Free Markets, Free People

AARP

Irony: AARP blames ObamaCare for increased cost of employee health coverage

You remember the organization that became one of the biggest shills for the impending health care legislation now known as "Obamacare"? Reason brings us the story that AARP is now notifying its employees that thanks to their support for this monstrosity they have the privilege of paying 8 to 13% higher health care premiums next year:

In an e-mail to employees, AARP says health care premiums will increase by 8 percent to 13 percent next year because of rapidly rising medical costs.

And AARP adds that it’s changing copayments and deductibles to avoid a 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans that takes effect in 2018 under the law. Aerospace giant Boeing also has cited the tax in asking its workers to pay more. Shifting costs to employees lowers the value of a health care plan and acts like an escape hatch from the tax.

AARP said that its support of the law was based in the fact that “health care costs are growing too fast for everyone.”  Now AARP’s employees will have the opportunity to experience that first hand – after the law the group supported to prevent such cost growth is in effect.

~McQ

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Nanny State savings

O

ne of the most insidious things about the development and expansion of the Nanny State is the programs that pave the way usually sound like a "good thing".

For instance, who wouldn’t think that saving for your future isn’t a good thing? Anyone? However, doing so if you so choose is the way a free people would approach that subject. Which is why, even though it may sound good to some, I would adamantly oppose any government savings program imposed on us:

The White House and congressional Democrats, with the backing of the AARP, will soon put forth a plan to automatically enroll new private-sector employees in investment retirement accounts (IRAs).

The measure will apply to new workers at firms that don’t currently offer 401(k) retirement plans, according to AARP, the lobby group for seniors. Workers would have the choice of opting out of the accounts.

Now most of you will spot the fact that the worker at a firm that doesn’t offer a 401(k) now is already able to open an IRA should they so choose. What the government and it’s crony – the AARP – are planning to do is change the choice. Now you will have an IRA unless you opt out.

Can anyone tell me where the burden will fall to ensure compliance? I mean what’s the natural collection point for this sort of paperwork? What entity will have to provide the initial paperwork as a matter of routine when the new employee is hired, ensure the option is presented and, if the employee chooses to open an IRA, provide assistance in doing so as well as provide the automatic payment allotment to the IRA?

And, last but not least, there will be a need for a new government bureaucracy to monitor and ensure compliance. In fact, this is just another in a long line of intrusions that most freedom loving people would say is none of the government’s business.

Defenders of a program like this would claim there’s nothing wrong with it, savings is good, and besides, new employees have an opportunity to opt out.

Well, right now, they have an opportunity to opt in. And that’s the point. Those who want to can choose to do so now without any government involvement or business compliance involved at all.

This boils down to another burden and cost imposed on business and yet another intrusion by government under the auspices of "you are unable to make smart choices for yourself, so we’ll do it for you".

Is anyone yet growing tired of that?

~McQ

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Skeptical Americans Continue To Say No To Democratic Health Care Plan

Rasmussen reports:

Just 27% of all voters agree with the senior House Democrats [Pelosi/Hoyer] that if the health care reform being considered by Congress is passed, it will mean more patient choice. Forty-nine percent (49%) disagree and do not believe more patient choice is likely, and 24% are not sure.

Among voters who have health insurance, the majority (52%) says the plan, if passed, will not mean more patient choice, while 25% say it will.

Democrats like to blame that disparity in support on “misinformation” circulating out there as well as “un-American” protesters keeping them from getting the “facts” out at townhalls.

But, in actuality, their “facts” and their message has been getting out. The president has held three “townhalls” not to mention an op/ed in the NY Times in which he has, without interruption, been able to lay out both the message and the Democrats version of the facts. And the polls continue to tank.

That’s because the message is one that most don’t believe. That’s primarily because a majority of Americans believe the “facts” upon which it is based are dubious at best. For instance, as Peter Ferrara points out:

At his town hall meeting on health care on Saturday in Colorado, President Obama told the audience:

“I just want to be completely clear about this; I keep on saying this but somehow folks aren’t listening — if you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan.”

