How Trump Could Force Congress and Its Staff to Live Under Obamacare

President Donald Trump could have Congress in an uncomfortable corner over the lawmakers’ exemption, and that of their staff, from Obamacare.

“I think he should just do it.”—@Heritage’s Robert Moffit

“This is one more instance of Congress passing an unpleasant, expensive, onerous law on citizens and then conferring a valuable benefit on itself,” Joe Morris, former general counsel for the Office of Personnel Management, told The Daily Signal.

Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that he could take away the exemption, granted by the Obama administration’s Office of Personnel Management, to prod Congress toward agreement on getting rid of Obamacare.

The provision provides what critics say is tantamount to an unconstitutional waiver for members of Congress and their staff from rules mandated by the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

The exemption policy was created in an OPM directive under President Barack Obama, and could easily be overturned by Trump, said Morris, who worked at the agency during the Reagan administration.

Many critics of Obamacare, including a host of grassroots activists, long have argued that Congress and its staff should have to live under Obamacare like other Americans.

Morris said that applying Obamacare rules to Congress and its staff—as the language of the 2010 law actually requires—could prompt Republican lawmakers to act on their promise to repeal and replace the law. They failed to reach 50 votes to do so in the Senate last week, when three Republicans joined Democrats to scuttle a “skinny repeal” proposal that would have set up a conference with the House.

Such action by Trump, some political observers speculate, could spur Democrats to come to the bargaining table over the fate of Obamacare.

“Congress could feel the pain of most Americans,” Morris said. “It is worth trying. If members of Congress are aggrieved and their staffs are aggrieved, they might be more likely to take action.”

How the Exemption Works

Not a single Republican voted to pass Obamacare. Under a subsection of the Affordable Care Act, Democrats voted Congress out of its own employer-sponsored Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. The provision required members and House and Senate staff to enroll in the new health insurance exchanges created for other Americans under the law.

Obamacare subsidies are capped so that no one with income higher than $48,000 gets a subsidy. Members of Congress earn $174,00 annually.

On Aug. 7, 2013, the OPM—which administers the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program—determined that members of Congress and staff still could enroll in the program through the SHOP Exchange, a health insurance exchange set up to provide special insurance subsidies for small businesses in Washington, D.C., with fewer than 50 employees.

Morris co-authored a report for The Heritage Foundation, before the OPM finalized the change, that concluded the Obama administration had no statutory authority to make the rule.

In February 2015, then-Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, unsuccessfully sought documents pertaining to Congress and the exemption.

But documents that later surfaced reportedly showed administrators asserted Congress had a combined total of 45 employees. Congress itself has 535 members. As of 2014, there were 4,180 Senate staffers and 9,175 House staffers, according to reports by the Congressional Research Service.

‘He Should Just Do It’

Though controversial, the move survived a legal challenge by Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group that sued the District of Columbia’s small business insurance exchange on behalf of a city resident. Superior Court Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr., however, determined the OPM’s action was legal.

Doing away with the exemption for lawmakers and their staffs certainly suits Trump’s campaign pledge to clean up Washington perks and privilege, said Robert Moffit, senior health policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation.

“If you are talking about draining the swamp, this would be a direct assault on the swamp creatures in eliminating what is clearly an illegal insurance subsidy,” Moffit told The Daily Signal, adding:

I don’t think the president should use this as a threat to get Congress to repeal. I think he should just do it. The funds are not drawn from any statutory authority. Trump could have Congress in a very, very difficult spot.

The post How Trump Could Force Congress and Its Staff to Live Under Obamacare appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Congress Needs to Go Right Back to Work on Health Care Reform

Enough is enough.

The Senate needs to get back to work and deliver a health care reform bill.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump needs to shut off the flow of illegal health insurance subsidies to members of the House and Senate and congressional staff, and force them to live under Obamacare’s damage just like other Americans.

With the collapse of the Senate effort to advance a health care reform bill, Americans witnessed a monumental failure of governance.

For seven years, members of the House and Senate repeatedly promised the voters that they would repeal and replace Obamacare. The voters repeatedly rewarded them with election to office, and Republicans secured majorities in the House and Senate.

Senators must now keep their promises.

It is amazing that even the “skinny repeal” measure could not garner 50 Senate votes. That measure was in itself light years away from anything even remotely resembling a coherent and consequential health policy.

It boggles the imagination: The Senate could not even muster support for the repeal of Obamacare’s profoundly unpopular individual and employer mandate penalties, a watered down version of a state waiver program, and a medical device tax that previously secured strong bipartisan opposition.

Note also that in the course of the Senate debate, senators junked serious provisions to reduce or eliminate Obamacare’s massive taxation, reform Medicaid federal payment system ( a reform, incidentally, initially proposed by the Clinton administration), or restore to the people of the states the freedom to decide the kind and degree of health insurance market regulation that would best comport with their needs to reduce health care costs and expand coverage.

Meanwhile, Obamacare is wrecking the individual and small group markets. Americans in these health insurance markets are facing skyrocketing premiums and explosive deductibles.

For millions of middle class Americans, paying their health insurance bills is now equivalent to taking out a second mortgage. Competition among insurers is declining precipitously in the individual markets (Aetna just recently pulled out of the Obamacare exchanges), and more and more Americans are left with fewer choices and narrower networks of doctors and other medical professionals.

Liberal Democrats, of course have proposed their own “fixes” to Obamacare, which boil down to bailouts of the broken program and more taxpayer subsidies.

Another favorite liberal “fix,” endorsed by leading Senate Democrats, is the creation of yet another government health plan—“a robust public option”—to compete against private health plans.

Yet the only way a “public option” can produce lower costs than private insurance is by using the power of government to fix payment rates to doctors and hospitals below the market and require, as liberals initially proposed in 2009, that taxpayers to assume the financial risks.

In other words, Congress would need to give the “public option” special advantages.

Senate members need to go back to work immediately and revisit the central policy problems created by Obamacare. They need to cut Obamacare’s slew of taxes, give the people and their state lawmakers the freedom to decide for themselves (using an amended version of Obamacare’s own Section 1332 waiver process) whether or not they want to keep Obamacare’s costly insurance regulations and mandates, and phase down higher Medicaid payments to able-bodied adults without children who can work, so as to reorient federal spending toward the poorest and most vulnerable recipients.

Meanwhile, Trump should light a fire under both Republicans and Democrats in Congress by simply canceling the illegal taxpayer insurance subsidies for congressional health coverage—monies drawn from the Treasury by the Obama administration without statutory authorization.

That way, House and Senate members and staff can fully experience Obamacare the way that millions of middle class Americans do—having to pay inflated premiums without the benefit of special taxpayer subsidies that are available to no other class of American citizens.

