Corruption Update: Obama’s Census Bureau Planning To Cook Obamacare’s Books Before Midterm Elections

Obama’s Census Bureau Officially Plans To Cook Obamacare’s Books – The Federalist

In a bombshell article, the New York Times reported earlier today that the U.S. Census Bureau planned to radically alter its method of calculating the number of people without health insurance in the U.S. The result? The changes will be so radical that “it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.”

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From the NYT:

The Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.

The changes are intended to improve the accuracy of the survey, being conducted this month in interviews with tens of thousands of households around the country. But the new questions are so different that the findings will not be comparable, the officials said.

An internal Census Bureau document said that the new questionnaire included a “total revision to health insurance questions” and, in a test last year, produced lower estimates of the uninsured. Thus, officials said, it will be difficult to say how much of any change is attributable to the Affordable Care Act and how much to the use of a new survey instrument.

You know what else is due this fall? A big election in which the effects of Obamacare are sure to weigh on voters’ minds.

Don’t worry, though. Census officials said the timing of the change was “coincidental” and “unfortunate.” The latter is most certainly the case, but unfortunate for whom? Certainly not the White House, which mere days ago was bragging, Mission Accomplished-style, about how amazing the Obama implementation was going. Does anyone actually believe this White House would want to change and obscure favorable numbers in the weeks and months ahead of an election?

It turns out the suspiciously timed changes aren’t the only remarkable aspect of that NYT story. Apparently the government’s statisticians knew for some time that the old method of collecting data on the uninsured significantly overstated their numbers:

Census officials and researchers have long expressed concerns about the old version of insurance questions in the Current Population Survey.

The questionnaire traditionally used by the Census Bureau provides an “inflated estimate of the uninsured” and is prone to “measurement errors,” said a working paper by statisticians and demographers at the agency.

So not only will the new numbers be close to useless when it comes to using them to figure out if Obamacare has had its intended effect, it turns out the old numbers – which the White House used to cram the law down America’s throat – were bogus as well. Heads they win, tails you lose. But remember: all of this is totally coincidental and really unfortunate.

Unrelated: remember that time the Obama administration tried to force the head of the Census Bureau to report directly to the White House, rather than to the Secretary of Commerce, as required by law?

President Obama has decided to have the director of the U.S. Census Bureau work directly with the White House, the administration said today, a move that comes as the Census Bureau prepares to conduct the 2010 census that will determine redistricting of congressional seats.

We’re sure that was just a coincidence, too.

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Obuttmunch Has Proposed 442 Tax Hikes Since Taking Office

Obama Has Proposed 442 Tax Hikes Since Taking Office – Americans For Tax Reform

Since taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama has formally proposed a total of 442 tax increases, according to an Americans for Tax Reform analysis of Obama administration budgets for fiscal years 2010 through 2015.

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The 442 total proposed tax increases does not include the 20 tax increases Obama signed into law as part of Obamacare.

History tells us what Obama was able to do. This list reminds us of what Obama wanted to do,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

The number of proposed tax increases per year is as follows:

-79 tax increases for FY 2010

-52 tax increases for FY 2011

-47 tax increases for FY 2012

-34 tax increases for FY 2013

-137 tax increases for FY 2014

-93 tax increases for FY 2015

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Obama budget with the lowest number of proposed tax increases was released during an election year: In February 2012, Obama released his FY 2013 budget, with “only” 34 proposed tax increases. Once safely re-elected, Obama came back with a vengeance, proposing 137 tax increases, a personal record high for the 44th President.

In addition to the 442 tax increases in his annual budget proposals, the 20 signed into law as part of Obamacare, and the massive tobacco tax hike signed into law on the sixteenth day of his presidency, Obama has made it clear he is open to other broad-based tax increases.

During an interview with Men’s Health in 2009, when asked about the idea of national tax on soda and sugary drinks, the President said, “I actually think it’s an idea that we should be exploring.”

During an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood in 2010, Obama said a European-style Value-Added-Tax was “something that would be novel for the United States.”

Obama’s statement was consistent with a pattern of remarks made by Obama White House officials refusing to rule out a VAT.

“Presidents are judged by history based on what they did in power. But presidents can only enact laws when the Congress agrees,” said Norquist. “Thus a record forged by such compromise tells you what a president – limited by congress – did rather than what he wanted to do.”

The full list of proposed Obama tax increases can be found here.

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Obama’s Treasury Seizing Tax Refunds From Adult Children To Pay Parents’ Social Security Debts

Shakedown: Treasury Now Seizing Tax Refunds From Adult Children To Pay Parents’ Decades-Old Social Security Debts – Hot Air

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When I say “debts,” I don’t mean loans that the parents willingly sought from SSA. It would be bad enough to hold a kid responsible for that (since when are children responsible for their parents’ obligations?), but at least it would have been voluntarily incurred by mom/dad. The “debts” here are overpayments of Social Security benefits, the product of SSA’s own errors. The parents who received them might not have even realized they were getting money they weren’t supposed to have. And now, somehow, it’s junior’s problem.

But wait. It gets worse.

When [Mary] Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them.

Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family – it’s not sure who – in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. Why the feds chose to take Mary’s money, rather than her surviving siblings’, is a mystery…

“It was a shock,” said Grice, 58. “What incenses me is the way they went about this. They gave me no notice, they can’t prove that I received any overpayment, and they use intimidation tactics, threatening to report this to the credit bureaus.”…

Social Security officials told Grice that six people – Grice, her four siblings and her father’s first wife, whom she never knew – had received benefits under her father’s account. The government doesn’t look into exactly who got the overpayment; the policy is to seek compensation from the oldest sibling and work down through the family until the debt is paid.

SSA insists that they did send notice – to a P.O. Box that Grice hasn’t owned for 35 years, even though they have her current address.

How can they demand restitution for a mistaken payment made in the late 1970s, let alone from someone who didn’t even receive it? Because: The farm bill that passed in 2011 lifted the 10-year statute of limitations on debts owed to the feds. Treasury has collected more than $400 million since then on very old obligations, many of them below the radar of public scrutiny because the amounts are often small enough, i.e. a few hundred dollars, that the targets find it’s cheaper to pay up than to fight. It’s a shakedown, based on the flawed assumption that a child not only must have benefited from the overpayment to his parent but that he/she received the entirety of the benefit, with little proof offered that the debt even exists. (One man who was forced to pay demanded a receipt from SSA affirming that his balance was now zero. The SSA clerk told him he’d put in the request but that the man shouldn’t expect to receive anything.) The only reason you’re hearing about Grice’s case, I think, is because they went after her for thousands, not hundreds, of dollars, which was enough of a hit to make her get a lawyer. Turns out that the feds had seized and then continued to hold her federal and state refunds, an amount greater than $4,400 – even though they were only demanding $2,996 from her to pay off her father’s debt. Lo and behold, once WaPo found out and started asking questions, the $1,400 excess was promptly returned to her. Amazing how fast bureaucracy can move when someone looks behind the curtain.

The whole thing is Kafkaesque – opaque, oppressive, arbitrary, and sinister in its indifference to making sure the right person pays so long as someone does. After reading the story, it’s not obvious to me what’s stopping Treasury from demanding a payment from every taxpayer whose parents are dead. If the chief witnesses are gone and the feds don’t have to prove that a child actually received any benefits from overpayment, the only “check” on this process is SSA’s willingness to tell the truth about who owes them money and how much. You trust them, don’t you?

Exit question from Karl: Isn’t holding children responsible for their parents’ retirement debts the governing model of the Democratic Party?

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Corruption Alert: U.S. State Department “Misplaced” $6 Billion

US State Department Misplaced $6 Billion – Universal Free Press

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The US State Department can’t explain how it spent billions of dollars worth of contract funds in areas throughout the world, according to a newly unveiled report by the department’s internal watchdog.

The Office of Inspector General explained in a March 20 “management alert” to department leaders that approximately $6 billion has gone unaccounted for over the past six years. The note said the number of missing documents “exposes the department to significant financial risk” and is a dangerous lack of oversight.

“It creates conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior by omitting key documents from the contract file,” the inspector general wrote. “It impairs the ability of the Department to take effective and timely action to protect is interests and, in turn, those of taxpayers.”

There is no indication that representatives within the Bureau of Administration’s Office of the Procurement Executive (A/OPE) fraudulently filed any of the missing contracts, only that State Department brass misplaced the necessary paperwork. The omissions are especially notable, though, because of similar memos that have noted budgetary oversights in the past.

In one instance, the State Department could not locate files regarding payments to contractors assisting US military forces in Iraq. That incident, one of the “repeated examples of poor contract file administration,” according to the inspector general, included contracts worth $2.1 billion.

An unrelated audit of the Bureau of African Affairs indicated the department could not supply the “complete contract administration files” for even one of the eight contracts, worth a total of nearly $35 million, under examination.

“The failure to maintain contract files adequately creates significant financial risk and demonstrates a lack of internal control over the Department’s contract actions,” the report noted.

While no proof of fraudulent payments was mentioned, the Office of Inspector General did warn that lax record-keeping standards does create the potential for abuse.

“OIG recommends that the Under Secretary for Management ensure that contracting officers and their supporting personnel, and A/OPE specialists conducting oversight visits, have resources sufficient to maintain adequate contract files in accordance with relevant regulations and policies,” the officials recommended.

The report also encouraged the State Department to hold employees accountable when they are found to have committed such infractions.

The State Department, which is responsible for a vast number of duties relating to international relations, has also announced that it will publish ambassador qualifications from now on. The Obama administration has come under fire because of the perception that not all newly appointed State Department ambassadors were up to the task of heading up US relations in other countries. The necessary “certificates of demonstrated competence” were previously only available to lawmakers, but will now be made available to the public, American Foreign Service Association President Robert Silverman told USA Today.

“We believe transparency of the nomination process is an important step,” he said Friday “We very much appreciate the efforts of the White House and State Department, and AFSA – as the voice of the Foreign service – looks forward to working to assure that our country is represented by the very best men and women at our diplomatic missions abroad.”

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Thanks Barack… U.S. Labor Participation Rate Falls Behind Great Britain For First Time In 36 Years

Obamanomics In Action: US Labor Participation Rate Falls Behind Great Britain For First Time In 36 Years – Gateway Pundit

Obamanomics in action -

One million fewer Americans are working today than before Barack came into office.

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The US labor participation rate has fallen behind Great Britain for the first time in 36 years thanks to Obama’s failed big government policies.

Liberty Unyielding reported:

The labor force participation rate – the proportion of adults who are either working or looking for work – started to decline in the US in 2000 and has plunged since 2008 from 66 to 63 per cent.

The equivalent of 7.4m people are no longer part of the labour force. Yet participation in the UK has held up remarkably well despite the country’s prolonged downturn and now stands at 63.6 per cent – the first time in 36 years that it has been higher than the US rate.

Economists have been surprised by the trends, not least because the US labour market has long been seen as one of the most resilient and flexible.

“America is even more flexible than us and yet there is this complete contrast,” said Paul Gregg, economics professor at the UK’s Bath university.

And, then there’s the long-term unemployment disaster:

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House Republicans
@HouseGOP

Fact of the Day: the # of long-term unemployed Americans has more than doubled since 2007, from 18.4% to 39.3%: http://j.mp/1m3XCCc
12:00 PM – 25 Mar 2014

22 Retweets – 6 favorites
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Leftist-Run Detroit Plans Mass Water Shutoffs Over $260M In Delinquent Bills

Detroit Plans Mass Water Shutoffs Over $260M In Delinquent Bills – Detroit News

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has a message for Detroit residents and companies more than 60 days late on their water bills: We’re coming for you.

