“We have to pass the bill…so you can see what’s in it.”
Let’s take stock of the recent news surrounding President Obama’s attempts at health care reform last year, and what we’re finding out is in it.
First, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) grilled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius earlier this week on the long-asked question of double-counting of Medicare funds in the Obamacare plan – and got the Secretary to admit that money which was being applied to fund Obamacare had also been applied to Medicare.
Then we have Rep. Michele Bachmann’s tour this week of cable news and the Sunday talk shows on the question of $105 billion in “pre-funding” for Obamacare that was cooked into the plan’s original passage in order to fund the implementation of the plan…
And this week there’s news the administration has now given away over 1,000 waivers for Obamacare implementation, with the preponderance going to unions who had initially helped support its passage.
Waiver approvals peaked in December when just more than 500 requests were cleared, while just less than 200 were approved in January and about 125 were approved in February.
Last month, HHS said it had approved 94% of waiver requests it had received.
The waiver affecting the largest group of enrollees was granted in September to the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund in New York, whose mini-med plan has 351,000 enrollees, according to its filing.
The waivers are needed because most, if not all, mini-med plans run afoul of federal rules that set a minimum annual dollar limit on essential benefits that health care plans must provide in 2011, 2012 and 2013 under the health care law. The minimum limit is $750,000 in 2011, $1.25 million in 2012 and $2 million in 2013.
There is, of course, a question whether those waivers are constitutional. And speaking of constitutionality, the president just yesterday filed an appeal of federal judge Roger Vinson’s ruling that its mandate for everyone in America to buy health insurance violates the Constitution. Vinson had given the administration seven days to file an appeal a week ago, issuing a stay of his ruling but demanding that Obama fast-track his appeal.
Now we see that the entire state of Maine has now been given a waiver against implementing Obamacare, because to do otherwise would wipe out all one of the major private insurance carriers in the state and put 37 percent of its market without insurance…
The U.S. Health and Human Services department said in a letter it would waive the requirement that insurers spend 80 cents to 85 cents of every premium dollar on medical care and quality improvement. Instead, the letter said, the state could maintain its 65 percent standard for three years, with the caveat that HHS intends to review the figures after two years.
The decision makes Maine the first state to receive a waiver of the requirement. Similar requests are pending from Kentucky, Nevada and New Hampshire.
In seeking the waiver, Maine Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman feared that one of three major insurers offering individual plans in Maine would withdraw from the market altogether if the federal requirement remained in place. The insurer, MEGA Life and Health Insurance Co., has 37 percent of the state’s individual market.
This is just a small sampling of the fallout from the passage of what has to be considered the most dishonestly-implemented, destructive, unworkable and corrupt pieces of legislation ever passed.
Obviously, the best thing that could be done is to yank this bill out by the roots and offer a series of simple, workable reforms that will aim at the problem of inflation in medical costs. But the people who wanted this bill to become law and were willing to trash their majority in the House of Representatives in order to pass it still control the Senate and White House. So unless the Supreme Court invalidates it, it’s going to be January of 2013 before anything can be done to address this mess.
Republicans had better continue reminding the public of the damage this bill will do if it’s not repealed. The more we find out what’s in it, the more the American people will respond angrily – and look for some scalps in revenge.