If members of Congress want Obamacare, they should get it—good and hard.

Reform of the huge, complex $3.2 trillion health care sector of the American economy is not going to be achieved in a single bill, or even a set of bills. It will be an ongoing process.

The ultimate goal of that process is to give Americans direct control over the flow of their health care dollars, as well as control over their health care decisions. Real health care reform would result in a dramatic increase in Americans’ personal freedom, and a restoration of the traditional doctor-patient relationship.

Members of Congress who share these goals must be relentless. They need to revive efforts to repair Obamacare’s damage.

They also need to take advantage of every legislative opportunity to make further progress—appropriations bills, budget measures, the federal debt ceiling, the reauthorization of the Childrens’ Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or whatever suitable vehicle comes along.

They need to recover the trust of the American people, and they need to start today.

The post Congress Needs to Go Right Back to Work on Health Care Reform appeared first on The Daily Signal.

How Obamacare Is Eroding Private Insurance

The Senate has now failed to pass legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. The longer Congress delays or avoids action, the more the problems are likely to grow and compound.

The most common and publicized problems with the law have been the skyrocketing premiums and withdrawal of insurers from Obamacare exchanges—consequences that have flown in the face of Obamacare’s backers who said the reform would increase choice and lower costs.

But the increasing cost of premiums has had additional repercussions. Larger numbers of middle-income Americans who aren’t eligible for subsidies are now struggling to pay for coverage or, as more insurers leave the market, unable to get coverage at all.

So while programs for the poor, like Medicaid, continue to grow, the private market for middle-income Americans shrinks.

Middle-income Americans are finding themselves caught between making too much to qualify for subsidized public coverage on the one hand, and fewer and less affordable private insurance options on the other hand.

The danger is that the previously insured are now at risk of becoming the new uninsured.

A paper recently released by The Heritage Foundation’s Ed Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski shows how the upsurge in Medicaid enrollment in 2014-2016 has come at the same time that the private market has begun to contract.

The study showed that private health coverage enrollment dropped by 587,000 in 2016, while Medicaid enrollment increased by 2.25 million people.

While the individual market enrollment increased in the first few years of the law being in place, that trend is in the process of reversing as premiums are skyrocketing.

This will dramatically impact middle-class Americans.

“Lower-income individuals who qualify for premium subsidies for coverage purchased through the exchanges are largely insulated from those costs,” Haislmaier and Gonshorowski wrote.

“However, middle-income self-employed persons—the more typical pre-Obamacare individual market customers—do not qualify for subsidies and are finding coverage to be increasingly unaffordable or even unavailable.”

Indeed, most of the expansion in coverage under Obamacare occurred by simply pushing millions of able-bodied low-income adults without children into Medicaid.

The Heritage paper authors wrote:

While health insurance enrollment increased by 15.7 million individuals over the three-year period, 89 percent of that increase (14 million) was attributable to additional Medicaid enrollment and 73.5 percent of the total (11.7 million) came from higher Medicaid enrollment in the 31 states and the District of Columbia that adopted the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

Though some have touted Medicaid’s expansion as part of the program’s “success” to get more Americans insured overall, it is an incomplete measure of how health insurance is performing.

Medicaid has shown to deliver, on average, poorer quality care and treatment than private plans. Some data even suggest that Medicaid recipients experience worse outcomes than Americans with no coverage at all.

The quickening collapse in private coverage shows why Obamacare needs to be repealed and can’t simply be allowed to fail. Millions of Americans face a worsening situation for themselves and their families.

Members of Congress—of both parties—are doing a disservice to their country and their constituents if they don’t get rid of this destructive law.

The post How Obamacare Is Eroding Private Insurance appeared first on The Daily Signal.

3 Republicans Join Democrats to Defeat Obamacare Repeal

Republican Sens. John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins joined Democrats to keep Obamacare, at least for now.

The “skinny repeal” bill only managed to get 49 votes, with every Democrat and the three Republicans voting against the scaled-down version of the repeal and replace bill.

Just before 2 a.m., Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., noted that for seven years, Republicans have promised to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“We told our constituents we would vote that way and when the moment came, most of us did,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Our friends on the other side decided early on they didn’t want to engage with us in a serious way to help those suffering under Obamacare.”

“I’m proud of the vote I cast tonight, consistent with what we told the American people we’ve been trying to accomplish in four straight elections if they gave us a chance.”

McCain was a mystery up until the end.

“From the beginning, I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people,” the Arizona senator said in a statement after the vote. “The so-called ‘skinny repeal’ amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish those goals.”

“While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens.”

Collins, of Maine, and Murkowski, of Alaska, were expected to vote no, as both voted this week against even allowing debate on the matter. Murkowski voted in 2015 to repeal Obamacare when President Barack Obama was sure to veto the bill.

The “skinny repeal” would have eliminated or scaled back the most unpopular elements of Obamacare, such as the individual and employer mandates, and the medical device tax. It also would have defunded Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

President Donald Trump tweeted at 2:25 a.m. Friday that it’s time to just let Obamacare collapse, a sentiment he’s made in the past before recommitting to a repeal bill in Congress.

The main purpose of the “skinny repeal,” called the Health Care Freedom Act, was to keep the House-passed replacement legislation alive in order to get a conference committee to shape a final bill.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is the president of the Senate, arrived after 11:30 to cast a tie-breaking vote if necessary. Had McCain voted with his fellow Republicans, he would have been the 50th vote, and Pence would have cast the 51st vote.

The Republican-controlled Senate should still try to act to keep their promise, said Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America.

“Long before tonight, the Senate demonstrated a complete and utter inability to govern. Repealing and, ultimately, replacing Obamacare will require moderate Republicans to come to the table and follow through on their repeated campaign promises,” Needham said in a statement.

He continued:

At this very moment, Americans are stuck with a failing health care law. Networks continue to narrow. Premiums continue to rise. And choice continues to decline. Obamacare is becoming a zombie law, and throwing more taxpayer money at Zombiecare is unacceptable.

The only way to force Senators back to the table is to block efforts to prop up Obamacare. After seven years of promises, Republicans cannot simply retreat to embracing the status quo.

Here’s a breakdown of what happened during the long night in the Senate.

1.) What the Skinny Bill Would Have Done

The Health Care Freedom Act was released after 10 p.m.

If passed, the bill would have: permanently eliminated the individual mandate to buy insurance and eliminated for eight years the mandate on employers to provide insurance; increased state flexibility to experiment with health reforms; provided a three-year extension for increasing what individuals can invest in health savings accounts, or HSAs; redirected Planned Parenthood money to community health care providers for one year; and eliminated the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices such as pacemakers for two years.