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With more than half of the city’s customers behind on payments, the department is gearing up for an aggressive campaign to shut off service to 1,500-3,000 delinquent accounts weekly, said Darryl Latimer, the department’s deputy director.

Including businesses, schools and commercial buildings, there are 323,900 Detroit water and sewerage accounts; 164,938 were overdue for a total of $175 million as of March 6. Residential accounts total 296,115; 154,229 were delinquent for a total of $91.7 million.

The department halts cutoffs through the winter because of complications associated with freezing temperatures, such as damaged pipes. But this spring, a new contractor has been hired to target those who are more than two months behind or who owe more than $150 — twice the average monthly bill of $75.

The department says it’s now ready to “catch up” with cutoffs halted because of the unusually harsh winter weather. DWSD is looking to show there are consequences associated with not paying water bills, Latimer said.

“Not everyone is in the situation where they can’t afford to pay,” he said. “It’s just that the utility bill is the last bill people choose to pay because there isn’t any threat of being out of service.”

People pay up more when they see the department out cutting off water to neighbors, and the statistics bear that out, officials said. In July, for example, before contractors started on the shutoffs, the department cut off 1,566 customers. That month, it collected $149,000 in water bills.

Extra contractors started working on cutoffs last summer. Attheir peak in October – before cold weather caused a halt to the disconnects – 3,700 cutoffs occurred. The department collected more than $350,000 in overdue bills that month. That number of cutoffs translated to more than double for warm weather months compared to last year.

“We’re trying to shift the behavioral payment patterns of our customer base right now,” said Constance Williams-Levye, DWSD commercial operations specialist. “And so aggressively we’ll have a team of contractors coming in, in addition to our field teams.”

Up to 20 additional contractor crews are expected to be employed working on the cutoffs, DWSD officials said.

The department bills monthly and sends out notices when bills are overdue. When an account is more than 60 days late, a notice goes out saying service could be cut, Latimer said.

Residents don’t necessarily have to move out but Latimer said there were instances, in the case of households with children, where the department of social services will come in and say the kids will be removed from the home if water is not restored.

“Usually folks will then come in and make some kind of arrangement,” Latimer said.
Long-overdue effort

Department officials say the initiative is unrelated to Detroit’s bankruptcy restructuring and is simply a renewed effort to remedy a longstanding problem. The fear of being stuck with Detroit’s delinquencies, however, has kept suburban leaders from embracing a regional water authority proposed by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said the department should have started being more assertive in its collections years ago.

“It’s all about the management responsibility,” Hackel said. “If they’re just getting around to it now, what were they doing before? Collections are just part of a system that’s been neglected for years.”

On Monday, the department is scheduled to send mailings to thousands of customers warning if their overdue water balances aren’t paid, the bill would be considered a property tax lien and could result in foreclosure.

Communities pay a combination of a fixed amount per month as well as an amount for every thousand cubic feet of water – or every 7,480 gallons. Detroit residents, on average, pay about 25 percent less than suburban water customers.

The department also is tightening a policy that allows customers to make multiple partial payments on overdue accounts. That creates a situation in which some go in and out of delinquency status, Latimer said. Plans call for allowing an overdue customer only one payment arrangement per year.
Suburbs remain reluctant

Orr has been trying to convince suburban officials – without success – to buy into the concept of a regional authority that would take over operations and responsibilities of the utility.

In return for greater control of operations, the authority would pay $47 million a year to the city.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano has supported the concept of a regional authority. But Hackel and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson have balked at the proposal, in part over concerns that their customers would end up taking on the cost of Detroit’s widespread delinquencies.

This month, Orr sent notices to the three counties on ending negotiations until the suburban leaders gain a consensus on a regional authority creation.

Orr said he is actively moving ahead with a second plan – selling the city-owned system or leasing it to a private management firm. Orr told The Detroit News on Wednesday he will send out requests for information in a couple of weeks or sooner gauging interest from private operators.

He says the regional authority plan was a good deal for everyone – including suburban customers – but recognizes that it isn’t going to happen.

Orr said the regional plan would benefit Detroit by generating about $47 million a year in lease payments to the city. The second plan would generate some $72 million a year through lower interest rates, but that money would go only to the water system, not the city.

Improved collections of delinquent Detroit accounts would be helpful, said Robert Daddow, Oakland County’s deputy county executive.

But far too many questions remain over issues including pension liabilities, cash flow and infrastructure and capital improvements, he said.

“Shutting of the water certainly sends a message,” Daddow said. “But this certainly isn’t just the people who will not pay; it’s the people who cannot pay because they don’t have the income level that would enable them to do so.”

In talks regarding the authority, some have asked whether the state could help low-income individuals with water bills. There are statewide programs to help people with their heating bills, for example, including The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), a Detroit-basednonprofit that helps people pay heating bills.

“Why not have something equivalent for water and sewer?” Daddow said. But no such program is currently on the table.

Customers end up paying higher rates on bills for those from whom the utility can’t collect. Detroit residents and businesses – retail customers of the department – pay for negligent accounts in Detroit. Suburban customers pay for noncollectable accounts in the suburbs, Latimer explained.

Suburban communities add charges for their customers in addition to the wholesale rate billed by the Detroit water department to cover infrastructure and operating costs.
Long-term delinquents

The department has been working with Detroit Public Schools for years over delinquent accounts. DPS has a current overdue balance of $2.2 million, department officials say, down from a high of $12 million in 2012.

DPS disputes that number, but has been making monthly payments of nearly $1 million under a payment plan approved in October.

The department also continues to work collecting from suburban communities with delinquent accounts.

The department filed a federal lawsuit in November against Highland Park. The city has racked up $17.4 million in sewerage bills and an additional $1.6 million in water bills, according to DWSD. Last month the city removed the case from the federal courts and filed in state court “where it may be a faster process to gain relief,” according to the department.

The city of Inkster has an outstanding balance of nearly $1.2 million as of this month. But the city is paying on the current bill and making additional monthly payments, said Mathew Kannanthanam, a commercial operations specialist with DWSD. The city entered into a payment plan in April to pay the balance off by June of 2016, according to DWSD.

Melvindale also has an outstanding balance of nearly $1.1 million in water and sewerage bills.

The department is also owed more $670,000 from companies in Redford, Dearborn and Macomb Township for pollutant surcharges related to food and other processing disposals. Detroit-based Uncle Ray’s Snacks owes more than $676,000 in pollutant surcharges.

The company has agreed to a payment plan, according to DWSD records.

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Bankrupt Detroit Pays $32 To Process A $30 Parking Ticket – Independent Journal Review

I could be wrong, but I think I’ve uncovered Detroit’s financial problem: The bankrupt city pays $32 to issue and process a $30 parking ticket. Obviously, they need to issue more tickets to make up the difference.

Not only is the city paying $32 to issue and process a $30 parking violation, it hasn’t adjusted rates since 2001. Even worse? Half of Detroit’s 3,404 parking meters are out-of-order at any given time.

Bill Nowling, spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, says:

“It’s another example of the old, antiquated system and processes the city has that creates impediments for anyone trying to do their job.”

Detroit is considering a proposal from restructuring consultants to bump its current parking fines of $20, $30 and $100 per ticket to a two-tiered structure of $45 and $150.

Proving once again that government will never run like corporate America. Can you imagine owning – or working for – a company that not only loses money on every product it sells, but continues to do so for 13 years? Yeah, me neither.

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U.S. Government Paying Male Prostitutes In Mexico For Not Getting STDs

U.S. Gov’t Study Pays Mexican Male Prostitutes For Not Getting STDs – CNS

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is spending $398,213 on a project studying whether paying male Mexican sex workers for being free of sexually transmitted diseases will increase condom use.

The study, “Conditional Economic Incentives to Reduce HIV Risks: A Pilot in Mexico,” began in June 2011 and is funded through the end of May 2014.

“The working hypothesis is that a program with modest economic incentives to stay free of sexually transmitted infections (STI) can be implemented among MSW (male sex workers) to incentivize condom use and reduction of sex partners,” the abstract of the study says. “We hypothesize that CEI (conditional economic incentives) treatment groups will exhibit greater program participation and retention rates as compared to the control group.”

The study includes male sex workers in Mexico City, who first must attend a workshop on the benefits of condom use and “condom negotiation” before they are broken up into smaller groups.

According to the study abstract, one group of 100 individuals will “receive low incentive ($200 pesos/each time) only if they are free of STIs at months 6 and 12.”

Another group of 100 will receive high incentives “($500 pesos/each time) if they are free of STIs at months 6 and 12.”

The control group of 100 does not receive any money regardless if they are STI free or not.

Attempts by CNSNews.com to contact Project Leader Dr. Omar Galarraga of Brown University to discuss the study went unreturned.

However, some early results of Dr. Galarraga’s findings were recently published in The European Journal of Health Economics.

A Brown University article on the publication quotes Galarraga: ‘We’re trying to prevent HIV from spreading and we are trying to save money,’ said public health economist Omar Galarraga, assistant professor of health services policy and practice and lead author of the study published in the European Journal of Health Economics.”

“We want to make sure that every dollar spent has the greatest impact.”

“Through detailed questionnaires administered to 1,745 gay men 18-25 years of age, Galarraga and his colleagues in Mexico’s Institute for Public Health (INSP) found that at a rate of $288 a year, more than three-quarters of the men would attend monthly prevention talks, engage in testing for sexually transmitted infections, and pledge to stay free of STI’s with testing to verify that. To obtain a similar level of participation among the 5.1 percent of the sample who were male sex workers, the price was much lower: $156 a year.”

“The target population seems generally very well-disposed to participate in these types of programs at prices which are consistent with other social programs currently in place in Mexico for preventing other health risks,” Galarraga said.

When questioned about the goals of the study, NIH replied, “NIH research addresses the full spectrum of human health across all populations of Americans. Research into unhealthy human behaviors that are estimated to be the proximal cause of more than half of the disease burden in the U.S. will continue to be an important area of research supported by NIH.”

“Only by developing effective prevention and treatment strategies for health-injuring behaviors can we reduce the disease burden in the U.S. and thus, enhance health and lengthen life, which is the mission of the NIH.”

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Marxist Irresponsibility Update: Obama’s HHS Set To Blow $1 Trillion In 2015

HHS Set To Blow $1 Trillion In 2015 As Health-Care Costs Grow By Leaps And Bounds – Daily Caller

The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to spend over one trillion dollars in 2015 – but HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has never once testified before the Senate’s Budget Committee on either Obamacare’s costs or the president’s budget at large.

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“The Department of Health and Human Services is projected to spend over $1 trillion in FY2015 under the president’s budget, and health care costs – which today comprise nearly 30 percent of all federal spending – are growing more rapidly than other areas of the budget, especially over the long-term. It would be good for members of the Committee to discuss these matters with Secretary Sebelius,” Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions said on Monday, according to The Hill.

Sessions, a ranking member on the Budget Committee, has stridently criticized President Barack Obama’s health-care law and the high costs it imposes on Americans. Back in 2012, Sessions blasted a $17 trillion funding gap that came to light during a grilling session between Supreme Court justices and the law’s supporters. Long-term promises written into the law will squeeze $17 trillion out of taxpayers – not counting the existing shortfalls from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending, which brings the total to an eye-popping $99 trillion.

The U.S. produces only $15 trillion worth of goods and services each year.

