My local Sunday paper had an above-the-fold headline the other day: “Obamacare rate could see big spike in NH next year.” This refers only to my state, where an unidentified government official leaked to the press a document projecting an average Obamacare-exchange premium rate increase of 44%.

The headline could easily have said “another spike.” Obamacare-linked price hikes are old news. Still, I’m glad this wound up on the front page. That indicates that at least one assignment editor doesn’t take big increases for granted.

The story said that the document was stamped Confidential and Draft Only and Not for Distribution. I wish I knew who leaked it so I could deliver my personal thanks. I don’t like being surprised during enrollment season. The principal factor in the projected increase, according to the news report (I haven’t read the actual document), is Medicaid expansion. Without that, the projected increase is closer to 17%.

I don’t want my neighbors covered by Medicaid expansion to get sicker or forgo mental health care or substance abuse treatment. What irks me is that anyone in government or media could be surprised or distressed that expansion actually leads to cost increases and distortions in how health care is provided.

I hope no one’s surprised when the resulting premium increases for my non-Medicaid neighbors leads to changes in their behavior, such as dropping insurance altogether.

Last year’s price spike finally pushed me over the edge and out of the market. In the government’s view, I am uninsured, having opted for a healthshare program that Obamacare benignly tolerates. My husband has retained a conventional policy, and we’re keeping records to see how our costs compare over time.

Ideal? No. My costs are pretty much under my control, right up to the time I’m badly injured or develop a serious medical condition. I would then be at the mercy of my fellow sharers and of the bean-counters in my healthcare providers’ offices. Further, I am waiting uneasily for the Obamacare fans to amend the law so that healthshare programs are no longer penalty-free. Frankly, I think that kind of amendment is likely to come much sooner than any Republican health-insurance reform.

Medicaid is permanently expanded. I believe that. So will there be any health insurance “fixes” this year that would head off a 44% average increase in premiums on my state’s exchange next year? I don’t see how, no matter who’s in the White House. I’m pessimistic about the financial aspect of government health insurance because I’ve seen over the past five years that elected officials can’t even get the little things right.

By “little,” I don’t mean unimportant. I’m thinking of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. That’s the government policy that treats being a woman as a pre-existing condition by calling women’s contraceptives “preventive” care. Business owners who offer health insurance to employees, and who have moral objections to coerced involvement in their employees’ birth control decisions, have had to go to court to escape the mandate.

President Trump’s recent religious-liberty order was tightly limited and it did not undo the mandate. The Little Sisters of the Poor will benefit from his order, because he’s taken a personal interest in their case. Dozens of other mandate challengers are still making their way through the courts, with only these words from the President’s order to comfort them along the way: [cabinet departments] “shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.”

In five years, regardless of the party in power, Congress has failed to repeal the mandate. A Republican president has managed only to tell his people to “consider issuing amended regulations.” The Supreme Court has had the chance to throw out the mandate as a religious liberty violation, and it has not done so.

I can’t trust them to fix even one small but critical aspect of health care policy. I sure can’t trust them to fix the whole thing. Bring on the spikes.

Ellen Kolb blogs about New Hampshire life-issue policy at Leaven for the Loaf and looks farther afield in ellenkolb.com

Not long after Roe v. Wade federalized abortion policy, Members of Congress led by Henry Hyde moved to prevent federal funds from being used for abortions. The Hyde Amendment was finally added to the Medicaid program as a rider to the Health and Human Services budget on September 30, 1976. The rider has been added in every federal budget cycle since then. The Hyde Amendment restricts – but does not altogether prevent – federal taxpayer funding of abortion.

Abortion providers have tried to torpedo the Hyde Amendment since the day it was proposed. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is a determined foe of Hyde. Slate quotes her as saying that it “mak[es] it harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.” Clinton and candidates in step with her are prepared to coerce all taxpayers into subsidizing abortion.

Donald Trump is reportedly willing to support the Hyde Amendment, according to Marjorie Dannenfelser, chairwoman of Trump’s pro-life coalition. “Not only has Mr. Trump doubled down on his three existing commitments to the pro-life movement, he has gone a step further in pledging to protect the Hyde Amendment and the conscience rights of millions of pro-life taxpayers.”

Absent a presidential veto, it’s the Members of Congress who determine whether the Hyde Amendment goes into the budget. A presidential candidate’s coattails will have something to do with the makeup of Congress, though, so the views of the presidential candidates matter.

As the Hyde Amendment turns 40, and acting independently of any campaign or party, a diverse group of pro-life Americans led by Secular Pro-Life has launched the #HelloHyde campaign. #HelloHyde not only marks the anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, but also celebrates the lives of children born under Medicaid since the amendment was first used. The #HelloHyde campaigners want the Hyde Amendment to be not only protected but broadened.

More power to them. From the campaign’s web site:

Medicaid should cover birth, not death….

The Hyde Amendment’s life-saving impact is hard to overstate. Both supporters and opponents agree that the Hyde Amendment has prevented over a million abortions. The disagreement, sad to say, is over whether that’s a good thing.

#HelloHyde estimates that of the people born through the Medicaid program since the Hyde Amendment was enacted (“Medicaid kids”), 1 in 9 would have died in the absence of Hyde Amendment protection. That estimate comes from a recently released report by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which found that the Hyde Amendment has saved 2.13 million lives.