That is, unless your health care plan is Medicare Advantage — the private insurance options that almost one-fourth of seniors have chosen for their coverage under Medicare. Republicans enacted this choice for seniors, and many, many seniors have chosen one of these private insurance options because they get better benefits from it than from standard Medicare.

President Obama’s health plan targets these Medicare Advantage private plans for $177 billion in cuts in what he misleadingly calls “subsidies”and “sweetheart deals for insurance companies that don’t make anybody any healthier.”At a minimum, these cuts will force these plans to cut back on the benefits they provide to seniors. Or the Medicare Advantage plans may just go out of business altogether, dumping all the seniors who have made that choice because they think they are getting a better deal from those plans.

Seniors know what that means and are rejecting the glib assurances from Obama that he isn’t really saying what he’s saying.

And that rejection of the president’s mantra doesn’t even touch on the effect of the ‘public option’ which various experts say would see 10 to 80 million shifted into it from their present plans.

If one of the targets of this plan is private insurance companies and the goal is to “keep them honest”, it doesn’t take Stephen Hawking to figure out that the chances are very good your private plan may go away.

Back to seniors. They’ve also seen through Obama’s assertions, given as “fact”, that there won’t be any reduction in Medicare benefits:

In these town halls, President Obama has repeatedly denied that his health overhaul scheme includes any cuts in Medicare. But besides slashing Medicare Advantage, the Congressional bills cut over $300 billion more from the program, which the Congressional Budget Office has scored. When arguing that his health overhaul is paid for, he wants credit for these cuts. But when challenged, he wants to deny before the whole country — in broad daylight — that he is doing it. I can’t recall any precedent for such a presidential disconnect from reality.

The disconnect comes from his unfamiliarity with the bill and the fact that he’s turned over the responsibility for it to Congress. Consequently he is out touting something that doesn’t exist. He may actually desire that Medicare not reduce benefits, but that’s not what the bill says. Those “savings” have got to come from somewhere, and since the administration loves to assert that Medicare is so much more efficient than private insurance, that leaves the benefits area from which to reap those savings.

Again, you don’t have to be a MIT grad to figure that out. And seniors have figured it out. That’s they’re rejecting Obama’s assurances.

Obama also continues to claim that overall this plan will save health care dollars, and, magically, eliminate the unfunded future liability in Medicare.

In Colorado on Saturday, President Obama suggested that his health overhaul scheme would “bend the cost curve,”reducing “health care inflation”so much that the enormous long term deficit of Medicare (unfunded liability: $89 trillion) would be eliminated! Otherwise, he said, “We’ll either have to cut Medicare, in which case seniors then will bear the brunt of it, or we’ll have to raise taxes, which nobody likes.”

But the CBO has not confirmed anything like that. What it has said, again, is just the opposite, that Obama’s health plans will not reduce costs, but, rather, will increase federal spending by close to a trillion dollars.

Since, as is pointed out, the CBO said nothing of the sort and, in fact, said precisely to opposite, what does that leave us? Well once you know that CBO said this plan would increase cost, we are left with the reality of Medicare cuts and tax increases.

That’s right: “…cut Medicare [benefits], in which case seniors then will bear the brunt of it, or we’ll have to raise taxes…”, or both. The cuts in Medicare, as mentioned, are already in the plan. Taxes going up is inevitable if this gets passed. He’s asserting a fantasy based on a lie and using the Medicare cuts and tax increases as a scare tactic to get the fantasy passed.

And of course, finally, after having this officially denied by AARP, he continues to say, at two townhalls after the denial, that AARP is “onboard” with their plan. That continued unfounded assertion is costing AARP thousands of members quitting in disgust.

In other words, it isn’t that the message isn’t getting out there, but that most Americans don’t agree on who is doing the mischaracterizing. It appears they believe that it is the Democrats and the president who are attempting to sell a program which they are mischaracterizing as something it is not.

In return for their refusal to be duped, Americans are being called all sorts of names by the hired help. It is an amazing spectacle in which the servant calls the master names because the master doesn’t like the servant’s crack-pot ideas and doesn’t believe their talking points.