“The bill has to be removed from the books because we don’t have the money,” Sessions said.

Exploding health care costs may impose restrictions on Obama’s second term wish list, which includes a top-down rewrite of U.S. immigration laws. Republicans, while expressing support for allowing 11 million illegal immigrations to become voting citizens, are reluctant to back bipartisan immigration reform because they don’t trust Obama to enforce existing laws.

Last March, Sessions worried that frontloading Obamacare with millions of foreign enrollees might tank entitlement programs and send costs spiraling out of control.

“The core legal and economic principle of immigration is that those seeking admission to a new country must be self-sufficient and contribute to the economic health of the nation,” Sessions said in a statement as the Senate voted down an amendment that would prohibit newly-legalized immigrants who broke immigration laws from receiving health-care benefits. “But, for years, the federal government has failed to enforce this law. This principle is even more urgent when dealing with those who have illegally entered the country.”

Meanwhile, health-care costs imposed by Obamacare continue to mount as the administration fails to track enrollees and unilaterally suspends requirements until after the 2014 midterm elections, which endanger the party’s hold on Congress.

Sebelius admitted that Obamacare premiums will increase in 2015 on Wednesday – but had no idea how many Obamacare enrollees had actually paid their premiums or previously had insurance.

“I think premiums are likely to go up, but go up at a slower pace,” Sebelius claimed at the House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

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Your Daley Gator Obamacare Nightmare News Roundup

O-Care Premiums To Skyrocket – The Hill

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Health industry officials say ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country, countering claims recently made by the administration.

The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.

The industry complaints come less than a week after Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to downplay concerns about rising premiums in the healthcare sector. She told lawmakers rates would increase in 2015 but grow more slowly than in the past.

“The increases are far less significant than what they were prior to the Affordable Care Act,” the secretary said in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Her comment baffled insurance officials, who said it runs counter to the industry’s consensus about next year.

“It’s pretty shortsighted because I think everybody knows that the way the exchange has rolled out… is going to lead to higher costs,” said one senior insurance executive who requested anonymity.

The insurance official, who hails from a populous swing state, said his company expects to triple its rates next year on the ObamaCare exchange.

The hikes are expected to vary substantially by region, state and carrier.

Areas of the country with older, sicker or smaller populations are likely to be hit hardest, while others might not see substantial increases at all.

Several major companies have been bullish on the healthcare law as a growth opportunity. With investors, especially, the firms downplay the consequences of more older, sicker enrollees in the risk pool.

Much will depend on how firms are coping with the healthcare law’s raft of new fees and regulatory restrictions, according to another industry official.

Some insurers initially underpriced their policies to begin with, expecting to raise rates in the second year.

Others, especially in larger states, will continue to hold rates low in order to remain competitive.
After this story was published, the administration pointed to some independent analyses that have cast doubt on whether the current mix of enrollees will lead to premium hikes.

ObamaCare also includes several programs designed to ease the transition and stave off premium increases. Reinsurance, for example, will send payments to insurers to help shoulder the cost of covering sick patients.

But insurance officials are quick to emphasize that any spikes would be a consequence of delays and changes in ObamaCare’s rollout.

They point out that the administration, after a massive public outcry, eased their policies to allow people to keep their old health plans. That kept some healthy people in place, instead of making them jump into the new exchanges.

Federal health officials have also limited the amount of money the government can spend to help insurers cover the cost of new, sick patients.

Perhaps most important, insurers have been disappointed that young people only make up about one-quarter of the enrollees in plans through the insurance exchanges, according to public figures that were released earlier this year. That ratio might change in the weeks ahead because the administration anticipates many more people in their 20s and 30s will sign up close to the March 31 enrollment deadline. Many insurers, however, don’t share that optimism.

These factors will have the unintended consequence of raising rates, sources said.

“We’re exasperated,” said the senior insurance official. “All of these major delays on very significant portions of the law are going to change what it’s going to cost.”

“My gut tells me that, for some people, these increases will be significant,” said Bill Hoagland, a former executive at Cigna and current senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Hoagland said Sebelius was seeking to “soften up the American public” to the likelihood that premiums will rise, despite promises to the contrary.

Republicans frequently highlight President Obama’s promise on the campaign trail to enact a healthcare law that would “cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.”

“They’re going to have to backpedal on that,” said Hoagland, who called Sebelius’s comment a “pre-emptive strike.”

“This was her way of getting out in front of it,” he added.

HHS didn’t comment for this article.

Insurers will begin the process this spring by filing their rate proposals with state officials.

Insurance commissioners will then release the rates sometime this summer, usually when they’re approved. Insurers could also leak their rates earlier as a political statement.

In some states, commissioners have the authority to deny certain rate increases, which could help prevent the most drastic hikes.

Either way, there will be a slew of bad headlines for the Obama administration just months before the election.

“It’s pretty bad timing,” said one insurance official.

Other health experts say predictions about premiums are premature.

David Cutler, who has been called an architect of Obama-Care, said, “Health premiums increase every year, so the odds are very good that they will increase next year as well. None of that is news. The question is whether it will be a lot or a little. That depends in part on how big the insurers think the exchanges will be.”

Jon Gruber, who also helped design the Affordable Care Act, said, “The bottom line is that we just don’t know. Premiums were rising 7 to 10 percent a year before the law. So the question is whether we will see a continuation of that sort of single digit increase, as Sebelius said, or whether it will be larger.”

The White House and its allies have launched a full-court press to encourage healthy millennials to purchase coverage on the marketplaces.

HHS announced this week that sign-ups have exceeded 5 million, a marked increase since March 1.

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday claimed the administration has picked up the pace considerably, saying months ago reporters would have laughed if he “had said there would be 5 million enrollees by March 18.”

It remains unclear how many of those enrollees lost their insurance last year because of the law’s mandates. Critics have also raised questions about how the administration is counting people who signed up for insurance plans.

Political operatives will be watching premium increases this summer, most notably in states where there are contested Senate races.

In Iowa, which hosts the first presidential caucus in the nation and has a competitive Senate race this year, rates are expected to rise 100 percent on the exchange and by double digits on the larger, employer-based market, according to a recent article in the Business Record.

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AP: Best Cancer Hospitals ‘Off-Limits’ To O-Care – Sweetness & Light

From a suddenly ‘concerned’ Associated Press:

Concerns about cancer centers under health law

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR | March 18, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) – Some of America’s best cancer hospitals are off-limits to many of the people now signing up for coverage under the nation’s new health care program. Doctors and administrators say they’re concerned. So are some state insurance regulators.

With that missing Malaysian airliner getting all of the news media’s attention, the AP must think it is safe to finally get around to reporting on how the better hospitals are refusing to take Obama-Care.

An Associated Press survey found examples coast to coast. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is excluded by five out of eight insurers in Washington’s insurance exchange. MD Anderson Cancer Center says it’s in less than half of the plans in the Houston area. Memorial Sloan-Kettering is included by two of nine insurers in New York City and has out-of-network agreements with two more.

In all, only four of 19 nationally recognized comprehensive cancer centers that responded to AP’s survey said patients have access through all the insurance companies in their states’ exchanges…

Those patients may not be able get the most advanced treatment, including clinical trials of new medications…

Tough toe nails. This is social justice. Not real justice, or even fairness.

To keep premiums low, insurers have designed narrow networks of hospitals and doctors. The government-subsidized private plans on the exchanges typically offer less choice than Medicare or employer plans.

Less choice than Medicare? How wonderful. But choice only matters when it comes to getting an abortion, anyway.

By not including a top cancer center an insurer can cut costs. It may also shield itself from risk, delivering an implicit message to cancer survivors or people with a strong family history of the disease that they should look elsewhere…

Still, look on the bright side. Thanks to Obama-Care you can get a ‘free’ sex change operation. And ‘free’ birth control pills.

After all, it’s not like people buy health insurance to get cancer treatment.

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Obama Making Last Ditch Effort To Shame Youth Into Obamacare – Big Government

Obamacare does not have enough young people paying into the system to keep it all from collapsing. So President Obama is making a last ditch effort to shame America’s youth into signing up for Obamacare in these last weeks before the deadline hits.

The President appeared on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show to urge young people to hurry up and get signed on with Obamacare before the March 31 deadline. Fittingly, the very next day after the deadline is April 1, known across the nation as April Fools Day.

On Seacrest’s show, Obama scolded young people for not signing up in sufficient numbers and warned them that if they don’t come out and support him, he’ll have to fine them.

“If you can afford it–you just decide you don’t want to get it because your attitude is ‘nothing’s ever going to happen to me’–then you’ll be charged a penalty,” he told Seacrest.

The President is desperate to get more people under 35 years of age to sign up because it is that age group who will be footing the bills for Obamacare. Millions of young, healthy people who won’t be using the coverage any time soon are need to pay into the system so that the older generation can pull money out without bankrupting the whole thing.

The Obama administration has estimated that it needs some 38 percent of those enrolled and paying premiums to be made up of the important age demographic. Unfortunately for Obama, only about 27 percent of those signed up thus far fit into that age demo.

Experts warn that unless more young people sign up, the current premiums will have to go up for everyone in order to compensate for the lopsided statistics.

Obama is already under fire for his years of claiming that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will actually be affordable. He continually said that premiums would be cheaper than a cell phone bill, but those promises have turned out to be false. And now, if the already high premiums have to go up to compensate for a lack of young enrollees, that lie will only grow in stature.

Speaking of his faltering “cell phone bill” analogy, recently, the President drew criticism when he told a Latino audience at a Spanish language townhall that they should cancel their cell phones and cable bills so that they could pay their expensive new Obamacare premiums.

Finally, Healthcare.gov launched its own scolding campaign with a new ad featuring a stern looking mother figure warning kids that they’d better get covered – or else!

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Consumer Reports Warns: “Stay Away From Healthcare.gov” – Daily Sheeple

One of America’s most well known and trusted organizations has given potential health care seekers yet another concern over the Patient Affordable Care Act.

According to Consumer Reports the government’s healthcare.gov web site, which is the primary entry point for millions of people needing to sign up for health care plans, is a “mess.”

Citing numerous issues including login problems, non functioning activation emails and a near 97% failure rate for account creation, the consumer watchdog has warned that people should stay away from the site for at least another month.

Frustrated by trying to register on HealthCare.gov? You’re hardly alone. Of the 9.47 million people who tried to register in the first week, only 271,00 were able to create an account, according to one analysis. That’s about 1 in 35. Many people couldn’t even create user names and passwords.

If all this is too much for you to absorb, follow our previous advice: Stay away from Healthcare.gov for at least another month if you can. Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they’ve made. The coverage available through the marketplaces won’t begin until Jan. 1, 2014, at the earliest, and you have until Dec. 15 to enroll if you need insurance that starts promptly.

Historically, when Consumer Reports issues product warnings manufacturers, distributors and retailers may initiate a product recall, advising consumers of the dangers involved. In a free market involving the free exchange of goods and service Consumer Reports’ warnings are often heeded in an effort to prevent a public relations nightmare and the potential for class-action lawsuits.

In this case, however, the warning involves government mandated services, so the normal rules don’t apply because, frankly, government officials could care less.

In a perfect world we could just issue a recall, take the product of the shelves, and send the promoters to prison for false advertising and consumer endangerment.

