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David Ripley: How Much Will Obamacare Cost Us?

October 19th, 2013 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

In the midst of the heated struggle in Washington, D.C., the ObamaCare Exchanges have ducked scrutiny by the media. Of course, there have been stories about the websites and technical “glitches”. But those are not the important questions.
First among the critical questions: How much will policies cost Idahoans?

Just yesterday, the Heritage Foundation published data on premiums under the new Obama Insurance Company. It is not pretty.
For a single person, age 27, premiums are expected to rise by a whopping 86%. A single Idaho adult, age 50, will see premiums increase 34%. By comparison, an Idaho family of four will see relatively modest increases of “only” 9% in their monthly premiums.

But this is certainly not the end of the story. The Heritage numbers do not include information about the all-important deductibles associated with the new ObamaCare policies. We will continue to hunt for information about this critical component of any family’s financial situation.

Families in 21 states are facing double-digit increases in their premiums next year. Even more disturbing, Heritage projects that in just five states will families see any relief in the already-high cost of providing health care to spouses and children. That means increases are coming for virtually every family in America – despite Obama’s repeated claims that he will save the average family $2500 a year on their health insurance costs.

It is clear from such painful data that Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Idaho’s senators were right to stage a last-minute struggle to prevent ObamaCare from pounding America’s hard-pressed families. Sadly, they lost the battle, and now we will all pay the price.

Part of that defeat came from a failure of messaging: From the beginning of Cruz’s crusade in Senate, the media characterized his strategy to defund ObamaCare as something extraneous to the grave fiscal and debt issues facing the nation. But, in truth, ObamaCare was/is central to the question of America’s long-term financial health. Obama has doubled the national debt in his first five years in office.

And that is without ANY of the insanity of ObamaCare hitting the nation’s bleeding checkbook. By the end of his term, we will all look back at the “good old days” when America was in bondage to a “mere” $17 trillion.

Meanwhile, Idaho’s Obama Exchange continues to plug faithfully along, adding expertise and competence to a disastrous social policy.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

David Ripley: Abortion and the Insurance Exchanges

October 16th, 2013 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

We recently talked with an Idaho Legislator who wanted to know if the state insurance exchange was carrying policies which provided for elective abortions. The answer is, we don’t know for sure.

Two specific Idaho laws forbid the coverage of elective abortions. The most recent was enacted by the Legislature two years ago as we faced the threat of ObamaCare in one form or another. That “opt-out” bill took advantage of a specific provision of the federal law, and it stated that states could protect preborn children and taxpayers if they enacted legislation prohibiting such coverage in either the federal or state exchanges. Idaho Chooses Life brought that bill and succeeded in getting passed.

That would seem to settle the matter.

However, there is another provision of ObamaCare which requires that an elective abortion rider be available in all the states – though not necessarily at taxpayer expense. It has always been unclear how these two seeming contradictory provisions of the ACA would work out in real life.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-CT) took to the House floor this week and urged Americans looking at buying policies through the various exchanges to beware that they might be sucked into providing money to cover elective abortions. There is a surcharge buried in the fine print of insurance policies which gives the client the option to contribute to an “abortion fund”. Only by positively opting-out at the time of initial sign-up can a person be protected from aiding and abetting in the destruction of another human being.

In fact, Smith and some 60 other members of Congress have introduced legislation called the “Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act” to force insurance exchanges to plainly and clearly inform potential customers whether the policies they might purchase include either abortion coverage or an abortion surcharge designed to finance the abortions of others.

This complex funding scheme is but a symptom of the evil being perpetrated upon the American people by President Obama through his health-care take over.

Only time will tell whether the Idaho Exchange is a participant in this particular outrage.