2.) McCain’s Revolt

It was a dramatic late afternoon before debate began when Republican Sens. McCain, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin stated they wouldn’t support the bill without a guarantee the bill would go to conference committee.

This came after reports the House would immediately pass the “skinny repeal,” and send to President Donald Trump, rather than use it as a step for further negotiation.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., first gave a non-committal response, saying only: “Senators have made clear that this is an effort to keep the process alive, not to make law. If moving forward requires a conference committee, that is something the House is willing to do.”

Ryan later reportedly told Graham the bill would definitely go to conference committee.

Graham and Johnson voted for the “skinny bill.”

McCain earlier said he didn’t want to rush a partisan bill through the same way the Democratic Congress did in 2010. After the vote, he said he wasn’t assured by Ryan.

“The speaker’s statement that the House would be ‘willing’ to go to conference does not ease my concern that this shell of a bill could be taken up and passed at any time,” McCain said in his statement.

“I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict-party line basis without a single Republican vote. We should not make the mistakes of the past that has led to Obamacare’s collapse.”

 3.) Schumer’s Contrition on Obamacare

Interestingly, McCain voted against a Democratic measure on the floor after midnight to send the bill to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for review, an amendment sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

The motion failed 52-48 despite impassioned Democratic pleas.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., sounded contrite about the partisan 2010 Obamacare process in a speech trying to peel off Republican support for sending the proposal back to committee.

Schumer said:

There’s a lot of anger on the other side at the ACA. I understand that, but you’re repeating what you claim are the same mistakes. And just as maybe Obamacare could have been made better were it a bipartisan proposal, this one certainly would have been made better.

I would plead once more with my colleagues, let’s start over. We are the first to admit that the present law needs some changes. We are the first to want—maybe having learned our own lesson—that it should be done in a bipartisan and sharing way.

4.) Eliminating the Cadillac Tax

There was one area where Republicans were successful in rolling back a provision of Obamacare.

Before the Health Care Freedom Act came to the floor, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., proposed an amendment to permanently repeal the “Cadillac tax.” That was a provision of Obamacare that imposed a 40 percent excise tax on insurance plans with annual premiums higher than $29,500 for families.

Schumer made a motion to commit the measure to the Senate Finance Committee, which failed by a vote of 43-57. The Heller amendment passed the Senate by a vote of 52-48.

5.) Democrats Refuse to Vote Against Single-Payer System

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., introduced an amendment early on for a single-payer health care system as a means of putting Democrats on the record.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has proposed a similar measure, was among the 43 senators to vote present. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Jon Tester of Montana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota voted no with all Republicans. The measure failed 0-57.

McConnell spoke shortly before 2 a.m. after the “skinny repeal” failed about the single-payer system vote.

“Almost everybody voted present. Apparently they didn’t want to make a decision about whether they were for or against socialized medicine, a government takeover of everything, European health care,” McConnell said. “Only four of them weren’t afraid to say that wasn’t a good idea.”

The post 3 Republicans Join Democrats to Defeat Obamacare Repeal appeared first on The Daily Signal.

What’s at Stake in the Senate’s Last-Ditch Effort to Repeal Obamacare

The Senate narrowly voted in favor of a motion to proceed to debate the health care bill Tuesday, giving Republicans one chance to get something done before Congress likely goes on recess in mid-August.

The Senate will continue to participate in what’s called a “vote-a-rama.”

The vote-a-rama  process was described at length by health care expert Christopher Jacobs at The Federalist, but in short, it is a grueling, head-spinning series of speeches and votes on amendments that may or may not make it into the final bill.

Much can still change as the vote-a-rama unfolds.

But one thing is abundantly clear. Failure to undo Obamacare’s damage will likely have disastrous repercussions for the Republican Party—which ran on the issue for seven years—and will certainly continue to hurt small business employees and self-employed individuals who face rising premiums and reduced plan availability.

It’s now or never for legislators who will have to face their constituents empty-handed if nothing gets done. There is a great deal at stake.

>>> 7 Years of Promising Obamacare Repeal Leaves Republicans Just 1 Option

While the particulars of the Senate bill haven’t been formalized, there are a number of important issues that need to be tackled to fix America’s health care system.

Stem the Tide of Deterioration

Obamacare has failed to keep its backers’ promise of delivering more health care options at a lower price. Instead, there are now few options at a higher price for most Americans.

Health care providers have left Obamacare exchanges in large numbers, leaving customers with fewer options that—as a result of the individual mandate that requires Americans to get health insurance or face a penalty—they can choose from.

Incredibly, about 70 percent of American counties have only one or two insurers offering plans. This certainly makes it less likely that they will have to remain competitive to get customers’ business.

On top of that, the cost of insurance is increasing for many Americans who have seen their premiums jump dramatically since Obamacare went into effect.

The Daily Signal recently reported that “[i]n 2013, the average annual cost of a premium for an individual health care plan was $2,784. By 2017, the average annual cost for a premium for an individual health care plan on HealthCare.gov was $5,712. Thirty-nine states use HealthCare.gov.”

Getting Premium Costs Under Control

Clearly, the exploding cost of premiums is one of the greatest concerns for Americans. It has been exacerbated by a receding market and perverse incentives.

A number of proposals have been suggested to alleviate this problem.

One suggestion is to allow individuals to use their health savings accounts to pay for premiums. These are tax-advantaged accounts that let individuals save for routine health expenses, yet have been limited in use in part due to restrictions placed on them by Congress.

Unfortunately, under Obamacare’s regulatory structure, premiums are likely to keep climbing.

Removing Regulations

The individual mandate has been one of the most consistently attacked elements of Obamacare. Every Obamacare repeal plan has suggested removing it. Moreover, there are numerous other regulations that need to be removed as well.

Obamacare has created a problematic system of micromanaging from the federal level.

To untangle this mess, reform would have to eliminate these regulations, and importantly, return health care decisions back to states and individuals.

This would move America toward a patient-centered, market-based system in line with the limited government values that have been a hallmark of what makes this country exceptional.

Repealing Taxes

Obamacare created a number of onerous taxes.

For instance, the law imposed taxes on health insurance, drugs, and medical devices that have direct effects on the cost of care and insurance premiums. Moreover, the 3.8 percent investment tax, which applies to dividends, capital gains, among other similar investments, has been a serious burden on economic growth.

As Heritage Foundation tax policy analyst Adam Michel wrote, “Less new investment in the U.S. means fewer people are hired, and real wages rise more slowly, if at all. Employees who are not able to work with better equipment and information will be less productive and won’t be paid a higher wage.”

