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Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

Obamacare May Implode

Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 19, 2016

The news media and Americans are focused on the upcoming presidential election.  Given the important role the president plays in the United States this is natural.  However, the focus on the election has been on the questionable personal traits of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  This myopic focus masks serious issues that face the Country and the next president, irrespective of who is elected.

The significant challenges the Country faces include international relations, as well as economic issues.  The Middle East is devolving into chaos that will eliminate the artificial borders and countries created after World War I.  Russia is again adversarial and imperialistic.  Economic growth in the United States is tepid with the total debt soon to exceed $20 trillion.  Irrespective of whether Clinton or Trump become president, these issues will prove intractable.

Within the broader subject of economic challenges is the out of control medical costs.  This problem had its roots long before Barack Obama became president.  However, the President’s signature program, Obamacare, exasperated the problems and is showing signs of heading into a death spiral.

The President is aware of Obamacare failings writing in The Journal of the American Medical Association: “Too many Americans still strain to pay for their physician visits and prescriptions, cover their deductibles or pay their monthly insurance bills; struggle to navigate a complex, sometimes bewildering system; and remain uninsured.”  This is a far cry from the President’s promises to the American people that healthcare costs would decrease.  Obamacare not only added expensive mandates to the cost of medical insurance, but covered some 20 million people who previously did not have insurance.  For the President to have made this cost cutting promise indicates incompetence or dishonesty, there is no third option.

A more honest representation of the realities of Obamacare was made earlier this month by former President Bill Clinton who said:

bill-clinton“You’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden, 25 million more people have health care and then the people that are out there busting it – sometimes 60 hours a week – wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half.”

Leave it to Bill Clinton to take a complex issue and break it down to its most basic problem; the middle class and healthy younger Americans are being forced to pay for the health costs of others.  Insurance is a system whereby risk is spread amongst a population of people with an example being auto insurance.  Some drivers will have accidents while others will not.  In the case of so-called health insurance, all beneficiaries will require significant benefits.  Therefore what we call health insurance is an entitlement and cannot be financed as if it was insurance.

In early October Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said: “The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable”.  This is no partisan attack coming from a Democrat governor of a state that is projected to have increases in the Affordable Care Act medical exchanges in excess of 50%. (Source)  Other states are facing similar problems.

In business or economics matters, prior to resolving a problem the issue and goals need to be clearly vetted and defined.  This was not done with healthcare reform.  Instead, proponents of Obamacare promoted problems to elicit emotional responses.  This included Americans without medical insurance and the increasing costs of medical care.  Ignored were the basic laws of supply and demand that have impacted these issues and will play a role in any propose resolution.  The upcoming implosion of Obamacare is the result of this gross failure.

After the presidential election the winning party will throw celebrations for the power they gained or maintained in Washington.  Beginning in January a new president who will be forced to address the problems left behind by Barack Obama.  A major issue will be the growing problem of the increasing cost of healthcare.  Democrats will promote a single-payer system; i.e., government run healthcare.  This should concern Americans given the government’s poor track record managing the health care of veterans through the VA Administration.

Republicans will promote market oriented solutions for health care reform.  However, continue calling a solution “insurance” improperly defines the problem and will not lead to productive results that are politically or economically palatable.

When discussing the problems of increasing healthcare costs, rarely will politicians discuss economic realities including supply and demand.  Instead, many scapegoat insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and/or doctors.  While these factors play some role, it is minor compared to demographic changes.  For example, the Country is rapidly aging.  In 2000 there were 35 million Americans over 65 years of age.  In less than two decades this has increased to 47 million.  In addition we have become more obese.  Both factors increase the demand for healthcare and therefore cost.  Not including these issues in the broader discussion of healthcare reform dooms any program to failure.