And even if elective abortions – or its indirect funding – is prohibited by the Idaho version of the Obama Exchange – it is clear that they are participating in the destruction of human life by requiring policy holders to pay for coverage of abortion-causing drugs like the “Morning After Pill”, now available to children of any age without adult supervision.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Kicking the Can Down the Road

October 16th, 2013 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

We’re into week two of the government slowdown and the stakes for government resumption have just been raised. Negotiations for funding the government, which have been stifled by the White House until the House of Representatives abandons their principles, are now merging with the imminent debate over the federal debt limit. This creates another “crisis” for the White House that will yield new opportunities for making the nation suffer as much as possible until the president gets his way.

What began as a courageous effort on the part of the House to derail the Obamacare train before it crashes and damages the economy and our health care delivery even further, has weakened dramatically over the past two weeks. The latest iteration of the House’s terms is to simply do for individuals what the president did unilaterally for businesses; allow a one-year delay in implementation.

Something as logical as a delay in implementing the individual mandate for healthcare insurance can hardly be expected from such an ideologically driven White House, even if the Healthcare.gov website is a complete bust. Digital Trends said of the first week of operation, “the befuddled beast that is Healthcare.gov has shutdown, crapped out, stalled, and mis-loaded so consistently that its track record for failure is challenged only by Congress.”

Describing the technological debacle, they continued, “The site itself…still rejects user logins, fails to load drop-down menus and other crucial components for users. The site is so busted that, as of a couple days ago, the number of people that successfully purchased healthcare through it was in the ‘single digits,’ according to the Washington Post.” Well, it would appear the American people have bought another government “lemon,” for the bargain price of $394 million!

What’s even worse is that despite the efforts to apply a quick fix to the site, it continues to crash, reset user passwords, and stall. CNBC interviewed a technology expert this week who said getting the “bugs out” could “take years.” Sounds to me like a one year reprieve for the individual mandate is well warranted.

And still there is no end in sight for the government slowdown. The House has offered to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling for six weeks without resumption of full government funding. The president still refuses to even talk to House majority leadership until they are willing to completely cave to his demands.

What will likely happen is the Republicans will cave, the government will be funded with a “clean” Concurrent Resolution, and the debt limit will be raised another couple of trillion dollars to allow us to mortgage the nation and our children’s futures with an even more menacing and potentially disastrous debt. In other words, the can will be simply kicked down the road again, with no reduction in spending, no plans for reducing the debt, and no plans for increased fiscal stability for entitlement programs. And the Democrats will likely win a new look at increasing taxes.

Which brings us to the debt ceiling discussion. The notion behind having a debt limit is to force those in government to be fiscally responsible and keep the national debt below their self-imposed boundary. Instead, the debt limit is increased with much drama and political demagoguery and they then sprint to the newly imposed limit only to repeat the drama and demagoguery all over again. It’s very much like a spendthrift who hits their credit card limit and then whines and moans to the bank until they increase the limit, and a new spending binge ensues. Gratefully there’s an increasing number in congress who’re refusing to kick the can down the road any further without meaningful fiscal reform, but they’re still in the minority. And ironically, even though they seem to be the only fiscally sane ones, they’re vilified by the mainstream media and their liberal demagogue counterparts.

And the threats by Treasury Secretary Lew and the president of defaulting on our debt shouldn’t even be on the table. It is unconscionable that they would jeopardize the credit worthiness of the nation to achieve their political objectives. Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution declares that the nation will honor the debts that we have incurred. But that is only meaningful to politicians who actually honor their oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and there seem to be precious few of those.

More significant, is that according to the General Accounting Office, we hit the $16.7 trillion debt limit in May. By prioritizing payments, juggling the issuance of new debt securities, and accounting gimmicks, the Treasury Department has flat-lined the federal debt for the past five months. With over $250 billion in tax-receipts collected each month, there is no more reason for a default in October than there was in May. It’s only a possibility with an administration steeped in the Saul Alinsky ideology of political chicanery, posturing, and strong-arming.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Dramatic Changes Coming to Health Care

October 16th, 2013 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

The problem with 2,400 pages of legislation is not in what politicians promise the legislation will do, but what it does in reality, including the creation of nearly 40,000 pages of regulations affecting our health care. And the reality with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as we’re witnessing nearly daily in financial media, is devastating. And not just for the economy and the middle class (as we discussed last week) but for our healthcare system itself. When you dramatically alter the third-party payment system and place federal mandates on available health-care insurance plans, the whole health care delivery system is adversely affected. To believe otherwise is naiveté.