Removing taxes that have placed a burden on the American people must be the huge part of eventual reform.

Reform Medicaid 

Obamacare encouraged states to rapidly expand the Medicaid program, which was initially intended to help the disabled, elderly, and low-income women and children in poverty.

Though liberals have attacked health care reform efforts as an assault on Medicaid, the program has produced poor and worsening outcomes for the people it is supposed to serve.

The program itself already performed poorly as a Heritage Foundation study noted:

Medicaid is a costly and unsustainable welfare entitlement program that delivers low-quality health care to many of its enrollees … Medicaid patients frequently receive inferior medical treatment, are assigned to less-skilled surgeons, receive poorer post-operative instructions, and often suffer worse outcomes for identical procedures than similar patients both with and without health insurance.

Now it has been enlarged to include able-bodied adults who have flooded the system in high numbers.

Adding millions of people to Medicaid has not only created a financial strain on the federal government. It has made Medicaid less capable of helping those initially intended to receive the benefits.

A reform of this system would limit Medicaid’s unsustainable growth and increase access to private insurance for Americans.

The post What’s at Stake in the Senate’s Last-Ditch Effort to Repeal Obamacare appeared first on The Daily Signal.

House Conservatives Target Jobs at Congressional Budget Office

The jobs of 89 federal workers involved in estimating the budget impact of legislation in Congress would be eliminated under a proposal from members of the House’s upstart conservative caucus.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said Monday that members would deploy an obscure rule that allows a House member to seek changes in an agency by offering an amendment during the budget process.

Called the Holman rule, it dates to the decade after the Civil War, hasn’t been used since President Ronald Reagan’s first term, and was revived by House Republicans when the new Congress convened in January.

Federal News Radio reported that the entire Budget Analysis Division of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, comprising 89 employees and about $15 million in salaries, would be “abolished” under the amendment offered by Meadows and three other Republicans—Reps. Morgan Griffith of Virginia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

Meadows and the other three House members attached the amendment cutting the CBO to a so-called “minibus” of spending bills for fiscal year 2018 that includes defense, military construction, veterans affairs, energy, and water, according to Federal News Radio.

The Holman rule “gives us the tool to go in and cut the funding without cutting an entire agency,” Meadows said in an appearance at the National Press Club.

Cutting personnel at the Congressional Budget Office who “score” the cost and other effects of legislation such as the main House and Senate health care bills is where the caucus decided to begin, he said.

The Freedom Caucus chairman said that independent CBO process could be replaced by aggregate scores of budgetary impact from think tanks, and he named American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, The Heritage Foundation, and Urban Institute.

“We ought to take a score from Heritage, from AEI, from Brookings … ,” Meadows said.

Lawmakers, especially conservatives, long have questioned the CBO’s accuracy in predicting the costs and related consequences of legislation, especially predictions about Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, and most recently proposals in the House and Senate to replace it.

Some conservatives, for example, criticize the CBO for predicting more than 20 million Americans would “lose” health insurance, when eliminating Obamacare mandates in their view would allow millions of consumers to choose not to buy “one size fits all” insurance.

Democrats assailed the move by Meadows and his Republican colleagues.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and six other Democrats representing the metropolitan Washington area, for example, issued a statement decrying the idea. It said, in part:

The Holman rule empowers members of Congress to target individual federal employees. The rule is being used to punish an important advisory body for doing its job by providing forecasts which some members now find inconvenient. This is part of a strategic assault on objectivity and expertise in the civil service.

Freedom Caucus members will talk about the proposal this week, Meadows said.

Meadows also addressed the failure so far of Republicans either to repeal or to repeal and replace Obamacare, as they promised in four elections.

“We originally wanted a straight repeal. We all voted on it in 2015,” Meadows said. “We felt like, if we did the hard work of repealing, we could get some Democrats to help with the replacement side of that.”

As it turned out, the Freedom Caucus chairman said, individual caucus members realized the resulting legislation would “not be perfect” and they needed to show more flexibility to avoid a contrarian reputation.

“We’re trying to make sure we give at least two alternatives for a solution,” he said.

The caucus won some concessions in the final version of the House’s health care bill, but the Senate legislation so far varies markedly from it.

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.

The post House Conservatives Target Jobs at Congressional Budget Office appeared first on The Daily Signal.

House Conservatives Target Jobs at Congressional Budget Office

The jobs of 89 federal workers involved in estimating the budget impact of legislation in Congress would be eliminated under a proposal from members of the House’s upstart conservative caucus.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said Monday that members would deploy an obscure rule that allows a House member to seek changes in an agency by offering an amendment during the budget process.

Called the Holman rule, it dates to the decade after the Civil War, hasn’t been used since President Ronald Reagan’s first term, and was revived by House Republicans when the new Congress convened in January.

Federal News Radio reported that the entire Budget Analysis Division of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, comprising 89 employees and about $15 million in salaries, would be “abolished” under the amendment offered by Meadows and three other Republicans—Reps. Morgan Griffith of Virginia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

Meadows and the other three House members attached the amendment cutting the CBO to a so-called “minibus” of spending bills for fiscal year 2018 that includes defense, military construction, veterans affairs, energy, and water, according to Federal News Radio.

The Holman rule “gives us the tool to go in and cut the funding without cutting an entire agency,” Meadows said in an appearance at the National Press Club.

Cutting personnel at the Congressional Budget Office who “score” the cost and other effects of legislation such as the main House and Senate health care bills is where the caucus decided to begin, he said.

The Freedom Caucus chairman said that independent CBO process could be replaced by aggregate scores of budgetary impact from think tanks, and he named American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, The Heritage Foundation, and Urban Institute.

“We ought to take a score from Heritage, from AEI, from Brookings … ,” Meadows said.

Lawmakers, especially conservatives, long have questioned the CBO’s accuracy in predicting the costs and related consequences of legislation, especially predictions about Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, and most recently proposals in the House and Senate to replace it.

Some conservatives, for example, criticize the CBO for predicting more than 20 million Americans would “lose” health insurance, when eliminating Obamacare mandates in their view would allow millions of consumers to choose not to buy “one size fits all” insurance.

Democrats assailed the move by Meadows and his Republican colleagues.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and six other Democrats representing the metropolitan Washington area, for example, issued a statement decrying the idea. It said, in part:

The Holman rule empowers members of Congress to target individual federal employees. The rule is being used to punish an important advisory body for doing its job by providing forecasts which some members now find inconvenient. This is part of a strategic assault on objectivity and expertise in the civil service.

Freedom Caucus members will talk about the proposal this week, Meadows said.