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McKinsey: Only 14% Of Obamacare Exchange Sign-Ups Are Previously Uninsured Enrollees – Forbes

The Obama administration has, for months now, been peddling nice-sounding numbers as to how many people are gaining health coverage due to Obamacare. But their numbers have been inflated on two fronts. First, not everyone who has “selected a marketplace plan” under Obamacare has actually paid the required premiums, payment being required to actually gain coverage. Second, only a fraction of people on the exchanges were previously uninsured. A new survey from McKinsey gives us a better view into the real numbers. Of the 3.3 million people that the White House has touted as Obamacare exchange “sign-ups,” less than 500,000 are actual uninsured people who have actually gained health coverage.

Many Obamacare ‘enrollees’ aren’t actually enrolled

McKinsey, the leading management consulting firm, has been conducting monthly surveys of the exchange-eligible population under the auspices of its Center for U.S. Health System Reform. McKinsey’s most recent survey, conducted in February with 2,096 eligible respondents, found that only 48 percent had thus far signed up for a 2014 health plan. Within that 48 percent, three-fifths were previously insured people who liked their old plans and were able to keep them. The remaining two-fifths were the ones who signed up for coverage on the Obamacare exchanges.

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Of the Obamacare sign-ups, only 27 percent had been previously uninsured in 2013. And of the 27 percent, nearly half had yet to pay a premium. (By contrast, among the 73 percent who had been previously insured, 86 percent had paid.)

Put all those percentages together, and you get two key stats. Only 19 percent of those who have paid a premium were previously uninsured. Among those that the administration is touting as sign-ups, only 14 percent are previously uninsured enrollees: approximately 472,000 people as of February 1.

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Those not signing up cited affordability of plans as biggest issue

Here’s an important finding from McKinsey. The authors of the study – Amit Bhardwaj, Erica Coe, Jenny Cordina, and Mahi Rayasam – asked those who decided not to enroll in a plan what their reasons were for doing so. The most frequent reason – cited by 50 percent of respondents – was that “I could not afford to pay the premium.” Only 27 percent cited technical challenges; 14 percent said they couldn’t find a plan that met their needs. 21 percent said they were still deciding.

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This is the biggest problem with the way the “Affordable Care Act” approached coverage expansion. The reason why so many Americans are uninsured is because health insurance in this country is too expensive. Obamacare increases the underlying cost of health insurance, and then uses taxpayer-funded subsidies to offset those costs for some.

AP: 4.7 million Americans have had their plans canceled

Keep in mind another fact: According to the Associated Press, at least 4.7 million Americans who shop for coverage on their own have had their plans canceled because they don’t conform to Obamacare’s regulations. So Obamacare has disrupted the coverage of millions of Americans, requiring many to purchase costlier policies with higher deductibles and narrower doctor networks, for a fairly modest expansion of coverage.

According to the administration, total sign-ups now exceed 4 million. But on a recent HHS conference call, Obamacare implementation point man Gary Cohen was asked the key question: how many of the people who have signed up for Obamacare were previously insured? His response: “That’s not a data point that we are really collecting in any sort of systematic way.”

So. The whole point of Obamacare was to expand coverage to the uninsured. But for the tens of thousands of regulations that the law has imposed on the country, its authors never bothered to try to measure the one thing that they were actually trying to achieve. That about sums it all up.

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Obama To Hispanics: We Won’t Deport Relatives Because You Enroll In ObamaCare – The Hill

President Obama on Tuesday sought to assure legal immigrants that they can sign up for ObamaCare without worrying that “the immigration people” will come for family members who are in the country illegally.

In an interview with Univision Deportes, a Spanish-language sports radio show, Obama said immigration officials won’t have access to the personal information that consumers provide when signing up for healthcare on the new exchanges.

“Well, the main thing for people to know is that any information you get, you know, asked with respect to buying insurance, does not have anything to do with… the rules governing immigration,” Obama said. “And you know, you can qualify if you’re a legal resident, if you are… legally present in the United States.

“You know, if you have a family where some people are citizens or legally here, and others are not documented, the immigration people will never get that information.”

Adolf Falcon, the senior vice president of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, told The Hill that Hispanic families are wary of Obama’s assurances because of his record on deportations.

“It is a big concern of mixed status families – they hear [the president’s] assurance, but because of the level of deportations that have happened, there’s a lot of families that don’t know whether they can trust that assurance,” he said. “It creates an atmosphere of concern.”

In Obama’s first four years in office, his administration deported people at a faster rate than any of the four previous administrations.

Falcon said his group fields about 4,000 calls a week from potential Hispanic consumers seeking information about the exchanges. He said that a good deal of the callers are asking about mixed-status families, seeking to make sure their applications can’t be used against family members.

For example, a family with a parent who is in the country illegally, and thus not eligible for ObamaCare, will still have to enroll his or her child who is eligible. This provokes fears in the parent that they are leaving themselves exposed.

Obama on Tuesday sought to allay those fears.

“You know, you will qualify, you know, regardless of what your family’s status is,” Obama said. “So, you know, people should not hold back just because they’re in a mixed-family status.”

The White House has said there are 10.2 million uninsured Hispanics eligible for ObamaCare in the country, and about 8.1 million are likely eligible for tax credits. Hispanics have the highest rate of uninsured of any ethnic group in the country.

The federal government doesn’t require consumers to identify their ethnicity when applying for healthcare coverage, but data from some state health exchanges suggest Hispanics are lagging.

The administration has focused intensely on Hispanics in its final enrollment push through initiatives like the Latino Enrollment Week of Action, and in partnership with a broad array of Spanish-language media outlets.

There are a host of other reasons that Hispanics have been slow to enroll – many are gaining coverage for the first time and worry the costs are prohibitive.

Falcon said the enrollment push depended too much on the technology, rather than in-person assistance. The administration has been criticized for the long delay in releasing the Spanish-language ObamaCare website, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, and some have said the final product was sloppy.

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Your Daley Gator Obamacare Nightmare News Roundup

March Madness? Fake ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers – Commentary

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The administration is claiming a limited victory by saying the number of those enrolled in ObamaCare has now hit 5 million with two weeks to go until the March 31 deadline. If accurate, the number does represent a steep increase over the 4.2 million that were said to have signed up at the beginning of the month. At this rate, administration cheerleaders reason, the goal of 7 million enrolled in the Affordable Care Act may yet be reached at some point in the near future, if not quite on time. This burst of enrollments is seen as a vindication of President Obama’s all-out push to promote the law including such questionable activities as appearing on the “Between Two Ferns” web show where he traded barbs with comedian Zach Galifianakis.

But before the president and his team start popping the champagne corks to celebrate their achievement and their faux hipness, it’s time once again to point out that the administration’s Potemkin enrollment figures should be read with a truckload of salt. As the New York Times reported last month, as much as 20 percent of all those enrolled had not actually paid their premiums, meaning they were not covered by the program. While Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told Congress she had no idea what the numbers of unpaid enrollees were, more states are reporting these figures and, as CNBC reported last week, the results are literally all over the map. While some states report high pay rates, others like Maryland say only 54 percent have paid.

All this calls in to question not only the effectiveness of the sales job done by the president and celebrity supporters such as Lebron James. It also means that the odds that this system can sustain itself without mandating vast increases in rates for those who do pay are getting slimmer every day.

For months we’ve been told by the administration that the only problem with ObamaCare was a “glitchy” website that had since been fixed. But what has since become clear is that the effort to convince young and healthy Americans to sign up for insurance that is both expensive and not something they may need is a failure. Though many of those who clearly benefit from the new health law, such as the poor and those with pre-existing conditions, have signed up, the scheme requires large numbers of those who won’t need the coverage as often in order to be economically viable. That problem will be exacerbated by the failure of much larger percentages of customers to pay for their insurance.

As we’ve noted previously, the non-payment of the premium is not a technicality. Many of those purchasing the insurance may be first-time buyers and not understand that they must pay their bill before coverage starts rather than long after the fact, as they can with a credit card transaction. Or it may be that some enrolled with no intention of paying or thinking that the hype about the glories of ObamaCare they’ve heard in the mainstream media and from the president absolved them of the obligation to pay for it. But either way, the large number of non-payments renders the enrollment figures meaningless and ensures that the rates for those who do pay are going up next year by percentages that will shock them.

The president claimed that the number of enrollees has already reached the point where the law will work rather than collapse from lack of participation. But even if we accept his premise that falling millions of customers short of the announced goal of seven million is no big deal, the fact that hundreds of thousands of those being counted in the pool of those he’s counting are not covered because of non-payment of premiums makes his assertion a colossal fraud.

The president may think that a March madness ad blitz during the NCAA basketball tournament may save ObamaCare. But if the past pattern holds, any further surge in enrollment will provide the scheme with a false sense of security. Until we get a full accounting not only of those who signed up on a website but completed the process by paying for the plan they chose, we’ll have no idea how many people truly are enrolled. Seen in that light, the president’s enrollment promises may well turn out to be no different from other pledges he has made about the ACA in the last few years: completely untrue.

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Obamacare Leaves Las Vegas Man Owing $407,000 In Doctor Bills – Las Vegas Review-Journal

The hospital bills are hitting Larry Basich’s mailbox.

That would be OK if Basich had health insurance. But he doesn’t.

Thing is, he should be covered. Basich, 62, bought a plan through the state’s Nevada Health Link insurance exchange in the fall. He’s been paying monthly premiums since November.

Yet the Las Vegan is stranded in a no-man’s-land where no carrier claims him, and his tab is mounting: Basich owes $407,000 for care received in January and February, when his policy was supposed to be in effect. Instead, he’s covered only for March and beyond.

Basich has begged for weeks for help from the exchange and its contractor, Xerox. But Basich’s insurance broker said Xerox seems more interested in lawyering up and covering its hide than in working out Basich’s problems. Nor is Basich the only client facing plan-selection errors through the exchange, she added.

Xerox, meanwhile, said it’s working every day to fix Basich’s problem, and its legal counsel is routine.

In the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its insurance exchanges, you can find a success story for every failure. But Basich’s case is extreme.

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE?

Basich said he began trying to enroll on Oct. 1, the day the exchange website went live. Like many consumers, he fought technical flaws during multiple sign-up attempts. In mid-November he finally got through and chose his plan: UnitedHealthcare’s MyHPNSilver1.

“It was like reaching the third level of Doom,” Basich said of the torturous sign-up process.

Basich paid his first premium on Nov. 21, and within days the exchange withdrew the $160.77 payment from his money-market savings account. Because Basich paid a month before the Dec. 23 deadline, his coverage was to begin Jan. 1.

Weeks ticked by, but Basich received nothing to confirm he had insurance. Nevada Health Link kept telling him he was enrolled, but UnitedHealthcare said he wasn’t in their system.

Basich’s predicament went critical on Dec. 31, when he had a heart attack. His treatment, which included a triple bypass on Jan. 3, resulted in $407,000 in medical bills in January and February that no insurer is covering.

Basich and his insurance broker, Tamar Burch of Branch Benefits Consultants, said the issue appears to be confusion at the state exchange. Xerox’s system says Basich chose a plan from another insurer, Nevada Health CO-OP, even though Basich has paperwork that shows he selected MyHPNSilver1. In short, Xerox can’t seem to decide where Basich belongs, Burch said.

So the exchange is trying to compromise, putting Basich with Nevada Health CO-OP for January and February, when he incurred his bills, and with UnitedHealthcare from this month on. But CO-OP officials say Basich is not their member.

Nevada Health CO-OP CEO Tom Zumtobel told the exchange board on Feb. 27 that the nonprofit carrier spent seven days with Xerox determining Basich’s eligibility, only to find that Basich hadn’t chosen the group’s coverage.