The ACA (Obamacare) was sold to us on the basis that there were 40 million Americans without health insurance and that the Act would rectify the apparent inequity. That actually is the first broken promise of Obamacare. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) admits that after 10 years of implementation, Obamacare “will still leave 31 million uninsured.” And we’ll have spent $1.93 trillion failing to achieve the primary objective of the Act! And that new dollar figure from the CBO is still likely an underestimate since they’ve revised the figure upward three times already.

One of the byproducts of a third-party payment system for health care is that the consumer or patient is considerably removed from the cost of services. The ACA increases this gap by requiring “free preventive services,” restricting deductibles, and proscribing lifetime benefit limits. Currently, over 36% of health insurance plans have higher out of pocket limits than allowed by the ACA. The Act also places new restrictions on Health Savings Accounts that have allowed 24 million Americans to be more attentive to pricing since they paid for services themselves. These provisions will remove the consumer from the cost of service even more, which has an escalating effect on healthcare costs.

The Coming Obamacare Train Wreck

“We will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away,” we heard daily from the president while pitching his plan. This is the second major broken promise of the ACA. The new requirements imposed on employer sponsored insurance (ESI) plans will make the costs increase significantly for employers. Many employers will discontinue their plans altogether, forcing employees to the state exchanges to buy their insurance for themselves.
In June, McKinsey & Company released results of a study where they found, “Overall, 30 percent of employers will definitely or probably stop offering ESI in the years after 2014. Among employers with a high awareness of reform, this proportion increases to more than 50 percent, and upward of 60 percent will pursue some alternative to traditional ESI.” This contrasts sharply with CBO estimates of 7% of employees losing their current ESI, and the president’s promise that none would.

Those who will be able to retain their current plan will see significant changes. According to the National Business Group on Health, 30% of all companies with ESIs are considering dropping coverage for retirees and over 50% are considering dropping spousal coverage. And it’s not just the private sector, as local governments are looking at the same solutions. The mayor of Chicago, Obama’s former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, is planning to drop 30,000 city retirees off of the city’s ESI and push them into the exchanges to buy their own. He projects a savings of $108 million per year.

Promoting the passage of his signature legislation, President Obama vowed, “that my plan will reduce the cost of health insurance by $2,500 for average families.” But according to Investor’s Business Daily, since Obamacare passed, the cost of an average family policy has already increased by $3,000, mostly in anticipation of the new regulations and mandates imposed on providers and insurers.
All the new regulatory requirements are going to cause health insurance premiums to soar even more, especially for younger and healthier individuals. After all, the government subsidies will pay for the added expense of covering preexisting conditions, which was forced by the ACA. Holtz-Eakins’ American Action Forum analyzed insurance premiums in five major cities, and calculated that Obamacare mandates will cause premiums to rise additionally an average of 169%.

The National Center for Policy Analysis warns that seniors may be the most hard hit with service quality, and quantity issues. NCPA President John Goodman correctly observed that almost half of Obamacare is paid for over the next decade by draining $716 billion out of Medicare.

Confirming the fears of many who actually read the bill, Howard Dean, a doctor and former DNC Chairman, wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal, “One major problem [with Obamacare] is the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB is essentially a health-care rationing body. By setting doctor reimbursement rates for Medicare and determining which procedures and drugs will be covered and at what price, the IPAB will be able to stop certain treatments its members do not favor by simply setting rates to levels where no doctor or hospital will perform them.” This obviously was what the president was referring to when he said “Give them a pill instead of the surgery.”