Meadows also addressed the failure so far of Republicans either to repeal or to repeal and replace Obamacare, as they promised in four elections.

“We originally wanted a straight repeal. We all voted on it in 2015,” Meadows said. “We felt like, if we did the hard work of repealing, we could get some Democrats to help with the replacement side of that.”

As it turned out, the Freedom Caucus chairman said, individual caucus members realized the resulting legislation would “not be perfect” and they needed to show more flexibility to avoid a contrarian reputation.

“We’re trying to make sure we give at least two alternatives for a solution,” he said.

The caucus won some concessions in the final version of the House’s health care bill, but the Senate legislation so far varies markedly from it.

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.

The post House Conservatives Target Jobs at Congressional Budget Office appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Victims of Obamacare Have a Warning for Senate Republicans

Families who experienced horror stories under Obamacare gathered at the White House Monday and warned Republicans of political consequences if they did not vote to repeal and replace the law.

“I am very fine with sitting at home in 2018 and not voting if that is the only way to get their attention, I’m more than happy to not vote for them. I’m tired of this,” said Marjorie Weer of South Carolina.

“I am tired of their pathetic excuses of why they are incapable of doing their job,” Weer added. “You’ve had seven years to come up with a plan. You have the House, the Senate, the White House … If you can’t do the job, go home.

Weer said she spent six months negotiating with an insurance company just to clear the way for her 3-year-old son Montgomery with spina bifida to travel from South Carolina to see doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“You’ve had seven years. If you can’t do your job, go home,” Weer told The Daily Signal during a press gaggle after she and other families met with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House. “Act like your jobs are on the line.”

Weer’s story was first reported by The Daily Signal in February.

After meeting with families in the Blue Room of the White House, Trump delivered a public speech, noting the problems those families face.

“Every pledge that Washington Democrats pledged to pass that bill turned out to be a lie. It was a big fat ugly lie,” Trump said. He added that Republicans have been promising to repeal and replace for seven years. “There’s still time to do the right thing.”

The House passed a repeal and replace bill, after a long slog to win over conservatives. However, Senate GOP leadership has had a difficult time corralling both the moderates and conservatives on a replacement bill.

Trump also met with the family of Melissa Ackison of Ohio, who has a rare bone disease, and Stephen Finn of West Virginia, who is running a Christian boys ranch and saw premiums skyrocket for insuring his employees.

Ackison, when speaking to reporters, also said she would take her vote elsewhere if Republicans can’t repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“My family was first introduced to Obamacare through the co-op that shortly went bankrupt, leaving us to hold the bag with a lot of those bills, then throwing us back into the marketplace again where we were sold another faulty insurance plan with an extremely high deductible that didn’t cover the vast majority of our pre-existing conditions,” Ackison said. “Despite what you’re hearing about the [Affordable Care Act], the pre-existing conditions are not guaranteed to be covered.”

The post Victims of Obamacare Have a Warning for Senate Republicans appeared first on The Daily Signal.

CBO Says 22 Million People Would Lose Insurance Under GOP Plan. Here Are the Facts.

Perhaps too often, Americans take the findings of independent government agencies—whether executive or congressional—as fact.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which has impacted the health care debate, has consistently said that repealing Obamacare would lead to around 22 to 23 million Americans losing their insurance by 2026.

This has been a frequent talking point for those that would like to keep President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

But a recent commentary by health care expert Avik Roy pointed out how this number may be misleading at best.

Roy wrote in Forbes that according to leaked information he received from a congressional staffer, this 22 million number is in fact mostly coming from the projection of a repeal of the individual mandate.

The individual mandate is one of the most controversial parts of Obamacare that essentially forces Americans to buy health insurance, or receive a fine. Republican-backed repeal proposals to repeal universally aim to eliminate this regulation.

Roy wrote that “of the 22 million fewer people who will have health insurance in 2026 under the Senate [health care] bill, 16 million will voluntarily drop out of the market because they will no longer face a financial penalty for doing so: 73 percent of the total.”

Unlike the progressive narrative that repealing Obamacare will lead to tens of millions of Americans getting booted from their plans, it shows that nearly three-quarters of those leaving their plans will voluntarily withdraw from the ones they have.

An enormous 73 percent of the 22 million number will simply stop buying the product they are forced to purchase under current law.

This important fact has been mostly left out of the debate, as the CBO has not been entirely transparent with how their numbers are calculated. So far, the CBO has essentially refused to explain the primary reason so many Americans will go uninsured.

The CBO has been consistently praised for its purportedly unbiased analysis. A recent commentary for Wired said that “since its inception four decades ago, the CBO has occupied a rarified space in which the objectivity of data reigns.”

Americans are simply given a presumably nonpartisan number that pours out of the inner sanctums of a tight-knit agency as they debate the merits of policy that impacts all Americans and generations to come.

But in the messy space of politics, opaqueness of methodology can return skewed or incomplete results.

Drew Gonshorowski, a health care expert for The Heritage Foundation, wrote about the CBO’s transparency problem in The Hill. He wrote:

The CBO could better serve legislators, media and researchers if their models and methods were made public. Lifting this veil would allow more discussion around the effects of various proposals without having to wait for an explicit CBO score … [And] maybe one of the most important aspects of such a change, this would allow legislators to have real conversations about the effects of their legislation, publicly, with less delay.

Reps. Mark Walker, R-N.C., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, wrote in a commentary for the Washington Examiner how often CBO projections have been wrong and why it’s wrong for Congress to “blindly follow” its estimates.

For instance, they noted how the original 2010 CBO projections for Obamacare claimed that “21 million Americans would enroll in the insurance exchanges by 2016.”

The real number ended up being around 10 million and is one of the reasons the market is so unstable.

The American people deserve an open debate on one of the most important policy issues of our generation.

It is a debate over the priorities and outcomes of a health care system that favors the individual and the family over the collective—one that throws vast decision-making power to government and bureaucracies, or is limited and placed closest to the hands of the people.

This is why transparency over potential policy outcomes is so essential.

The post CBO Says 22 Million People Would Lose Insurance Under GOP Plan. Here Are the Facts. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

We Hear You: The Failure of Republicans to Repeal or Replace Obamacare

Editor’s note: It’s hard to think of a topic that drives more comments from The Daily Signal’s audience than the fate of Obamacare.  With a Senate vote possible this week on some sort of health care reform, here’s a roundup of your views.—Ken McIntyre

Dear Daily Signal:  Forgive me, but isn’t all of this just more political nonsense and posturing? Regarding Rachel del Guidice’s report, “Conservatives Look for Lower Premiums in Senate’s Revised Health Care Bill,” it is a known fact, period, that free markets bring costs down. Government, no such thing.