“If he had picked our health plan, we would be advocating for a solution. But he didn’t pick us,” Zumtobel said. “We need someone on the board to advocate for him.”

Why have four months passed without a resolution?

“Xerox is truly out of their league. They need to understand they are an administrator, they are not an insurance company,” Burch said. “They need to understand their boundaries. They don’t understand this world. Everybody is at the mercy of Xerox, and they are not doing this right.”

Xerox representatives responded that they’re working hard to make it right.

“Mr. Basich’s issue is complex, and we’re working on it every day. We are in touch with Mr. Basich, his broker, the carriers, (Silver State Health Insurance Exchange) leadership, and the Division of Insurance to sort it out,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer.

The help didn’t come fast enough, said Basich, who blames his back-and-forth with the exchange in December at least in part for stress that caused his heart attack. That stress has turned up a few notches now that Basich is getting the bills. He fretted in the exchange board’s Thursday meeting about what will happen to his credit rating – and his ability to qualify for a mortgage – if the bills are not covered.

“All I wanted to do when I moved here was buy a house, get a dog and go to some spring training games for the Dodgers,” said Basich, who moved to Las Vegas from Hawaii in 2012.

Meanwhile, the exchange sent Basich premium invoices for January and February. He paid them both.

WHO CAN HELP?

Basich has sought help at virtually every level of the system, from the Xerox customer-service reps who answer the phones at the exchange’s Henderson call center all the way to Gov. Brian Sandoval and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Both Sandoval’s and Reid’s offices have told him they want to help, Basich said, but there’s been no resolution so far.

Even Reid, who took flak for his Feb. 26 statement that “all” Obamacare “horror stories” are “untrue,” is trying to help. Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said one of the senator’s health-care legislative aides has been on the phone with Basich almost daily, “but at this point it’s in the hands of Xerox to see what can be done.”

Sandoval spokesman Mac Bybee said the office “regularly engages” the exchange and Xerox on behalf of any consumer who reaches out with concerns about Nevada Health Link.

Officials with the Nevada Division of Insurance said they’re also watching the situation.

“Mr. Basich’s concerns are certainly on our radar. We have discussed them with our partners at the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, and we feel confident that his concerns will soon be resolved appropriately,” division spokesman Jake Sunderland said.

But there hasn’t been much action. What’s more, when Burch discussed Basich’s case with Xerox executives on March 11, they said they couldn’t tell her much because the company had hired legal counsel. That’s even though Basich has no interest in suing and has not retained a lawyer. He said he merely wants the exchange to keep the promise it made when it withdrew three premium payments from his savings account.

Xerox seems to be spending inordinate time documenting Basich’s phone calls, website access and emails, Burch said. She said a Xerox executive tried to throw blame on Basich for writing four different applications with four separate sets of information.

“I said, ‘Larry’s not the only one who did that. Lots of people have created multiple applications. Nothing is concrete until people pay. If you have a problem with multiple applications, then you’ll have to come to our office and take back hundreds of cases,’” Burch said.

“I believe Xerox is covering themselves because of a huge system error. They don’t want the accountability of saying, ‘Yes, we did mess this up, and here’s the plan you selected.’ It’s like, ‘What did he pay for?’ That’s it. They are making this more complicated than it has to be,” she added.

Wasmer said there was nothing unusual about bringing in Xerox’s attorneys.

“Our internal counsel is part of the extended Xerox team looking into the situation,” she said. “It’s regular practice for a corporation to tap experts across its organization to best understand complicated issues like this one. We’ll continue to keep the goal of resolving Mr. Basich’s issue front and center as we work through its complexities.”

Though Basich’s problem is exceptional for its dollar value, his situation is not unusual, Burch said. She estimates that of nearly 200 Branch Benefits Consultants client sign ups via Nevada Health Link, only 5 percent have gone through problem-free. More than 20 customers have the same plan-selection issue as Basich. One gave up trying to fix it and is sticking with the plan the exchange put her in.

With the March 31 enrollment deadline looming, Burch said she still sees other widespread enrollment problems, including frequent website error messages; inaccurate federal subsidy calculations; payments missing in the system despite clients’ canceled checks; and wrong effective coverage dates. One client chose an effective coverage date of March 1. Her insurance card showed an effective date of Jan. 1. Burch said that when she called to fix the issue, a customer-service rep told her the system showed a start date of April 1.

Burch said her brokerage supports the Affordable Care Act and launched a department to sell exchange plans. But she said the experience is not what she or her clients hoped for.

“We think it’s a great concept for those who need insurance. It’s just unfortunate, with all of the roadblocks we’re dealing with right now,” Burch said. “The bottom line is, we’re talking about people. It’s not a system, it’s people. I think, somehow, Xerox forgot that.”

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State Touted As Obama’s Healthcare Reform Model Fires Its Obamacare Website Contractor – Daily Caller

The state of Massachusetts – touted by President Obama as the model for national health-care reform – is firing the company that designed both its failed state Obamacare enrollment website and also the Obama administration’s federal enrollment site.

Massachusetts is firing Canadian company CGI, which holds a $69 million contract to run the state’s Obamacare site. The state has already paid the company approximately $15.9 million. CGI was previously fired by the federal government in January.

“We have made the decision that we are going to be parting ways with CGI,” said Sarah Iselin, who serves as Governor Deval Patrick’s special assistant on the state’s Obamacare website fix, at a Monday board of directors meeting for the Massachusetts Obamacare exchange.

CGI’s incompetence is costing the state $10 million per month in unforeseen enrollment costs and preventing Massachusetts from having a fully working enrollment website until October 2014, according to an estimate.

But while CGI’s relationship with the Bay State is over, the company is still on good terms with the federal government.

The Daily Caller reported that CGI received six additional contracts from the Obama administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after the disastrous launch of the federal government’s Obamacare enrollment site. The six contracts were awarded between October 1 – when the over $600 million Obamacare website launched – through January 2014.

CGI Federal is the U.S. arm of the Canadian company CGI Group, and was formed in 2009 to bring CGI into the federal contracting business. The company employs Michelle Obama’s Princeton classmate, and 2010 White House Christmas guest, Toni Townes-Whitley as a top executive.

CGI, which received the Obamacare website contract in Obama’s first term, was fired from its role as prime contractor on the federal government website in January. But the company still holds numerous government contracts, including a $6 billion contract with the Department of Homeland Security awarded less than a month before the failed Obamacare site went live and a prime contract on the Army’s much-maligned Human Terrain System, a failed program that sends academics into war zones to help soldiers understand local populations.

Massachusetts’ capital city of Boston now has the longest wait times to see a doctor of any of the 15 major U.S. cities. Bostonians wait an average of 45.5 days for an appointment with a family physician, dermatologist, orthopedic surgeon, or cardiologist.

“And it’s because you guys had a proven model that we built the Affordable Care Act on… Your law was the model for the nation’s law,” Obama said in an October 30 speech at Boston’s Fanueil Hall.

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Health Insurance Premiums Up 39% To 56% Under Obamacare, Reach $2,604 A Month In California – Washington Examiner

Americans buying health insurance outside the new Obamacare exchanges are being forced to swallow premiums up to 56 percent higher than before the health law took effect because insurers have jumped the cost to cover all the added features of the new Affordable Care Act.

According to a cost report from eHealthInsurance, a nationwide online private insurance exchange, families are paying an average of $663 a month and singles $274 a month, far more than before Obamacare kicked in. What’s more, to save money, most buyers are choosing the lowest level of coverage, the so-called “bronze” plans.

The firm provided the costs to Secrets through their new online price index, which gives the averages of what people are paying for insurance sold through their system. In California, for example, some families are paying a high of $2,604 a month and in New York, $1,845.

The shocking surge in prices show what Americans not in Obamacare or covered by their employer are paying as they seek lower premiums. Typically, they are not eligible for the subsidies Obamacare offers those with low incomes.

“Premiums are increasing primarily because of the new required provisions for 2014 Affordable Care Act compliant plans, including guaranteed issue, essential health benefits, modified community rating and minimum actuarial values,” said Brian Mast, spokesman for eHealthInsurance. “It is also likely that health insurance companies expected additional risk in the risk pool, because people with pre-existing conditions could no longer be denied coverage, and may have priced their plans higher to accommodate for this risk,” said Mast.

His firm’s price index also gives an average age for singles buying plans, and the results are worrying for insurers and the Obama administration. That’s because the average age is 36, older than the administration had hoped for.

Explaining the higher costs, Mast said, “There are likely other factors, but what is important is that moving forward, there needs to be a collective effort to enroll as many people as possible and create a broad and diverse risk pool to keep premiums in check. eHealth can help in that effort by enrolling consumers off-exchange and is pushing to be able to enroll people in subsidy-eligible plans as well.”

There is a hint of good news, though, in firm’s the price index. While the current costs for insurance are higher than before Obamacare, they have come down over the past several months.

Below is a cost summary provided by eHealthInsurance:

- Premiums have increased by 39 percent to 56 percent, compared to pre-Obamacare coverage. As of Feb. 24, the average premium for an individual health plan selected through eHealth without a subsidy was $274 per month, a 39 percent increase over the average individual premium for pre-Obamacare coverage.

- The most recent average premium for plans without a subsidy chosen by families was $663 per month, a 56 percent increase over the average family premium in Feb. 2013, which was $426 per month.

- For both individual and family applicants, bronze plans have been the most popular plan type chosen since the beginning of open enrollment.

- Shoppers chose less expensive plans as open enrollment progressed

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Pastor Diagnosed With Cancer: ‘No Compassion In The Affordable Care Act’ – Weekly Standard

A pastor recently diagnosed with cancer, and who is covered under Obamacare, tells a local Iowa reporter that there’s “no compassion in the Affordable Care Act.”

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“Back in January, Pastor Angran was diagnosed with stage three cancer of the esophagus. He had insurance, but because of a previous heart condition, it did not cover the treatments he needed for his cancer. He found that out just minutes before receiving life-saving chemo,” says the local reporter.

The pastor says, “One of the workers came and said let me talk to you. And so I went to talk to her. She says that we found out that your insurance does not include chemo.”

“Over the past two months, the Angrans have emptied their savings account and racked up $50,000 in debt. They signed up for the Affordable Care Act,” says the local reporter, “but found it to be anything but affordable. It will cost the couple more than $800 per month, money they just don’t have.”

The reporter adds, “As a pastor, Angran has devoted his life to helping others, to being compassionate. He says, ‘There’s no compassion in the Affordable Care Act.’”

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White House Now Touting Obamacare With Twerking, Cat Gifs – Daily Caller

The newest Obamacare promotion has the official White House website imitating a March Madness-style bracket featuring gifs of twerking girls, cats and “YOLO” to convince coveted young millennials to sign up.

While President Obama’s campaigns were noted for their successful youth outreach, he has been unable to attract young people to sign up for insurance under Obamacare so far. Last week, Obama tried to up youth exchange enrollment with an appearance on “Between Two Ferns” with the often foul-mouthed star Zack Galifianakis.

Now the White House has moved onto gifs with “The 16 Sweetest Reasons to Get Covered.”

White House advertising experts spent taxpayer dollars putting together a bracket of new Obamacare benefits, intended to attract young viewers. People are encouraged to vote for their favorite benefit, with an accompanying gif that paints a picture of what Obamacare supposedly does for you.

One features young girl attempting to twerk on a countertop in a public bathroom and failing catastrophically – “because accidents happen.”

Twerk girl’s moves are set against Michelle Obama dunking a mini-basketball – because “women can’t be charged more than men,” despite women’s higher usage of health care services.

