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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

May 18, 2012

Letter from CCHF's President

Count the zeros. If Obamacare is upheld, health insurers will receive a $1 trillion windfall over the next 8 years, according to a new Bloomberg Government study. That's  $1,000,000,000,000

As Peter Gosselin, the author of an earlier Bloomberg study says, "The industry that was the loudest, most persistent critic of this law, the industry whose analysts and executives predicted it would suffer immensely because of the law, has thrived."

Gosselin's study found that the Standard & Poor's 500 Managed Health-Care Index rose 36 percent -- four times more than the S&P 500.

Not all health plans will profit. Industry consolidation under Obamacare is making winners and losers. For instance, try this: Google the words, "Wellpoint buys" and see what pops up. In my browser, I found, "wellpoint buys caremore," and "wellpoint buys watson" and "wellpoint buys anthem.

Surviving plans will become government contractors. As Mr. Gosselin says, "There is a shift to government work under way that is going to represent a fundamental change in their business model." 

Cash comes from "Exchanges." The $557 billion in premium subsidies and the $669 billion in new Medicaid dollars are divvied out through Obamacare's government Exchanges. Insurers in the Exchanges "would keep about $174 billion -- $22 billion a year -- for profit and administrative costs," according to the latest Bloomberg study. 

That's not quite correct. Although Obamacare requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of their premium revenue on 'medical care,' a whole battalion of non-medical care expenses have been lumped into the 80 percent.

Under Obamacare, "expenses to improve health care quality" are part of the 80 percent. These administrative "quality improvement" expenses are  broadly defined in a document issued by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The definition in Appendix C is five pages long. Here is a sample from the list:

  • making appointments and appointment reminders
  • incorporating feedback from the insured 
  • coaching, including wellness coaching 
  • government reporting activities 
  • data extraction 
  • developing and monitoring use of standardized treatment protocols 
  • implementing electronic medical records 
  • implementing pay-for-performance (we call it pay-for-compliance
  • tracking patient outcomes, etc.

This $1 trillion transfer of wealth will come out of your pocket. Recall with me #6 of Lawrence Reed's oft-quoted   "Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy""Government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes from somebody..."  

The Bloomberg study gives the U.S. Supreme Court one trillion more reasons to overturn Obamacare.

Now on to the news...




News to Know:

Consumer Plans Could Save $57.1 Billion 

If half of everyone with employer-sponsored coverage had a consumer-driven plan, the savings would be $57.1 billion per year, according to RAND researchers. This figure likely underestimates the impact,   writes  policy analyst Greg Scandlen, because only two years of HSA enrollment were studied and the $57.1 billion savings is only for the FIRST year of enrollment. Scandlen says the study misses the real impact of consumer-driven plans: "that trend is reduced and the savings mount up over time." Indeed, the money kept by holders of HSAs is money out of reach of health plans. Cutting the plans' revenue stream means cutting the plans' power over treatment decisions. 

The Privacy Ruse

HHS just released a   "Guide to Privacy and Security of Health Information."   The title is an elaborate exercise in public deception. This federal guide for clinics and hospitals begins by stating the obvious, "[P]atients are unlikely to share sensitive information unless they trust that you will honor their confidentiality" (p. 5). Then it reminds doctors that "protecting patients' privacy" is required to obtain Medicare bonuses for using online electronic health records (EHRs). But then it says, "Your practice...is responsible for taking the steps needed to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of health information in your EHR and comply with HIPAA Rules and   CMS Meaningful Use  [MU] requirements." To be clear, MU includes reporting data to the government. HIPAA (with the HITECH Act) allow   2.2 million entities  access without consent. Trust isn't going to happen anytime soon.

Eugenics in the U.S.