Members of Congress are having to rework this thing over and over to get the premiums down, because the crap that they do to control the market makes premiums increase. Isn’t that the way government intervention works?

I am all for assisting those who are less fortunate. Pretty much all of us are. So put that in a health care bill.

Subsidizing (using our tax money for) health care for worthy Americans is fine by me. Even the idea of not allowing companies to dismiss you for pre-existing conditions–not sure about all that, but it seems fair.

After that, get out of the health care business, pull out the government barriers and typical regulations on business. It will still be a mess, just a smaller one.—Brian Rood

***

Rachel del Guidice reports that Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, “emphasized that the major goal is to drive down skyrocketing health insurance premiums under Obamacare.”

And that summarizes the problem. To accomplish that, the Senate’s proposed health care bill adds money, adds benefits, and generally has government take a bigger role.

The “major goal” should not be to lower premiums, increase coverage, or anything except getting the federal government out of the health care business. If states want to do it, go for it. But Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are not the business of the federal government. Those programs create dependencies that keep us all “peaceful on the plantation.”—Steffan Callosa

In September, my wife and I will be moving onto Medicare. Our monthly premiums will be about half of what we pay now. We are healthy people who have been paying $20,000 per year for health insurance.

Let’s be real. Since Obamacare was implemented we were paying for nothing less than catastrophic coverage. With the deductible over $6,000, the plan is obviously not typical insurance. It is catastrophic care.

Our plan is loaded with coverage for events we will never use, and aren’t even relevant to us at our age. What I wonder is where do I go to get back all the excess money I’ve paid since Obamacare was thrust upon us?

It has negatively affected us in many ways. They knew Obamacare was a canard. It was never going to save money for me or secure better health care. This is another glaring example of why you don’t want bigger, unconstitutional government in your life.—Stephen Tabeling

***

I have the utmost confidence that whatever version, with whatever name, is ultimately pushed through, it in no way will have any resemblance to the tough talk of total repeal, which was promised but was never going to be delivered. If precedent is an indicator, the usual end result of anything the government gets its claws into is increased cost, decreased efficiency, and fewer options, rife with unchecked fraud.—Bill James

Obamacare Repeal as the Bottom Line

Dear Daily Signal: Regarding Jarrett Stepman’s commentary, unless you are blinded by the maniacal dogma from the left, it’s hard to deny what a total train wreck Obamacare has been for the average American (“7 Years of Promising Obamacare Repeal Leaves Republicans Just 1 Option“).

Perhaps a very small percentage of people actually are better off with it, but why do they dictate how health insurance is designed at the expense of everyone else? This is absurd.

And equally absurd is the Republican cowardice on getting rid of this mess, and allowing the Democrats to cover them with all the horrible lies about Medicaid cuts and other equally ruinous claims. After eight years of having to endure President Obama and his condescending attitude toward Middle America, the Republicans are still doing nothing to fight him and his ugly work.

This is worse than shameful. What is the point in voting for your senator or congressman? You might as well just vote for goat turds like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.—Brad Gillepsie

***

I am far from a socialist, but in the present situation perhaps single payer health care should be looked at. It’s a shame, but the huge entitlement in Obamacare makes it almost impossible to fix.—Ray Styles

***

Obamacare is failing. People who buy insurance on their own and off the exchanges have been hit with incredible increases in premiums.

The pre-Obamacare premium for a family of four was $507 per month with a $10,000 annual deductible. Today, the premium is $2,032 per month with $ 14,300 deductible and we are healthy. It is not sustainable in its current form and the proposed bills from Congress have not addressed these issues.

All types of insurance are risk-based. A low risk equates to a low premium, higher risk equates to a high premium. Mandating coverage requirements that are inflexible (the one-size-fits-all approach) simply do not work. People need to be able to purchase the coverage that meets their needs.

Possible solutions: Allow insurance to be sold across state lines; eliminate in-network and out-network requirements (your having insurance means all medical doctors and hospitals accept it); create a high deductible plan ($10,000 to $15,000 per year) for single people over age 26 with no co-pays at a low premium. This would give this age group coverage for major injuries, but the individual would be personally responsible for all other medical bills until deductible is reached.

Cost likely would be $200 per month or so. Let the government create and subsidize a high-risk pool for people with cancer, heart disease, and other issues, and don’t require private insurance companies to provide coverage to this group.—Steven Trinkaus

***

You would think that after eight years of an administration that spent most of its time playing politics, Republican members of Congress would at least do what they said they were going to do: Repeal and replace Obamacare.

Fun and games are over. People are being hurt by Obamacare and its escalating costs with nontreatment because people can’t even afford to use the care they’ve paid too much for.

Now that the Republicans have proved they had no intention of repealing Obamacare, it’s President Trump’s turn to reveal to America those who are unwilling to reverse this nightmare. Let’s remember all the Republicans who gave their word and then broke it once the chips were on the line.—Juan L. Bassett

***

Hear this, Congress: If you voted against or said you would not vote for the repeal of Obamacare, I intend to vote against you in the primary. I will do my best to go against all the RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) in Congress. I am starting to prefer the true conservatives; they are much more principled.—Jim Clooney

***

“Follow the money.” That is what will tell folks what is really going on with all this delay and inaction from the RINOs.

My bet is that the insurance industry is heavily donating (bribing) the leadership in both houses to obstruct any real solution to the Obamacare debacle. There will be no movement toward repeal as long as the insurance lobby does not see a kickback to them in the form of subsidies or bailouts.

Congress critters are bought and paid for by special interests, not we the people. Way past time to “drain the swamp” and call out the RINOs for what they are, special interest prostitutes beholding to no one except the ones who grease their palms with big bucks.—Jules P. Guidry

Judging the Senate’s Latest Health Care Proposal

Dear Daily Signal: In response to Robert Moffit’s commentary, we do not need socialized health care in any way, shape, or form–period (“Why the Revised Senate Health Care Bill is a Major Improvement Over the Status Quo“). My nephew’s half-brother has Crohn’s disease. He started getting symptoms when he was 19, and had no health insurance.

Unlike a Medicaid patient, he was seen by a top specialist in Seattle, who gave him the best care available and signed him up to receive experimental treatment–again, not available to Medicaid patients.

Studies have proven that those on Medicaid have worse health care outcomes than the uninsured. Also look at the Department of Veterans Affairs and at Canada.

Some 40 million people live in Canada and it takes months to see a specialist there, even if you are a millionaire. About 18 million people are on VA health care and wait months for surgeries and to see specialists.

