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[VIDEO] Jeff Sessions Explains Why ‘Voters Are in Open Rebellion’

In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., voiced his concern about the $1.1 trillion government spending bill that lawmakers will vote on this week. Sessions cited these issues as most problematic: fully funding President Barack Obama’s refugee resettlement program, sanctuary cities, and the resettlement of illegal alien youths and their families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. He also criticized tax credits for illegal immigrants and quadrupling H-2B foreign worker visas.

Source: dailysignal.com

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ObamaCare’s death Spiral, Stage One: Denial 

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Enrollment is falling short. The Obama administration projects that it will have roughly 10 million people on the state and federal exchanges by the end of next year, a staggering climb-down from prior expectations.

lowryRich Lowry writes: For the press, the debate over ObamaCare is over. There may be a few proverbial Japanese soldiers wandering on isolated islands yammering on about the failure of ObamaCare, but word will eventually filter down to them, too. This assumption is so deeply embedded that it is impervious to new evidence that ObamaCare is an unwieldy contraption that is sputtering badly.

“ObamaCare is a monopoly. It gives money to people to buy its product and through the individual mandate punishes those who don’t. And yet it’s still having trouble making the sale.”

Yes, ObamaCare has covered more people and has especially benefited those with pre-existing conditions (to be credible, Republican replacement plans have to do these things, as well), but the program is so poorly designed that, surely, even a new Democratic president will want to revisit it to try to make it more workable.

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“Premiums are rising. Not everywhere, but steeply in some states. Indiana is down 12 percent, but Minnesota is up 50 percent.”

Enrollment is falling short. The Obama administration projects that it will have roughly 10 million people on the state and federal exchanges by the end of next year, a staggering climb-down from prior expectations. The Congressional Budget Office had predicted that there would be roughly 20 million enrollees.

[Also see – Giving Voters Exactly What They Deserve: Health Insurance Premium to Spike Again]

[More – Broke U.S. Government Needs Millions of New Obamacare Enrollees to Prevent Program Collapse]

If the administration is to be believed, enrollment will only increase about another million next year from its current 9 million and only sign up about a quarter of the eligible uninsured.

[Read the full story here, at the New York Post]

Premiums are rising. Not everywhere, but steeply in some states. Indiana is down 12 percent, but Minnesota is up 50 percent. Health care expert Robert Laszewski points out that it’s the insurers with the highest enrollment and therefore the best information about actual enrollees that have tended to request the biggest increases — a sign that they don’t like what they’re seeing in their data. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Fifth Planned Parenthood Video: Negotiating ‘Intact’ Fetuses

Melissa Farrell discusses contributing to the organization’s ‘diversification of the revenue stream’ and the potential to ‘get creative’ with conditions for procurement needs.

Jesse Byrnes  reports:

…In the fifth video from the Center for Medical Progress, a woman identified as Melissa Farrell, director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, discusses contributing to the organization’s “diversification of the revenue stream” and the potential to “get creative” with conditions for procurement needs. The video was reportedly filmed this past April at a Planned Parenthood facility in Texas.

“Just depending on the patient’s anatomy, how many weeks, where it’s placed in the uterus…we’re going to potentially be able to have some that will be more or less intact, and then some that will not be.”

— — Melissa Farrell, director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast

“Just depending on the patient’s anatomy, how many weeks, where it’s placed in the uterus … we’re going to potentially be able to have some that will be more or less intact, and then some that will not be,” she said.

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“If we alter our process and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, then we can make it part of the budget, that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this. I mean, it’s all just a matter of line items.”

— Melissa Farrell

“But it’s something that we can look at exploring how we can make that happen so we have a higher chance,” she adds.

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“And we’ve had studies in which the company, or in the case of the investigator, has a specific need for a certain portion of the products of conception and we bake that into our contract, and our protocol, that we follow this. So we deviate from our standard in order to do that.”

— Melissa Farrell

“And we’ve had studies in which the company, or in the case of the investigator, has a specific need for a certain portion of the products of conception and we bake that into our contract, and our protocol, that we follow this. So we deviate from our standard in order to do that,” the Planned Parenthood official says in the latest video.

[Read the full text here, at TheHill]

“If we alter our process and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, then we can make it part of the budget, that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this. I mean, it’s all just a matter of line items,” she adds later. Read the rest of this entry »


#Texas Attorney General: Office Has Received More #PlannedParenthood Videos

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Melaney Linton, president of that clinic, said in written testimony that one individual was shown an area where tissue is processed after an abortion. She said the video ‘will be difficult for many people to see.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) –  Paul J. Weber reports: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Wednesday that his office has received video taken in a Planned Parenthood clinic he says is consistent with other stealthily recorded footage that has Republicans again taking on the biggest abortion provider in the U.S.

While testifying before a committee of Texas lawmakers, Paxton would not divulge details or discuss how his office got the footage, which has not been publicly released.

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“The unveiling of other covertly recorded videos released this month by an anti-abortion group, showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing procedures for obtaining tissue from aborted fetuses for research, has put the organization on the defensive.”

He also didn’t specify where the video was filmed, but Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast says actors pretending to be from a health research company toured its Houston clinic in April and talked to staff members. Melaney Linton, president of that clinic, said in written testimony that one individual was shown an area where tissue is processed after an abortion. She said the video “will be difficult for many people to see.”

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“Texas is among a handful of Republican-controlled states that have launched investigations, while GOP leaders in the U.S. Senate say they will vote to bar federal aid to Planned Parenthood.”

But Linton said the clinic did not break any laws and defended skipping the hearing by the Texas Health and Human Services Committee.

“This committee has made it abundantly clear that it has no desire to hold a responsible, fair, fact-driven hearing. It is clear that this committee cares more about political gamesmanship than the truth,” Linton said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] White House ‘Wasn’t Forthcoming’ on Gruber’s Obamacare Role: Mark Halperin: ‘They were right. The Republicans were right’

Emails show Jonathan Gruber, the economist who said Obamacare was written deceptively in order to pass the attention of stupid American voters, played a far wider role in the law’s instrumentation than the White House previously said.

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Longtime political journalist and pundit Mark Halperin says he owes his Republican sources “an apology” after apparently doubting their claims that MIT economist Jonathan Gruber played a major role in crafting ObamaCare.

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Halperin, Bloomberg Politics managing editor, addressed the controversy on MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe” on Monday, after a Wall Street Journal report first revealed emails showing Gruber playing a deeper role than previously thought.

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“I owe all my Republican sources an apology because they kept telling me he was hugely involved, and the White House played it down,” Halperin said. “They were right. The Republicans were right.”  Read the rest of this entry »


Contrary To White House Denials, Jonathan Gruber Was ‘Integral’ To Obamacare

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Gruber’s role may help decide the King v. Burwellcase that is now before the Supreme Court, the one that will shape Obamacare’s implementation for years to come

Avik Royavik-roy writes: Last fall, videos emerged showing MIT economist Jonathan Gruber—the architect of Obamacare—mocking “the stupidity of the American voter” for not perceiving the ways in which the controversial health law concealed its true costs. At the time, President Obama and others went through great lengths to deny Gruber’s centrality to Obamacare.

[DISCLOSURE: I am an adviser to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, but the opinions in this post are mine, and do not necessarily correspond to those of Gov. Perry.]

But 20,000 pages of new emails, obtained from MIT by the House Oversight Committee, appear to prove Gruber’s critical role. And Gruber’s role may help decide the King v. Burwellcase that is now before the Supreme Court, the one that will shape Obamacare’s implementation for years to come.

[Read the full text here, at Forbes]

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Gruber, the ‘independent expert’

In October 2009, as the debate over Obamacare crested in Congress, PriceWaterhouseCoopers published a prescient analysis projecting that, under Obamacare, health insurance premiums would increase by 47 percent in 2016 for people who bought coverage on their own: the “individual” or “non-group” market in jonathan-gruber-affordable-care-acthealth insurance parlance.

[Stephanie Armour of the Wall Street Journal first reported the existence of the new email trove]

If anything, PwC understated Obamacare’s impact on individual-market premiums. But the report directly contradicted President Obama’s wild claim that Obamacare would “lower your premiums by up to $2,500 per family per year.”

[Also see – Yes, Jonathan Gruber Is an Obamacare Architect – by Veronique De Rugy]

Democrats understood how much the report threatened the passage of Obamacare, and rolled out Jonathan Gruber—an “independent expert”—to assure senators that the “Affordable Care Act” would live up to its name.

Gruber scored an interview with Ezra Klein, then blogging at the Washington Post, in which Gruber said that “what we know for sure the bill will do is that it will lower the cost of buying non-group health insurance.” (Emphasis added.) Read the rest of this entry »


MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber Had Bigger Role in Health Law, Emails Show

GRUBER-WSJ

Adviser whose comments on Affordable Care Act touched off a furor worked more closely than previously known with White House

Stephanie Armour writes: Jonathan Gruber, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist whose comments about the health-care law touched off a political furor, worked more closely than previously known with the White House and top federal officials to shape the law, previously unreleased emails show.

“His proximity to HHS and the White House was a whole lot tighter than they admitted. There’s no doubt he was a much more integral part of this than they’ve said. He put up this facade he was an arm’s length away. It was a farce.”

— Rep. Jason Chaffetz, (R. Utah), chairman of the House oversight committee

The emails provided by the House Oversight Committee to The Wall Street Journal cover messages Mr. Gruber sent from January 2009 through March 2010. Committee staffers said they worked with MIT to obtain the 20,000 pages of emails.

They depict frequent consultations between Mr. Gruber and top Obama administration staffers and advisers in the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services on the Affordable Care Act. They show he informed HHS about interviews with reporters and discussions with lawmakers, and that he consulted with HHS about how to publicly describe his role.

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The administration has sought to distance itself from the MIT economist in the wake of his controversial statements in a 2013 video where he said the health law passed because of the “huge political advantage” of the legislation’s lacking transparency. He also referred to the “stupidity of the American voter.”

Republicans seized on the comments as evidence that supporters of the law purposely misled the public about its costs. Mr. Gruber received nearly $400,000 from HHS for his work focusing on health-policy computer models, according to public records.

The White House has described Mr. Gruber as having a limited role in crafting the law. President Barack Obama in 2014 said Mr. Gruber was “some adviser who never worked on our staff.” In testimony last year before Congress, Mr. Gruber disagreed with the widespread characterization of his role as the “architect” of Mr. Obama’s health-care plan.

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“His proximity to HHS and the White House was a whole lot tighter than they admitted,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, (R. Utah), chairman of the House oversight committee. “There’s no doubt he was a much more integral part of this than they’ve said. He put up this facade he was an arm’s length away. It was a farce.”

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Mr. Chaffetz on Sunday sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwellrequesting information justifying the department’s sole source contract with Mr. Gruber for his work on the health law.

Mr. Gruber declined to comment. Read the rest of this entry »


Insurers’ Sweet Screaming Nightmare Scenario: A Health-Law Death Spiral

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Anna Wilde Mathews reports: As the Supreme Court hears arguments on Wednesday in the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, health insurers are struggling to prepare for a decision that could unravel the marketplaces created by the law.

“Without the tax credits, insurance-industry officials say, the individual insurance markets in those states are likely to start collapsing, as many people drop coverage they can no longer afford, leaving only those less-healthy consumers who value insurance because they’re likely to need care…”

The ruling could come in June—but insurers must make regulatory filings before then about their 2016 plans. Utah’s Arches Health Plan, for one, says it may propose an array of insurance product designs this spring. Then, depending on what the court decides, the insurer would be poised to drop some of them before they’re finalized with regulators and offered to consumers. The insurer may also come up with two different sets of rates for next year, one for each potential court outcome.

“…That would drive up premiums, because insurers would raise rates to cover the costs of this smaller, sicker pool. Then even more people would likely refuse the ever-more-expensive coverage.”

“We’re hedging our bets right now,” says Ferris W. Taylor, chief strategy officer.

The Supreme Court case focuses on federal subsidies that help lower-income consumers purchase plans. The plaintiffs argue that these tax credits aren’t authorized by the law in states where the federal government provides the online insurance exchange—which total as many as 37. Avalere Health, a consulting firm, estimated that around 7.45 million people could lose the federal financial help if the court rules against the subsidies.

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“What happens is, you go into a classic death spiral…It doesn’t hang together.”

— Janie Miller, chief executive of nonprofit insurer Kentucky Health Cooperative Inc

Without the tax credits, insurance-industry officials say, the individual insurance markets in those states are likely to start collapsing, as many people drop coverage they can no longer afford, leaving only those less-healthy consumers who value insurance because they’re likely to need care. That would drive up premiums, because insurers would raise rates to cover the costs of this smaller, sicker pool. Then even more people would likely refuse the ever-more-expensive coverage.

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An analysis by researchers at the Urban Institute, a liberal-leaning policy research group, projected that in states where the subsidies disappeared, individual insurance premiums would go up 35% on average in 2016. That increase would affect all consumers purchasing their own plans in those states, including people who didn’t buy through the government marketplace, the researchers suggested. The financial blow would be particularly tough for smaller insurers that can’t dilute the impact with other, unaffected business, like employer and Medicare plans.

 “The impact would be substantial enough that I would expect many carriers to consider pulling from the market. There’s a question, if the subsidies are struck down, if it’s an insurable market.”

— Tom Snook, an actuary with consultants Milliman Inc. who is working with a number of insurers offering exchange plans

“What happens is, you go into a classic death spiral,” says Janie Miller, chief executive of nonprofit insurer Kentucky Health Cooperative Inc. “It doesn’t hang together.” Her nonprofit’s home state wouldn’t feel the direct impact of a ruling, because Kentucky has its own exchange. But the insurer has said that next year it will go into West Virginia, where the subsidies could potentially be affected. Ms. Miller said the co-op would have to re-evaluate its expansion plans if the court struck down tax credits there. Read the rest of this entry »


Democrats Run Away from Obamacare Penalty They Imposed

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Democrats don’t like to call the Obamacare penalty a penalty; its official name is the Shared Responsibility Payment. But the fact is, the lawmakers’ intent in levying the fines was to make it so painful for the average American to ignore Obamacare that he or she will ultimately knuckle under and do as instructed.

Byron Yorkyork writes: The Democrats who wrote and passed the Affordable Care Act were sure of two things: The law had to include a mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance, and it had to have an enforcement mechanism to make the mandate work. Enforcement has always been at the heart of Obamacare.

Now, though, enforcement time has come, and some Democrats are shying away from the coercive measures they themselves wrote into law.

China Currency

“Enforcement Has Always Been at the Heart of Obamacare”

The Internal Revenue Service is the enforcement arm of Obamacare, and with tax forms due April 15, Americans who did not purchase coverage and who have not received one of the many exemptions already offered by the administration are discovering they will have to pay a substantial fine. For a household with, say, no kids and two earners making $35,000 a piece, the fine will be $500, paid at tax time.

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“And there’s very little chance the individual mandate’s approval numbers will improve, now that millions of Americans are getting a taste of what it really means.”

That’s already a fact. What is particularly worrisome to Democrats now is that, as those taxpayers discover the penalty they owe, they will already be racking up a new, higher penalty for 2015. This year, the fine for not obeying Obamacare’s edict is $325 per adult, or two percent of income above the filing threshold, whichever is higher. So that couple making $35,000 a year each will have to pay $1,000.

There’s another problem. The administration’s enrollment period just ended on February 15. So if people haven’t signed up for Obamacare already, they’ll be stuck paying the higher penalty for 2015.

China Currency

“The individual mandate has always been extremely unpopular. In December 2014, just a couple of months ago, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 64 percent of those surveyed don’t like the mandate. The level of disapproval has been pretty consistent since the law was passed.”

By the way, Democrats don’t like to call the Obamacare penalty a penalty; its official name is the Shared Responsibility Payment. But the fact is, the lawmakers’ intent in levying the fines was to make it so painful for the average American to ignore Obamacare that he or she will ultimately knuckle under and do as instructed.

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Except that it’s easier to inflict theoretical pain than actual pain. Read the rest of this entry »


Americans Should Drink More Coffee

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Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more

Roberto A. Ferdman reports: When the nation’s top nutrition panel released its latest dietary recommendations on Thursday, the group did something it had never done before: weigh in on whether people should be drinking coffee. What it had to say is pretty surprising.

“I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer — nobody thinks that. But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around.”

— Tom Brenna, a member of the committee and a nutritionist at Cornell University

Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more.

Ryan Ludwig, of Counter Culture Coffee, prepares a coffee cupping, or tasting, at the company's training center in lower Manhattan. Leslie Josephs/The Wall Street Journal

Ryan Ludwig, of Counter Culture Coffee, prepares a coffee cupping, or tasting, at the company’s training center in lower Manhattan. Photo credit: Leslie Josephs

“We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits. Specifically when you’re drinking more than a couple cups per day.”

— Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University

The panel cited minimal health risks associated with drinking between three and five cups per day. It also said that consuming as many as five cups of coffee each day (400 mg) is tied to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

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“We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits,” said Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University and one of the committee’s members. “Specifically when you’re drinking more than a couple cups per day.”

“The decision, which broke the committee’s more than 40 years of silence on coffee, was driven by heightened interest in the caffeinated beverage as well as a growing anxiety about potential health risks associated with it.”

That’s great news if you’re already drinking between three and five cups each day, which Nelson and the rest of the panel consider a “moderate” level of consumption. But you know what? You probably aren’t, Giant Coffee Cupbecause people in this country actually tend to consume a lot less than that.

“It remains to be seen whether the Department of Health and Human Services or the Agriculture Department will take the committee’s recommendations for coffee intake to heart and include them in the official dietary guidelines update…”

On average, Americans only drink about one cup of coffee per day, according to data collected by the United States Department of Agriculture. Even when Americans drank the most coffee they ever have, back in 1946, they still only drank two cups a day on average. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Congressman Jim Bridenstine: Reports from Migrant-Children Facility He Was Denied Access to Are ‘Devastating’

“All I wanted to do was to talk to who was in charge of the facility.”

— Representative Jim Bridenstine

For National Review Online, Caroline Rizzo reports: Representative Jim Bridenstine (R., Okla.), who was was denied access to an immigrant-detainee facility run by the Health and Human Services Department in his state on Monday, says he felt he had to visit it amidst reports of rape and abuse from children being held in the military barracks.

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” I’m going to send an e-mail, and it’s going to be a press release indicating that you guys are denying me access to a federal facility in my state, and I’m on the Armed Services Committee.”

“Did you say, ‘I’m a member of Congress. Oklahoma’s my state’? Did you tell them that?” Fox NewsGreta Van Susteren asked Bridenstine, and he said he had indeed made that point clear. Read the rest of this entry »