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Healthcare

One Step Closer to Repeal
Posted By:  - 01/21/11

This past Wednesday, House conservatives followed through with their promise to repeal Obamacare. The vote – 245-189 – marks a major first step in overturning the mammoth, $2.5 trillion health care law.

Here is an excerpt from the Vote Alert we distributed to House offices in advance of Wednesday’s vote:

"From its inception to final passage, NTU has vehemently opposed the health care law because of its enormous tax hikes, inclusion of an 'individual mandate,' and mounds of restrictive regulations. This onerous law is NOT real reform, but rather a political ploy to deceive taxpayers and to expand the federal government in a way that is both unprecedented and unsustainable. Our nation deserves better.

Last year, the 111th Congress chose to ignore the wishes of the American people and implement a package that has done little to lower costs or improve the quality of health care. Furthermore, reports surfaced last fall that claimed the law could raise premiums as much as 20 percent, while 2,000+ pages of hidden taxes and fees have made transparency nearly impossible. It is imperative that Congress start over and enact reforms that put health care choices in the hands of patients and their doctors – not government bureaucrats."

The fate of Obamacare repeal in the U.S. Senate remains unclear, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed he will not permit it to reach the floor. That being said, Senator Jim DeMint is rumored to have a Senate version already in the works, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement after Wednesday’s House vote: “The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want to vote on this bill. But I assure you, we will.”

And, regardless of Senate action (or inaction) on Obamacare repeal, the new House majority is already moving forward. According to The Hill, Representatives voted Thursday to instruct individual committees to begin to develop alternatives to the law.

The battle to "repeal and replace" is far from over, folks. It's only just begun.

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H.R. 2’s Five-Year Cost Examined in Latest Taxpayer’s Tab
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 01/19/11

Tab Insert

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation starts off 2011 right with an analysis by Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady on the 112th Congress’ most talked about piece of legislation yet. The Congressional Budget Office has already released two preliminary reports on H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, but questions remain as to the budgetary impact of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. NTUF has laid out the costs and savings associated with such a repeal so that everyone can be on the same page.

Also included in the Tab are details of the National Taxpayers Union coverage of the upcoming President’s State of the Union Address, scheduled for Tuesday, January 25th. NTU will once again open a chat room to anyone wishing to share their opinions on the Administration’s accomplishments so far, the agenda the President outlines in the speech, and any other taxpayer-related items. NTU’s Facebook and blog, GovernmentBytes.com, pages will also be buzzing with posts and comments, updated throughout the night by policy experts, advocates, and everyday citizens. @NTU and @NTUF on Twitter will also be tweeting developments as they happen using the hashtags #NTUSOTU and #SOTU.

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A Disingenuous CBO Report
Posted By:  - 01/07/11

As a lead-up to Wednesday’s health care repeal vote, many of you may have heard assertions that repeal would increase the deficit by $145 billion. This false claim comes from a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on H.R. 2, “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” Fortunately, numerous experts have spoken up on why this is not the case, and why it’s imperative that Congress follow through with repeal if they do in fact want to reduce long-term deficits.   

To be clear, I’m not knocking the CBO. They do good work, but the very nature of that work requires assumptions and a need to take the information they are given at face value.  

Please take a look at this must-read National Review piece by former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin (one of the aforementioned experts). Holtz-Eakin says we should not blame CBO, but rather “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” budgeting that forces CBO to “incorporate a wide range of budget gimmicks in their original estimate of the health care law.”

Want specific examples of these budget gimmicks? According to Mr. Holtz-Eakin, CBO was provided information (from the former Congressional Majority) that forced them to:

  • Leave out $115 billion in funding needed to implement the bill;
  • Double-count $521 billion in Social Security payroll taxes ($53 billion), CLASS Act premiums ($70 billion), and Medicare cuts ($398 billion);
  • Leave out the costly doc-fix provision; and
  • Assume a cadillac tax on high-cost health plans.

