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Government Insurance Boards Define Fairness
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 05/17/10

Federal legislators feel they can ensure you get the best value for your health insurance premiums and are willing to put $255 million of our tax dollars toward the effort. S 3078 and HR 4757 propose to establish a Health Insurance Rate Authority to review "potentially unreasonable increases in rates for health insurance coverage, which shall include premiums", in other words the government wants to arbitrarily determine what is fair and what is not.  As many states already have their own commissions dictating rate changes, proponents say this is a fallback for those states and for other states that do not have such regulators – an umbrella our friends at the AFL-CIO endorses.  

If you are already a resident of such regulated states, why would you want two layers of regulation doing the same thing? If you are in a state without such government commissions, why would you want to give up your state's sovereignty, as it could just as easily create a system customized for your state's residents and economic situation? The way I see it, both questions are really asking if you think the federal government can make your insurance plans better. (Note: Google Medicare and 2017)

If we are going to further nationalize the “greedy” healthcare sector, why not target other companies doing well in the recession? Wal-Mart ($13 billion in profits), Johnson & Johnson ($13 billion), Procter & Gamble ($12 billion), and Google ($4 billion) have all profited while the economy stagnated or declined. As with all these companies and the health insurers, if you feel you are paying too much for a product, you have plenty of alternatives. Government should not be in the business of health when its own survival is parasitic on our economy.

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Health Care Costs to Rise
Posted By:  - 04/23/10

In a report released yesterday by the Health and Human Services Department, it has been concluded that Obamacare will cause health care costs to rise.  According to the AP:

The report projected that Medicare cuts could drive about 15 percent of hospitals and other institutional providers into the red, "possibly jeopardizing access" to care for seniors. 

As the report's grand finale:

In another flashing yellow light, the report warned that a new voluntary long-term care insurance program created under the law faces "a very serious risk" of insolvency.

Wow.  The program will increase costs, ration care, and is ultimately unsustainable.  If only there had been somebody, somewhere, who could have seen this coming.  I'll try to contain my shock.

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ObamaCare Hammers HSAs
Posted By:  - 04/09/10

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged medical savings account – contributed to by an employer, but owned by the individual. Millions of Americans use their HSAs every day to purchase medical goods and services they need to keep themselves and their families healthy, but ObamaCare could wipe them out altogether.

Thanks to our friends at the House Republican Conference, we learn the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates people who use their HSAs, FSAs, or HRAs to pay for over-the-counter drugs will pay an additional $5 billion in taxes under ObamaCare. Get your pen and paper ready. The following items make up a partial list of medications and health care items that will become taxable withdrawals beginning January 1, 2011:

- Baby Aspirin
- Children's Cough Syrup
- Band-Aids
- Cold and chest relief 
- Antibiotic ointment and first aid creams
- Anti-flu medication
- Pain relievers
- Cough drops
- Throat lozenges
- Antacids 
- Sinus medications
- Allergy medications
- Nasal Sprays
- Smoking cessation aids
- First Aid Creams
- Pedialyte
- Calamine lotion
- Sleep Aids
- Motion sickness pills
- Contact lens solution

In addition to these items, HSAs will be subject to a 20% penalty tax on nonmedical early withdrawals. JCT estimates this new tax, larger than the tax on IRAs and 401(k)s, will cost families an additional $1.4 billion of their own money.

HSAs are vitally important tools to consumers, but will unavoidably suffer a severe blow come January 1. We hope Congress will do everything they can to protect one of the few (remaining) popular, free-market solutions to our health care challenges.

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Health Premiums Could Rise 17% for Young Adults
Posted By:  - 04/01/10

Remember all that talk from White House officials about how premiums will fail to rise under ObamaCare? In case you don’t, here’s a direct quote from the President when he spoke in Cleveland the week of March 15, 2010:

"You'll be able to buy in, or a small business will be able to buy into this pool," Obama said. "And that will lower rates, it's estimated, by up to 14 to 20 percent over what you're currently getting. That's money out of pocket."

He went on to say that employers would see premiums fall as much as 3,000 percent.” What?! Whether he meant 3,000 percent or $3,000, he is wrong. Let’s fact check, shall we? According to the Associated Press, Obama found the information on employer savings from a Business Roundtable report. The problem is that this report did not consider specific legislation or even the final language of the health care bill ultimately signed into law. Instead, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that premium savings would be much more modest at roughly 3 percent.

Now, let’s go back to the previous statement – that people purchasing individual insurance will save “up to 14 to 20 percent.” Ironically, this comes from the same CBO report, but it’s not the full story. CBO said premiums would rise 10 percent to 13 percent for individuals in this market, compared to what they are paying now. The savings of 14 to 20 percent refer solely to those who choose to maintain their current insurance, which will likely become inadequate once other options are presented.

Unfortunately, that’s not all. We are now hearing that health premiums could rise as much as 17 percent for young adults. The reason? Under ObamaCare, people in their 20s and early 30s will be forced to shoulder the medical costs of older Americans more than ever before. This could tack on an additional $42 to their health insurance each month.  But, it should be said that “children” will get to remain on their parents’ plan until the AGE OF 26! Does anyone else think this is absurd? What 26-year-old do you know who deserves the title of “kid?” I am still a few months away from turning 26 and I have been accountable for my own health insurance for 4 years. Yes, it was hard at times, but I would not have had it any other way. It is unfortunate that a majority of young adults, doing their best to make it in the world post-college, will have to dish out even more of their hard earned money to subsidize not only older Americans, but those looking for one more excuse to postpone the responsibilities of adulthood.