This barely scratches the surface of the myriad of problems created by the ACA. To my count, there are dozens of such problems. Ted Cruz was right to dominate the news cycle for 21 hours in an attempt to prevent this “train wreck” to the economy and our health care. The ACA is clearly the wrong prescription for our healthcare ailments, and won’t even accomplish what it was promised to do.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

David Ripley: Life Chain This Sunday

October 3rd, 2013 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Join pro-Lifers from across the Treasure Valley this Sunday afternoon as we launch another Life Chain.

This prayerful event is an opportunity to stand with others gathering together in over 1500 American cities and reminding our neighbors of the threat posed by abortion. We will plead for the lives of preborn children and urge mothers to understand that there are loving options to aborting their babies.

Join us! We will meet on Milwaukee Street, across from the Boise Mall, at the intersection of Westpark. 2 pm. If you can’t stand for the two hours, we’ll gratefully receive any time you can spare!

Each year we see miracles happen. Don’t miss them.

We ask our friends to join with us in praying for the Lord’s blessing of this event, that He might use it to save lives and draw our community closer to Him.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Union Leaders Denounce the Affordable Care Act

October 1st, 2013 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Contrary to what former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, the time to find out what was in the dubiously named Affordable Care Act (ACA) legislation was before they passed it, not after. Even before full implementation next year, most Americans have recognized the threats posed by the massive, arguably worse legislation ever passed by any legislative body. Now we’re seeing the worst of those threats materialize.

Some of the most vociferous denunciation of Obamacare is coming from those who were so ardently supporting its passage, and the party that was forcing it upon the nation. Last week representatives of three of the nation’s largest unions sent a warning letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. They accurately identified some of the unintended negative consequences of their onerous legislation, declaring that the health care law would “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Joseph Hansen, the international president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and Donald Taylor, president of UNITE-HERE which represents hotel, food service, textile, gaming, and airport workers, signed the letter.

They began their diatribe, “When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act, you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat…We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision. Now this vision has come back to haunt us.”

They continued, “The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are causing nightmare scenarios. First, the law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week. Numerous employers have begun to cut workers’ hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits.”

These observations have been validated by what’s happening with employers across the country. In April, the Society for Human Resource Management conducted a survey of small business owners. According to their study, 41% of 603 small business owners have put a hold on hiring because of Obamacare. Over 20% had already cut hours for their employees and reduced payroll.

So far this year dozens of private sector employers have announced reductions in hours for employees because of the demands of the health care law. Walmart’s reaction has drawn perhaps the most attention since they are the largest private sector employer in the country. Reuters revealed that nearly all of the retail giant’s new hires are part time employees. Nearly 10% of their employees are now part-timers, versus their previous 1-2% average. And they’re not alone, as over 200 public sector employers have had to make similar adjustments to avoid the penalties of not providing health care insurance for employees who work 32 hours or more.

Towers Watson, a human relations consulting firm, surveyed nearly 500 companies earlier this year regarding their health care plans. Over 40% of them indicated they are significantly altering their health insurance plans as a result of the ACA. They also found that 60% of the companies surveyed will look to the new health insurance exchanges as a means of reducing insurance and administrative costs. They’ll simply drop their company sponsored health insurance plans and send their employees to the exchanges to buy their own. Many indicated they will provide at least some pecuniary assistance in the transition.

The union leaders concluded their letter by declaring, “on behalf of the millions of working men and women we represent and the families they support, we can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.”

Not only is the oxymoronically named Affordable Care Act wreaking havoc within the health care and insurance industries, but it’s creating havoc with jobs, and the livelihoods of the very middle class that the ruling class in Washington claims to be so supportive of. Frankly, the union representatives are exactly right. The ACA is in the process of destroying our healthcare system as well as the 40 hour work week and full-time employee status of middle class workers.

The ACA never was the prescription for the ailments its sponsors claimed it was. It should be defunded, repealed and replaced before our health care system is irreparably broken, and the middle class downsized to part-time status. Sen. Max Baucus was right, it is a “huge train wreck coming down.”

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

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