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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

March 6, 2013



Democrats are Worried

Democrats are worried - about President Obama's agenda. About his whole agenda. I trust that includes Obamacare. Two pollsters, who call themselves "lifelong Democrats,"  sound the alarm in POLITICO, saying the president is "determined to pursue a partisan agenda - the country be damned." Former Clinton pollster, Douglas Schoen and former Carter pollster, Patrick Caddell warn:



"Obama is not trying to unite the country. He's waging a class-based battle for political gain. His goal is to win back the House for Democrats in 2014, giving him a united Congress for his last two years in office and allowing him to pursue the most expansive government in American history."


Obama's "overconfidence", say Schoen and Carter, can be blamed on a "visionless, disorganized Republican Party and a docile, shamelessly partisan media." They also blame Congressional Democrats for not criticizing the president and for failing to put country first and party second. They further charge that, by turning Obama's national campaign organization (OFA) into an full-time advocacy organization, "Obama has taken the Saul Alinsky organizing vision to a national level."

What if Obama is successful? Who would resist? I thought about this as I watched the movie "Les Miserablés." (More on this in a moment...) What if all those youthful Karl Marx supporters praising their " Obama phones" at the White House on election night keep Democrats in power in the Senate and ...

Continue reading . . .
 




News to Know:

Labor Unions Caught by Obamacare

From a labor union publication: "Union leaders and grocery chain managers are back at the negotiating table in New England today in a bitter and messy attempt to adapt existing health insurance programs to the new realities of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. ... Standing in the way of an agreement at this point are certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act set to go into effect in 2014. "It's a nightmare' that has been created not by corporate pressure to cut labor costs, but by the fumbling bureaucratic requirements of federal health law," says a labor union leader. Due to Obamacare eliminating medical benefit caps, health insurance increases over the next three years for Stop & Shop grocery will be  $250 million.

Employers: We're Outta Here!

Initially, many small employers facing Obamacare penalties, taxes and sticker shock will self-insure, says John Torinus. Going self-insured means employers become insurers. But the future may look very different. The company uses its own bankroll to pay for employee medical costs, and uses a "third party administrator" to process the payments. Mr. Torinus, CEO of Serigraph Inc, and former business editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, also  shares this colorful prediction:

"The AON/Hewitt survey high-lighted the continuing financial pain from rising health costs. They predicted hyper-inflationary increases of 8% to 10% over the next three to five years and a doubling of costs over the next five. Ouch! ... The $2000 fine per employee under ObamaCare for dropping coverage will prove to be a pittance compared to costs that double in five years. Many companies will take the fine and offer a defined contribution to their employees for purchase of individual policies. They will say: "Here's $5000 for you and your family; go to the exchange and buy your own policy; and use whatever subsidies the government has to offer as well. We're done with managing health care. We can't stand it any more."

Gaming "Individual Risk Scores"

As a recent GAO  report on Medicare Advantage (MA) proves, health plans can easily game the coming Obamacare "risk adjustment" system to grab federal taxpayer dollars. The ACA requires states to create "individual risk scores" on all people. In the MA "risk adjustment system, health plans were overpaid up to  $5.1 billion from 2010 to 2012. Under a new Obamacare rule, money is taken from plans with lower-risk enrollees and shifted via federal "risk corridors" to plans with higher-risk enrollees. Plans with the "sickest" enrollees (according to the data) get more cash. Health Affairs  explains how your risk will be scored and plans will be paid: "In practice, individual risk scores, built from data on patient demographics, disability, institutional status, and diagnoses, are used to help determine monthly payments made to plans for each person enrolled..."

Enrolling the Masses

The Unaffordable Care Act will fail unless Obama's troops conduct nationwide "search and enroll" missions. The missions begin this July through open enrollment on October 1, 2013. His "Organizing for America" election campaign has been recommissioned to "Organizing for Action." OFA is raising millions to send "Enroll America" troops to hold enrollment events, run phone banks to enroll people and descend on towns going door to door to enroll Americans into Obamacare. The administration has just released a  60-page list of the questions people will be asked to enroll in the Exchange (consent agreement for data sharing not yet released - p. 4), and the  21-page application. To make enrollment into federal subsidies easy, the Act requires states to accept  telephonic signatures.

