Patterico's Pontifications


Chicago Boyz’ New Contributor

Filed under: Health Care — DRJ @ 5:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Congratulations to the Chicago Boyz on their new contributor, Mike K. Be sure to read all his posts, including his most recent: The Trend to Cash Medical Practice.

H/T Dana.



ObamaCare Fallout: Healthcare’s on Us

Filed under: Health Care — DRJ @ 11:07 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Speaker Pelosi said this two months ago as a selling point for health care reform, and she’s still saying it — Don’t worry about working; We’ll cover your health care:

“We see it as an entrepreneurial bill, a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care.”


ObamaCare Fallout: Crowded ERs

Filed under: Health Care — DRJ @ 10:45 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Hill reports health care reform will result in even more crowded emergency rooms because there aren’t enough doctors to treat so many new patients:

“A chief aim of the new healthcare law was to take the pressure off emergency rooms by mandating that people either have insurance coverage. The idea was that if people have insurance, they will go to a doctor rather than putting off care until they faced an emergency.

People who build hospitals, however, say newly insured people will still go to emergency rooms for primary care because they don’t have a doctor.

“Everybody expected that one of the initial impacts of reform would be less pressure on emergency departments; it’s going to be exactly the opposite over the next four to eight years,” said Rich Dallam, a healthcare partner at the architectural firm NBBJ, which designs healthcare facilities.

“We don’t have the primary care infrastructure in place in America to cover the need. Our clients are looking at and preparing for more emergency department volume, not less,” he said.”

That’s what happened in Massachusetts, too, and the waits are still long. The Democrats’ answer? Rep. Jim McDermott wants government to pay for more doctors. Others see a need for more hospitals. And everyone says the money must be spent now because of the long lag times in educating doctors and building medical facilities.



Health Care Benefits

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 3:43 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Obama — Health care benefits beginning:

“The most critical and controversial parts of the recently passed health care reform bill won’t take effect for more than three and half years, but President Barack Obama wants Americans to know that the historic legislation is already spurring positive changes in the insurance business.

“While it will take some time to fully implement this law, reform is already delivering real benefits to millions of Americans,” Obama said in his weekly radio and video address out Saturday morning. “Already, we are seeing a health care system that holds insurance companies more accountable and gives consumers more control.”

AT&T (via Doug Ross) — Health care benefits ending?:

“Someone inside AT&T leaked an internal Powerpoint presentation that measured the financial impact of DemCare.

AT&T estimates that it can save upwards of $4 billion annually by dropping health care coverage and paying the penalty tax instead.

They’d be foolish to keep their health care benefits and, in fact, shareholders should demand the company capture that income and return it in the form of increased dividends and R&D.”

The Administration may have its thumb on the insurance companies but it can’t control those Unintended Consequences.



Health Care Rationing

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 10:53 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Via Breitbart and Naked Emperor News, Peter Orzag reveals the truth about rationing and the Independent Payment Advisory Board:

Obama’s Budget Director: Powerful Rationing Panel (Not Doctors) Will Control Health Care Levels

ORZAG: “And the only real solution to our long-term fiscal imbalance, because it’s driven disproportionately by the rate at which health care costs grow, is to move towards a health care system that is based on quality and efficiency rather than quantity. Everyone agrees that we can no longer afford to just pay for quantity, that is, a fee for service system where doctors and hospitals are reimbursed based on volume.

I think folks have not really focused on the Medicare commission, the Independent Payment Advisory Board that’s created. This institution could prove to be far more important to the future of our fiscal health than, for example, the Congressional Budget Office. It has an enormous amount of potential power.

So this Independent Payment Advisory Board has the power not … it has the responsibility to put forward proposals to hit a pretty aggressive set of targets over the long term. And furthermore the proposals take effect automatically unless Congress not only specifically votes them down, but Congress specifically votes them down and the President signs that bill.

So the default is now switched in a very important way on the biggest driver of our long term costs, which is the Medicare program.

REPORTER: “Was that explained to members of Congress very carefully?”

ORZAG: “Yes, it was, and that’s why this was something that was very difficult to actually …

This is why I think this was underappreciated that this is a very substantial change. Statutory power to put forward proposals to reduce health care costs growth over time … and improve quality, and those proposals take effect automatically if Congress ignores them, if Congress votes them down and the President vetoes that bill. So, in other words, inertia now plays to the side of this Independent Board.

Wasn’t it the Democrats’ job, as sponsors of health care reform, to help Americans focus on the important parts of the legislation — like the Independent Medical Advisory Board? Instead, they clearly felt their job was to hide the ball.

This reminds me of two things and it’s hard to choose which is more appropriate: Sarah Palin’s ‘Death Panel’ or Nancy Pelosi’s ‘But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.’



ObamaCare Costs Increasing Already

Filed under: Government,Health Care — DRJ @ 1:27 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Instead of saving money and providing better healthcare as President Obama and the Democrats promised, ObamaCare will cost more than it saves:

“The report from Medicare’s Office of the Actuary carried a disclaimer saying it does not represent the official position of the Obama administration. White House officials have repeatedly complained that such analyses have been too pessimistic and lowball the law’s potential to achieve savings.

The report acknowledged that some of the cost-control measures in the bill — Medicare cuts, a tax on high-cost insurance and a commission to seek ongoing Medicare savings — could help reduce the rate of cost increases beyond 2020. But it held out little hope for progress in the first decade.