White House Deputy Director of Online Engagement Erin Lindsay already weighed in on the most pressing question facing the Obama administration – whether the girl in the gif is successfully twerking. Though she’s not a “twerk expert,” Lindsay admitted in a tweet Monday afternoon, “I certainly think she’s trying.”

“Birth control is free,’ one bracket proclaims, alongside a gif of several ducks that reads “I’m so excited.” Regulations directly hitting insurance companies are illustrated by cats – one decked out in a blazer with cash splashed about in front of it.

The benefits are illustrated with dogs, cats, pandas, even an over-excited Elmo. But the best might be a waving proclamation that “You only YOLO once,” “So don’t gamble with your health.”

Though the Obama administration predicted it would need at least 39 percent of exchange customers to fall between the ages of 18 and 35 in order for the marketplaces to remain afloat, they’ve currently topped out at 25 percent with just a few weeks left.

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Eastern Maine Medical Center Facing “Significant Financial Shortfall” Due To ObamaCare (Video)

“Significant Financial Shortfall” At EMMC In Bangor – WABI

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Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor is dealing with a quote “significant financial shortfall.”

That’s according to a press release on the hospital’s website.

EMMC’s president and CEO says the hospital has not met their targets due to changes in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement totaling an estimated $10 million annual decrease in funds.

As well as $27 million in free care and bad debt as a result of the Affordable Care Act, which is an $8 million increase than the same time last year.

And, it says they have had lower than expected volume in certain service areas.

In response, the hospital says it is reviewing its operations, trying to improve efficiency and reduce expenses.

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Democrat State Senator From Pennsylvania Charged With Theft, Felony Conflict Of Interest

PA State Senator Charged With Theft, Conflict Of Interest – Weasel Zippers

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In her defense, the anniversary of her birthin was only once a year.

Via Watch Dog:

A Pennsylvania state senator is accused of using taxpayer money to throw her annual birthday bash, a campaign event.

State Sen. LeAnna Washington, D-Philadelphia, is charged with theft of services and felony conflict of interest after a grand jury found she may have used her office for political and financial gain, Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced Wednesday.

Washington is accused of directing Senate staff to perform campaign work over eight years and using intimidation and verbal abuse to coerce them, even though staff knew the practice was illegal, according to the grand jury. Washington allegedly cut salaries or fired staff who disagreed with the practice, according to a news release announcing the charges.

“The evidence will show that Senator Washington pressured her staff into performing political activities using taxpayer dollars for her own personal benefit,” Kane said in the release.

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President Asshat Wants To Cut Airborne Warning And Control Fleet By 25 Percent

Obama Wants To Cut AWAC Fleet By 25 Percent – Sweetness & Light

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From the Washington Free Beacon:

Obama to Cut Key Reconnaissance Fleet By 25 Percent

Planes being used to monitor Ukraine crisis

By Adam Kredo | March 10, 2014

A key fleet of U.S. reconnaissance planes used to detect enemy aircraft in hostile settings will to be cut by 25 percent under President Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget, according to multiple sources familiar with the budget proposal.

A fleet of 31 AWACs, or Airborne Warning and Control System planes, will be reduced to 24 by 2015 under Obama’s budget proposal.

The situation has prompted concern in defense circles and elsewhere, where sources have pointed out that AWACS are currently deployed in Poland and Romania in order to help monitor the standoff in Ukraine.

Hell, as we noted last week, Obama’s budget also does away the A-10 anti-tank helicopters. From the New York Times: “Under Mr. Hagel’s proposals, the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft would be eliminated. The aircraft was designed to destroy Soviet tanks in case of an invasion of Western Europe, and the capabilities are deemed less relevant today.”

Nope. No way we’ll ever need ground support from those A-10 ‘Thunderbolts’ again. (Even though they have been recently used in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Libya.)

AWACS are a highly advanced type of reconnaissance craft able to monitor enemy movements in the sky and ground from great distances. Each AWAC unit costs $270 million, according to the Air Force.

Which is how many EBT cards?

NATO dispatched several of its own AWACs on Monday to monitor Russian movement in Ukraine’s Crimea region, where a tense standoff is still taking place. “All AWACs reconnaissance flights will take place solely over alliance territory,” a NATO spokesman was quoted as saying by the BBC.

And they will be quickly grounded as soon as Putin says ‘boo.’

The seven U.S. AWAC planes cut in Obama’s budget would be completely scrapped if the proposal is adopted…

Lawmakers could pressure the Air Force to fight the cuts.

The Air Force, like every branch of the military, has seen its budgets significantly constrained in recent years. The Pentagon is faced with massive spending cuts under the budget and is considering cutting some 420,000 Army soldiers due to the financial constraints.

No, this is all due to Barack Hussein Obama. He is cutting our military to the bone, and then cutting the bone.

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Obamacare News Roundup… The Leftist Nightmare Continues

February Numbers: 6.2 Million Lost Insurance Thanks To Obamacare; 4.2 Million Sign Up For New Obamacare Plans – Gateway Pundit

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In February 2014, Karl Rove reported in the Wall Street Journal that 6.2 million Americans have lost their health care plans:

Mr. Obama saw the firestorm that erupted last fall when Americans lost their health policies because their policies didn’t conform to ObamaCare’s requirement for “essential benefits” and other mandates. Based on a flurry of reports and estimates that have come out since October, Jim Angle of Fox News says that 6.2 million have lost their health coverage so far.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that 4.2 million Americans have enrolled in health care plans.

Some 4.2 million people enrolled in health-care plans using government portals as of last month, the Obama administration said Tuesday, leaving millions more sign-ups needed this month to meet the Affordable Care Act’s enrollment targets.

Around 943,000 people picked plans in February, down slightly from 1.14 million who chose plans in January, a decrease that federal officials attributed to February’s shorter length.

That means two million more Americans are without insurance today than when Obamacare started.

Nice job, Democrats.

More… And, 900,000 enrolleesv still haven’t paid for their coverage.

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Obama Secretly Waives The Individual Mandate For Millions, Tries To Hide It From Public View – Right Scoop

Wow. The administration is more politically desperate than thought. Now they are waiving the individual mandate in secret and intentionally trying to conceal it:

WSJ – ObamaCare’s implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act – the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty.

This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn’t think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates. Our sources only noticed the change this week.

That seven-page technical bulletin includes a paragraph and footnote that casually mention that a rule in a separate December 2013 bulletin would be extended for two more years, until 2016. Lo and behold, it turns out this second rule, which was supposed to last for only a year, allows Americans whose coverage was cancelled to opt out of the mandate altogether.

In 2013, HHS decided that ObamaCare’s wave of policy terminations qualified as a “hardship” that entitled people to a special type of coverage designed for people under age 30 or a mandate exemption. HHS originally defined and reserved hardship exemptions for the truly down and out such as battered women, the evicted and bankrupts.

But amid the post-rollout political backlash, last week the agency created a new category: Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was cancelled and that you “believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy” or “you consider other available policies unaffordable.”

This lax standard – no formula or hard test beyond a person’s belief – at least ostensibly requires proof such as an insurer termination notice. But people can also qualify for hardships for the unspecified nonreason that “you experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance,” which only requires “documentation if possible.” And yet another waiver is available to those who say they are merely unable to afford coverage, regardless of their prior insurance. In a word, these shifting legal benchmarks offer an exemption to everyone who conceivably wants one.

Keep in mind that the White House argued at the Supreme Court that the individual mandate to buy insurance was indispensable to the law’s success, and President Obama continues to say he’d veto the bipartisan bills that would delay or repeal it. So why are ObamaCare liberals silently gutting their own creation now?

The answers are the implementation fiasco and politics. HHS revealed Tuesday that only 940,000 people signed up for an ObamaCare plan in February, bringing the total to about 4.2 million, well below the original 5.7 million projection. The predicted “surge” of young beneficiaries isn’t materializing even as the end-of-March deadline approaches, and enrollment decelerated in February.

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Obama To People Who Can’t Afford Obamacare: Give Up Your Phone Or Cable To Pay For It – Weasel Zippers

Shared sacrifice?

(Washington, D.C.) – The President recently participated in a health care town hall with Spanish-language media. He responded to a question received via email, from a consumer who makes $36,000 per year and cannot find insurance for a family of three for less than $315 per month. The President responded that “if you looked at their cable bill, their telephone, their cell phone bill… it may turn out that, it’s just they haven’t prioritized health care.” He added that if a family member gets sick, the father “will wish he had paid that $300 a month.”

According to the National Center for Public Policy Research, the health care law is reducing choice and increasing premiums for millions of Americans. Ehealthinsurance reports that consumers are paying an average of 39% more than they did before the law was implemented. The high cost of policies is contributing to the continued weak enrollment numbers under the law, which are now showing signs of decreasing with less than 3 weeks left to enroll. When he sought the Presidency, Mr. Obama said his plan would deliver affordable care that people would be “desperate” to purchase. – See more at: http://www.thelibreinitiative.com/press/president-choose-between-cable-phone-or-health-care#sthash.Sccqkr8C.dpuf

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Georgia’s House Just Voted To Nullify Obamacare – Conservative Tribune

All across the country, the movement to stop Obamacare is spreading like wildfire. Doctors and hospitals, along with private businesses, are in open rebellion over this destructive monstrosity.

At the state level, governments are doing everything they can to undermine the law through the courts and through legislation. We’ve already seen attempts by Missouri and South Carolina to “nullify,” which, in a broad sense, means to undermine federal law.

Now, the state of Georgia is attempting to use the same legislative strategy that these other states are employing to keep Obamacare from being enforced in the state.

The legal basis for these attempts is what’s known as the anti-commandeering doctrine, which is a constitutional doctrine articulated by the Supreme Court in Printz and Mack vs. United States that simply states that Congress cannot commandeer states’ resources, agencies, and other state actors in the enforcement of federal law.

These laws make this explicit by prohibiting state officials from carrying out Obamacare in any way, shape or form. This would effectively gut the law by making its implementation in the state impossible.

Via Freedomworks:

The bill, H.B. 707 passed with an overwhelming 115-59 majority and travels now to the State Senate, where a solid Republican majority should be able to pass the bill.

The legislation effectively nullifies ObamaCare by stopping state and local officials from assisting in the law’s implementation in any way. This would stop Medicaid expansion in the state, stop the health insurance exchange, and would make it very difficult for the Obama Administration to force Georgians into the one-size-fits-all federal program.

Freedomworks President Matt Kibbe had this to say about the bill’s passage:

“The passage of this ObamaCare nullification bill would not have been successful without the relentless efforts of grassroots activists across Georgia. They’re the ones that insisted their legislators listen and pass this bill. If and when the bill passes the State Senate, Georgia will be a model for other states who want to effectively push back against the federal health care takeover.”

This is great news. States are using all available legal resources, including important legal doctrines like the anti-commandeering doctrine that spring from principles of federalism, to fight back against federal overreach. We need other states to follow the example of South Carolina, Missouri, and now Georgia to stop Obamacare dead in its tracks before it ushers in more developed forms of socialism.

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Obama-Loving Union Claims Obamacare Will Slash Worker Wages By Up To $5 An Hour, Reduce Hours

300,000-Member Union Drops Bombshell Obamacare Report – Big Government

The 300,000-member union that was the first to endorse then-Senator Barack Obama has released a devastating Obamacare report that says Obama’s controversial healthcare program will slash worker wages by up to $5 an hour, reduce worker hours, and exacerbate income inequality.

