Let the Miracle of the Free Market Work For Health Care

We have two problems with our health care delivery system:  access and cost.  In 2010, ObamaCare was passed to address both problems.  Predictably, it failed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made voting for ObamaCare very simple,   instructing her fellow Democrats to “pass the bill so that you can see what’s in it.”  All but 34 of them did.  Not one Republican voted for ObamaCare.

The American people never did like the Affordable Care Act, especially after the President’s fake-out that we could keep our doctors and insurance plans. Costs have increased even more rapidly, and access to plans and care has become even ‘iffy-er’ as more insurers jump ship every day.

Throughout Obama’s term outnumbered Republican legislators set up “show votes” to signal their desire to repeal ObamaCare.  But that talk was cheap when they knew the bills had no chance of getting past Obama’s veto.  “There’s nothing we can do about it,” they whimpered, even though they had complete control of the nation’s purse-strings and could have cut off the funding.

So the people did the only thing they could do to get rid of this economy-crushing, freedom-sucking, unsustainable mother-of-all-government-programs.  They elected majorities in both houses of Congress and a Republican president who promised to do away with ObamaCare, once and for all.   “NO MORE EXCUSES”, they told Congress.

But it seems voting this hot mess out is not nearly as simple as voting it in.  Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is trying to ram his “ObamaCare Light” plan through Congress.  But unlike Pelosi’s sheep, conservative legislators in the Freedom Caucus and Republican Study Group and a few brave senators want to see what’s in it and make it right before they pass the bill.

Ryan’s AHCA plan disguises and leaves in place many of the worst provisions of the ACA.  There are so many details that I won’t even try to elaborate here.  But I have one overriding concern about Ryan’s plan.  It does nothing to reduce the cost of health care, and may have the opposite effect.

Only one thing lowers the cost of any product, and that’s competition.  Until consumers make their own health care buying decisions in a competitive free market with transparent pricing, costs will never be reduced.

The GOP plan doubles down on the Medicaid expansion of ObamaCare, continues government subsidies in the form of refundable tax credits (some citizens will get cash back from the government because they pay little or no federal tax), and retains mandates that force individual and employer participation.  This distorts the market and makes health care just one more entitlement, edging us ever closer to a single-payer national plan.  And it further isolates the end consumer from health care purchasing decisions.

The first step must be the complete repeal of ObamaCare.  In 2015 both houses of Congress passed a bill under reconciliation that would fully repeal ObamaCare at a future date.  It was, of course, vetoed by President Obama.  Why not present the same bill to President Trump?  Then let the “invisible hand” of the free market find the appropriate price levels for health care instead of over-prescribing and over-pricing everything by running it through the same big-government machine that pays $700 for a toilet seat.  With all the complexity and control of ObamaCare completely out of the picture, Democrats and Republicans would be forced to start fresh with new legislation to protect consumers and provide a humane, and hopefully more efficient, safety net.

Even before ObamaCare the federal government was the biggest purchaser of health care.  The worst thing our legislators could do right now is pass a watered-down bill that leaves too much of the nasty old fat in the sausage, hoping to squeeze it out later.

Most of us can take care of ourselves and our families if the government will just get out of the way and let the miracle of the free market work.  That would be a big step toward making American great again.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

All I need is a miracle, all I need is you
All I need is a miracle, all I need is you
All I need is a miracle, all I need is you

Mike and the Mechanics – All I Need Is A Miracle

 

 

The ObamaCare Zone

obamacare-zoneWhat made the United States an economic powerhouse with the highest standard of living in the world?  Without a doubt, it is our belief in free market economics.  Why then would we even consider nationalizing one of the largest segments of our economy?  After six years of ObamaCare we have been to the edge of the abyss, looked in, and recoiled at what we saw.  Government takeover of private industries is always a disaster.

We are at a watershed moment in history, with an opportunity to hit the reset button and get it right.  It’s time to set aside the political posturing and get to work on repairing our health care financial system – not as an entitlement, but as a BUSINESS.  Because that’s what it is.

Problem:  When an industry like health care is removed from the free market and taken over by the government (nationalized), it always results in higher costs, reduced access and choices, and poorer products (outcomes).

Solution:  Repeal ObamaCare immediately, remove as much government interference as possible and restore free market for health care and insurance.  Implement reasonable regulations to protect consumers and maintain fair competition.

Problem: Health care costs and health insurance premiums continue to increase much faster than normal inflation.