The Kaiser family Foundation reported that in the last six years, health insurance premiums rose about 19%, three times greater than inflation.  At the same time, peoples’ salaries rose only 11%.  This increasing cost of healthcare as a percentage of total income is one reason the recovery has been sluggish.  Consumer spending on other goods and services has been decreased as a result.  Unless healthcare costs are brought under control, this negative impact on the economy will grow.  May the force be with the next president!

Posted in Healthcare, healthcare costs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Obamacare Costs Significantly Rising

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 21, 2013

Bloomberg News Service has published an article titled Obama Trims Details on Health Law as Exchange Cost Rises that reviews some significant problems already being encountered with the implementation of the “Affordable Care Act”, Obamacare.  The Bloomberg article begins with the following statement: “The $1.3 trillion U.S. health-care system overhaul is getting more expensive and will initially accomplish less than intended.”  It also included the following information:

  • Costs for a network of health-insurance exchanges swelled to $4.4 billion for 2012 and 2013 combined, and will reach $5.7 billion in 2014.  That more than doubles initial projections.  Making this even more expensive is the fact that less than half of the 50 U.S. states are participating.
  • The exchanges that are supposed to open in on October 1, may not be easy for low-income people to navigate.
  • The number of Americans projected to gain insurance has eroded by at least 5 million.  Also, about 8 million people will lose health-care plans now offered through their employers, three times the initial projections.

It has become evident that Obamacare will offer significantly less benefit to society than promised and will cost significantly more.  The already known issues are just the beginning of the problems.  Costs will increase significantly more and the problems will grow as the implementation continues.  This is not a surprise to those who have an understanding of the operations of markets, businesses and basic human nature, expertise lacking of many Progressives.

As with any government program, irrespective of efficacy, once started they cannot be stopped even if they fail at their intended goals.  Such is the case with Obamacare with Washington Democrat Sen. Maria Cantwell, an Obama supporter, saying: “It looks like what they’re doing is triage.  If this isn’t going to work, forget it.  If that’s not on time, forget it.  Let’s get to the things that we can make work, and declare victory.”  “Declaring victory” is the unfortunate endgame for most government programs.

Posted in Healthcare | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obamacare Offers Religious Exemption

Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 17, 2012

During President Obama’s sales pitch to the Country for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, the President claimed various attributes for the program.  One incredible claim was that millions of additional Americans would receive healthcare coverage without increasing the overall cost for healthcare.  Since then, the cost of healthcare insurance has increased by about $2.500 per person with a portion of the increase caused by Obamacare mandates.

Beginning in 2014, Obamacare requires that Americans obtain health insurance or pay a monthly fine that Supreme Court has labeled a tax.  One proof statement as to Obamacare’s hidden costs and problems is the hundreds of exemptions the Administration has given to companies and unions with political clout in Washington.  Such exemptions would not be required had the program fulfilled the promises made by the President.

Obamacare may also involve significant exemptions based on religious beliefs.  The Bill includes a general “religious conscience” exception that while based on the interpretation in the tax code, is still to be fully defined.  This exemption may be applicable to the Amish, Christian Scientists and Scientologists.  In addition, the Koran prohibits some insurance products since they are interpreted as having gambling aspects and involve interest charges, both prohibited.  It remains to be seen whether American Muslims will seek exemptions from Obamacare based on an interpretation of the Koran.

When a law is not universally enforced, it lends itself to corruption by those with power of enforcement.  This has already been exemplified by exemptions given on Obamacare.  There are more to come.

Posted in Healthcare | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Colorado Shooting Massacre was Avoidable

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 31, 2012

On July 20, 2012 James Eagan Holmes entered a midnight screening of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises”.  Heavily armed, he opened fire resulting in the deaths of 12 and wounding 58.  According to the New York Times, this murder involved the greatest criminal loss of life in the Country’s history.

