increase in the debt limit;
  • Establish spending caps that include mandatory spending; and
  • Move toward a balanced budget requirement in the Constitution to enforce fiscal sustainability.

Rather than taking meaningful steps to address the growing debt, the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2015 is a colossal step in the opposite direction. This deal does nothing to reduce the size or scope of government over any period of time.

The BBA would suspend the debt limit until March 16, 2017, allowing for unlimited borrowing by the Treasury for the next 17 months.

The BBA would increase the discretionary spending caps established by the BCA by $50 billion in FY 2016 and $30 billion in FY 2017 split evenly between defense and non-defense programs, but only $24.511 billion (30 percent) of the new spending is offset over the BCA budget window of FY 2016 to 2021. Of the $75.683 billion in offsets to pay for the new spending, $35.136 billion (44 percent) occur in FY 2025.

The BBA would increase spending on Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding by $15.536 billion above the President’s FY 2016 request. However, only $7.848 billion (50 percent) would go to defense, with the rest going to non-defense programs. The OCO designation, once used to provide resources to the military in times of war, has been converted by the bill into a general slush fund.

As this paper was being finalized for publication, it was reported that at least one provision might be modified by an amendment. The fiscal impact is unclear, but it is likely that the amendment will increase the size and scope of government.   CONTINUE READING HERE…