Solution:  Require consumers to have “skin in the game” by paying directly for minor medical care – health insurance should be geared toward major medical coverage. Make medical expenses and premiums tax deductible for individuals, just like they are for corporations.  Require all medical providers to show costs to consumer before treatment.  Require insurers to offer large pool pricing and ERISA protection for individual plans at rates comparable to corporate group plans.  Establish reasonable restrictions on malpractice payouts.  These reforms will put purchase decisions in the hands of consumers where normal free market forces will result in price competition and improved product.

Problem:  Even though health care is not an entitlement, most Americans want to help fellow citizens who are legitimately unable to purchase their own care and/or insurance.

Solution: There are many ways to provide a safety net for the truly needy, such as subsidies and/or tax relief for private health insurance, taxpayer funded or subsidized health clinics, etc.  Regulations should prevent health insurance companies from cancelling coverage due to claims experience.  On the other hand, insurance companies can not be expected to cover consumers with pre-existing conditions, so state assigned-risk pools are necessary.  In all cases rigid vetting is absolutely necessary.  Our system can not support unlimited care for non-citizens and false claims of disability and indigence.

Problem: Many Americans fear that if the government is not between them and their health care, and they are left to their own devices to purchase health care, the powerful health care industry will abuse them for profit.

Solution:  The strongest motive to provide a good product is profit.  Consumers make good purchasing decisions every day.  The cost of products goes down as the quality improves, because consumers will always, always, ALWAYS select the best value when they are spending their own money.

Repeal ObamaCare now.  Release the health care and insurance industry to seek honest profits in the free market by competing for customers.  Implement common sense regulations that are fair for providers and consumers alike.  Stop pretending that health care is free and everybody is entitled to it.  Let the magic of the American free market work again.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

 The Twilight Zone – the Ventures

 

 

 

 

No More “Fake News” – Repeal ObamaCare Now!

coverbatboyThis just in: the mainstream news industry has confirmed the existence of “fake news”.

It’s not yet clear exactly what qualifies as “fake news”.  Some online political trouble-makers have learned that there is nothing to prevent them from writing stories that are flat-out untrue.  Worse, they have learned that lazy mainstream journalists and pundits will often repeat their fabrications without an ounce of verification.

The label “fake news” can apparently be used by a reporter to discount any news that doesn’t support his ideology.  It is also acceptable for one to use fake news to plant his own ideology in the minds of the low-information masses.

And there has been, especially in the recent election silly season, a serious epidemic of Facebook and Twitter users (of all political persuasions) sharing and re-posting titillating but bogus information without testing its veracity – or even reading anything more than the title.

Now, I can cut Average Joe and Jane some slack for not knowing journalistic “best practices”.  But it’s pretty hard to excuse paid media professionals who engage in fake news.  Facebook and Google claim they are going to crack down on fake news.  Who can take them seriously after they were caught manipulating search results and “trending” lists to drive viewers toward their left-wing point-of-view?

After all the hand-wringing and accusations about fake news, it is astonishing how left-wing media pundits still have no shame about making their own false or misleading public statements.  On last weekend’s Sunday news shows, the “media professionals” strapped on their Pinocchio noses and went to work.

Karine Jean-Pierre dropped this little stool on ABC’s This Week : “Donald Trump does have a vote in Congress to repeal, to take away, health care from many Americans.”

There was no mention of how many people lost their private coverage due to the ACA.  In fact, she didn’t mention ObamaCare at all.  No elaboration on how Congress’ proposed replacement plans are designed to cover more people rather than fewer.  Certainly no reporting on the need to beat back the crushing cost increases taxpayers currently bear (my forced ObamaCare premium is 400% higher than my private insurance was, and is now mostly subsidized by the taxpayers.)

Jean-Pierre just laid out her fake news “fact” that President Trump wants to take your health insurance away.  Job done, let’s go get a Starbucks.

During that same show, there was an advertisement paid for by the taxpayers, encouraging viewers to sign up for ObamaCare.  The ad’s appeal is that “most people who are enrolled receive ‘financial help’ with their premiums” – specifically, your individual premium might be as high as $650 per month, but you might only pay $50 per month.  Fake advertising news alert:  it’s not “financial help,”, it’s a taxpayer-funded subsidy.

If ObamaCare is such a good deal for everyone, why do we have to pay for TV advertisements to drum up business?

The left-wing media has become so adept at “fake news” that half of the Democrat party’s sobbing supporters believe Vladimir Putin actually hacked into the voting machines and threw the election for his buddy Donald Trump.

