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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

May 8, 2013


 

Inside Scoop on Obamacare Exchanges

Will Obamacare Exchanges be ready? We hope not. The headline from an Exchange industry news article says, "Will HHS Stall Start of Federal Exchanges? Observers Say 'Yes,' 'No,' 'Wait Till Oct. 1" (5/2/13). There are 33 states that have refused to build (fund) a "state exchange," forcing the feds to build a "federal exchange" for them. That said, every state exchange is a federal exchange under federal control.

Thanks to the financial support of our donors, I was able to attend the First National Health Insurance Exchange Summit via special Internet access, which took place last week in Washington, D.C. The presenters were health plan executives, single-payer advocates, businessmen and women, government officials and policy wonks.

I'm going to give you the inside scoop from the conference (Vol. 1). The speakers' concerns show why CCHF is focused on the necessary work of  "putting a stick in the spokes" of any and all Exchanges -- especially in Minnesota. We've been watching these state government bureaucrats work harder than most other states to make a functioning Minnesota Exchange. They may intend to become a model for the rest of the nation -- a model that could become a NATIONAL Exchange if and when other state exchanges fail.

So, let's start with some amusing comments from the conference. Several speakers clearly had difficulty transitioning to the government's new lingo meant to mislead the public about the government exchanges. The speakers often said "exchange" instead of "marketplace." Here are a few of their comments:
 

"When I say Exchanges, I mean Marketplaces." -- Penny Thompson, Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. (audience laughs)
 

"I have not even tried to make the switch to 'marketplace.'" -- Alan Weil, keynote speaker.
 

"For those of you who didn't get the memo, it's now called the Marketplace." -- Krista Dobrac, National Governors Association.

 

Now listen to their concerns about implementation. The federal law requires Exchanges to be open for business on October 1, 2013. The operation of the Exchange is based on a functioning national IT superstructure that includes a "federal data services hub" (HUB), which connects to federal agencies and state agencies for the purpose of exchanging data and dollars nationwide. Eligibility for Exchange coverage and federal subsidies will be determined by a boatload of personal data. The feds say the HUB is almost done. Yet speakers have great concerns about Exchange readiness:
 

"States haven't made a lot of progress yet in connecting to the data hub; systems don't 'talk' to each other. Hope that systems will be in place perhaps by 2015." -- Susan Dentzer, RWJF

 

"Will they be ready? No one knows the answer to that. There's a political and a technical consideration...If a state chooses not to cooperate, then it's very difficult for the feds to put up a very successful, exchange in a state." -- Brett Graham, Leavitt Partners.

 

"It's a three year implementation being done in 10 months. By its nature, it's unrealistic." -- Keven Counihan, Access Health CT

"The truth is, it's not going to be fully functioning on 10-1" -- Christine Ferguson, RI (Exchange)

 

"And October 1 is very very soon." -- Cynthia Crose, Arkansas Insurance Dept.

 

"I don't know what happens this fall if it's not ready. -- Sandy Praeger, NAIC

 

An illusion was also in play. For example, Susan Dentzer, an executive from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) said that only 9% of the American population is expected to enroll in Exchange coverage. She called it a "small part of the landscape." However, the length of the conference -- two and one-half days starting at 7:00 a.m. each morning with as many as five or six concurrant sessions taking place -- says otherwise.

To underscore CCHF's concern, one government officials said the objective is "the same streamlined process for every American no matter their income." Every American.

The Exchanges are the centerpiece of Obama's reform law. U.S. Senator Max Baucus said they are the "most important" part of the ACA. The administration wants -- and needs -- many workers and young healthy Americans to enroll in Exchange coverage or the cost of covering people with pre-existing conditions will make Exchanges unsustainable. The Exchange is a national wealth redistribution system, shifting the costs from the unhealthy to the healthy. Vermont and Washington, D.C. are already planning to force everyone within their borders to buy federal Exchange coverage.

Bureaucrats are worried about October 1 - and the political consequences of failure -- but they have fought for national health care for years. They will not stop unless they are stopped.

Help CCHF put a stick in the Exchange spokes. We don't have to wait for repeal! Obamacare can be stopped. Please Donate to CCHF today!

Partnering with you for freedom,
 

Twila Brase, R.N., PHN
President and Co-founder
 

 




News to Know:

Workers Face Double (Triple) Whammy from ACA

Workers will earn less money due to Obamacare's "new math" of 30-hour per week "full-time" workers, the Los Angeles Times reports. And they will lose out on health insurance at work. The article said an estimated 2.3 million workers nationwide are at risk of their working hours - and wages - being cut. Restaurant workers are particularly vulnerable. Long Beach, Calif. is "limiting most of its 1,600 part-time employees to fewer than 27 hours a week." [Editorial: In addition, they'll have less dollars with which to buy their own health insurance or pay the IRS penalty for going uninsured. That's a triple whammy]  More . . .



IRS Robo-Audits Dig Deep into Your Data

The IRS is beginning "real time" audits of electronic returns -- and profiling of individuals. They intend to use sophisticated data-match and pattern-recognition technology, largely developed by IBM over the past decade, [to] reach up the income ladder to include more middle-income and small-business filers who itemize deductions." Starting in 2013, "the IRS tools will be able to track all credit card tansactions." In documents obtained by the ACLU, IRS general counsel said the agency could look at emails without search warrants, but the IRS told US News it will not use this power. Profiling of individuals will include shopping records, travel, social interactions and information from health records and other files.