The irony, of course, is much like the Republicans when they lost the Congress in 2006, the Democrats have yet to figure this out. They’re lost in the belief that their problem lies in messaging and if they just do a better job of delivering it all will be fine. What they don’t realize is the message is out there and it has been rejected.

Most voters (54%) now say no health care reform legislation this year would be better than passage of the bill currently working its way through Congress. This does not mean that most voters are opposed to health care reform, but it does highlight the level of concern about the specifics now being discussed in Washington.

The message from the majority? Slow down, there is no rush, drop this mess and rethink it. If Democrats don’t listen and ram something through, they do so at their own peril and there will be consequences.

~McQ

Obama Tries To Spin Health Care Debate His Way

As I mention below, Americans know the difference between a real townhall and a staged event. Yesterday’s “townhall” with Obama was an obviously staged event, and evidence to that effect, plus the “Yes We Can” chorus, make that point rather obvious.

That said, there was a lot of nonsense thrown out here by Obama which he claimed was “the truth”. Of course the purpose of his political rally wasn’t discussion or debate – it was to lecture those there and deride the oppostion who wasn’t. Was it effective? My gut says no.

Interestingly enough, USA Today did a bit of a fact check on what Obama offered yesterday:

• “Under the reform we’re proposing, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”

Not necessarily. In an analysis of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that 10 million workers could lose employer-provided benefits and would have to find other insurance.

This continues to be a promise and it continues to be wrong regardless of how many times he says it. A) the bill, as Kathy Kiely of USA Today points out, doesn’t support it. B) he can promise whatever he wants but unless the legislation agrees the promise is moot. And right now, as noted, the legislation does not support Obama’s promise.

• “Insurance companies basically get $177 billion of taxpayer money to provide services that Medicare already provides.”

About 10.2 million Medicare recipients are in Medicare Advantage. Under that program, the government pays insurers a set amount per Medicare beneficiary. Obama ridiculed it as costly and redundant, but the plan provides additional benefits, such as vision, dental and hearing, to seniors and helps coordinate health care for those with chronic conditions, says Robert Zirkelbach at the trade association, America’s Health Insurance Plans.

People under medicare almost all have a “medigap” supplemental policy that covers what Medicare doesn’t cover. Who is spreading disinformation in this particular case? In his desire to demonize the insurance industry, he ridicules coverage that is actually helpful to seniors as “costly and redundant”. That won’t sell among the senior population that knows better and will thus make the rest of his message suspect to them.

• “The rumor that’s been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for ‘death panels’ that will basically pull the plug on Grandma. … (T)he intention. .. was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they’re ready, on their own terms. … (O)ne of the chief sponsors of this bill originally was a Republican … (Sen.) Johnny Isakson from Georgia.”

Isakson issued a press release saying Obama misused his name. A provision he attached to a Senate health care bill would allow seniors to obtain help in formulating a living will something Isakson said is different from House language. The House bill would require Medicare to pay for end-of-life counseling sessions, but it would not mandate that anyone use the benefit.

There’s an even simpler point here – there is no Senate bill at this point, and Senator Isakson doesn’t write or offer amendments to House bills. The section in question is strictly a House bill section written by Democrats and offered by Democrats.

• “AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, OK?”

The AARP issued a press release to make it clear that it has not endorsed any particular health care proposal. “Indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate,” AARP said.

The president and his staff would love to wave this off as a slip of the tongue, but in reality it was said purposefully to bolster the credibility of the legislation to seniors, who Democrats have identified as the voting bloc most unsure of it. This was calculated to do just that. Any good media doctor knows that more will hear the claim than will hear the denial. And that’s precisely what the administration is hoping for. Pure disinformation given for a specific political reason. Most people would call that propaganda.

So this is what the administration offers in answer to the real, visceral and organic protests that have sprung up all over the country – as staged show with softball questions by likely plants which allows the administration to attempt to reshape the message even while it uses half-truths, distortions and outright disinformation to do so.

Nice.

~McQ