In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the individual mandate of ObamaCare is constitutional. Writing for the majority, Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, a Reagan appointee, affirmed that by enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, specifically the provision mandating that everyone purchase qualifying health insurance, Congress did not exceed the authority ceded to it by the states in the Constitution.
Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected health insurance mandates that represent the cornerstone of “ObamaCare,” with two thirds of the electorate voting in favor of a state constitutional amendment prohibiting mandatory participation in any health-care schemes. The ballot initiative was driven forward by a broad coalition including Tea Party groups, conservative activists, and others.
In the post-9/11 world, we are told, security takes precedence over everything else. The Bill of Rights must give way so that the government can search our persons and belongings practically at will. Common sense must yield to ridiculous rules about how many ounces of shampoo we can take on an airplane. Now, according to a ProPublica report on airport X-ray scanners, even our health must take a back seat to the government’s security fetish.
In an effort to curb rising healthcare costs, states are limiting Medicaid hospital coverage for the poor to as few as 10 days a year. State governments claim the move is necessary to balance their meager budgets which have been battered by the economic downturn and the end to federal stimulus funding that helped keep their Medicaid programs afloat. Hospital executives and advocates for the impoverished adamantly oppose the measure, as it will place limits on medical care, bear more costs to hospitals, and inflate charges for privately insured patients.
Some states will be instituting more stringent restrictions than others, as Arizona plans to limit Medicaid recipients to 25 days of coverage while Hawaii plans to slash coverage to a mere 10 days a year, the fewest of any other state. The restrictions will not include children, the elderly, disabled, pregnant women, and those receiving cancer treatment.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade association for the health insurance industry, says private insurers generally do not limit hospital coverage. Rosemary Blackmon, executive vice president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said that "for the most part hospitals do what they can" to treat Medicaid patients despite government limits. Likewise, Arizona hospitals will not discharge or refuse treatment to Medicaid patients who need care, asserted Peter Wertheim, spokesman for the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, so "hospitals will get stuck with the bill."
As Tea Party supporters cast about for an alternative to the flip-flopping Mitt Romney (and his long history of political liberalism), an increasing number are turning their eyes back to a face from the political past: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
But is Newt Gingrich the new "anti-Romney," or is he simply another Mitt Romney? Despite Gingrich's masterful performance of conservative rhetoric during presidential debates, Tea Party supporters may find Gingrich's record surprisingly liberal and comparable to Romney's record. Conservative opposition to Mitt Romney has focused upon two major issues, Romney's initiation of an individual health care mandate in Massachusetts — which served as the model for Obamacare — and Romney's support for the Wall Street bailouts under the Bush/Obama TARP program.
Gingrich's Support of the Individual Mandate and Federal Health Care
Newt Gingrich has campaigned on a pledge to repeal Obamacare, but he also has a long history of supporting the same government healthcare mandates in Romneycare and Obamacare. In campaign videos, Gingrich insists that “I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals. I fought it for two and a half years at the Center for Health Transformation."
But in a May 15, 2011 interview on NBC's Meet the Press with host David Gregory, Gingrich admitted he has long sought an individual mandate by government:
Former Massachusetts Governor and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is now under fire for a provision in his 2006 healthcare law commonly known as RomneyCare that allows illegal immigrants to access medical care along with other uninsured residents. Because of the law’s Health Safety Net program, poor, uninsured immigrants may receive taxpayer-subsidized care at a hospital or health clinic in Massachusetts at basically no cost, regardless of their immigration status.
The Massachusetts healthcare program yielded costs of more than $400 million last year and covered more than one million hospital and health clinic visits, but details on the number of illegal patients receiving medical care are not available, as the state does not record that specific data.
The Health Safety Net is funded through a blend of state money and hospital and insurer fees, and is redistributed to providers, which file claims for patients under the program. In building on a previous plan, Massachusetts established the Health Safety Net as an anchor for all state residents "who do not have access to affordable health coverage." People of any income level with "large medical bills that they cannot pay are also eligible" and "citizenship or immigration status does not affect your eligibility," notes MassResources.org, an online information center for Massachusetts residents.
When it comes to healthcare, said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick, “the decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.” With healthcare costs rising and Medicaid enrollment growing — and slated to increase by another 16 million beginning in 2014 — Americans are already getting an eye-opening experience in what such rationing will look like.
According to two recent USA Today articles by Phil Galewitz of Kaiser Health News, several states, feeling the pinch of increased Medicaid enrollment and the end of federal “stimulus” spending, “are pushing Medicaid recipients into managed-care plans run by private insurers, cutting reimbursement rates to hospitals and doctors and reducing benefits.” In short, they’re rationing care.
How can this be when government-run healthcare is touted as protecting Americans from money-grubbing private insurers who would deny them necessary treatment? Galewitz explains:
The new federal health law requires states to maintain Medicaid eligibility and enrollment standards until 2014, when the expansion begins to add 16 million Americans to the program. States are still free, however, to cut optional benefits, which include drugs, vision care and visits to certain providers such as chiropractors and podiatrists.
Following Tuesday's Republican presidential debate, a number of different news sources scrambled to check the accuracy of a number of different statements made by the candidates. According to the Associated Press, some facts “took a bit of a beating” in the debate, ranging from assertions made regarding taxes to those involving Obama’s unpopular healthcare overhaul.
For example, while ObamaCare went through its usual round of scrutiny and criticism during the Republican debate in Las Vegas, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann indicated that ObamaCare has proven to be so controversial and so unpopular that even the Obama administration is beginning to rescind some of its support for the healthcare overhaul.
"Even the Obama administration chose to reject part of Obamacare.... Now the administration is arguing with itself,” said Bachmann.
While it is in fact true that there have been proposed changes to ObamaCare in an effort to provoke greater support from the American people, such as eliminating the long-term insurance program CLASS that is a part of ObamaCare, the administration has been an adamant defender of the healthcare plan overall.
Over 40 percent of all the money the administration claimed it would save by enacting ObamaCare just vanished when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius cancelled the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) program on Friday, October 14.
The program, which would have paid at least $50 a day for long-term in-home care for enrolled persons, was clearly in trouble when the Obama administration closed the CLASS office and requested that its budget be eliminated. Although the administration denied that CLASS was in danger, it stated: “A CLASS program will only be implemented if it is fiscally solvent, self-sustaining and consistent with the statute.”
The statute requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to certify that CLASS will be actuarially solvent for 75 years before initiating the program. Sebelius found that she could not do so, writing in a letter to Congress: “Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time.”
The problem is that an enrollee has to pay (relatively low) premiums for only five years before becoming eligible for full benefits, but the benefits themselves have no time limit.
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC), a federal program that administers scholarships and loan repayment programs to government-approved medical professionals, has nearly tripled in size, the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Department announced Thursday. During the announcement, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declared that 20 percent of Americans live in "underserved" medical areas, and that NHSC ensures these populations have access to quality healthcare services. "When you don't have access to primary care, small health problems grow into big ones. Chronic conditions that could be managed spiral out of control," asserted Sebelius. "Here in America, no one should go with[out] the care they need just because of where they live."
To obtain a scholarship or loan repayment program, a student or physician must agree to provide medical, dental, or mental health services for individuals residing in areas where medical care is not freely available. Through the program, awards are dispersed to applicants who agree to practice in these government-administered territories and adhere to specific HHS guidelines.
Thanks to a generous conglomerate of taxpayer-funded resources — ObamaCare, the 2009 stimulus bill, and HHS budget appropriations — in 2011 HHS awarded 247 scholarships, totaling $46 million, and more than 5,400 loan repayment programs, adding up to $253 million.