After the initial shock, publicity surrounding the Colorado massacre has been muted. However, this past weekend the New York Times published a lengthy article with background and context to the tragedy, Before Gunfire, Hints of ‘Bad News’According to the Times there were signs that should have been warning signals about the potential for violence emanating from Holmes.  The signs included:

  • In a text message to a fellow student two weeks before the massacre, Holmes asked about his self-diagnosed problem, “dysphoric mania.”  That student responded that it was a psychiatric condition relating to bipolar, but could be managed with treatment.  Holmes told that student that she should stay away from him “because I have bad news.”
  • The Times also reported that in the months before the massacre, Holmes was struggling with severe mental illness.
  • Some classmates were informed by Holmes that he experimented with LSD and other drugs.  The combination of mental illness and substance abuse a known dangerous mix.
  • Holmes was reported to be an avid player of video games including violent ones such as Diablo III and World of Warcraft.
  • Holmes, a graduate student at the University of Colorado, was a loaner.  In addition, classmates saw significant changes in his behavior in the first part of 2012.  During this period court papers indicate that Holmes informed fellow students and he wanted to kill people.
  • Holmes was seeing a University psychiatrist Dr. Lynne Fenton who became concerned about his potential for violence.  Fenton alerted Colorado University’s threat assessment team about those concerns.  No further actions were taken.

Further information concerning Holmes and details relating to the tragedy are being hindered by authorities and the University of Colorado.  The court in which he is being prosecuted has imposed a blackout on information relating to the case.  The University has also refused to release any details about Holmes.  This feels like a circle wagons approach to the matter.

According to the New York Times article, Holmes planned the attack for months.  This included huge purchases of firearms, ammunition and body armor.  In addition, he set booby traps around his apartment.

The facts becoming available on the Colorado shooting are troubling.  They indicate a tragedy that may have been avoidable.  They suggest weaknesses in our psychiatric/legal systems and the possible connection between violent video games criminal acts.  These potential relationships and special-interests that could be hurt by further discussions on these issues have likely lead to less scrutiny on the tragedy by the mainstream media.  Even the Left’s often discussed subject of gun control has been muted when it comes to the Colorado tragedy.

The United States has a problem with a small minority of people acting out the most horrific crimes.  An open and honest discussion of the causes is needed.  This should include the subject of guns, the legal system, the psychiatric system, violent media, family issues and institutional responsibility.  Unfortunately, fringes on the Left and Right will try to remove their sacred cows from the discussions.

Posted in Healthcare, Law | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Supreme Court Tackling Obamacare Legality

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 28, 2012

This week the United States Supreme Court took up perhaps one of the most important arguments it will hear in a generation.  The fate of the Obama Administration’s health care plan, Obamacare, hangs in the balance.  From some of the questions the justices threw at Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. who represents the Administration, it is questionable whether the legislation will stand.

The current makeup of the Court places four, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Anthony Scalia, and Clarence Thomas, as conservative and likely to vote against the Administration’s healthcare plan.  On the other side are liberals Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan who will support Administration.  Of concern to the Administration this week must be the position of swing Justice Anthony Kennedy.  The New York Times reported that questions thrown at Solicitor General Verrilli included:

Justice Kennedy – “Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?”

Justice Scalia – “May failure to purchase something subject me to regulation?”

Chief Justice Roberts – Questioned whether the government could force people to buy cellphones.

Justice Alito – With similar logic as Roberts, he questioned whether the government could force people to buy funeral insurance.

This Blog agrees with the Conservative side of the Court.  The government does not have the Constitutional authority to force people to buy products and attempting to do so further travels down a slippery slope that usurps the freedom of Americans.  At the same time, there are other dangerous aspects behind the flawed logic of Obamacare.  This legislation was promoted by the Administration as a cost saving initiative.  It does not take a PhD in economics to understand that adding tens of millions of uninsured Americans to the program will significantly increase costs.  In addition, any time the government gets involved with subsidizing a benefit, the ultimate cost of that benefit substantially increases.