In his article, Holtz-Eakin says, “There was never any reason to believe that the law reduced the deficit by roughly $140 billion over ten years. Starting two new open-ended entitlements without fixing the existing budgetary cancers just doesn’t work that way. Repealing Obamacare is simply a first step toward fiscal sanity that should happen as soon as possible.”

Take it from the expert. I think a former CBO director understands CBO reports far better than liberal media and Members of Congress.

For even more information on the disingenuous CBO report, check out this analysis from the Heritage Foundation.

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House to Vote on Obamacare Repeal
Posted By:  - 01/06/11

The 112th Congress has officially begun and House conservatives are quickly acting on their promise to repeal the new health care law. According to the Daily Caller, the vote has been set for next Wednesday, January 12.

Representative Fred Upton, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told Fox News that he believes repeal does have the chance to pass through all of Congress with enough votes to override President Obama’s (inevitable) veto. In order to make that happen, you need 2/3 majority of both chambers. That means every single Republican as well as 48 House and 20 Senate Democrats. In my opinion, that is highly unlikely. Nonetheless, this is an important vote, and one that we will wholeheartedly endorse.

The budget-busting health care bill, complete with mammoth tax hikes and mounds of restrictive regulations, is NOT real reform and will do little to lower costs and improve quality of care. With every related vote that takes place, it enables us to keep the issue alive with American taxpayers and help stop the damaging provisions before they take effect.

I encourage all of you to put pressure on your Representative and Senators. Emphasize that next week’s vote is far more than a “symbolic” gesture, and remind them that they were sent to Washington to listen to the wishes of those people they serve.

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Colorado Citizens Draft a Budget
Posted By:  - 12/17/10

Lately, the politicians who control Congress and the state house in Denver have complained about the difficulty with writing a sensible budget in a down economy. Perhaps they should consult with the people of Colorado more closely.

Late last week, the Independence Institute, Colorado’s premier free-market think tank, released the Colorado Citizens’ Budget, a product of many hours work by volunteers to find a way to balance the state’s budget without raising taxes. Some highlights from the Citizens’ Budget include: pension reform to reduce unfunded liabilities, fewer incarcerations for non-violent offenders to reduce the size of the corrections budget, more school choice to reduce the cost of K-12 education, and reforming Medicaid eligibility.

To think that the Citizens’ Budget is just about saving money or getting the state through the next budget cycle is to miss the point of the project. As Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute, puts it: “The [Colorado] General Assembly over the course of the next several years must make difficult decisions and will dramatically shape our state's economy. Its debates will echo the important question about the nature of government that is being carried out in Washington, D.C. Will we as a People expect only those public goods that allow for a vibrant, growing private sector, or will we demand an ever-larger, more intrusive government on which we depend for our every need and decision?”

To answer this question, it is helpful to read the Citizens’ Budget in its entirety.

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Individual Mandate Unconstitutional
Posted By:  - 12/13/10

According to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, "Today, a federal judge in Richmond ruled the individual mandate of the federal health care law UNCONSTITUTIONAL!"

Cuccinelli says that the fight against health care law isn't over but that this victory is a first step.

The judge's ruling is available here (in PDF) via the Wall Street Journal.

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More on Mini-Meds
Posted By:  - 11/24/10

Back in June, I highlighted a Politico article entitled “Health care law could ban low-cost plans.” In case you missed it, here is an excerpt from that blog post:

The "Affordable" Health Care Act would ban the caps currently in place for the amount of insurance company payouts. While, on the surface, this sounds like a positive reform to improve the quality of care, it is problematic for a couple of reasons. There is a niche insurance market, called mini-med plans, which many employees (retail, restaurant workers, etc.) have come to depend on. While these plans do offer limited benefits, they are priced low for low-wage workers who may not be able to afford more comprehensive health care. If caps are eliminated, it could force insurance companies to significantly raise costs or eliminate the plans altogether. That would be detrimental to many of these low-wage workers since insurance exchanges and tax credits will not be available until 2014.