Here’s hoping the incoming administration will discard the corrupt mainstream media like a Hillary Clinton disk drive and take its messages straight to the people by whatever alternative means are available.  Because chances are, if it came from the mainstream media, it’s fake!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

You’re a fake, baby
You can’t conceal it
Know how I know?
‘Cause I can feel it!
You’re a fake, baby
No rhyme or reason
‘Cause in your mind it’s lyin’ season.

FAKE – Alexander O’Neal

Now here’s a funky one!  O’Neal on Soul Train, mid 80s.

 

 

 

Yeah, Joe, It’s A Big F***ing Deal!

big fucking dealMarch 23, 2010:  Vice President Joe Biden introduced Barack Obama to the adoring gathered media, grabbed a handshake, lit up his biggest goofy grin, and told the President, “This is a big fucking deal!” 

Yeah, Joe, it was.  It still is.

Four years later, citizens still scramble to make sense of it all – to try to save some scraps of access to quality health care in the age of ObamaCare – over 11,000 pages of intentionally obtuse regulations – a stack of paper over three feet high, and growing – a set of laws that no longer resembles the one passed by Congress – shuffled almost weekly by politically-motivated Obama imprimaturs – a Reid/Pelosi head fake toward the ultimate goal of national health care.

There are few winners, many losers, and a rush-hour freeway full of people who are just totally baffled.  As the (extended) enrollment deadline of March 31 approaches, American families are coming down to crunch time.  How the hell are we going to have health insurance that we can afford, and that actually works?  And what will be the cost to a nation already punch-drunk from the economic fun-house imposed on us by a Peter Principle community organizer with no clue?

Like all Americans, my wife and I are on the front lines in the ObamaCare battle. I don’t want to bore you with details – each of us has his own sad ObamaCare ballad to sing.  In short: our policy was cancelled because it was not ObamaCare compliant.  ‘His Eminence’ declared we could “keep our insurance” –  then we could not – then we could.  When we finally could, the premium was nearly double.  But as responsible conservative Americans do, we bit the bullet and paid the freight.  Then, a few months later, we moved to another state and found we had no choice but to buy into ObamaCare.

The Health Care dot gov website, although somewhat functional, was replete with errors and inconsistencies.  The deductible is $500.  No wait, this page says $5000!  That page says our doctors are in the network and will be paid by insurance.  But wait!  This page says they are not in the network and there will be no reimbursement!  Phone calls to the insurance provider go directly to voice-mail hell.  The one “advisor” who eventually called me back was at the end of her rope – apologetically as baffled as the rest of us.

Having lost our grandfathered policy, we had no choice but to enroll for coverage on the “exchange” and accept whatever the government decided to give us – aka the ‘Soviet’ position.  Yes, the taxpayer-funded subsidy makes our premium attractive.  But we don’t know if we can keep our doctors and top-notch local hospital.  We are pretty sure we won’t have access to the premier cancer and heart clinics that are the best hope of those most in need of God’s medical mercy.  There are 11,000 pages of fine print that are way beyond our control.  It feels like we have been sold a ten-dollar buffet lunch where a dollar’s worth is about all you can stomach.  Worst of all, we – for the first time in our lives – are ashamed to be forced into leaning on the hard-working taxpayers of our once-proud country.  Except for my Obama Phone – but that was just to make a point.

Yeah, Joe.  ObamaCare is a big fucking deal.  You guys screwed the country out of the best health care system in the world.  It’s a big, sad, fucking deal.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

A spelling test compliments of Country Joe McDonald
at Woodstock, 1969.  Plenty of “F-Bombs” as reprised by VP Joe Biden –

   the Vietnam song – Country Joe McDonald

Rubio Threatens ObamaCare Bailouts – Health Insurers Freak Out

photo courtesy of Gaebler.comHave you wondered why the big health insurance companies have not put up a fight against the federal government takeover of their industry?  By outward appearance it would seem that Obama, Reid and Pelosi are hell-bent on putting the health insurance guys out of business.  Shouldn’t they be screaming bloody murder?

The ObamaCare concept is, at best, a house of cards.  I contend it is a predictable “train wreck,” certain to happen.  It is based on the premise that healthy young people will suddenly trip over themselves running to buy insurance plans that they don’t want, don’t need, don’t understand, and can’t afford, in order to subsidize coverage for the sick and elderly.  The further assumption is that fear of a tiny tax penalty some time in the distant future will scare the youngsters into compliance today – kids who, if they report taxes at all, just hand their W2s to H&R Block once a year, and then turn right back to their Facebook pages.