The U.S. population is 320 million; how do you think a single-payer system, which is what this will lead to, is going to go work out?—Robert Mulligan, Spokane, Wash.

***

President Trump signed an executive order repealing the Obamacare mandates and taxes on his first day in office. Why did Congress not do the same? The GOP is a big proponent of choice, so why no choice in health care?

One of the first choices for the consumer should be Obamacare or “Health Choice.” What can the Democrats say about consumers who choose to buy the doctor’s care and insurance of their choice, or to buy Obamacare? If the GOP is correct, then all will move out of Obamacare.

Health care needs to be discussed in a public forum, and a new segment enacted every week. Nice and simple, fit it on a single sheet of paper where no swamp creature can hide.

Does it sound reasonable? Then enact it. Does a previous one need some adjustment? Then amend it.

Obamacare has a certain following and demagoguing it makes the best political advertisements in the world: Here comes Paul Ryan pushing Granny in the wheelchair off the cliff.

Why not just let lovers of the Affordable Care Act make up their own minds on what is best?—Toby Witersteen

***

Let’s get the government out of health care in general, taking care of the elderly and to others only in national needs such as natural disasters. Let the free market take care of the rest.—Ron Pipich

***

What has happened to you, Heritage Foundation? Are you now progressive and no more conservative? The Republican Party promised repeal, not Obamacare-lite.—Tina Gallo Wilson

***

Just repealing the horrendous disaster that is Obamacare is a major step. It will put us on the road away from socialism, always a failed concept, and toward free market capitalism. Competition always works, whether it is business, health care, or the marketplace of employment.—Rich Newhouse

On the Question of Continuous Coverage

Dear Daily Signal: While this seems like a logical solution in Edmund Haislmaier’s commentary, the reason health coverage was offered by region is that premium pricing needed to reflect the cost of health care in that region (“The Senate Should Offer a Range of Options to Encourage Continuous Insurance Coverage“). Clearly, doctor and hospital costs in New York City are very different than in Wheeling, West Virginia.

The best solution would be realized by repealing Obamacare and telling the insurance companies that until a new government program is developed, they are able to set up individual coverage and make it available in the way they think best. At least people in counties and areas with no option for coverage could buy something.

Because the cost of setup is high, the government could guarantee that each program the insurance company sells will have a three-year term minimum. The government then could focus on special areas of need for those who have to have help.—Christopher Moody

***

The solution is to phase out third-party payment of health care. Just like government-subsidized student loans caused an uncontrolled rise in four-year college tuition, third-party payments cause health care costs to rise. Both are due to the disconnect between the actual consumer and the provider, allowing layers and layers of consultants and middlemen to insert themselves into the supply chain. When the consumer directly pays, costs and bureaucratic overruns are kept in check.—Eileen Machida

***

For over a decade, my wife and I had a “high” deductible health savings account. We loved it. We had “reasonable” premiums that would help to build up our available cash in the account.

We would pay for all of our annual medical expenses from this account. If we exceeded $4,000 in a year, the insurance company began paying. (Basically, it was “major medical insurance.”)

Our cash reserves would roll over each year. When we had about $10,000 in reserves, the surplus would go into an interest-bearing retirement account. This encouraged us to be cost conscious because it was our money.

We actually saw the cost of all procedures. The insurance company still negotiated prices on our behalf. We paid the first $4,000 with a Visa debit card. The amount would be deducted from our reserves. It paid to be healthy and cost conscious.—Tommy Moorehead

***

We are now aware that those Obamacare mandates that force insurers to provide coverage for the previously uninsured were put into place for the express purpose of breaking the insurance companies, so that we could be forced into government-controlled and -provided health care. The requirement that insurance companies cover any applicant, regardless of condition or previous coverage, creates an unfunded mandate; it is not insurance. This is third-party health care coverage and nothing else.

Medicaid, high risk pools, charities, and other types of assistance are appropriate for those who will not or cannot purchase insurance, but now we’re talking about emergency services or health care, not insurance.

The system that we had in place before Obamacare was providing better health care than any other system in the world. People who wished to have insurance had the choice of medical cost-sharing (Medishare, Samaritan’s Purse, Christian Brotherhood, etc.), prepaid health plans (Kaiser), or traditional insurance.

The escalation of costs was due to liability issues, government interference, and provider’s greed; those were the issues that needed to be addressed instead of attempting to create a single-payer system.

Our individual and corporate freedoms have become more and more limited as government has taken over banking, investments, retirement options, auto manufacturing, fuel production, farming, housing, energy production and consumption, and now … health care. We have become subjects, rather than citizens, and have sacrificed liberty for an impossible socialist dream.—Bill Tanksley

The Cruz-Lee Amendment to Senate Bill

Dear Daily Signal: Sounds like a fantastic idea to me (“Cruz, Lee Push Amendment to GOP Health Care Bill to Give Insurers More Options“). I neither want, and certainly cannot afford, an Obamacare-compliant plan.

For example, as a 48-year-old male who doesn’t drink or take drugs, why in the world would I pay for maternity coverage or drug rehab coverage?

I simply want a good catastrophic plan, and the rest I’ll budget for and use my health savings account. I certainly don’t need some arrogant D.C. Democrat specifying what I need in my insurance coverage.

Give me the freedom to purchase the insurance policy that matches my needs and my budget—Thomas Luedeke

***

I know a whole lot of people who lost health insurance because of the ridiculous Obamacare. We were all better off paying the fine, considering we couldn’t even use the ridiculous Obamacare until we met a ridiculous deductible. Obamacare was designed to fail so the Democrats can throw single payer at the American people to control what can or cannot be done for us.

It has nothing to do with hating liberals but everything to do with freedom, which shouldn’t allow government to tell us what is best for us. Use some common sense.—Rebecca Webb Avigliano, Charleston, S.C.

***

Anyone been to an emergency room lately? If you’re lucky, prepare for an eight-hour stay before you’re released. If you’re fortunate, they’ll allow you in. Ambulances are turned away because of overcrowded rooms.

On July 9, my wife broke her ankle in a Home Depot lot in Chicago, and this was our experience. It was a good neighborhood on the North Side.

This is what the liberal, progressive Democrats have done to us with their mountains of endless, intrusive, destructive laws requiring Dumpsters full of paperwork to satisfy programs like HIPAA instead of using the time for care.

Seats filled in waiting rooms, people on gurneys in hallways for hours, waiting for their trip to get an X-ray or other exams, then waiting for the one doctor to make the rounds. In the near future, these doctors, those who are the smartest in our classrooms, will be software engineers because all this b.s. is just not worth it.

