On Tuesday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released another report into eligibility verification checks on the federally run Obamacare insurance exchange used by more than three dozen states. As with prior studies, GAO concluded that regulators still need to improve integrity efforts to ensure the federal government spends taxpayer funds wisely.
Among the report’s most noteworthy conclusions: A total of 17,000 federally subsidized insurance policies studied during the 2015 plan year—the most recent for which GAO had complete data at the time of its investigation—began or continued after the applicant’s reported date of death. In 1,000 of those cases, coverage began after the applicant’s reported date of death. In a further 2,000, the application was submitted after the applicant’s reported date of death—in most cases because the exchange automatically re-enrolled applicants without checking to determine that they remained alive.
GAO previously recommended that the federal exchange verify eligibility periodically, checking changes in circumstances that would affect the status of federal subsidies, such as death. However, to the best of auditors’ knowledge, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not implemented this recommendation, one of 18 relating to exchange integrity that remain open (i.e., not completed) from two prior GAO reports. Read the rest of this entry »
As president, Barack Obama repeatedly mocked Donald Trump’s political ambitions, laughing at the idea of Trump ever winning the presidency.
Peter Hasson writes: Obama mocked Trump in 2011 for calling into question whether he was born in America. The state of Hawaii later released Obama’s longform birth certificate to put the matter to rest. Obama viciously mocked Trump for the controversy, before mocking the idea of Trump ever serving in the White House.
Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. (Laughter.) And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter –- like, did we fake the moon landing? (Laughter.) What really happened in Roswell? (Laughter.) And where are Biggie and Tupac? (Laughter and applause.)
But all kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. (Laughter.) For example — no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice — (laughter) — at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team cooking did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf. (Laughter.) You fired Gary Busey. (Laughter.) And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. (Laughter and applause.) Well handled, sir. (Laughter.) Well handled.
Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House. Let’s see what we’ve got up there. (Laughter.)
(Screens show “Trump White House Resort and Casino.”)
A month before the 2016 election, Obama mocked Trump’s campaign on “Jimmy Kimmel.” Obama read a tweet from Trump saying that Obama “will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States,” before turning Trump into a punchline. “Really? Well, @realDonaldTrump, at least I will go down as a president,” Obama said, dropping his phone on the floor for dramatic effect.
A year into the Trump presidency, Obama’s legacy is taking a beating.
Trump has overseen the dismantling of several of Obamacare’s most controversial aspects. The tax cuts package Trump signed last month included a provision repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate. Trump also rolled back the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, which forced religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide birth control for all employees, regardless of conscientious objections. Read the rest of this entry »
Kevin D. Williamson writes: With the American Health Care Act dominating the week’s news, one conversation has been unavoidable: Someone — someone who pays attention to public policy — will suggest that we pursue policy x, y, or z, and someone else — someone who pays a little less careful attention, who probably watches a lot of cable-television entertainment masquerading as news — responds: “The first thing we have to do is acknowledge that health care is a human right!” What follows is a moment during which the second speaker visibly luxuriates in his display of empathy and virtue, which is, of course, the point of the exercise.
It’s kind of gross, but that’s where we are, politically, as a country.
Here is a thought experiment: You have four children and three apples. You would like for everyone to have his own apple. You go to Congress, and you successfully persuade the House and the Senate to endorse a joint resolution declaring that everyone has a right to an apple of his own. A ticker-tape parade is held in your honor, and you share your story with Oprah, after which you are invited to address the United Nations, which passes the International Convention on the Rights of These Four Kids in Particular to an Individual Apple Each. You are visited by the souls of Mohandas Gandhi and Mother Teresa, who beam down approvingly from a joint Hindu-Catholic cloud in Heaven.
Question: How many apples do you have?
You have three apples, dummy. Three. You have four children. Each of those children has a congressionally endorsed, U.N.-approved, saint-ratified right to an apple of his own. But here’s the thing: You have three apples and four children. Nothing has changed.