Insurers in Your Grocery Cart

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina are buying spending data on each of the 3 million people in its employer group plans,  reports The Wall Street Journal and Natural News. Marketing firms sell this data to retailers and credit cards companies, but health plans are now buying it to monitor their enrollees behaviors and "to sell you something that can get you healthier." Employers also think tracking employee medical data can help them make employees healthier. For example, Johnson & Johnson pays $500 to every employee who submits biometrics (e.g. blood, DNA) and other health information. But other employers, like Julie Stone at Towers Watson, wants to use data to zero in on employees: "As an employer, I want you on that medication that you need to be on."




Quotes of the Week:





"When we backed Obamacare, we were told that if we had good health insurance and wanted to keep it, we could. What happened to that?" --  Rick Charette, who leads a coalition of five unions representing grocery workers, responding to the grocers plan to drop coverage and send these low-income workers to the government Exchange, Working In These Times, March 1, 2013.











"If the cost is so onerous that the employer cannot compete, then subsidized individual insurance seems to be a logical alternative." --  Ken Jacobs, Chairman of the University of California Berkeley's Labor Center, on companies pushing part-time workers into Obamacare's government subsidized programs, Working In These Times, March 1, 2013.









"I think the president signed all  900 pages. I don't think he said it's just this one page. And what I'm very concerned about is that the agency seems to be thinking that the technology of the Exchange is somehow the Holy Grail and you are trying to lure states out of pursuing these co-op or basic health plan options and lure them unto the Exchange because you think it's some sort of magic." --  Senator Maria Cantwell to CCIIO's Gary Cohen, director of HHS Exchange effort,  Senate Finance Committee, February 14, 2013.




Stats of the Week:

$2,146,788,852 - federal grants to 34 states and D.C. to build health insurance exchanges.

$54,500 - estimated annual cost of a full-time navigator in California.

$11.78 billion - incentive payments for purchase of interoperable electronic medical records.

14 million - number of senior citizens and people with disabilities on Medicare Advantage.

$134.7 billion - estimated amount the federal government will spend on Medicare Advantage in 2012.

699,729 - the number of new enrollments in Medicare Advantage in January and February, a 5% increase (AIS Health, 2/28/13).

2.2% - Obamacare cut to Medicare Advantage planned for 2014




News Release of the Week:

CCHF's "NOTaMarketplace" Billboard Campaign Reveals Unelected Board with the Power to Control Health Plan Availability

ST. PAUL, M.N. - The Citizens' Council for Health Freedom (CCHF, www.cchfreedom.com) launched a new billboard campaign (www.NOTaMarketplace.com) that helps shed light on the appointed, seven-member board of directors that will have authority, under proposed Minnesota legislation, to decide what insurance plans are available on the Minnesota exchange. As a result, Minnesotans will be at the board's mercy when it comes to having a variety of insurance options available to choose from.

Control over available health plans is the most controversial authority the unelected exchange board wields, giving them the power to decline plan availability even if the plan meets the federal government's essential plan requirements, based on criteria of their own choosing. Continue reading




Featured Health Freedom Minute:

Exchanges - Limiting Your Choices

Obamaʼs exchanges will limit your choices. Legislators give amazingly ridiculous reasons for why our choices should be limited. For instance, one Democrat gave the following example to explain limiting insurance options on the government exchange. She said that if she walked into a grocery store and there were too many choices of soup sheʼd probably leave without any soup. 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.




Reading Now...

Official OMB Sequestration Report, which includes $44 million cut to Health Insurance Exchange grants.

Immigration Reform Could Lead to Biometric ID Cards for Everyone - New York Magazine.

EHR users unhappy, many switching - Healthcare IT News.

Small firms not required to join D.C. health exchanges immediately,Washington Business Journal.

Report of the National Commission on Physician Payment Reform, which calls for an end to fee-for-service payments to doctors within five years, and a transition to fixed payments starting with doctors that care for patients with chronic conditions ("5 percent of the sickest patients consume half of the nation's health care resources"). The Commission was chaired by single-payer advocate, and former RWJF president, Steven Schroeder.

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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