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ObamaCare Already Slamming Companies
Posted By:  - 03/30/10

For those of you interested, the House Republican Conference released a document outlining merely a snapshot of those companies already suffering under the President’s health care “reform” legislation.  AT&T looks to be the hardest hit as they book $1 billion in first-quarter costs related to ObamaCare. These added costs come from a change in the tax treatment of Medicare subsidies, and now AT&T is saying they will be forced to consider changes to the health care benefits offered to their current and retired workers.

Other companies feeling the immediate effects of ObamaCare include Medtronic, Deere & Co., Caterpillar, 3M, and Valero Energy. I reiterate immediate. It’s hard telling what they will pay two years from now. This is just the beginning, folks. Costs will continue to rise until we repeal and replace.

Click here for more details on these job killing tax hikes.


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Georgia Takes the Lead in Enacting Positive Health Reform
Posted By:  - 03/29/10


Georgia, in the span of a few hours, took the lead on enacting positive health reform in this country. On Friday, I blogged about HB 1184, a bill sponsored by Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peacetree City) that would open Georgia’s individual health insurance market to interstate competition. Just a few hours later, the Georgia House of Representatives passed the bill 108-55 and sent it to the Senate. Governor Sonny Purdue supports the bill.


Conservatives have consistently called for allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines. This is a common sense reform that provides health care consumers with much needed choice in health care plans. Liberals in Congress have dismissed calls for opening health insurance plans to competition. But if Congress won’t act on common sense reform, states like Georgia will.


The Georgia House voted to open its individual health insurance market to plans offered in other states, provided that the plans are licensed by Georgia's insurance commissioner and describe all of the benefits they will provide. This will give individuals who cannot get health insurance through their employers more and less costly options for coverage, which is very important now that President Obama and the Democrat Congress have required Americans to have health insurance.


For the sake of individual Georgians who need to obtain health insurance, let’s hope that the Senate follows the House's lead quickly.

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Georgia Leading the Way on Positive Health Reform
Posted By:  - 03/26/10


Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives took the final vote on President Obama's health care "reform" plan. The plan calls for the massive expansion of the government by requiring individuals to have health insurance whether they want to have it or not. In the midst of that debate, conservatives consistently called for allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines. While liberals in Congress dismissed those calls, there is an effort in Georgia to do just that on the state level.


Today, the Georgia State House of Representatives is considering HB 1184, a bill sponsored by Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), which would allow health insurance products sold in other states to be sold in Georgia. The bill would apply only to the individual insurance market, a segment of the population who must buy insurance on their own because they don’t have the option of obtaining insurance through their employers. The bill requires all health plans sold in Georgia to go through the state’s insurance licensure process and the state insurance commissioner will retain jurisdiction to investigate and penalize health plans if necessary. It also requires the state insurance commissioner to provide a form describing all of the benefits of policies sold in the state so consumers will know exactly what they are getting in each health plan.


Allowing for the sale of health insurance across state lines is a common sense reform that Congress, in its infinite wisdom, ignored. Now Georgia has a chance to explore its potential to increase competition and reduce costs with HB 1184 on the state level. Let's just hope that the Legislature can pass it without getting buried by special interest lobbyists.

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3 Reasons Health Care Reform Won't Cut The Deficit By One Thin Dime
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 03/24/10

Nick Gillespie, Editor In Chief of and Reason.TV, names 3 fundamental reasons why the Health Care Reform bill either omits health care costs or ignores the history of similar legislation, proposed to save money and help people but doing neither.


NTU has also released an Issue Brief on the new legislation: Spreading Virus: How a Hidden Tax in the Health Care Bill Will Take an Increasing Toll on Americans’ Finances

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Supporters of Health Care Reform Also Support More Spending
Posted By:  - 03/23/10

In the lead up to last Sunday's vote on the health care bill in the House, supporters argued that the bill was not only the way to reform the health insurance industry but that it was also the most important deficit reduction vote in years.  If that were true, one would expect those who support lower federal spending to support the bill.

To look at that assumption, we looked at how Members voted on roll call vote 163 (the procedural rule that brought the bill to the floor for debate) and their support for additional government spending as measured NTUF's BillTally system using data from the 110th Congress.  What we found was that those voting yes, on average, supported 25 times the amount of spending those who voted against the bill supported, on average.  See Figure 1.

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Digging a little deeper, we found that Democrats who voted yes supported 27 times more spending, on average, than the Republicans who vote no.  Democrats supporting the bill also supported, on average, 4 times as much spending as Democrats who opposed the bill.  See Figure 2.

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Breaking the Democrats down into Blue Dogs (those who identify themselves as more fiscally conservative) and non-Blue Dogs, we found that non-Blue Dogs supported, on average, approximately 3.5 times as much spending as the fiscally-concerned Blue Dogs.  See Figure 3.  However, the Blue Dogs still supported, on average, 8 times as much spending as did Republicans.

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There was a significant difference among the Blue Dogs.  Blue Dogs who voted yes supported, on average, almost 6 times as much spending as the members of their caucus who voted no.  See Figure 4.  Even Blue Dogs who voted against the bill still supported almost twice as much spending, on average, as Republicans who opposed the bill. 


While this vote might have been billed as one of the most important deficit reduction votes in recent years, it appears that those who voted for it are the ones who support more rather than less government spending.

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