Declaring a right in a scarce good is meaningless. It is a rhetorical gesture without any application to the events and conundrums of the real world. If the Dalai Lama were to lead 10,000 bodhisattvas in meditation, and the subject of that meditation was the human right to health care, it would do less good for the cause of actually providing people with health care than the lowliest temp at Merck does before his second cup of coffee on any given Tuesday morning. Read the rest of this entry »
Marisa Schultz, Daniel Halper and Bob Fredericks report: President Trump called for an overhaul of ObamaCare, $1 trillion in infrastructure spending and a crackdown on illegal immigration as part of a sweeping address to Congress Tuesday that laid out his vision for the next four years.
“The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts. The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls. And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action.”
“The time for small thinking is over,” he said in the Capitol Hill speech. “The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts. The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls. And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action.”
“I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding ObamaCare disaster.”
Trump emphasized his effort to rework ObamaCare with a new plan he hoped would “expand choice, increase access, lower costs and, at the same time, provide better health care.”
“I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding ObamaCare disaster,” said Trump. Read the rest of this entry »
James C. Carpetta and Scott Gottlieb write: Donald Trump announced this week that he had chosen Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.), a leader in the efforts to replace ObamaCare, to be his secretary of Health and Human Services. This is a consequential choice. Mr. Trump’s election, and the political realignment it represents, offers a generational opportunity to pursue a new direction for American health care. Mr. Price will now be leading the charge.
The new system should be fully consumer driven, empowering individuals to be the surveyors and purchasers of their care. Past reforms in this direction became stilted and ultimately incomplete, but the current moment offers a chance to truly rebuild from the ground up. If Messrs. Trump and Price want to make the most of this short window, they should keep four central reforms in mind.
1. Provide a path to catastrophic health insurance for all Americans. There’s ample evidence that enrollment in insurance doesn’t always lead to improvements in health—but access to health insurance is important nonetheless. A 2012 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found higher insurance enrollment from reforms in Massachusetts led to better results in several measures of physical and mental health.
Health insurance is also important for financial security. The ObamaCare replacement should make it possible for all people to get health insurance that provides coverage for basic prevention, like vaccines, and expensive medical care that exceeds, perhaps, $5,000 for individuals.
Those Americans who don’t get health insurance through employers, or Medicare and Medicaid, should be eligible for a refundable tax credit that can be used to enroll in a health-insurance plan. The credit would be set at a level comparable to the tax benefits available to individuals with employer-sponsored insurance plans. The subsidy would be enough to make a basic level of catastrophic coverage easily affordable for all Americans.
2. Accommodate people with pre-existing health conditions. The price of insurance naturally reflects added risk. That’s why beach houses cost more to insure than a typical suburban home. Yet there is a reasonable social consensus that people should not be penalized financially for health problems that are largely outside of their control.
So as long as someone remains insured, he should be allowed to move from employer coverage to the individual market without facing exclusions or higher premiums based on his health status. If someone chooses voluntarily not to get coverage, state regulation could allow for an assessment of the risk when the person returns to the market. Read the rest of this entry »
“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.
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.
“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.”
From Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s response to a question on Mike Gallagher’s June 10 syndicated talk-radio show about the “moral case” made this week by President Obama for ObamaCare:
“Let’s call his remarks exactly what they are. He made the moral case for socialism. Let’s not sugarcoat it, that’s exactly what he believes. He doesn’t hide it, he doesn’t pretend, we shouldn’t either. This isn’t new. Those who favor socialism always make the moral case for it. The truth is, maybe they actually believe in it, but in the real world, socialism harms, it weakens the economies of countries that have tried it. It just does. Weaker economies hurt everybody in them. Socialism kills incentive, opportunity, freedom. It is the opposite of what America is all about. Look, socialism always harms the people it claims to help the most. It handicaps them, leaving them weaker, less self-determined, less free. We should have this debate out in the open. His “moral case” for ObamaCare is actually immoral. Spending money you don’t have is immoral. Borrowing more money than you can pay back is immoral. Lying to the American people is immoral, so it’s ironic he chooses to use the terms “moral case” or “moral imperative” to make the case for what I think is a very flawed law. The Supreme Court, I hope, rules the correct way. We need to repeal this, replace this. Mike, we cannot measure success by how many people are dependent on government. That’s what President Obama wants. That is the opposite of what America stands for.”