It may seem unthinkable, but 63,000 people were forcibly sterilized in the U.S. between 1907 and 1980. Nilmini Gunaratne Rubin, a former White House aide, recently told her   mother's story in the Los Angeles Times. Her mother and father came to Washington State University so he could complete his doctorate as a Fulbright Scholar. In 1972, Nilmini was born healthy to her 30 year-old mother. After her father left for home, the doctor removed her mother's uterus without her consent and against her expressed wishes. According to one researcher, 7 of the 32 states who conducted involuntary sterilizations have apologized to their victims. North Carolina is considering compensation to the victims. Our   CCHF report includes additional facts about the U.S. sterilization laws: "NEWBORN GENETIC SCREENING: The New Eugenics?"




Stats of the Week:

90%  - social media users who trust peer reviews (2012)
17%  - social media users who trust advertisers (2012)

12%  - survey participants who saw advertised physician rankings data (2008)
6.0%  - survey participants who used the data to choose a physician (2008)

26%  - consumers who saw advertised data on hospital quality (2002)
1.0%  - consumers who made a change based on the hospital quality data (2002)

A 2002   Harris poll  reports that instead of using advertised health care rankings, "location, word-of-mouth, good and bad experiences, reputation and (for health plans) cost, coverage and benefits are the main drivers of consumer choice." Ten years later, social media users seem to be following the same trend.




News Release of the Week:

Obama Plans to Cut Medicare Advantage Program

In her weekly newsletter, patient advocate Twila Brase, co-founder of Citizens' Council for Health Freedom (CCHF), recently shared alarming information from the Medicare Trustees report on the looming bankruptcy of Medicare.

The report recently made headlines as it estimated that Medicare would be bankrupt by the year 2024, but could be out of money as early as 2017 - just five years from now - if expenses run high.

"The impending demise of Medicare is just one more reason we can't rely solely on government programs for our health care," says Brase, president of CCHF, a patient-centered national health policy organization. "And new headlines have also shown us that in addition to being extraordinarily costly, Obamacare will also drastically cut the Medicare Advantage plan, an alternative to Medicare that more than 12 million seniors choose. This is a little-publicized plan in the small print of Obamacare, but one that seniors will find out about just before election time."    Continue reading




Action Item:

Please comment.  The federal government is building a national medical records system. Health regulators want your comments on its governance.The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the 2009 Recovery Act ("economic stimulus"), requires the feds to "establish a governance mechanism for the nationwide health information network" (NwHIN). The HHS   "request for information" seeks your comments. 


Deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 14 

Submit Comments:   http://www.regulations.gov

Search Code: HHS-OS-2012-0006 or trusted exchange

Action Suggestion:

Go online and offer a PERSONALIZED version of the following sample responses to at least two questions from the   "request for information"NOTE: non-original, fully standardized responses are often ignored. 

Sample Response to Question 2 (p. 26): I do not support the creation of a Nationwide Health Information Network, or placement of my data into the network without my informed written consent. Such an action is a violation of my 4th and 5th Amendment privacy rights.

Sample Response to Question 27 (p. 42): If the NwHIN is created despite my objection, I support an opt-in approach. I support opt-in consent requirements for both placement of my data in the NwHIN and exchange of my data by the NwHIN. I oppose the three exceptions to consent proposed on page 41. Without exception, there should be no exchange, no storage and no use of my data without my consent.

 




Featured Health Freedom Minute:

Don't Take My Organs

Most states have passed the 2006 Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act which allows your organs to be donated without your consent. For example, your eyes, kidneys, and heart are available for removal unless you have a signed a form clearly stating that you refuse to donate. It must be dated, witnessed and readily available at death.  Continue reading

Twila Brase broadcasts a daily, 60-second radio feature, Health Freedom Minute, which brings health care issues to light for the American public. Health Freedom Minute airs on the entire American Family Radio Network, with more than 150 stations nationwide in addition to Bott Radio Network with over 80 stations nationwide.

Click here to listen to this week's features.

 

Citizens' Council for Health Freedom
161 St. Anthony Avenue, Ste 923
St. Paul, MN 55103
Phone: 651.646.8935 • Fax: 651.646.0100
Email: info@cchfreedom.org
www.cchfreedom.org



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