Early indications are that the young are staying away from ObamaCare in droves.  Many older citizens who had individual insurance have lost or dropped their policies.  Most transactions on the ObamaCare exchanges are actually signups for free Medicaid, not affordable insurance.  And since it didn’t occur to the ObamaCare planners to release hospitals from the requirement to provide emergency care to anybody who shows up at the door, guess what?  The “poor” are still going to the ER, largely because they don’t know any better.

The demographic assumptions that established the viability of ObamaCare have already been blown to smithereens.

It would appear ObamaCare is pushing the insurance companies (and self-insured employers) toward financial armageddon.  They are now loaded with mandates and reporting requirements, forced to assume high-risk clients and pre-existing conditions, faced with the loss of profitable group insurance policies and struggling to react to minute-by-minute rule changes well after the game started.  Why haven’t the insurance guys complained?

Now we know.  The whole thing was a setup.

ObamaCare stackThe CBO had already projected that the federal government will pass $1 trillion of taxpayer funds through to the insurance companies.  But Wait!  Now we learn that buried deep in the 20,000+ pages of the ObamaCare regulations are two little gems that the administration didn’t want to see the light of day:  Section 1341, the “reinsurance fund” and Section 1342, the “risk-corridor provision”.

The reinsurance fund provides the insurance companies a stop-loss at $45,000 on big claims.  80% of any claims above that amount are covered by (you guessed it) the taxpayers.  The risk-corridor provision even further insulates the insurance companies from losses (up to 80%) due to changes in the demographics of ObamaCare enrollees (see above).

Thanks to Charles Krauthamer and Senator Marco Rubio these boondoggles have been revealed (don’t wait for an expose’ on MSNBC) and a push to repeal the provisions is gathering steam.

Krauthamer:  First order of business for the returning Congress: The No Bailout for Insurance Companies Act of 2014.  Make it one line long: “Sections 1341 and 1342 of the Affordable Care Act are hereby repealed.”  End of bill. End of bailout. End of story.

Not surprisingly, the health insurance executives are freaking out.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

All that pressure got you down
Has your head been spinning all around?
Ah, freak out!  (Le freak, c’est chic)
Freak out!  (Le freak, c’est chic)
Freak out!

Le Freak – Chic – 1977

The gals are still lookin’ mighty freakin’ good in this 2004 Chic concert footage:

The United States of Thunderdome

thunderdomeMost Americans think our nation is superior to others.  We believe that our system of government, based on the world’s finest constitution and a reliable set of laws, makes the United States a better and more secure place to live than, say, a dictatorship where laws are made and enforced at the whim of the political elite.

Don’t look now, but our current administration and department of justice shreds our constitution and our federal laws on a daily basis, and we either don’t see it, don’t get it, don’t think we can do anything about it, or just don’t care.

[Wikipedia] Immigrants can be classified as illegal for one of three reasons: entering without authorization or inspection, staying beyond the authorized period after legal entry, or violating the terms of legal entry.[46]

Section 1325 in Title 8 of the United States Code, “Improper entry of alien”, provides for a fine, imprisonment, or both for any immigrant who:[47]

  1. enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration agents, or
  2. eludes examination or inspection by immigration agents, or
  3. attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact.

So illegal immigration is illegal, right?

[Wikipedia]Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, establishes the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and U.S. Treaties as “the supreme law of the land.” The text provides that these are the highest form of law in the U.S. legal system, and mandates that all state judges must follow federal law when a conflict arises between federal law and either the state constitution or state law of any state.

So federal law trumps state law, right?

And yet yesterday thousands of illegal aliens lined up at DMV offices all over Nevada to get their “driver privilege cards”.  The Nevada legislature and Republican governor Brian Sandoval passed a state law last year that not only authorizes licenses for illegal aliens, it also prohibits the DMV from sharing information about the criminals for immigration enforcement purposes. 

How is this possible in the United States of America, a nation that looks down on North Korea and Iran and Belarus and Ethiopia because of the superiority of our constitution and the reliable enforcement of our laws?

Colorado legalizes the recreational use of marijuana even though it is clearly illegal under federal law.  Our president changes major provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act without legal authority or even consulting congress, and the nation accepts it as law.  States pass laws disallowing gay marriage and are overruled by liberal courts who have no authority to create or abolish laws.

