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  • Another Hearing Highlights Obamacare's Problems

    Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius testified last week at the House Ways and Means Committee on the fiscal year 2012 budget—although the question period centered on Obamacare. Sebelius opined that the new health care law will increase patient access to physicians and hospitals, provide more choices for Medicare beneficiaries, create jobs, and allow those who are happy with their current plans to keep them. However, reality paints a different picture.

    First, Obamacare will not increase access to health care for many seniors. For example, as a result of the $200 billion cut to the Medicare Advantage (MA) program, insurance companies are caught in a bind as to whether or not they should cut benefits and offer less appealing plans or leave the program altogether.

    Sebelius said there is no evidence this will happen, but Heritage’s analysts have demonstrated that the cuts will result in less generous benefits for MA beneficiaries, less access to care, and, therefore, fewer choices as a result of losing their MA coverage and joining traditional Medicare.

    Second, Obamacare will not create jobs overall, although the bureaucracy will expand. Sebelius confirmed that 4,700 positions in HHS and 1,000 positions in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will open up in order to fully implement Obamacare. At the same time that more power is given to the bureaucrats in Washington, many businesses across the nation are struggling and have to decide if they can keep all the employees they currently have with the new mandates. Heritage analyst Brian Blase argues that the employer mandates and penalties that Obamacare places on businesses “will in turn reduce business growth and hiring.”

    Abbott Laboratories in Chicago has stated that it has cut 9,000 jobs and will be forced to cut an additional 1,900 in the near future because of the changing health care regulatory environment. Various other hearings over the past year have had business owners and experts share their experiences of having to size down their businesses in order to comply with the Obamacare mandates.

    Third, you may not be able to keep your existing coverage plan. Congressman Dave Reichart (R–WA) stated that there was language placed in the bill that runs counter to the premise that people can keep their current plans. These “promises are already falling apart,” he said, as seven out of 10 employers will not able to keep their grandfathered plan status.

    When Reichart asked the Secretary if it is an accurate statement to say, “You’re able to keep your health care plan and your doctor if you like it,” the Secretary refused to give a yes-or-no answer. In recent Heritage research, health care expert John Hoff highlights many ways in which Americans will not be able to keep their health care plans the way it stands now. With new provisions applying to health insurance plans, regulations limiting the ability to obtain grandfather status, and MA experiencing cuts, many Americans will soon see their plans change or risk losing their existing plans altogether.

    Sebelius also continued to express a misunderstanding of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program in an exchange with Congressman Charles Boustany (R–LA). Despite the statute that makes CLASS an explicit opt-out program, the Secretary responded that it had not yet been determined whether enrollment in CLASS will be opt-in or opt-out. In a way, her interpretation of the legislation goes to the heart of separation of powers and whether the unelected bureaucracy can simply rewrite a program created through an act of Congress.

    Sebelius doesn’t seem to understand that Obamacare is more unpopular than ever because people and businesses are afraid of its plethora of mandates and increase of government control and spending. Obamacare must be repealed in order to achieve real health care reform that more wisely spends taxpayer money and allows for a greater amount of consumer choice.

    Co-authored by Amanda Rae Kronquist. Kronquist is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Another Hearing Highlights Obamacare's Problems

    1. Bobbie says:

      I'm deeply concerned today. My husbands employer provides health insurance although our family indirectly pays for it as there hasn't been an increase to his income for the last 8 years forcing us to take from our retirement to pay government taxes of property, assessments, local, and everybody's programs that are not benefits to us, etc. Since the end of December our out of pocket costs went up 7%. That's quite an outrage when there is a chronic illness involved and our retirement will be null and void by the time we retire if we make it that far. I'm sure government is involved or they would've had the meeting yesterday (paid federal holiday.) It's a trap! Insurance is not the care itself, just an excuse for extra cost. So the freebies would be at a less cost if insurance paperwork wasn't involved. I guarantee they won't be held accountable to the insurance or it's cost. An illusion to further their agenda.

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    3. Anne C says:

      The Health care reform promises a lot of good benefits and insuring more people but I don't know how we can afford this since supporters of the law are also promising to lower health care costs. It might be possible but it will cost us more through additional taxes and higher premium rates.

      Anne C

      NY Health Insurer

    4. Pingback: Politics watch « ObamaCare 411

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    7. Debbie Church, Ohio says:

      This bill terrifies me. It seems that our only protection from it is to pass admendments to states' constitutions to allow citizens to opt out. I am hopeful but not overly optomistic that the US Supreme Court will rule it unconstitutional. Thank you, Heritage Foundation, for all the good work you do.

