Peggy Noonan: High Anxiety Over Health-Care Reform 

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People need simplicity and clarity. They deserve it. They’ll pay for it as best they can, a lot if they have to. But they need not to be jerked around anymore. And that is what Congress doesn’t know.

Peggy Noonan writes: What politicians, those hardy folk, don’t understand about health care is how anxious it makes their constituents. Not suspicious, not obstinate, but anxious. Because unlike such policy questions as tax reform, health care can be an immediate life-or-death issue for you. It has to do with whether, when, and where you can get the chemo if you’re sick, and how long they’ll let you stay in the hospital when you have nobody, or nobody reliable and nearby, to care for you. To make it worse, the issue is all hopelessly complicated and complex and pits you as an individual against huge institutions—the insurance company that doesn’t answer the phone, the hospital that says “I’m afraid that’s not covered”—and you have to make the right decisions.

It’s all on you.

Politicians don’t understand all this, in part because they and their families are well-covered on a government insurance policy, and they have staff to put in the claim and argue with the insurance company, which, when it’s a congressman calling, answers the phone in one quick hurry. They don’t know it’s not easy for everyone else. Or rather they know on some abstract level but forget in the day-to-day, as one does with abstractions.

But I want to speak of how it’s all on you: You don’t want to be seen—by others, by yourself—as someone who couldn’t make the right decisions for yourself and your family. “She didn’t know she needed Part B.” “She got the supplement that says she can’t be treated in Jersey.” You don’t want to be humiliated. “What a dope.” “What fatal lack of sophistication.”

“Seven years ago it’s Democrats: “Wow, we’re so supercompetent, we’ll make it better!” And suddenly you lose your doctor or your coverage, or your premiums spike, and it’s a mess. They can’t even make the website work. And you’re anxious, and you have to renavigate an entire opaque empire of rules and passive-aggressive clerks. It’s a shadow on your life.”

And then these jokers in Congress come along. Seven years ago it’s Democrats: “Wow, we’re so supercompetent, we’ll make it better!” And suddenly you lose your doctor or your coverage, or your premiums spike, and it’s a mess. They can’t even make the website work. And you’re anxious, and you have to renavigate an entire opaque empire of rules and passive-aggressive clerks. It’s a shadow on your life.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

And then it settles down, as things do after seven years. You hate the system, but it is what it is and you’re used to it. And now these new jokers come along and say, “We’ll make it nice, trust us!” And it’s all big and complicated—so complicated the president negotiating it appears to have no idea what he’s saying yes or no to. But the effects and implications of his decisions will all be left on you. And you watch from the corner of your eye as you pass the TV, and suddenly your blood pressure’s spiking again. For you it’s all more anxiety and dishevelment and confusion, but in a new package, this time delivered by Republicans.

When all you want is the card in the wallet so when you’re strapped to the gurney in the emergency room, they’ll see it and they’ll say the word you want to hear: “Covered.” Then you can happily pass out.

People need simplicity and clarity. They deserve it. They’ll pay for it as best they can, a lot if they have to. But they need not to be jerked around anymore.

And that is what Congress doesn’t know.

We go now to the failure of the ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill.

Politically it’s all obvious. For the new administration it is a loss and a significant one. It has damaged the new president’s prestige. Every president until he fails has the aura of unused power. Boy, when I use it, you’re gonna see muscle. He used it. No muscle. Fatal? No. Damaging and diminishing? Yes. It is an embarrassment too for Speaker Paul Ryan. Together they could not get a win on the board after they threw everything they have into it. This does not speak well for everything they have. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Dana Perino Joins Mercy Ships’ Humanitarian Mission in Africa

Floating hospital docked in the Republic of Benin; for more information visit mercyships.org

Dana first visited our ship in 2013 during Mercy Ships’ field service in the Republic of the Congo. She will return on March 8 for four days while we’re docked in Cotonou to witness firsthand the hope and healing our crew is bringing to the people of Benin. On board theAfrica Mercy, Dana plans to shadow volunteer surgeon Dr. Mark Shrime, visit a local community, meet with patients to learn their stories, and much more.