Posted in Healthcare | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Obamacare’s Birth Control Edict Causing Furor

Posted by Steve Markowitz on February 10, 2012

President Obama’s supposed signature achievement has been the sweeping health-care reform often referred to as “Obamacare“.  Like most complex government plans, Obamacare will cause more disruptions for America’s healthcare system and the overall economy than the benefits it will offer.  While individual aspects of the massive legislation can be shown to be poorly planned, a simpler and broader explanation of its failings is more useful.  Specifically, Obamacare promises to offer insurance to millions who are currently uninsured without increasing America’s healthcare costs.  Preposterous!

It was broadly publicized that a part of Obamacare will force any institution or company that offer healthcare benefits to supply free birth control as part of the package.  This is an example of Progressives overreaching and forcing their liberal agenda on the greater public.

Any time Washington adds a forced benefit on states or private companies it increases the cost of supplying that benefit.  This guarantees that in the long run the service will become less available as supplying organizations will not be able to afford them.  This is basic Econ 101, a subject Progressives bypass in the elitist universities they attended.

In addition to the financial problems, the Obama Administration’s forced birth-control benefit has ramifications relating to governmental intrusion into freedom of religion.  Various religious organizations, including the Roman Catholic Church, have deep-seated beliefs that preclude the use of various birth control methods.  Irrespective of this, the Administration indicated it would force these religious institutions to offer the birth-control services as part of their healthcare packages.  The only option available for these institutions was to close or stop offering healthcare as a benefit.  Posted below is a letter publicized by the Archbishop of Philadelphia on this issue.

The New York Times today reported that the Obama Administration is feeling the political heat.  While the Administration has announced a compromise on the issue, reportedly it will not eliminate the intrusion into religious freedom.  It is remarkable that a President who is so sensitive to certain religious sensitivities, particularly those of Islam, has such low regard for the beliefs of others.  This political correctness is a typical manifestation of Progressive elitism that shows low regard for any overall moral philosophy.

President Obama’s intrusion into religious freedom is a continuation of his radical agenda to transform America.  Certainly Obama promised such actions.  Sadly many Americans in the middle of the political spectrum who voted for him did not heed his words.

The radical Progressives and feminist who approve of Obama’s agenda on birth control will ignore his intrusion on religious freedom.  They do so at their own peril given that government intrusion into individual rights is a slippery slope that has no bounds.

Posted in Healthcare, Obamacare | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Government Orders Providers to Provide No Co-Pay Birth Control

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 23, 2012

The Hill has reported on yet another governmental intrusion in the markets and the people’s private affairs, this one with significant religious implications.  Last week the Obama Administration ordered that beginning in August, healthcare plans must cover birth control without deductibles or co-pay charges to recipients.

This decision is wrong on so many levels.  On the economic side, it will add additional cost for employer supplied healthcare plans.  This will result in increased co-pays for many workers and worse, cause some companies to drop healthcare coverage altogether, both actions offsetting the financial benefit desired by the government.  It will further coerce companies to move employment outside the United States to offset the rising cost of U.S. based employees.

In addition, the new governmental mandate is being forced on religious entities that offer healthcare coverage to their employees.  This governmental intrusion into the freedom of religion is clearly unconstitutional,  In addition, already some of the religious institutions for which birth control goes against their basic tenants have indicated they will either drop their healthcare coverage altogether, or close their doors, in response to the intrusion.  This will not only kill jobs, but also lessen the supplied services to some of the neediest of society.  But that is in keeping with the Progressives’ goals; move power to the government as it fills the vacuum.

In responding to the furor created by the birth control mandate, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said: “I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.”  It is remarkable how Progressives treat pregnancy more like a disease than a special event in the human existence.  It is also remarkable how they define balance.

Progressives are pleased with the growing governmental intrusions in all aspects of society since most of the actions have been pointed at pet Liberal causes in recent years.  This is a short-sighted approach for what comes around, goes around.  When the reactionaries gain power, as they always do after Leftist intrusions fail, the Right will have its day and use the governmental to further their aims.  This should be of little comfort to any American that believes in the priority of the Constitution, either on the Left or the Right.