The American people continue to tolerate the politicians, bureaucrats, liberal news pundits, and community activists who endlessly sell us the single-payer health system, while often we hear about the VA nightmare.

Government doesn’t run anything efficiently; it wastes over $200 billion a year in fraud, abuse, and overlapping redundancies. We are allowing the destruction of the greatest health care system in the world.

Repeatedly we’re told of the concerns for the 22 million uninsured; that’s a lie, a fake number from liars. How did people manage before Obamacare? For the few, the health care quality of over 320 million people will be affected forever. There’s no turning back from this.—Art Anton

***

Here’s what we don’t want to acknowledge about health care insurers: No matter what type of plan they offer, they will dictate a price that includes maximum profit and lowest risk. They own the data to be able to do that.

They once again will spend hundreds of millions to not deliver their product. Insurance is the only business sector that can do such an obscenity.

They once again will include small print in the plans, to their benefit. They again will offer plans with maximum limits. They again will cherry-pick by pricing out or denying undesirables (sick people) coverage.

They will form a cartel with providers and pharmaceutical manufacturing to mutually negotiate maximum profits that are spread across all national health care users. They have easy access and power to beneficially negotiate with state insurance commissions.

They are able to buy federal politicians who oppose legislation for a less costly government single-payer system that eliminates middleman insurers. And they threaten to cut off millions of people’s health care if they do not get their way with government regulators.— John Kominitsky

***

Thank you, Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. But honestly, I believe that something like their amendment should have been in the Senate health care bill from the beginning. In fact, it should have been the “heart and soul” of the bill.

What on Earth were the rest of the Republicans in Congress thinking and waiting for the last eight years? Frankly, they should be embarrassed that Cruz and Lee, at virtually the last minute, had to ride in and save them from disaster.

If I understand the Cruz-Lee amendment correctly, insurers would be free to offer any insurance plan the market wants. That is just doing things the free market way, the American way.

When leftists design a program and bureaucrats make the key decisions, nothing works. But, when the people are free to chose from an open and free market, everyone (except the bureaucrats and the left) prospers.—Mike Briggs

About That CBO Score of the Senate Bill

Dear Daily Signal: Nobody knows these government projections for the cost of health insurance premiums, which Drew Gonshorowski writes about in his commentary, will prove to be accurate. They are only projections by the Congressional Budget Office (“What the CBO Score Means for the Senate Health Care Bill“).

No one in the Congress can be a hero by replacing the Affordable Care Act.  Obamacare must be repealed, cleanly repealed. Congress then needs to:

—Eliminate barriers to insurance companies’ competing across state lines.

—Repeal legislation that handcuffs insurance companies by telling them who must be covered.

—Repeal legislation that handcuffs insurance companies by telling them what must be covered.

Let the insurance companies—those who understand what is marketable and where differences between markets exist—offer different packages for mature citizens, for families, for individuals, for everybody to whom they wish to sell packages.

Some citizens will be uninsurable or will be unable to afford insurance because they represent too much risk or their income is insufficient. Let the state and local governments support those within their jurisdictions who need help.

This would be health care support, not insurance but welfare, charity. If this number is 20 million or even more, so be it.

At least we won’t be trying to fit 320 million into one program that hurts as many as it helps, won’t drive up the costs to insure the healthy, and won’t place a burden on the economy by preserving another uncontrollable entitlement program. Repeal and get out of the way.—Ron Bella

***

In what was termed a free market, I had insurance for $240 a month. After Obamacare, the rate tripled and the deductible went from $2,500 to $6,250. Just go back to pre-Obamacare for most and come up with a solution for pre-existing conditions.—James Bowen, Port Orange, Fla.

***

We never had a truly free market. What we had was:

Insurance monopolies on states (no competition). Inability to buy insurance across state lines (same reason).

Frivolous lawsuits driving up costs (need tort reform). Plus skyrocketing malpractice costs to doctors and redundant, unnecessary added tests because of that.

No transparency in hospital charges. Overburdensome government regulations on drug innovation.

What I had was Blue Cross/Blue Shield at $240 a month, $1,200 deductible. After the Affordable Care Act? I paid $600 a month with a $5,000 deductible. No kickbacks.

I’m now on Medicaid, thanks to certain voters. We now have doctors leaving practice in droves because of certain voters, fewer entering the field.

But on the other hand, as a man I have maternity care.

Government is the reason for this mess from the get-go. And government most certainly will not be the answer. Follow the money, not liberal bias.—Dean Hunkele

Pence Hears From Those Hurt by Obamacare

Dear Daily Signal: Having read Fred Lucas’s report on Vice President Mike Pence’s meeting with Obamacare “victims,” here is the beauty of Russian roulette health insurance (“Americans Struggling Under Obamacare Tell Pence ‘Real Story’“). If you don’t have a policy, you can walk into any emergency room in the USA and get treatment. Federal law says hospitals cannot turn people away.

So why buy any insurance if you can structure your life so no one can seize your home, car, or other personal property? It’s only the suckers or people who own stuff who need insurance.—William J. Powers

***

Too many people want health care for nothing. Throwing able-bodied people on Medicaid was disastrous. Too many people are freeloaders.—Sheryl Soden

***

Too many were denied some care when they most needed it. Not that that’s changed.

I know three women who have had to go through a second course of chemo treatments, and all three have had to fight long and hard for the past two or three months for covered care. Not right. We need protection against that sort of evil, money-grubbing insurance companies that took advantage of people.

Obamacare covered some and took from others. Instead of fixing what was wrong, they ruined it for those who were paying for it.—Josephine DeFranco

***

The most insidious thing for most of us isn’t premiums or rationed care, but deductibles. Those of us paying about $6,000 per year in premiums also have to pay $6,000 out of pocket before the insurance pays for anything besides a cursory once-a-year checkup. We have it, but can’t afford to use it.—Greg Hawkins

***

It comes down to understanding insurance before Obamacare and after Obamacare was put into place.

First of all, no one seems to know what Obamacare covers, including agencies that sell health insurance. Basically, you make a certain yearly salary to qualify for a government subsidy to help cover your insurance premium. Make less, you sign up for Medicaid. If you are a young women with no children, you do not qualify.

Therefore if you fall through the cracks you have no insurance. Or, in our case, we pay almost $400 a month for our 27-year-old daughter’s insurance. You can’t go to other states for treatment, or you go through major red tape and it costs you more.

I can go on and on. My advice: Stop complaining and educate yourself about health insurance. Quite honestly, we were doing just fine before Obama thought the government needed to be in the health care business.—Mary Helen Jeffcoat

The post We Hear You: The Failure of Republicans to Repeal or Replace Obamacare appeared first on The Daily Signal.