Americans: Failures of Obamacare Are All Your Fault
By Rick Henderson
RALEIGH — Wake up, people: An insidious corporate conspiracy is afoot, and it has a nefarious goal — forcing you to buy health insurance policies that you were choosing to purchase anyway. At least that’s what Sen. Kay Hagan and other Democrats scrambling to defend Obamacare after its clunky rollout are arguing.
If instead, getting a range of coverage at prices you can afford sounds like a reasonable bargain, you’ve been mislead by the rapacious profit-seekers in the insurance industry who have spent the past three years trying to undermine Obamacare. Insurers don’t want the law to work, its backers say. So insurers have eroded public support by offering consumers in the individual market “nonstandard” but affordable coverage — with full knowledge that their consumer-friendly products would have to be canceled when the law takes effect in January. Oh, the humanity.
Such paternalism — Washington knows what’s best for you — is nothing new. But this embrace of nanny-state governance may be the only form of posterior-covering that supporters of the Affordable Care Act have at their disposal. Since October, we’ve been inundated with reports of failures in the online registration process at the Obamacare website; millions of people who purchased insurance on the individual market facing canceled policies and the prospect of paying thousands of dollars more each year for new ones; and dozens of physicians groups and hospitals around the country dropping out of the networks that will cover patients under the Affordable Care Act.
Even the much-ballyhooed Dec. 1 “fix” of the Healthcare.gov website wasn’t really. The mission would be accomplished if 80 percent of those visiting the site could sign up for insurance without a problem. Imagine an e-commerce site claiming it was successful even though 20 percent of its customers couldn’t purchase anything.
Trashing the intelligence of the American people seems to be the best way to defend the law.
For her part, Hagan has offered a prominent megaphone for this ludicrous stance. For weeks now, the Greensboro Democrat and various staff members have tried to distance themselves from the real-world consequences of Obamacare. In November, she started blaming insurance companies for continuing to provide “noncompliant” coverage to their customers. (Hagan is up for re-election in 2014, if you didn’t know.)
Obamacare’s penalties for not buying insurance, as well as the subsidies that make its plans affordable in the first place, may not be legal in a majority of states, according to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
Pruitt is suing the federal government on those grounds.
According to the letter of the law, the government can only reward subsidies and levy penalties in states that have created Obamacare state exchanges, but conservative resistance has stopped state exchanges from being set up in a number of states, including Oklahoma.
“While the president’s health law is vast and extraordinarily complex, it is in one respect very simple,” Pruitt wrote in a Sunday Wall Street Journal op-ed. “Subsidies are only to be made available, and tax penalties for not signing up for health insurance are only to be assessed, in states that create their own health-care exchange.”
The IRS, though, is still trying to levy penalties on citizens of those states. On Oct. 22, a U.S. district judge in Washington, D.C. declined to grant a preliminary injunction against the law, but agreed to hear the merits of the case in February. The Obama administration had attempted to derail the suit by arguing that it was too speculative.
“Only 16 states and the District of Columbia chose to set up the online marketplaces where people without private health insurance can shop for it, forcing the federal government to create them in the remaining states,” Reuters reported in October.
“What that means is that’s almost a trillion dollars of funding for Obamacare that cannot come to be,” D.C. attorney Joe diGenova told WMAL radio Monday morning. “Now, the administration has taken the position that, ‘Oh, I know that’s what the law says — that it has to be a state, but what it really means is the federal exchange too.’ Unfortunately, the law doesn’t say that. One judge has thrown out the lawsuit in Oklahoma; a D.C. judge has allowed the lawsuit to go forward; and motions for summary judgment are pending here in D.C.”
“This could be the single most important piece of litigation in all of this criticism of Obamacare, and it’s gone on almost completely unnoticed,” diGenova continued. “This is amazing.”
But why would the Democrats include this kill switch in the president’s most consequential legislation?
“Congress specified that credits and subsidies are only to be available in states that set up their own health-insurance exchange for a reason: It could not force states to set up exchanges,” Pruitt writes. “Instead, it had to entice them to do so. Oklahoma’s lawsuit is about preserving the state’s authority to make a policy decision granted to states under the Affordable Care Act. Our governor and policy makers in Oklahoma decided it wasn’t in the state’s best interest to create a health-care exchange.”
The Whole Story about Voter Reforms in NC
Posted on November 19, 2013 by Susan Myrick in Elections & Voting
Much has been said and written about the election law reform legislation known as VIVA (Voter Identification Verification Act – HB 589) – but too many of the reports are misleading or just plain wrong.