For the first time in our nation’s history, our laws are no longer sacrosanct.  They are not even meaningful.  As this trend evolves, and nobody knows who has authority and which laws will be enforced, we grow closer and closer to anarchy.  Why is illegal immigration okay, but illegal tax evasion is not?  If the president can create or change laws, or choose which ones to enforce, why can’t a governor?  A mayor?  A policeman?  If illegal use of recreational marijuana is okay, why isn’t illegal use of heroin, or LSD, or cocaine okay?

an·ar·chy

noun \ˈa-nər-kē, -ˌnär-\

: a situation of confusion and wild behavior in which the people in a country, group, organization, etc., are not controlled by rules or laws

Welcome to the United States of Thunderdome.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side Looking for something we can rely on
There’s got to be something better out there
Love and compassion, their day is coming
All else are castles built in the air
We don’t need another hero!
We don’t need to know the way home!
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome . . .

Thunderdome – Tina Turner

I Need ObamaCare – My Head is Exploding!

Exploding headI think I am going to need ObamaCare.  Or some kind of care.  Every time I read the local newspaper, my head wants to explode.

Here’s what I read in the Charlotte Observer today (and what I am thinking in parentheses):

HEADLINE: MATTHEWS EXPLORES CAR-CHARGING STATIONS (Oh, my God, aren’t the Solyndra-type paybacks ever going to end?  Are we ever going to admit that electric cars are a stupid idea in a country with more oil than we could ever use?)

The town of Matthews is exploring a partnership with an Asheville-based company to bring electric-vehicle charging stations to the community. (Partnership.  That means both sides benefit, right?  Let’s follow the money, I have a feeling it will be going in one direction only).

Brightfield Transportation Solutions is offering to install charging stations for free in towns. (Didn’t your dad ever tell you there’s no such thing as a free lunch?)  “We’ve been looking at wanting to do this for the last couple of years, but it’s been cost prohibitive,” said Matthews spokeswoman Annette Privette Keller.  (Ding! Ding! Ding!  Maybe there’s a reason why it’s Cost Prohibitive!  Could it be because NOBODY WANTS IT?  Oh, and anybody who uses three names, one of which is “Privette”, has never ever ever cleaned her own bathroom.) 

Brightfield is working with Nissan, the US Dept. of Energy, Advanced Energy, and Centralina Council of Governments.  (Hmm, let’s see – the money for most of those guys comes exclusively from THE TAXPAYERS.  And I’d be interested to know if Brightfield is an Obama contribution bundler.  If this was a viable deal, wouldn’t they have investors chomping at the bit to get in on the ground floor?).

Matthews has been selected as one of the preferred sites because of its population demographics.  (Let me guess . . . gullible, low-information, high income Obama-Zombies who have no problem taxing the hard-working people and blowing their money on something that nobody wants just because it makes them feel like they are doing something nice for Mother Earth.)

“Matthews has always worked to be PROGRESSIVE . . . and this would be another opportunity for us to be part of a MOVEMENT that we think is going to be SUSTAINABLE in the future,” said Keller.  (There’s three Agenda 21 buzzwords in one sentence.  Let’s just give our credit card info to the United Nations to spend on caviar, blended whiskey and dancing girls for the benevolent dictator of Outer Bendovia.)

The town has two options.  In the first, the town accepts a $50,000 grant (Grant?  Hey, that’s free money!  It just falls out of the sky!  Nobody has to pay for a grant!) and would be responsible for constructing, operating, maintaining and upgrading the station.  (Ummm, wait a minute . . . )  The second option is for the town to enter a 10-year licensing agreement with Brightfield at no cost to the town.  (Kinda sounds like a free lunch again . . .)   The company would collect a fee, expected to be $8 for people to charge their vehicles.  (Boy, my new $40,000 electric car sure is great!  I can drive it for 90 miles, then I just have to take it downtown, plug it in, wait for three hours and pay eight bucks, and then it will run for another 90 miles.  Sounds like fun!)

During the presentation, Keller said that staff recommended the second option.  Once they’ve decided on a location, town staff will complete a GRANT APPLICATION with Brightfield.  (Isn’t it swell of Brightfield to do this wonderful thing for the 262 owners of electric vehicles in Mecklenburg County, population 1 million, maybe two of whom live in Matthews.  And for FREE!   Well, there’s that GRANT thing . . . )

I sure hope they get that ObamaCare website working soon.  My head could explode any minute.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Well, I think I’m going out of my head.
Yes, I think I’m going out of my head.
Over you.
Over you!

Going Out Of My Head – Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66

Okay, there’s no explaining taste.  I have always been a sucker for Sergio Mendez and his corny Brazilian/American samba/bossa/pop music.  Maybe it’s the mini-skirts!  If you get past the schmaltz, there’s some pretty good music in there somewhere – I think . . .