“During 2010-2019, however, these effects would be outweighed by the increased costs associated with the expansions of health insurance coverage,” wrote Richard S. Foster, Medicare’s chief actuary. “Also, the longer-term viability of the Medicare … reductions is doubtful.” Foster’s office is responsible for long-range costs estimates.”

There’s more:

“The report’s most sober assessments concerned Medicare.

In addition to flagging provider cuts as potentially unsustainable, the report projected that reductions in payments to private Medicare Advantage plans would trigger an exodus from the popular alternative. Enrollment would plummet by about 50 percent. Seniors leaving the private plans would still have health insurance under traditional Medicare, but many might face higher out-of-pocket costs.

In another flashing yellow light, the report warned that a new voluntary long-term care insurance program created under the law faces “a very serious risk” of insolvency.”

According to NRO, Medicare funding cuts could put 15% of America’s hospitals out of business so it’s unlikely that Congress will follow through on those Medicare cuts, raising ObamaCare costs even more. This comes on top of recent news that over 60 doctor-owned hospitals will not be built because of ObamaCare’s regulations that prohibit physician-owned facilities except those that already exist or in rare cases.



Beldar: Obama Only Pretends to Re-write Every State’s Domestic Laws to Benefit Gays and Lesbians

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 10:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Beldar is not impressed with President Obama’s much-heralded decision that reportedly mandates hospitals extend rights to partners of gay men, lesbians and allow same-sex couples to share medical power of attorney.



Government Disclosures Up

Filed under: Government,Health Care — DRJ @ 5:11 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

TaxProf Blog via Instapundit:

“The report reveals that the IRS made 7.6 billion disclosures of tax return information to federal and state agencies (up from 5.3 billion in 2008 and 4.5 billion in 2007). Here are the Top 5 recipients of taxpayer information:

1. States: 4,846,131,877 disclosures
2. Bureau of Census: 1,349,028,710 disclosures
3. Congressional Committees: 1,326,054,627 disclosures
4. Medicare Premium Subsidy Adjustment: 39,031,057 disclosures
5. Child Support Enforcement Agencies: 16,418,936 disclosures”

Imagine how many disclosures there will be after ObamaCare takes effect, especially if the IRS is overseer.

The AMA admits that, despite ethical and legal obligations that require health information be kept confidential, “access to confidential patient information has become more prevalent.” Add universal mandates and increased government regulation under ObamaCare and it’s easy to see how the privacy of medical information could be jeopardized, lending support to the Mississippi lawsuit that challenges ObamaCare based in part on privacy right violations.



American Gimme-ism

Filed under: Economics,Health Care — DRJ @ 11:47 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Are we becoming a nation of “Give Me” Americans?

“Questions reflecting confusion have flooded insurance companies, doctors’ offices, human resources departments and business groups.

“They’re saying, ‘Where do we get the free Obama care, and how do I sign up for that?’ ” said Carrie McLean, a licensed agent for The California-based company sells coverage from 185 health insurance carriers in 50 states.

McLean said the call center had been inundated by uninsured consumers who were hoping that the overhaul would translate into instant, affordable coverage.”

Almost half of us don’t pay federal income taxes and many receive more than they pay:

“About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability.
The bottom 40 percent, on average, make a profit from the federal income tax, meaning they get more money in tax credits than they would otherwise owe in taxes. For those people, the government sends them a payment.

“We have 50 percent of people who are getting something for nothing,” said Curtis Dubay, senior tax policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.”

Free people should depend primarily on themselves, not their governments, if they want to stay free.



Health Care Fallout in New Hampshire

Filed under: Economics,Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 9:11 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Several large companies including AT&T, John Deere, and Caterpillar recently announced higher anticipated costs because of ObamaCare, but they aren’t the only businesses expecting costs to increase. Seasonal employers like ski resorts — businesses that typically rely on part-time or short-term workers who aren’t covered by health care policies — will also be affected. Take, for instance, New Hampshire:

The state’s seasonal tourism industry is only now beginning to realize that it could get hammered by the new health care reform law.

The bill signed into law on Tuesday by President Barack Obama fines businesses that do not provide health insurance to full-time employees who work more than 120 days a year. The assessment is $2,000 per employee, which, according to SkiNH lobbyist Bruce Berke and group president Alice Pearce, could mean as much as $1 million in fines to the big ski resorts, some of which hire as many as 500 seasonal workers.

Also affected would be any business that hires on a seasonal basis, and, like most nationally, do not offer health insurance.”

New Hampshire resorts have asked their Senators to try to reinstate the $750/person fines for employees working 150 days as set forth in the original Senate bill, instead of the $2,000/person fines for 120 day workers contained in the reconciliation package:

“SkiNH is asking Sens. Judd Gregg and Jeanne Shaheen to support returning to the original Senate parameters because, Pearce and Berke say, it would have minimal impact on their industry.

Otherwise, Pearce said, it will be up to each ski resort (and presumably, seasonal attractions statewide) to figure out how to handle it. The choices are pretty clear, either increase prices or cut costs, which could mean hiring fewer workers next winter.”

New Hampshire isn’t the only State facing this problem:

“The new provision has ski areas and the hotel and lodging industry nationally concerned.

In Colorado, a Steamboat Springs official said it could cost that resort as much as $2 million a year.”

This sounds bleak for resorts and the leisure industry. Not only is it hard to find people with the money to take vacations, now they also face fines for each worker. I also wonder if ObamaCare applies to cruise lines that sail to and from U.S. ports. With many ships sailing with onboard physicians, do cruise lines provide health insurance for all their workers and, if not, what will this do to their bottom line?


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