Posted in Governmental Intervention, Healthcare | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Government Panel Suggests Cholesterol Testing for Kids

Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 14, 2011

The government is at it again with more suggestions for increasing the cost of American healthcare.  Government health experts from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute have announced new guidelines for suggested screening of high cholesterol, now to begin at approximately the age of 9, with tests then being repeated in the child’s late teens.

The new government guidelines are based on the fact that an increasing number of American children are overweight and thus at higher risk for diabetes and high blood pressure, both increasing cardiovascular disease issues toward the person’s middle ages.  In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that about 17% of American children are obese, a threefold increase over the past 30 years.

The government report stressed that it is not suggesting using statins drugs to lower cholesterol for most affected youths since there are no studies on these drugs long-term effects on young users.  However, that is the likely outcome.  While diet and lack of exercise are the most significant factors contributing to obesity in American youth, the required lifestyle changes to correct these deficiencies are difficult to implement.  It is likely that for patient convenience and the profit motivation of the medical industry that a significant increase in statins usage by younger Americans will occur.

University of California cardiologist Rita Redberg expressed concern about the new government cholesterol screening guidelines proposal stating: “I don’t know of any data that screening children ages 9 to 11 is of any benefit to themWe don’t need to do cholesterol tests to advise children to eat fruits and vegetables, watch their weight and get regular physical activity.”

The cost of the increase uses of statins and the tens of millions of young Americans that will be screened for high cholesterol will significantly increase the Country’s the overall healthcare costs.  This will be the result of poorly conceived conclusions and policies by government employed medical professionals whose job descriptions and security are based on finding ever more medical problems that governmental agencies can create cures for.

Posted in Government Ineptness, Healthcare | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama Administration to Ban Asthma Inhalers

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 24, 2011

In the latest example of the far-reaching tentacles of the nanny–state, the Obama Administration is set to ban over-the-counter inhalers used by asthmatics on December 31, 2011.  Incredibly, the band is the result of an agreement the United States and other nations signed to stop using chemicals that might damage the ozone layer.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that these inhalers only emit miniscule amounts of any chemical, let alone those that may damage the ozone layer.

For years, asthmatics have used over-the-counter inhalers based upon the substance Epinephrine.  Now they will be forced to use “greener” inhalers that contain the drug Albuterol and will require a prescription.  Not surprisingly, the cost to asthma sufferers will increase; yet another example of the government running up the cost of healthcare.  The term “knucklehead” is certainly appropriate for the Progressives and bureaucrats that implement such outrageous laws.

Posted in Environmentalists, Healthcare | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

20% of April’s ObamaCare Waivers are in Pelosi’s District

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 17, 2011

The Obama Administration has added another 204 waivers for ObamaCare, bringing the total to 1,372 since the healthcare bill was signed.  According to reports, 27 of these new waivers were handed out to health care and drug companies, with another 31 going to unions.

As outrageous as the above waivers are, the height of hypocrisy goes to President Obama for handing out about 20% of April’s waivers (38) to Nancy Pelosi’s district.  This included waivers to gourmet restaurants, luxurious hotels, hip nightclubs and spas.  It seems that since Ms. Pelosi and her constituents found out what is in the healthcare law, they want out.

While it is hard to find fault with the good folks in San Francisco trying to save themselves from the burdens of ObamaCare, these waivers should be troubling to all Americans.  First, President Obama and those that promoted ObamaCare sold the mandatory portion of it on the basis that an all-in approach was required to make the program financially viable.  The fact that waivers are now being offered indicates the fallacy of that contention.

In addition, the President’s handing out of ObamaCare waivers to political allies is an example of Washington corruption at its worst.  Laws must apply to all Americans or none at all.  The President should not be able to hand out exemptions for political favors.  The fact that one of the chief benefactors of ObamaCare waivers is Nancy Pelosi borders on criminal.

Posted in Healthcare, healthcare reform, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »