With the announcement by Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, that Trustmark Life Insurance Company’s recent increases in premiums for their health insurance were “excessive” comes the certain result: A few may be helped, but many will be harmed.
She declared, “It’s time for Trustmark to immediately rescind these rate [increases], issue refunds to consumers or publicly explain their refusal to do so.” Under ObamaCare’s usurpations of prior state law, any premium increases of more than 10 percent are to be reviewed and if determined to be unreasonable, made subject to public exposure and pressure to abide by the agency’s dictates as to what is reasonable.
A spokeswoman for Trustmark, Cindy Gallaher, responded to Sebelius: “We respectfully disagree with the assumptions and conclusions drawn today by the Department of Health and Human Services. Our premiums are driven by the rising cost and increased utilization of medical services.”
On Monday the Family Research Council (FRC) filed a “friend of the court” (amicus curiae) brief with the Supreme Court that makes its case that if the mandate forcing citizens to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty is ruled unconstitutional, then the entire 2,700-page Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care law should be thrown out as well.
On the morning of August 3, 2011, armed agents of the U.S. government and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office conducted a raid on a small private club in southern California, seizing the substances being sold therein and arresting three individuals on felony charges. It was the second raid on the club in two years and the culmination of a yearlong investigation by 10 local, state, and federal agencies that, according to the Los Angeles Times, “used high-tech video equipment hidden on a utility pole for round-the-clock surveillance and undercover agents to make covert buys.”
In what nefarious substances was the club trafficking? Marijuana? Cocaine? Heroin? No, the members of Rawesome Foods of Venice, California, were accused of the heinous crime of consuming milk and other dairy products that had not been pasteurized — products that the Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies insist are so dangerous that individuals must not be permitted to ingest them.
Advocates of unpasteurized (“raw”) milk consumption beg to differ. They argue that raw milk is nearly as safe as pasteurized milk and that its benefits outweigh its slightly increased risks. Many go to great lengths to obtain raw milk, joining private food clubs like Rawesome, entering into agreements whereby they purchase shares in cows and in turn receive the cows’ milk (called “herd sharing”), and, in some cases, openly defying the FDA’s ban on interstate raw milk sales.
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 1,200 companies have been accorded waivers from the healthcare reform law, the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) disclosed Friday, the final day that the agency is required to report the data.
"Friday marks the last time HHS will have to update the total number of waivers, putting to rest a recurring political firestorm," writes Sam Baker of The Hill. "The department had been updating its waiver totals every month, prompting monthly attacks from the GOP."
Indeed, not only has the number of waivers granted by the department stirred a hailstorm of controversy, but it has also displayed an incontrovertible pattern of crony capitalism, as the law openly leans on the side of labor unions, who just so happen to be strong Democratic supporters who wield tremendous political influence. Ever since the administration strapped a tighter leash on application rules, the unionized sector has remained a prominent beneficiary of ObamaCare waivers.
What is the biggest political lie of 2011? There are so many to choose from. I admit I was skeptical when PolitiFact said it was ready to declare the “Lie of the Year 2011.” After all, its record for bashing conservatives was pretty much unblemished.
Two years ago, the scribes who put together PolitiFact selected Sarah Palin’s comment about “death panels” as the biggest lie of 2009. In 2010, they once again sprang to the defense of Obamacare, pooh-poohing claims that it represented a “government takeover of health care” as the year’s biggest falsehood.
So imagine my surprise when the PolitiFact declared that the “Lie of the Year 2011” was the Democrats’ claim that “Republicans voted to end Medicare.”
The brouhaha began in April, when Republicans in the House of Representatives passed Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to reform the hugely expensive government healthcare program. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee jumped on the issue. In a widely circulated Web commercial released just four days after the vote, it warned that senior citizens would have to pay $12,500 more each year for healthcare “because Republicans voted to end Medicare.”
Attorneys representing the U.S. government submitted a brief to the Supreme Court on Friday, setting out their arguments in favor of the constitutionality of ObamaCare.
