Tuesday, April 03, 2012

ObamaCare is Still an Issue! (Part 1)

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Obamacare creates $17 trillion in unfunded liabilities
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Federal Judge Demands Obama Explain ‘Obamacare’ Statements
By Devin Dwyer, Ariane de Vogue, and Mary Bruce
Apr 3, 2012
In a remarkable, partisan exchange in a Texas courtroom Tuesday, a federal judge demanded that the Obama administration formally explain recent statements by President Obama that some have construed as questioning the authority of courts to review, and potentially strike down, his signature health care law.
Judge Jerry Smith of the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a Reagan appointee, issued the order during oral arguments in a case challenging the Affordable Care Act’s restrictions on physician-owned hospitals.
“I would like to have from you by noon on Thursday… a letter stating what is the position of the Attorney General in the Department of Justice in regard to the recent statements by the President — stating specifically, and in detailed reference to those statements, what the authority is in the federal courts in this regard in terms of judicial review,” Smith told a government lawyer in a recording of the hearing released by the court.
“The letter needs to be at least three pages, single-spaced and it needs to be specific,” he added.
Smith was responding to statements Obama made Monday at a Rose Garden press conference, when he said in response to a question that it would be “an unprecedented and extraordinary step” if the Supreme Court overturned a law that was passed by “a democratically elected Congress.”
“I would just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and — and passed law,” Obama said. “Well, there’s a good example, and I’m pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step.”
Obama’s argument clearly unsettled Smith, who just moments into the presentation by DOJ lawyer Dana Lydia Kaesvang interrupted to voice his displeasure.
“Does the Department of Justice recognize that federal courts have the authority in appropriate circumstances to strike federal statutes because of one or more constitutional infirmities?” he said.
“Yes, your honor. Of course there would need to be a severability analysis, but yes,” Kaesvang replied, sounding surprised by the random question.
Smith didn’t back down explaining that Obama’s statements had “troubled a number of people who have read it as somehow a challenge to the federal courts or their authority or the concept of judicial review, and that’s not a small matter.” He also referred to the law in question as “Obamacare,” an informal reference that has been politically charged.
Kaersvang again reiterated the administration’s deference to judicial review, but Smith was not satisfied, moving to demand an annotated explanation 48 hours from now.
Neither spokesmen for the White House nor Department of Justice would comment on the matter.
Speaking at an Associated Press luncheon today, Obama appeared to try and clarify his position, arguing that it’s been decades since the Supreme Court struck down a law on an economic issue, such as health care.
“The point I was making is that the Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws, and all of us have to respect it,” he said, “but it’s precisely because of that extraordinary power that the Court has traditionally exercised significant restraint and deference to our duly elected legislature, our Congress.”
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Washington, DC - March 27: Sisters and Tea Party members of Atlanta, Georgia, Judy Burel (L) and Janis Haddon (R), protest the Obamacare in front of the U.S. Supreme Court March 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court continued to hear oral arguments on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Obama: Court Striking Down Obamacare Would Be Judicial Activism
April 2, 2012
President Obama preemptively slammed the Supreme Court as a bunch of "unelected group of people" who will have turned to "judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint" if they decide to strike down his signature legislative achievement, the healthcare reform act.
Obama was speaking at a trilateral event with the Prime Minister of Canada and President of Mexico.
Obama touted the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as "a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically-elected Congress."
"I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically-elected congress," President Obama said at a White House event in the Rose Garden today.
"I just remind conservative commentators that for years we have heard the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint. That an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example and I am pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step," Obama said to the White House press.
"As I said, we are confident this will be over -- this will be upheld. I am confident this will be upheld because it should be upheld. And again, that is not just my opinion. That is the opinion of a whole lot of constitutional law professors and academics and judges and lawyers who have examined this law, even if they're not particularly sympathetic to this piece of legislation or my presidency," he said.
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What to Do on the Day After ObamaCare
The president's lawyer said 'Insurance has become the predominant means of paying for health care in this country.' But whose fault is that? Shouldn't we bring the cash market back?
By John H. Cochrane
April 2, 2012
Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of the administration's health law, aka ObamaCare. Opponents are giddy with the possibility that the law might be struck down.
But what then? Millions of uninsured, both those who choose not to purchase coverage and those who can't due to pre-existing conditions, will still be with us. The rising costs and inefficient delivery of health care will still be with us.
The country can have a vibrant market for individual health insurance. Insurance proper is what pays for unplanned large expenses, not for regular, predictable expenses. Insurance policies should be "guaranteed renewable": The policy should include a right to purchase insurance in the future, no matter if you get sick. And insurance should follow you from job to job, and if you move across state lines.
Why don't we have such markets? Because the government has regulated them out of existence.
Most pathologies in the current system are creatures of previous laws and regulations. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli explained as much in his opening statement to the Supreme Court: "The individual market does not provide affordable health insurance," he noted, "because the multibillion dollar subsidies that are available" for the "employer market are not available in the individual market."
Start with the tax deduction employers can take for their contributions to group health-insurance policies—but which they cannot take for making contributions to employees for individual, portable insurance policies. This is why you have insurance only so long as you stay with one employer, and why you face pre-existing conditions exclusions if you change jobs.
Continue with the endless mandates (both state and federal) on insurance companies to provide all sorts of benefits people would otherwise not choose to buy. It sounds great to "make insurance companies pay" for acupuncture. But that raises the premiums, and then people choose not to buy the insurance. Instead of these mandates, at least allow people to buy insurance that only covers the big expenses.
What about Medicare and Medicaid? Two words: premium support. The underlying point of premium support is simple. If insurance costs $5,000 and the government gives an individual a $4,500 voucher, that individual will still feel the correct economic signal to shop for cost-efficient health insurance and health care.
The main argument for a mandate before the Supreme Court was that people of modest means can fail to buy insurance, and then rely on charity care in emergency rooms, shifting the cost to the rest of us. But the expenses of emergency room treatment for indigent uninsured people are not health-care's central cost problem. Costs are rising because people who do have insurance, and their doctors, overuse health services and don't shop on price, and because regulations have salted insurance with ever more coverage for them to overuse.
If we had a deregulated, competitive market in individual catastrophic insurance, that market would be so much cheaper than what's offered today that we would likely not even need the mandate.
Meanwhile, staggeringly inefficient markets for health care itself need a thorough, competition-focused deregulation. Americans will know there's a healthy market when hospitals post prices on their websites, and when new hospital and health-care businesses routinely enter to challenge the old ones. Here too regulations keep competition at bay.
The number of new doctors is still restricted, thanks to Congress and the American Medical Association. Congress caps the number of residencies, the AMA has fought the expansion of medical schools, state tests make it difficult for foreign doctors to work here, and on and on.
There are hundreds of government impediments to competition. New hospitals? In my home state of Illinois, every new hospital, expansion of an existing facility or major equipment purchase must obtain a "certificate of need" from the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. The board does a great job of insulating existing hospitals from competition if they are well connected politically. Imagine the joy United Airlines would feel if Southwest had to get a "certificate of need" before moving in to a new city—or the pleasure Sears would have if Wal-Mart had to do so—and all it took was a small contribution to a well-connected official.
The result is a monstrous system in which insurance patients are gouged to subsidize Medicare, and cash patients are gouged most of all. Here's Mr. Verrilli again: "Insurance has become the predominant means of paying for health care in this country." Yes, the cash market has been badly damaged. Whose fault is that? Shouldn't we bring it back?
Group health plans in today's system may appear reasonable enough—they seem to resemble "buyers' clubs," where people pool together to get good deals from providers. But in a real buyer's club, each buyer still pays his own bill—you don't go into a Sam's Club and haul off whatever you can with only a fixed $20 copayment. And real buyer's clubs don't depend on where you work. Real buyers' clubs for health services could be a useful way to get competition going and revive the cash-and-carry market for individuals.