EHR Costs Threaten Hospital

The Maine Medical Center sent a memo to its employees to announce an operating loss of $13.4 million. One of the reasons was the rollout of the electronic health record system which cost $160 million. The CEO said the center "experienced a negative financial position that it has not witnessed in recent memory," and the remaining rollout was put on hold. "Unintended financial consequences" included problems with being unable to accurately charge for services provided. The article says the EHR transition may "take years to recoup." Other problems include declines in patient volume to meet Medicare readmissions standards and reduced payments from Medicare and Medicaid.



Obamacare's Government Call Centers

There are 9,000 call center jobs coming to 14 states this summer. That's an average of 643 new government workers in each state. Kaiser Health News reports that Vangent received a $530 million one-year contract to set up the centers in federal exchange or partnership states (Politico, May 3). Expect long waits. People who call will need detailed information. They'll have to answer detailed questions about employment, wages, children, eligibility, citizenship, family income, race, ethnicity, etc. It'll be complicated. The eligible will call, but so will the ineligible. 9,000 workers may not be enough...unless nobody comes, which would be the best outcome of all.



Obamacare is the Cause of Rising Premiums

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) admitted on news station WHEC that health care costs are going up "in part because of Obamacare." This is in direct contrast to Obama's promise that his health care law would reduce family premiums by $2,500 in his first term. They've gone up more than $3,000, and now even Democrats are admitting this reality. Is it to soften the blow to their constituents, blame the President, or try to distance themselves from it? The fact is, Sen. Schumer voted for it. But not one Republican did.



Using HIPAA to Grab Guns?

Comments are due June 7 on the latest federal attempt to undo the Second Amendment. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking says the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule may be a barrier to States' reporting the identities of individuals to the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) due to prohibitions on sharing psychological records. "In particular, we are considering creating an express permission in the HIPAA rules for reporting the relevant information to the NICS..." They want broad authority to get "relevant" data on anyone who has depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue. Go to www.regulations.gov and search under "NICS." Click on blue button to tell them that you say "NO."



Why So Quiet?

With Obamacare set to go live in five months, 77% of American know little about Obamacare's government Exchanges - and Democrats are frustrated. U.S. Senator Max Baucus criticized HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for scant information. A Democratic Senate aid exclaimed, "Why in late April can't they show us any of what they've got planned? The rollout plan should already be in existence." Paul Starr, former health advisor to Clinton said, "I don't see how what they're planning to do is going to be adequate. The resources are too limited, the 'law's penalties are too weak and elite opposition in much of the country will undermine" enrollment. A survey of 1,003 people found the $95 a year penalty for failing to purchase insurance will not induce most 18 - 34 year olds to buy it.



Money Galore for MN HIX Marketing

The state of Minnesota has awarded BBDO Proximity a $666,590 contract to build an Exchange outreach campaign to win the hearts and minds of young people - and draw them into the government Exchange to redistribute the cost of the sick (those with pre-existing conditions) onto the young and healthy. This is on top of the $31,000 contract to develop a PR and social media strategy; the $162,425 contract to brand the exchange ("MNSure"), and the $149,851 contract to conduct market research.



Medicaid: Enter at Your Own Risk

At a time when Obamacare intends to push millions into Medicaid, it's good to think about whether it's even a good idea. While piles of studies have declared Medicaid no better, and sometimes worse, than being uninsured, a 2011 Oregon study claims Medicaid was better than being uninsured. But authors of a follow-up study to the 2011 study, according to Avik Roy at Forbes, say Medicaid "generated no significant improvement in measured physical health outcomes." This despite Congress spending $450 billion a year in taxpayer money on the program. Rumor has it, 26 states will not expand Medicaid (per Avalere Health) More...



Will This End Obama's Tanning Tax?

Based on 139 comments in 2010, the federal Food and Drug Administration has issued a proposed order to regulate sunlamps. They would be reclassified from a class I device (general controls) to a class II device (special controls). If order is finalized, sunlamp manufacturers will have to demonstrate safety features, biocompatibility, hazard analysis, electrical safety, and apply labeling to "help to discourage use of sunlamp products by those populations that are especially susceptible to the risk of skin cancer" including communications on the risk of skin cancer. Regulatory burdens increase costs which decreases access. Will this be the demise of Obamacare tanning tax? Your comments taken for the next 90 days at www.regulations.gov.




Quote of the Week:




"Certainly, with the exchange, you're looking at the rule of large numbers. You'd like to have a strong diverse pool. Young, old, sick and healthy. That'll make for a strong exchange." - Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times reporter, video news cast.




Stat of the Week:

30% - the percentage of 35,169 Oregonians who "won" the lottery to enroll in Medicaid and actually got enrolled.




News Release of the Week:

Citizens' Council for Health Freedom Announces Genetic Privacy Victory

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Citizens' Council for Health Freedom (CCHF, www.cchfreedom.org) announced a huge victory today with the defeat of Senator John Marty's (D-Roseville) newborn screening language.  Continue reading

 

 

 




Featured Health Freedom Minute:

Doctors Walked Out

I heard some refreshing news last week. The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery was holding a session on Obamacare implementation. Usually, according to a physician in the room, itʼs well attended, but the physician tweeted, "Doctors are literally walking out of this talk on implementing [and] complying with Obamacare. We are men and women of the mind not mindless drones." 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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