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    10. Bobbie says:

      Anne, I hope you're not in favor of "promises" from the government. It's unconstitutional and government should stay far away. This has already caused unnecessary hardships to those that take care of themselves. Why should those that take care of themselves, be accountable to those that don't? They're implementing rules and laws that we had the freedom to choose. This will eventually collapse the whole country as it has already started. The government expects more from some and does not want to expect the same from all so they cause a health care crisis that really only exists through coercion, exaggeration and distortion. This bill is unconstitutional and an underhanded overreach into our freedoms and personal responsibilities.

    11. W.P.Koch, San LuIs O says:


      Congress and the White House should stop wasting the people’s money. There are many ways to “cut as detailed herein” and use savings to improve quality of basic invested entitlements. Preserve the 2010 tax schedule with no inheritance taxes. Congress should transition to an improved Medicare. Vote opponents to this “out”. Citizens come first.

      It is time the U.S. reduces human rites and police activities for the World by lobbying the United Nations, NATO and Interpol to “take on more”. 800 bases in 63 countries across the world should be reduced. Examples are fewer forces in, Bosnia, Germany, Philippines and Okinawa.

      Starting with Iraq, only train for self reliance. After the surge in Afghanistan train and diminish corruption by requiring accounting practices for aid, substituting minerals mining and food crops for drugs.

      Cut bloated federal bureaucracy and phase in outsourcing. Combine CDC, EPA and FDA. Combine the FAA, NHTSA and Transportation Department. Combine GAO and CBO. Eliminate Departments “must spend all”. Return “unused” yearly budget to the treasury. Cut combined department budgets (other than entitlements) on an average of 10%.

      Eliminate all 32 CZARS Mr. president. Reduce your 469 member staff which makes nearly 39 million per year! Halt first lady $180,000 air force one vacation trips. Stop “$200 million per day” presidential-family foreign trips. Cancel $ 20,000,000 executive order (HB 1388) to relocate key Hamas members to U.S.

      Contribute to only one of: The World Bank or International Monetary Fund or U.S. Agency for International Development.

      Reduce foreign aid bribery. For example, no aid to oil rich -Iraq. $37 billion and increasing with $8.7 billion of development funds not accounted for. Halt $150 million aid to Palestinians. Slash $1.3 billion annually to Egypt.

      Charge bailed companies (TARP) for their huge executive bonuses at taxpayer expense. Government should sell shares to recoup for taxpayer. About $154 billion owed.

      Congress should reduce “stimulus” expenditures by halting: over budget and vote bribery “earmarks”. Example: Stop “cow burp” study. Take back $13 billion unspent in states. Eliminate subsidies that smell “earmark”. Congress should cut its pay and do not pay student loans for their staff. Please- no renting of private or military aircraft. An example was Pelosi’s family of $2.1 million for over 2 years. Congress should set commercial travel cost standards and controls.

      Reduce medical cost by: allowing purchasing anywhere in U.S., “tort reform”, and reducing “red tape”. Reduce Medicare fraud by expediting billing cost speed, and doctor/patient screening of local provider groups.

      Congress should enforce existing immigration laws and implement “no illegal birthrights”. Entitlements or benefits should be for only citizens. Deport criminal “illegals”. Only deportees and workers on Visa/Guest Programs qualify for needed medical benefits. Complete an improved fence. 44% of this border is controlled.

      These actions will improve funding for:” Medicare”, “Medicaid, and “Veteran’s Affairs”. Corporations should be allowed tax reduction incentives for hiring with healthcare plan options.

      Healthcare quality can be at least that for Congress or the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Additional benefits are: dental coverage, improved visual coverage, no drug “donut hole”, no pre-existing conditions, and no deductibles and co-pays except for extended skilled level nursing.

      Other benefits are aid for unemployment compensation and Social Security with reinstated cost of living increases.

    12. Pingback: Sebelius fails again miserably « ObamaCare 411

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    14. John Eley, Nashville says:

      I wonder if the long message on how to cut the budget contains any cuts that would impact negatively on the author. If not, this is another case of "save my benefits and cut those to virtually everyone else". Until and unless advocates of reductions are willing to be impartial and to accept cuts to their own benefits we will get little done insofar as cutting the deficit is concerned.

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