Free Markets, Free People


ObamaCare update–waivers and falsehoods

Yesterday, after the SOTU had been delivered and all attention was on discussing it, the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (OCIIO), part of the US Health and Human Services Department, quietly announced that it had granted 511 new waivers to Obamacare (for a total of 733 as of this post) since its last report in November.  Hot Air had been monitoring the site and found it rather interesting that a site that had been efficiently updated through November suddenly wasn’t updated until after SOTU.  A bit like the CBO’s announced revision of this year’s deficit.

Anyway, the list contains businesses, local unions and other entities.  Additionally, four states have applied for waivers (MA, NJ, OH and TN).

The reason for all these waivers (which, btw, only delay their integration into ObamaCare, it doesn’t exempt them)?

This ever-expanding list of waivers is the direct result of ObamaCare raising the annual benefit caps on certain health plans. Obviously, a plan with higher annual limits is potentially more costly than one without them. The money to cover the difference in premiums has to come from somewhere. Without the waivers, it will come from the employer who are forced by law to upgrade to the more expensive plan.

2.2 million effected with the waivers granted to this point.  Part of that “less costly” promise Obama made when he was peddling this monstrosity.

Speaking of falsehoods, Jen Rubin at the Washington Post  reports on an interesting exchange between Congressional reps and Medicare’s chief actuary (Robert Foster).  In this particular exchange they discuss the “double-counting” that was used to justify ObamaCare (and which the Democrats and their pet economists like to claim is nonsense:

REP. JOHN CAMPBELL(R- Calif.): "Is it legitimate to say… that you can add a dozen years to the solvency of Medicare or that you can reduce the deficit, but it is not correct to say both simultaneously?"

FOSTER: "Both will happen as a result of the same one set of savings, under Medicare. But it takes two sets of money to make it happen. It happens directly for the budget deficit, from the Medicare savings, and then when we need the money to extend the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, we have a promissory note – it’s an IOU, not a worthless IOU, but it is an IOU – and Treasury has to pay that money back. But they have to get it from somewhere. That’s the missing link."

These are the sorts of budgetary tricks that Congress is famous for using (and it isn’t just the Democrats, although it was certainly the Democrats in this case)and one of the reasons we see government in the horrific financial shape it is in.

So, where is the money – promised in the IOUs for the money designated for Medicare but spent elsewhere – going to come from? Of course the Democrat’s answer is from higher taxes. But don’t worry – the result will be "lower health care costs" or so says the plan. Amazing.

Then Foster was asked about this:

Two of the central promises of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law are unlikely to be fulfilled, Medicare’s independent economic expert told Congress on Wednesday.

The landmark legislation probably won’t hold costs down, and it won’t let everybody keep their current health insurance if they like it, Chief Actuary Richard Foster told the House Budget Committee. His office is responsible for independent long-range cost estimates. . . .

Foster was asked by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., for a simple true or false response on two of the main assertions made by supporters of the law: that it will bring down unsustainable medical costs and will let people keep their current health insurance if they like it.

On the costs issue, "I would say false, more so than true," Foster responded.

Finally, this exchange:

McCLINTOCK: "The other promise… was the promise that if you like your plan, you can keep it. True or false?"

FOSTER: "Not true in all cases."

Really?  Other than true believers, who else thought “oh heck yeah, we can add more people to the rolls, require insurance companies to take everyone regardless of their health and remove all payment caps and have a cheaper product too boot?  The same people who swallowed “if you like your plan you can keep it”, I guess.

For those folks: welcome to reality.  If you think the new revised budget deficit of 1.5 trillion this year is alarming, wait till ObamaCare kicks in fully.  Oh, and repeat after me “this is not the government taking over health care”.