The big concern was that mini-med subscribers would lose their coverage before they could access subsidies to purchase government-regulated insurance in 2014. However, according to The Hill, “McDonald’s and other employers that offer low-value ‘mini-med’ health plans to 1.4 million workers will temporarily be allowed to keep them under highly anticipated federal regulations released Monday.” Employers that offer mini-med plans will still have to comply with new requirements, but they have been afforded extra time.

Go here for more information on the newest HHS-issued health care regulations.   

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Repeal and Replace
Posted By:  - 11/12/10

Next Tuesday, Congress will reconvene for a lame duck session in order to tie up loose ends before the end of the year. While it’s unlikely we’ll see anything on the health care front, it’s important that we push conservative lawmakers to take immediate action on the issue at the start of the 112th Congress. The new Congress doesn’t begin until January 5, but that doesn’t mean we should delay in putting ideas on the table and helping to educate Members now.

Nina Owcharenko, Director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, just released a great report entitled “Repealing Obamacare and Getting Health Care Right.” In the piece, Owcharenko lays out a great plan of attack for the new Congress and those Americans wondering where we go from here.  

First step. Fight for full repeal. Immediate success in this endeavor will be inevitably difficult given the Senate landscape and a Democratic President, but that shouldn’t deter Members from churning out an honest attempt. While working to achieve repeal, Owcharenko says, “Members should continue to focus on the failures and consequences of the new law, block its implementation at every opportunity, and exert strong oversight over the implementation process.” The best and most straightforward approach to blocking provisions is to defund them, thus making it difficult for agencies to follow through with the new regulations. When considering defunding, the CLASS Act, new 1099 requirement, changes to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and the Cadillac Tax are good places to start. Owcharenko also suggests prohibiting funds from going toward Internal Revenue Service efforts to hire new agents to enforce the egregious individual mandate.

While she emphasizes the need for full repeal of the law, she also provides positive alternatives in the form of targeted policies. In the midst of the health care debate, we must remember that we can’t merely strive for repeal and no further action. Our current system is in need of reform, but it’s free-market solutions, focused on patient choice, that will ultimately prove to be the right cure for our health care woes.  

Here are a few of Owcharenko's market-based ideas that she believes will begin to move our health care system in the right direction:

  • Provide individual tax relief for all persons purchasing private health insurance, regardless of where they work;
  • Eliminate barriers to individuals purchasing health care coverage that best suits their personal needs across state lines;
  • Promote new group purchasing arrangements based on individual membership organizations and various associations;
  • Improve consumer-directed health options (such as health savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, and flexible spending accounts) that encourage greater transparency and consumer control over health care decisions;
  • Expand states’ ability to develop consumer-based reforms that enable states to customize solutions for their citizens;
  • Increase federal and state efforts to combat fraud and abuse in Medicaid, including tightening eligibility loopholes in Medicaid for long-termcare services;
  • Stop new tax increases and promote tax cuts that would expand private insurance coverage and grow the economy.

She lists several others in her report, so I’d encourage all of you to check it out! Mind you, we must remember that full repeal of Obamacare is critical before a more positive alternative can be delivered though a step-by-step, fully transparent legislative process. Rest assured we will stay on the forefront of this very important issue and will keep all of you in the loop as developments arise.

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$572 Million Net Federal Spending in Taxpayer’s Tab
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 11/09/10

Tab Insert

The NTU Foundation’s Taxpayer’s Tab is back to its regular schedule and format, highlighting four newly scored Congressional bills.

Covering veterans educational benefits, the Most Expensive Bill of the Week would allow certain service members to transfer benefits to their dependents. The Least Expensive Bill of the Week would establish a comprehensive energy plan, including more domestic oil exploration, alternative technology development, and a natural gas vehicle demonstration project provision. The House version of the Prevention First Act was found to increase federal spending by $417 million in the first year.

Bills covered in the latest Taxpayer’s Tab include:

  • HR 3577, Education Assistance to Realign New Eligibilities for Dependents (EARNED) Act of 2009
  • HR 3505, American Energy Production and Price Reduction Act
  • HR 463/S 21, Prevention First Act
  • S 3078/HR 4757, health Insurance Rate Authority Act of 2010
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