In the pleading and at a briefing on the case, the lawyers for the Obama administration defended the healthcare law’s requirement that all legal U.S. residents purchase a qualifying health insurance plan by 2014 or face severe penalties. This key component of ObamaCare is the much maligned individual mandate.
Those challenging the legality of the statute insist that in passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Congress exceeded the scope of its constitutional authority. Furthermore, if the federal government can force Americans to buy healthcare, they posit, are there any limits on what it could demand of citizens?
Recently, the Supreme Court granted certiorari (a petition submitted requesting that the court hear an appeal from a lower appeals court) in three of the several cases currently filed against the U.S. government and the agencies charged with enforcing ObamaCare. The announcement by the court indicates that the justices have set aside five and one-half hours to hear oral arguments from the parties.
An underreported but serious problem with illegal aliens and health care costs surfaced in the New York Times again this week. The paper reprised a report on patients who will not or cannot leave the hospital after treatment. Many of them, the Times says, are illegals.
In his annual report on the federal judiciary published Saturday, Chief Justice John Roberts of the United States Supreme Court wrote the he has “complete confidence” in the ability of his fellow high court justices to determine the appropriate time to recuse themselves from cases wherein they may have personal interest. Recusal is the process by which a judge abstains from participating in a hearing due to a conflict of interest. According to applicable federal law (United States Code Title 28, Section 455), a “judge shall recuse [himself] in any case in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”
Roberts’s comment comes at an apropos time as in its next term the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in two very high-profile cases: one challenging the legality of Arizona’s immigration statute (S.B. 1070), the other seeks to determine the constitutionality of ObamaCare.
Justice Kagan has already announced that she will recuse herself from considering the Arizona immigration case. While serving as the Solicitor General in the Obama administration, Kagan was personally involved in many of the actions taken by the White House and the Department of Justice in the legal proceedings they initiated against Arizona after enactment of S.B. 1070.
China has been hit once more by a food safety crisis, as officials in that country attempt to assure its own people, as well as consumers in the United States and elsewhere, that its products are safe. The Chinese government’s official Xinhua press agency reported on December 30 that food safety inspectors in the southern city of Shenzhen had discovered carcinogenic mildew in peanuts and cooking oil at some markets and restaurants.
High levels of the toxin aflatoxin were found in peanuts in three markets, and in cooking oil in four restaurants, Xinhua reported. “Aflatoxin is produced by a fungus that commonly grows on crops such as grains and peanuts,” the news site reported.” While the toxin is found in insignificant levels in most peanut crops, including those grown in the United States, high levels of aflatoxin have been linked to liver damage and cancer.
An earlier report from the government news site said that high levels of the same toxic substance had been found recently in milk and other products from a popular dairy company in the region. “An initial investigation showed that the contamination was caused by mildewed feed given to cows in the dairy’s plant in southwest Sichuan province,” reported Xinhua. The news agency said that the Mengniu Dairy Company had “issued a public apology in an online statement, but insisted that the problem was discovered before the tainted milk could enter the market.”
This Christmas season the family of 17-year-old Jenni Lake remembered the Pocatello, Idaho, teen for her sacrifice in refusing medical treatment for cancer so that the baby growing inside her would be born healthy and whole.
In October 2010, Jenni was diagnosed with grade-three brain cancer and given about two years to live. Doctors immediately began aggressive chemotherapy on the high school junior to slow down the advance of the cancer, and last March Jenni and her family got the hopeful news that the tumors on her brain and spine were shrinking.
But shortly afterward, when her boyfriend, Nathan, took her to the emergency room because she was throwing up, Jenni got some shocking news: she was pregnant. What made the revelation even more troubling to the teen was that her cancer treatment could prove fatal to the baby growing inside her.
“She was pretty scared, because the baby had been through two rounds of chemo from March and April and she was just about to start another round,” recalled Jenni’s mother, Diana Phillips.