The #HelloHyde web site includes photos of  some of the Medicaid kids. I hope opponents of the Hyde Amendment see those photos, which might provoke some thought about which of those kids ought to have been killed at public expense.

 

By A.P. Dillon

A few weeks back, I posted a letter from a man in North Carolina struggling with Obamacare. That article entitled, #Obamacare Coverage: “Play the game” (aka lie), detailed the problem that exists in qualifying for the subsidy based on earnings and related ramifications therein. In that letter and op-ed North Carolina citizen, Tim Wolhford, shared with me, one of the key bits was in order to for Obamacare to work for him, it required he might have to “play the game (aka lie).   Relevant section:

Under the ACA, the unemployed supposedly can buy an individual plan through the individual Healthcare Exchange. If they qualify, they get a “tax credit” (subsidy) for most or all of the cost of a Bronze Plan. At least, that’s the plan.
In my case, a Bronze Plan costs $387/month. The subsidy to pay for that is based either on what I made while I was working, or what I claim I’m gonna make in 2014, NOT on what I’m making right now — which is zero since my unemployment ran out. I made a good living in 2012 (the year they ask about), and I don’t anticipate being unemployed most of 2014 either.  Since I made more than $46,000 in 2012, and anticipate making at least that much in 2014, I get no subsidy. And of course, I can’t afford the $387/month.
I could just “play the game” (aka “lie”) and say that I’m only gonna make $11,500 in 2014, and get the full tax credit so I can afford the coverage. This is what my friends who are loyal ACA fans tell me I would do if I was “smart.”

Another problem Mr. Wolhford encountered was getting any kind of traction from Senator Kay Hagan.  Perhaps he should hit the next big Planned Parenthood/Emily’s List Abortion shin-dig in order to catch up with Senator Hagan. In his pursuit to get some relief and answers, Mr. Wolhford has sent me an update, which I am sharing below:

I just got off of the phone with a (Dem ACA fan) staffer for Rep. David Price.  

Gotta say, to the credit of him and his staff, at least they called me up to see if they could help.  That seems to be a lost art among Congressional offices these days.  For that I commend the staffer and Rep. Price.

1.  The staffer affirmed that I have 3 options:
– Go uninsured
– Use the “subsidy” knowing that I’ll probably have to pay it all back next April 15.
– Pay for my Bronze plan in its entirety, and file a claim for a credit next April 15.  

Obviously there are workability arguments with all three of those.

2.  The staffer claims that if NC simply would’ve expanded Medicaid then I wouldn’t have this issue.  This is the default position of ACA fans — it was a good plan until it got screwed over by the states, the GOP, whomever.  In looking at some “expansion” states to see if they did indeed close this hole.

3.  The staffer affirmed that, in the current Congressional climate, it was unlikely to have any meaningful legislation to pass corrections.  Which means that the *best* we can hope for is constant corrections / revisions coming from the White House.  She agreed that the idea of “there are no horror stories” is wrong.

4.  She asked me for concrete ideas to fix things.  Fair enough — I can’t claim that I liked the old system either, and that reforms weren’t needed, and quite frankly, a pox on the GOP for not addressing those while they had power.  So yes, that might be a good article — let’s put our heads together and think of ideas that *might* have a chance in hell to be passed that would fix things that don’t have the workability issues of ACA (or a national health care system).

Tim Wohlford

My response was along the lines of ‘good on Rep. Price’s office’ for not blowing him off as Senator Hagan’s had.

The item in number two is a nice example of the political slant and oversimplification on display over refusing the Medicaid expansion in North Carolina. Medicaid costs the NC taxpayers roughly $13 billion a year. That’s a lot of money that needs to have a strong accountability of where it is spent. Given what we know about Former Governor Perdue putting NC in the poor house debt-wise, accountability of the taxpayers dollar has come to the forefront.

Aside from Medicaid being a massive, costly expansion of an entitlement, Obamacare brought a new requirement into Medicaid that altered eligibility to include household income of up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line and added adults with no children into the mix. The Federal government would have paid the first three years of the expansion, but after that a minimum of 10 percent would come back on North Carolina to pay — remember, it already, as is, costs roughly $13 billion. The net effect of expanding Medicaid in NC would have been financially irresponsible given the massive debt Governor Perdue left behind with  her reckless mismanagement of unemployment insurance. Suggested reading: Medicaid Expansion: A Quick Primer

The section in number three saying there would be constant course corrections was like the bad joke of extension after extension coming out of the White House.  The last line in that same section should be bronzed and mailed to Harry Reid.

I’d like to thank Mr. Wohlford for this update and for sharing his story with me.

If you enjoyed this article, you should really check out other pieces written by Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent Seven writers and maybe hit that tip jar!

AP DillonA.P. Dillon (Lady Liberty 1885), is a Conservative minded wife and mother living in the Triangle area of North Carolina. A.P. Dillon founded the blog LadyLiberty1885.com in 2009. After the 2012 election, she added an Instapundit style blog called The ConMom Blog. Mrs. Dillon’s writing, in addition to Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent 7, can also be found at StopCommonCoreNC.org, WatchdogWireNC and WizBang. Non-political writing projects include science fiction novellas that are, as of yet, unpublished. Her current writing project is a children’s book series.

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