A deregulated health-care and health-insurance market can work. We can at least start by removing the obvious elephants in the room: all the legislation, regulation and interventions that needlessly keep prices up, keep competition and innovation out, shelter people from the economic consequences of their decisions, and prevent the emergence of real insurance that follows you from job to job and from health to illness and back.
Mr. Cochrane is a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.
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ObamaCare
ObamaCare, more formally known as "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," was passed by Congress on March 21, 2010, and signed into federal law by President Barack Obama on March 23. This law began the process to socialize the United States health care system. The centerpiece of ObamaCare is the individual mandate, a provision that makes it mandatory for every citizen to purchase private health insurance, which is unprecedented in American history. Through legislative mandates, ObamaCare requires private citizens to purchase health insurance, involuntarily fund abortions, and pay for sex offenders to use Viagra under the threat of legal sanctions if they do not. The new law imposes penalties that will increase to 2.5% of one's income if he fails to purchase government-approved health insurance.
ObamaCare violates America's constitutional law, according to the law as outlined in the U.S. Constitution; more than 20 federal lawsuits have been filed against ObamaCare since President Barack Obama signed it into law. In total, 27 states have started or joined in a lawsuit against Obamacare. A federal judge ruled on 13 December 2010 that a central component of ObamaCare, the requirement that most Americans carry insurance or pay a penalty, violates the Constitution. U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson is quoted as saying the law "exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power." Then on 31 January 2011 federal judge Roger Vinson ruled that as a result of the unconstitutionality of the "individual mandate" that requires people to buy insurance, the entire law must be declared void. The U.S. district judge declared ObamaCare unconstitutional because it violates the Commerce Clause. In a footnote attached to the ruling, federal judge Roger Vinson cited Barack Obama's position in 2008 from an interview with CNN, when Obama stated that, "If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the unconstitutional revenue generating device could produce as much as $36 billion over ten years. The fines are euphemistically dubbed "shared responsibility payments." Employers would be required to deduct the penalties from employees paychecks. The State of Massachusetts has had a similar program in place for several years, and many have elected to pay the penalties rather than purchase insurance, and many remain uninsured.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) pointed out that there are no redeeming provisions of Obama's health care plan, and also offered a number of criticisms of Obama's health care plan. The AAPS maintains that Obama's health care plan will significantly increase the overall cost of health care for a majority of United States citizens, plus reduce the quality of care that a free market system would otherwise provide. Political analyst and commentator Dick Morris has asserted that Obama's health care plan will lead to the significant use of rationing senior health care which will decrease the life span of senior citizens.
ObamaCare will do more than detrimentally impact healthcare accessibility. According to the Heritage Foundation, Obama is intentionally sacrificing millions of jobs, at a time when unemployment is around 10%, with the Medicare surtax without any objective exception of increases in revenues. ObamaCare will cost 650,000 U.S. jobs if it is not repealed. The Congressional Budget Office says the figure would be more than 800,000 people would lose their jobs.
On January 19, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 245-189 to repeal ObamaCare (56 percent to 44 percent). In an historic repudiation of an entitlement program that was only 10 months old, the House voted to overturn President Obama's health care takeover. Repealing the bill would eliminate $770 billion in the newly mandated tax increases, according to the CBO. The CBO released accounting data which shows that repealing the national health care law would reduce net government spending by $540 billion in the ten year period from 2012 through 2021; that number represents the cost of the new provisions, minus Medicare cuts. The Tea Party Movement firmly supports the proposed repeal of ObamaCare.
On February 2, 2011, the U.S. Senate proceeded with a hearing to discuss the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and whether or not the individual mandate requiring Americans to purchase health insurance under penalty of a fine is constitutional. The amendment to repeal ObamaCare failed in the Senate by a 51-47 vote.
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Also See:
ObamaCare - Health, Euthanasia, Life in Jeopardy!
(Part 1)
20 July 2009
(Part 2)
10 August 2009
and
(Part 3)
27 August 2009
and
The Last Word on ObamaCare - Maybe!
20 March 2010
Coming Soon - Death Panels!
23 August 2010
and
How is Obama's Healthcare Working Out?
14 October 2010
and
More about ObamaCare!
24 January 2011