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The report by Unite Here – a North American labor union that represents workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries – is titled: “The Irony of ObamaCare: Making Inequality Worse.”

“Ironically, the Administration’s own signature healthcare victory poses one of the most immediate challenges to redressing inequality,” states the 12-page report. “We take seriously the promise that ‘if you like your health plan, you can keep it. Period.’ UNITE HERE members like their health plans.”

The report features first-person testimonials and photos of union members describing how Obamacare is personally hurting them and their families – the same kinds of stories that Majority Senator Harry Reid said are “all untrue” and that progressive New York Times columnist Paul Krugman mocked as”nonexistent” in his piece “Health Care Horror Hooey.”

Arturo Marquez, a single father with two children who works as a cook, explains how Obamacare is hurting him:

“I’m a single dad and need every penny for my kids. The best deal Obamacare could offer me would take $1,908 more than our union plan. That’s like a dollar an hour pay cut. If I get really sick and wind up in the hospital, they can charge me $3,700 more out of pocket. I can’t imagine taking care of my son and daughter while taking a $2.70 an hour pay cut,” says Marquez.

Another union member, housekeeper Angela Portillo explained how Obamacare is hurting she and her husband:

“Housekeeping is a tough job – many of us suffer serious injuries doing this work. And Obamacare would cause my husband and I even more pain. The Obamacare website says we would have to pay $8,057.04 a year more to keep the great insurance we have now. That’s a $3.87 per hour pay cut. We work hard for our insurance. Why should we have to take a cut in pay for it?” says Portillo.

Food service worker Earl Baskerville feels the same way, according to the report:

“The health care crisis hit our workplace hard. We tried three different plans in a three year contract. When the for-profit insurance companies were going through the roof, we switched our union’s plan to keep good benefits. But Obamacare will give government money to those plans and not ours. Obamacare would cost me $4,855.20 a year more, or a $2.33 an hour pay cut. That’s not right. We just want to be treated like everyone else,” says Baskerville.

Last week, Unite Here Donald Taylor discussed the possibility of a union worker strike over Obamacare and said, “Even though the president and Congress promised we could keep our health plan, the reality is, unless the law is fixed, that won’t be true.”

The Unite Here report further exacerbates Democrats’ already daunting electoral hurdles heading into the midterm elections, now less than eight months away.

Union members are not alone in opposing Obamacare. According to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls, just 38% of Americans now support Obamacare.

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U.S. Taxpayers Paid $2.4M To Develop Origami Condoms

Taxpayers Paid $2.4 Million To Develop ‘Origami’ Condoms – Washington Free Beacon

Taxpayers have paid more than $2.4 million to develop “origami condoms,” including male and female versions, and the “first of its kind anal condom.”

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Out to “reinvent the condom,” Los Angeles businessman Danny Resnic has completed the first rounds of testing for three variations based on Japanese folding paper, courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development initially spent $212,162 for a feasibility study on Resnic’s “new condom” in 2006. The idea was a non-rolled, silicone-based condom that “increases pleasure” and is more effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

The issue is important to Resnic who said a broken condom in the 1990s changed his life.

“We all know that latex condoms don’t feel great. They break, they slip, and they interfere with intimacy,” Resnic said, sporting green neon shoes and sitting next to an outdoor fireplace for a promotional video on his website.

“From my perspective, the latex condom, designed in 1918, just got it wrong,” he said. “In 1993 I had a life-changing incident, a broken condom and an HIV diagnosis. This drastically changed my view about condoms.”

“Like many people, I don’t love condoms for the obvious reasons,” Resnic continued. “Do you know anyone who does? What if there was something new and radical that you loved using instead of latex condoms?”

Resnic says he has done just that, creating a design that gives the feeling of “sex without a condom: the real deal.”

Perfecting his condoms would not be possible without the U.S. taxpayers. “Generous research and development funding” provided by the NIH supported Resnic’s company’s research and development and four Phase I clinical trials. Since 2006, he has received $2,466,482 to test the three variations.

The NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases then began funding Resnic’s clinical trials in 2009, providing two grants worth $1,130,670 to design and test the Origami RAI condom for “receptive anal intercourse.”

The “feasibility and acceptability study” tested the anal condom, which is “worn internally by a receptive male or female partner,” on 24 couples.

The condom is intended to “provide better sensation and less breakage” and to “increase the acceptability of condoms among those who practice anal intercourse and are at risk of HIV / STIs.”

“Unlike the off-label use of the rolled latex male condom, the [origami anal condom] OAC creates direct tactile contact for the penis inside the internally lubricated condom,” the company said. “The Top partner does not need to wear a condom, creating an experience closer to ‘sex without a condom.’”

“You can walk around and do most any activity with the condom pre-inserted,” Resnic said.

The anal condom is expected to hit the market in late 2015. It is undergoing further clinical trials.

Additionally, Resnic received $591,950 to test his “Origami female condom” on 40 heterosexual couples.

The female condom’s design provides “maximum protection against breakage, slippage, and viral permeability.” It features a “unique patented reservoir designed to minimize semen backflow,” the grant said. A video demonstration is provided on Resnic’s website.

Finally, the initial study for the “Origami male condom” cost $531,700, beginning in 2011. The male and female versions, which can “accommodate a range of penis sizes,” are also expected to reach the market in 2015.

“I am grateful for the support from the epidemiology research community and the NIH, without whom these innovations would not be possible,” Resnic said on his website.

Resnic’s version of the male condom has received praise for its original design, being the first non-rolled, “accordion-folded” condom.

“We re-invented the condom,” a promotional video on the Origami condom website said. The video will be used on social media to market the products, since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) restricts their advertising on television and radio.

Set to electronic dance music and neon colors, the 30-second promo begins with a song:

We’ve realized that people are still having sex
They’ve been told not to
Perhaps they are perplexed

When you see them holding hands
They’re making future plans to engage in the activity
Do you understand me?

People are still having sex
Lust keeps on lurking
Nothing makes them stop

“We did not anticipate the marketing challenge with FCC restrictions on media placement for the condom ads on TV and radio,” Resnic said. “The FCC will not allow a condom to be shown on TV, and radio messages have language restrictions. This makes it really difficult to market a product that cannot be seen or discussed.”

Resnic, who studied design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., said the “strategic” promo works around the FCC rules. “Origami condoms won’t go viral, but our promo should,” he said.

The Origami condom has been praised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is also providing millions in research for new condom designs. The billionaire and Microsoft founder is a strong proponent for increasing contraceptive use in developing countries in response to “population growth.”

Resnic also sees his products as being used around the world.

“In the long term we believe we can make a sustainable and measurable difference to reduce incidence of HIV and unplanned pregnancies on a global scale,” he said.

Requests for comment from NIH were not returned.

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Leftist Incompetence Update: Moody’s Downgrades Chicago’s Credit Rating… Again

Moody’s Downgrades Chicago Again – Big Government

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Less than a year after suffering a major investment downgrade, Chicago has been downgraded again. Moody’s Investment Services announced Tuesday that it was lowering Chicago’s rating from A3 to Baa1, three levels above junk bond status.

Last July, Moody’s downgraded Chicago from Aa3 to A3. President Barack Obama’s adopted hometown now has the lowest municipal bond rating of any city in the U.S. except bankrupt Detroit.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as White House Chief of Staff for President Obama from 2009 to late 2010, and who is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, has struggled to tackle the city’s looming pension crisis.

Through he reached an agreement with sanitation workers to reform the city’s garbage collection system, he has struggled to work with teachers’ unions and has not been able to rally the city behind broader municipal financial reforms.

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Federal Government’s Fiscal Deterioration Nearly Five Times Official Deficit

Shocker: Federal Government’s Fiscal Deterioration Almost 5 Times Official Deficit – Hot Air

In Fiscal Year 2013, the official federal deficit was $680 billion. Liberals have cheered this drop while subsequently ignoring how this deficit is both larger than all of Bush’s pre-recession deficits and is expected to grow dramatically over the next several decades.

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However, the Treasury Department’s annual report on the finances of the U.S. federal government shows that not only is $680 billion an incomplete measure of the federal government’s finances, it’s off by nearly a factor of five.

From Just Facts Daily:

The U.S. Treasury has just released its annual “Financial Report of the United States Government,” which provides an account of the federal government’s finances using accounting standards like those that the government requires of large corporations. Because the federal budget is not bound by these standards, it does not have to account for all of its fiscal obligations.

For example, the Treasury report reveals that the federal government owes $6.5 trillion in retirement and health benefits to federal employees and veterans. This legal responsibility amounts to $53,000 for every household in the United States, but none of these liabilities are reflected in the 2013 budget deficit or national debt.

During the federal government’s 2013 fiscal year, the official federal deficit was $680 billion, but this comprehensive accounting reveals that the federal government’s fiscal position deteriorated by $3.3 trillion or an average of $27,000 for every household in the U.S.

There are two basic ways the federal government calculates its obligations. The first does not account for the obligations of Social Security, Medicare, and other programs in the same way the federal government requires of private corporations.

The method the Treasury report uses is far more complete. It includes long-term obligations and liabilites unaccounted for in the deficit and debt measurements.

In this year’s report, Treasury says the government should initiate deficit reduction measures (cuts and/or tax increases) equivalent to 1.7 percent of GDP every year for 75 years. This means, just in 2014, Treasury is recommending a cut in deficits of approximately $274 billion just to prevent a fiscal crisis – and these cuts will grow in size every year for the time period Treasury examined. Waiting 10 or 20 years makes things even worse.

And even these cuts are grossly undersized. First, this would still leave America’s publicly held debt-to-GDP ratio the same as it was in 2013, which the Congressional Budget Office has said is problematic.

Additionally, Treasury assumes in its report that the Affordable Care Act will reduce long-term health care costs. And, finally, these cuts are recommended to reduce “primary” deficits, those that do not include the enormous interest payments the federal government is expected to incur.

In short, not only is the federal government in financial trouble, it’s in worse shape than we ever realized. After compiling all of the data in the Treasury Report, Just Facts found that the full obligations of the U.S. federal government total $71 trillion, or $580,000 per household.

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Leftist Nightmare Update: 33% Of American Voters Say They’ve Been Personally Hurt By Obamacare

Already… 33% Of American Voters Say They’ve Been Personally Hurt By Obamacare – Gateway Pundit

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Already, one in three American voters say they’ve been personally hurt by Obamacare.

Rasmussen reported:

One-in-three U.S. voters now says his or her health insurance coverage has changed as a result of Obamacare, and the same number say the new national health care law had a negative personal impact on them.

Forty percent (40%) of Likely U.S. Voters have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of the health care law, while 56% regard it unfavorably, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. This includes 16% who view the law Very Favorably and 41% who have a Very Unfavorable opinion of it. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Favorable opinions of the law are down from 45% two weeks ago and are the lowest measured since late December. Unfavorables hit an all-time high of 58% in mid-November. Favorables fell to a record low of 36% in that same survey.

Thirty-three percent (33%) now say their insurance coverage has changed because of the new law, up a point from January and the highest finding since last July.

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Obamacare Cuts Home Healthcare For Millions Of Seniors – Washington Times

President Obama’s mendacious political promise, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” continues to cast a long and disturbing shadow of doubt and confusion over millions of Americans who have lost coverage as a result of Obamacare. As 2014 unfolds, the most vulnerable senior citizens – those who receive home health care services – are about to learn they are out of luck. Obamacare opens a trap door under them, leaving this elderly population in freefall – with many citizens losing access to home health care.

Add another compelling reason to reverse Obamacare. Whether by accident or intention, the “Affordable Care Act” empirically strips America’s oldest and poorest cohort, all part of the World War II generation, of this basic coverage. Here is how.

On Jan. 1, Medicare’s home health care services, formerly serving 3.5 million elderly beneficiaries across the country, were cut under Obamacare. The cut deleted exactly 14 percent, or an estimated $22 billion, from these lowest-income Americans over four years. News of the forthcoming cut only trickled out the Friday before Thanksgiving, yet another stunning attempt by the Obama White House to reduce Medicare benefits without attracting notice.

Guess what? We noticed. This cut does irreparable damage to recipients of Medicare’s home health care services, those who are aged, homebound and sicker than the average Medicare population. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of Medicare home health care users live at or below the federal poverty level, meaning they are the most economically compromised of America’s precious senior citizens.

This cut is an indictment of White House policies. Home health care agencies have always provided services to homebound Medicare beneficiaries. No hoopla, but when these Americans needed skilled care, they got it. In contrast to expensive hospital care, critical health care services got into millions of American homes via clinicians. Home health care was – and still is – vital. It is also now effectively gone for these Americans.

How did home health care save money for taxpayers? Using 2009 as a reference year, Medicare’s average Part A and Part B payment for a home health care visit was $145, compared to $373 per day in a skilled nursing facility or a whopping $1,805 per day in a hospital. In addition, according to one leading expert, skilled home health care services saved the Medicare program $2.8 billion during the most recent three-year period. Approximately $670 million of that savings is attributable to 20,000 fewer hospital readmissions.

Given these facts, one would conclude that the value of home health care in driving down Medicare costs should be obvious, if this – and not a single-payer system – were the real goal of Obamacare. How did we lose sight of common sense? Just keep patients in a familiar surrounding – their homes, not in an expensive hospital – keep sound disease management programs that deliver better and more cost-effective outcomes, and continue to coordinate care for patients. That was working. Now we have the reverse – markedly higher medical and insurance costs, with absolutely no institutional connection, support or continuing benefits for these especially needy Americans, the ones who depended – with their families – on critical home health care benefits. The president and his Democratic surrogates in the House and Senate have done it again: They have wiped out another critical, working system with this Obamacare monstrosity.

What else will this home health care cut achieve? It will hit the small businesses that provide home health care nationwide, and is already doing so. More than 90 percent of those providing home health care are small businesses. According to the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 40 percent of these companies will be operating “at a loss” – that is, they will likely fold or end up in bankruptcy – by 2017 as a result of the cut. What does that mean? It means nearly 5,000 more Medicare home health care providers may go out of business, and nearly 500,000 more jobs within this flogged industry may be wiped out to fund Obamacare. Those who care about such things should put that into their future unemployment calculations – and then thank Mr. Obama and his congressional friends, who all got a waiver and probably do not worry about home health care anyway.

Attacking our weakest senior citizens is no way to run a country. It is, in a word, reprehensible. This abomination devastates another existing and essential Medicare promise, while throwing one more gut-wrenching punch at this job sector. Does the truth no longer matter? Do these lives no longer matter? Do these businesses and jobs no longer matter? When will Mr. Obama and his allies in Congress let up and allow Americans to look after themselves again, as we used to quite well?

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Leftist Nightmare Update: Costs Of ObamaCare Bungles Start To Add Up, With Maryland First At About $30.5M

Costs Of ObamaCare Bungles Start To Add Up, With Maryland First At About $30.5M – Fox News

Maryland could end up spending as much as $30.5 million as a result of a glitch in its ObamaCare website, as the Obama administration steps in to help states with problematic exchanges.

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Because of Maryland’s defective exchange, the state cannot determine whether customers remain eligible for Medicaid, according to a report by state budget analysts released Thursday.

As a result, the state has agreed with the federal government to a six-month delay in determining eligibility, meaning that payments will continue to be made to customers who are not eligible until the system is fixed. The delay will cost the state $17.8 million in fiscal 2014 and $12.7 million in fiscal 2015, the analysts estimated.

On Friday, the Obama administration said it would suspend some Affordable Care Act rules to help the 14 states with their own ObamaCare sites, particularly Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Oregon, which have had the most problems.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plan, completed a day earlier, states the federal government will help pay for “qualified” health-insurance plans for customers in those states who because of “exceptional circumstances” had to buy plans outside of ObamaCare exchanges, as reported first by The Washington Post.

The administration made the change before the end-of-March deadline for Americans to enroll in ObamaCare this year.

In Maryland, the exchange cannot convert income data from the existing Medicaid enrollment system into a calculation needed to review whether enrollees are qualified “because of a variety of system architectural flaws,” according to budge analysts.

The exchange has been plagued by computer problems that have made it difficult for people to enroll in private health care plans since its debut Oct. 1.

State officials have decided to stick with the exchange through the open enrollment period that ends March 31 but is evaluating alternatives with an eye toward the next enrollment period that begins in November.

Among the possibilities is adopting technology developed by another state, joining a consortium of other states, partnering with the federal exchange or making major fixes to the existing system.

Thirty-six states use the federal HealthCare.gov site, which crashed and had other major problems in the first two months of enrollment.

The Maryland report said the state may need to develop an interim solution while a long-term solution is being developed. However, that process would likely take at least nine to 12 months, pushing up against the next open-enrollment period.

The report also states the development of the exchange was “a high risk undertaking” from the outset, in large part because of contractors woes, tight deadlines, constantly evolving requirement and its need to interface with work-in-progress federal databases.

The administration changes this week are not the first to ObamaCare, to be sure.

In November, Obama helped Americans about to lose policies because they didn’t meet new minimum requirements by allow the substandard plans to be sold through the end of this year.

And administration officials has twice this year given medium- and large-sized employers more time to offer health insurance to most full-time workers.

However, the change this week is significant because it marks the first time the federal government has agreed to help pay for policies bought outside the new exchanges.

The coverage in the outside policies would have to be comparable to those offered on the exchange. And customers would have to start paying premiums, then get the subsidies after the state exchanges could determine their income eligibility.

Maryland Health Benefit Exchange official told The Post earlier this week that roughly 7,000 applications are stuck in state’s system, but all of them might not need insurance and that officials were still looking over the administration’s offer.

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Related article:

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45-State Study: Obamacare Offers Less Choice, Higher Prices, Breaking Another Promise – Washington Examiner

A new and comprehensive comparison of health insurance options offered by Obamacare versus private websites finds that President Obama’s program offers less choice and higher prices than promised by the White House and leading Democrats.

Adding to the list of broken health care promises, the study from the National Center for Public Policy Research found that there were more and cheaper options available on websites outside the health insurance exchange in 2013 than on healthcare.gov and state Obamacare exchanges.

The report, “Obamacare Exchanges: Less Choice, Higher Prices,” looked at options available for a 27-year-old single person and a 57-year-old couple in metropolitan areas across 45 states.

The report found that a 27-year-old male had about 10 more policies to choose from on eHealthinsurance.com and finder.healthcare versus the exchange. The older couple had about nine more policy choices.

Ditto for the cost findings, with the 27-year-old male having access to 32 policies that cost less than the cheapest Obamacare offering, and the 57-year-old couple access to 29 cheaper policies.

“In general, consumers had substantially more policies to choose from on private websites such as eHealthinsurance.com and Finder.healthcare.gov than they presently have on the exchanges,” said the study.

“Obamacare supporters, including the president himself and Nancy Pelosi, claimed the exchanges would yield more choice and lower prices,” said the study’s author, David Hogberg. “This study shows those claims do not stand up.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, describes itself f as a “non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank.”

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House Subcommittee Chairman: Obama Administration Policy Would Eliminate Half Of All Existing Medicare Part D Plans – Daily Caller

The Obama administration’s new proposed rule for Medicare Part D would eliminate half of all Medicare Part D plans and raise prescription drug premiums for millions of seniors by up to 20 percent, according to a U.S. House subcommittee chairman.

“Today, the average senior has 35 different [Medicare Part D] plans to choose from this year. This rule would reduce that choice to two plans. 50% of the plans offered today will be gone, and the health care that seniors like may go with it,” House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee chairman Rep. Joe Pitts said in a statement at a Feb. 26 hearing attended by a top administration health official.

“Limiting seniors’ choices like this will inevitably lead to higher costs. By some estimates, the restriction on the number of plans that can be offered could cause premiums to rise by 10%-20%. Costs to the federal government may increase by $1.2-1.6 billion according to a study by Milliman,” Pitts said. “… I urge Secretary Sebelius and Administrator Tavenner to rescind this rule.”

The study Pitts cited also showed that the new rule would increase out-of-pocket drug costs for 6.9 million seniors who do not qualify for low-income subsidies, and would raise federal taxpayer costs for six million seniors who do qualify.

President Bush signed Medicare Part D into law in 2003 to subsidize prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.

The Daily Caller reported that the administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of Kathleen Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently introduced a new proposed rule on the Federal Register called “Medicare Program: Contract Year 2015 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs.”

The new rule “would revise the Medicare Advantage (MA) program (Part C) regulations and prescription drug benefit program (Part D) regulations to implement statutory requirements; strengthen beneficiary protections; exclude plans that perform poorly; improve program efficiencies; and clarify program requirements,” according to the Federal Register.

The rule states that it also aims “to implement certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.”

The new rule’s stated desire to “strengthen our ability to identify strong applicants for Part C and Part D program participation and remove consistently poor performers” would give the Obama administration new authority to limit health insurance and prescription drug providers under the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D programs.

The rule would also violate the Medicare Part D’s law’s “non-interference provision that prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from interfering with the negotiations between drug manufacturers and pharmacies and sponsors of prescription drug plans,” according to testimony by American Action Forum president Douglas Holtz-Eakin, violating “congressional intent.”

Rep. Pitts expressed confusion and anger at CMS’ new rule.

“CMS itself says that 96% of the Part D claims it reviewed showed seniors saved money at preferred pharmacies, and nearly 25,500 seniors in my district have chosen Part D plans with a preferred pharmacy network. Yet CMS would take that away from them,” Pitts said.

“The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit is a government success story. Last year, nearly 39 million beneficiaries were enrolled in a Part D prescription drug plan,” Pitts said.

“Competition and choice have kept premiums stable. In fact, in 2006, the first year the program was in effect, the base beneficiary premium was $32.20 a month. In 2014, the base beneficiary premium is $32.42 – a 22-cent increase over 9 years – and still roughly half of what was originally predicted,” Pitts added. “More than 90% of seniors are satisfied with their Part D drug coverage because of this. African-American and Hispanic seniors report even higher levels of satisfaction, at 95% and 94%, respectively.”

“The program has worked so well because it forces prescription drug plans and providers to compete for Medicare beneficiaries – putting seniors, not Washington, in the driver’s seat. Part D should be the model for future reforms to the Medicare program,” Pitts said.

House Energy and Commerce committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton joined with Pitts at the hearing in criticizing the new rule.

“The proposed rule, issued on January 6, 2014, appears to be a direct assault on the competitive structure of the program. It inhibits the ability of plans to obtain discounts for beneficiaries, limits the range of market segments in which they may compete, and usurps the responsibility of states to license those able to prescribe. This 700-page proposal makes numerous changes,” Upton said.

CMS principal deputy administrator Jonathan Blum testified that limiting Part D sponsors to providing only two plans per region will “promote needed clarity of plan choices for beneficiaries.”

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