Photo Credit: Michelle Murrey; Dana PERINO (USA), guest of Don STEPHENS, waits with a child in the Communications Room on Selection Day in Pointe Noire, Congo
Photo Credit: Michelle Murrey; Dana PERINO (USA), guest of Don STEPHENS, waits with a child in the Communications Room on Selection Day in Pointe Noire, Congo africa mercy ship dock africa mercy ship port

Many people in developing nations have little or no access to healthcare, causing children, teens and adults to suffer every day from treatable medical conditions. That’s why we use a hospital ship to bring care to those directly in need. Since our founding in 1978, Mercy Ships has delivered free services impacting more than 2.5 million children and families. Dana will experience a small taste of this during her visit.

Mercy Ships is tirelessly motivated to bringing hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor, but we cannot do so without help from people like you. Mercy Ships operates via funding from private donors, foundations and socially responsible corporations. Our entire crew — from surgeons and nurses to chefs and electricians — is made up of volunteers who pay to serve on the ship. Read the rest of this entry »


Supreme Court Resigns Duties, Tortures English Language to Save Obamacare

ObamaOrwell

“If only there was some branch of government designed to review legislative actions, thwarting the intentions of Congress if they conflict with the law… oh, wait, that branch does exist…”

 writes: In his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell observed that “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Today is Orwell’s birthday; it’s also the day the Supreme Court released its 6-3 decision in King v. Burwell, which preserves the Affordable Care Act at the expense of plain English.

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“The majority opinion explains away this blatant contradiction by expressing confidence that architects of the law intended something other than what they wrote—the opposite of it, in fact.”

The majority, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, ruled that the provision of the law mandating an “Exchange established by the State” should be interpreted to include an Exchange not established by any state, but instead by an agency of the federal government, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

[More – In Upholding Obamacare’s Subsidies, Justice Roberts Rewrites the Law—Again]

In his spot-on dissent, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia explains why this is an “impossible possibility”:

Justice Scalia testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington

The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal
Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.…

[Read the full text here, at Reason.com]

Faced with overwhelming confirmation that “Exchange established by the State” means what it looks like it means, the Court comes up with argument after feeble argument to support its contrary interpretation. None of its tries comes close to establishing the implausible conclusion that Congress used “by the State” to mean “by the State or not by the State.”

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The majority opinion explains away this blatant contradiction by expressing confidence that architects of the law intended something other than what they wrote—the opposite of it, in fact. Intent should trump plain English—even when the two directly oppose each other—writes Roberts, because the Court’s job is to defer to the will of lawmakers, and even contort logic to assist them, “if at all possible”: Read the rest of this entry »


Transparency: Three Lies About Obamacare Jonathan Gruber Accidentally Revealed

Gruberology

1. The Individual Mandate ‘Is Absolutely Not a Tax Increase’

2. Congress Meant for Subsidies to Flow Through State-based and Federal Exchanges

3. Obamacare Will Make Health Insurance More Affordable

read it here…

The Federalist


[VIDEO] The Fun Never Stops: FIFTH Video Emerges, Showing Gruber Gleefully Mocking Vermont Man Worried About Obamacare

“Was this written by my adolescent children by any chance?”

— Jonathan Gruber

Watchdog.org‘s Bruce Parker reports: A video from Vermont shows Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber mocking a Vermonter who expressed concern about single-payer health care.

“It was actually written by a former senior policy adviser in the White House who knew something about health care systems.”

In the 2011 video shot by TrueNorthReports.com and released on Thursday, Gruber appears before the Vermont House Health Care Committee to present recommendations for a universal, publicly financed health care program.

“No one should trust this man. Based on the rest of the stuff that’s come out on the videos, nobody can trust this guy. He has no use for transparency. He thinks people are stupid, and he’ll do anything to get this thing through and pocket his $400,000. That’s not in the interest of the people of Vermont.”

— John McClaughry, two-term Vermont state senator

The recommendations were part of the 2011 “Hsiao Report” submitted to the legislature by economist William C. Hsiao and co-written by Gruber. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Obamacare Gamble

The Pundit Planet Media – The Obamacare Gamble – YouTube

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The Gold-Plated Ambulance

The necessity of innovation and the social value of gazillionaires.

Kevin D. Williamson observes: A few years ago, a friend of mine was mortally ill with little prospect of treatment for his condition. He learned that there was a newly developed experimental surgery that might be of help, but there were only a few doctors anywhere in the world performing it. But he was a man of considerable financial resources, so he tracked down the physician who had invented the procedure, negotiated terms, and flew him several thousand miles for the treatment. How much expense this entailed I do not know, but I assume it was somewhere between sobering and staggering.

Very wealthy people can do things like that — that is the definition of being very wealthy. The economist Tyler Cowen was denounced for his “sociopathic callousness” for arguing that realistic health-care reform means accepting the fact that “sometimes poor people will die just because they are poor.” Laura Clawson, who hails from the shallow end of the dime-deep intellectual pool at Daily Kos, spoke for the conventional liberal worldview in maintaining that this line of thinking is “monstrous. In the direct sense that you have to be a monster to think it, never mind publicly advocating it as policy. His equation of health care with ‘all sorts of other goods’ that the wealthy have and the poor don’t is a moral and ethical failing, not a logical one — he’s simply suggesting that the right to have treatment for asthma or diabetes is a moral equivalent with the right to have a gold-plated Rolls-Royce.”

But as in the example of my friend, sometimes health care is the equivalent of a gold-plated Rolls-Royce. The most generous national health-care program we can imagine is not going to have the resources to provide each and every one of the 314 million citizens of these United States with the same kind of health care that Bill Gates can access. There are financial limits, and there are physical limits as well: only so many doctors, so many hospital beds, so many doses, so many transplantable organs. Which is to say, sometimes poor people will die just because they are poor, and sometimes middle-class people will die because they are not millionaires, and sometimes millionaires will die because they are not billionaires. And if we can set aside the gold plating, the Rolls-Royce analogy turns out to be more apt than Ms. Clawson might imagine: The cost of a kidney transplant is about the same as that of the least expensive Rolls-Royce, starting at a bit over $250,000. An interesting aspect of our health-care economy is that kidney transplants are available to many people who are not in the market for a bespoke luxury sedan.

But we owe a little something to the Rolls-Royce crowd. Read the rest of this entry »


Top IRS Official For Obamacare Implementation Placed On Administrative Leave

Sources say a key official in charge of overseeing health reform implementation, as well as another staffer, have been put on leave for accepting more than $1,000 in free meals and other items at a 2010 conference.

Image by Susan Walsh, File / AP

John Stanton

WASHINGTON — The IRS has put a top official in charge of implementing Obamacare on administrative leave after it was discovered he had accepted $1,162 in free food and other items during a 2010 conference.

In a statement, the IRS confirmed that two employees have been placed on administrative leave — which is paid — and have begun the process of removing them.

“[Acting IRS Director] Danny Werfel learned of the situation last night and immediately asked his leadership team to take action. He has also been in contact with key congressional committees about the situation,” the service said in the statement.

“When I came to IRS, part of my job was to hold people accountable,” Werfel said. “There was clearly inappropriate behavior involved in this situation, and immediate action is needed.”

The IRS informed congressional staff investigating the agency that Fred Schindler had been put on leave for accepting the gifts. A second unnamed staffer in the division was also put on leave for accepting the gifts, the aides said.

According to congressional sources, the food was provided by an event planner organizing the conference during an “after hours” party. One source says the incident was referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution but it was not acted upon.

An IRS spokesman declined to comment on whether the issue was sent to DOJ.

Schindler is the deputy for Sarah Hall Ingram, who is heading up implementation of the Affordable Care Act for the IRS. Ingram has come under scrutiny recently because she oversaw the division of the IRS which targeted conservative organizations seeking nonprofit status.

According to congressional sources, the suspensions appear to be the first examples of employees being punished as part of a separate scandal over the service’s spending on conferences. One congressional source said it also appears the free meals and gifts were accepted at the same 2010 conference during which participants filmed a Star Trek spoof video.

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa is scheduled to hold a hearing on conference spending by the IRS Thursday.

via BuzzFeed