President Obama had a simple message on the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act: It’s working.
Speaking in the Executive Office Building next to the White House, Obama argued that his signature health care law was “working better than many of us — including me — anticipated” at increasing health insurance rates and improving the quality of care.
“The bottom line is this for the American people: this law is saving money for families and for businesses,” he said. “This law is also saving lives, lives that touch all of us. It’s working despite countless attempts to repeal, undermine, defund and defame this law.” Read the rest of this entry »
Sherlock Holmes famously solved a mystery by noticing the dog that didn’t bark in the night. Dogs that are not barking at night — nor in prime time — provide some useful clues to understanding the significance of this year’s election.
Contrary to the disparagement of some liberal pundits, this election is not about nothing. But is not about certain, specific things they might like to hear.
“As Holmes might deduce, the solution to the clue of the non-barking Democratic dogs is that most voters lack faith in government to solve problems, to make their lives better or even to perform with minimal competence.”
The reasons are obvious. The stimulus didn’t stimulate the economy the way the Reagan tax cuts did in the 1980s. As for infrastructure, as Obama sheepishly admitted, there is no such thing — given environmental reviews and bureaucratic torpor—as a shovel-ready project. Read the rest of this entry »
Currently, over a hundred lawsuits have been filed against Obamacare – and Obamacare has lost 91% of the cases decided to-date, (71 losses out of 78 decisions), according to the latest tally by The Beckett Fund.
“Today’s ruling is a consequential victory for the rule of law. The administration and its bureaucrats in the IRS handed out billions in illegal tax credits and subsidies and vastly expanded the reach of the health care law because they didn’t like the way Congress wrote the Affordable Care Act. That’s not how our system of government works.”
For CNS News, Craig Bannister reports: In his decision, U.S. District Judge Ronald White concluded Tuesday that the IRS rule altering the Obamacare law and providing billions in subsidies is “arbitrary, capricious and abuse of discretion”:
“The court holds that the IRS rule is arbitrary, capricious, and abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law, pursuant to 5 U.S.C.706(2)(A), in excess of summary jurisdiction, authority or limitation, or short of statutory right, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(C), or otherwise is an invalidation of the ACA [Affordable Care Act], and is hereby vacated. The court’s order of vacatur is stayed, however, pending resolution of any appeal from this order.”
“Today’s decision is a reminder that the President’s broken promises of affordable, accessible health care are the result of broken policy. The Obama Administration has tried to make the law work with waivers and exemptions, but the courts continue to confront the legality of this legislation...”
— Senator Jim Inhofe
In September 2012, Oklahoma was the first of several states to challenge the legality of an IRS rule that caused billions in subsidies to be paid out, despite Congress having never authorized those payments. Read the rest of this entry »
This development comes just a week after CMS’s admission that Tavenner had probably deleted e-mails that may be public record — “in order to stay below the agency’s Microsoft Outlook email size limit,” wrote MSNBC, which broke the story on August 7.
But today’s letter from the House committee to Tavenner says: “One of the e-mails in this production shows that you directed a subordinate to delete an e-mail communication featuring a number of White House representatives. This e-mail is an October 5, 2013, communication in which you forwarded a discussion with White House representatives to the Director of Communications for CMS with the message: ‘Please delete this email- but please see if we can work on call script.’”
The committee concludes: “This contradicts the letter [CMS recently] sent to the National Archives, which explained that your practice was to instruct subordinates to retain copies of e-mails.” Read the rest of this entry »