The legislation was passed in the 2013 legislative session and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in August. Mostly, the old guard media have focused on just three provisions of the new law — the voter ID requirement, the elimination of same day registration and the shortened early voting window. These three parts of the law are the most controversial, so focusing on them gives liberal advocacy groups a platform on which to continue their assault on the people who support election reform. These three items are also the main targets of several lawsuits brought against the law filed by liberal advocacy groups, including the NAACP. Attorney General Eric Holder also announced that lawyers for the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division had filed suit against the law in October.
But the media have never acknowledged the bigger picture: VIVA is the first comprehensive updating of our election laws in decades. North Carolina’s election system had become a jumble of complicated and sometimes contradictory laws and administrative decisions made by the State Board of Elections, often with little or no regard for the legislature. The voting process had become confusing and dysfunctional, with no built-in security to protect the integrity of a person’s vote.
VIVA is a comprehensive piece of legislation that seeks to unravel the confusion and protect some of North Carolina’s most vulnerable voters. It updates outdated campaign finance law, restores order to polling places, and attempts to establish fair and impartial solutions to voting problems that have gone ignored for years.
Avoiding the Obamacare/Medicaid Disaster
By Jim Tynen
Even as the Obamacare rollout grows more muddled, some issues are becoming clearer — including why NC should be glad it isn’t more entangled in this mess.
First, defenders of the Affordable Care Act have been saying that the state-run exchanges are running better, so North Carolina should have run its own exchange.
Um, it depends on what you mean by “better.” According to a new report:
A CBS News analysis shows that in many of the 15 state-based health insurance exchanges more people are enrolling in Medicaid rather than buying private health insurance. And if that trend continues, there’s concern there won’t be enough healthy people buying health insurance for the system to work.
In other words, instead of being signed up for private insurance, more people are being added to Medicaid, which threatens to bankrupt states. In North Carolina, Medicaid has had cost overruns running into hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Yet patient health outcomes have grown worse. In a state-run exchange, that problem would only grow worse.
Which brings us to North Carolina’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the ACA. Another key article points out additional problems with expanding Medicaid.
First, as we have pointed out in the past, and the above report confirms, Medicaid does little or nothing to improve health outcomes for poor people as a group. Why add thousands and thousands of people on to it?
Second, how long will that federal money for Medicaid keep flowing? Washington faces a debt of $17 trillion. Congress could decide tomorrow to slash how much it pays for Medicaid, leaving the states holding the bag.
Read complete article:
Horn talks education changes
Horn talked about this year’s budget with regard to education spending. He explained to the crowd how they got rid of the policy where school systems had to return money to the state. They also created more local flexibility with regard to spending, he said.
Horn also detailed the cuts that were made. Cuts were made to teaching assistants, master’s pay supplements, the teaching fellows program and other areas.
“I’m not proud of that, by the way, but that’s what we did,” Horn said, when talking about cutting teaching assistant funding.
With regard to master’s supplements, Horn explained that he was told that there was no measurable improvement in student achievement based on whether or not a teacher has a master’s degree, so he cut it.
He said that he will work with teachers already in the process of obtaining degrees to keep their promise. He also said he would be willing to champion the master’s degree supplement, but needs to be “sold” on its effectiveness.
Horn said he “vehemently opposed” the cuts made to teaching English as a second language.
Cuts were made to the education lottery. Horn explained that the lottery was meant to “supplement” and not replace education funding. He also said the state has a history of governors taking education lottery money for other needs and said that needs to stop.
Horn spoke about his digital learning legislation, which was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory at Cuthbertson High School last Spring.
With a digital learning environment, we can bring the best educational environment to the poorest kids in the state, Horn said. He clarified that digital learning does not mean “shoving a textbook in a computer” though it will incorporate digital textbooks eventually.
Horn thinks of the digital learning environment as “mass individualized learning” where students can learn material the way they best learn things and can review subjects they have difficulty with, while other students may move on.
He said the state does four things: provides connectivity, curriculum, professional development and devices. He noted that he thought professional development was the most important component because in many cases, students know more about handling the device than teachers.
He said that while Union County is ahead of the game with devices, but other local education agencies are not.
Horn fielded some questions about security updates in the schools. He talked about every school having a safety plan and an emergency button that can be pushed in case of emergency. They will continue to conduct safety exercises and increase the number of school resource officers. Horn mentioned recent legislation that allows retired military or public safety officers to volunteer as school resource officers, after some prerequisites.
With some questions, Horn said he did not have a great answer yet and was going around the county to seek input. With regard to criteria for teacher performance, he said he believes that test results are not a good measure of teacher performance. He said not to ignore them, but the test results are not everything. He talked about progress in students with regard to grades and when a teacher shows willingness to improve their skills.
Horn sought input on teacher performance from some of the participants and noted that he enjoys speaking with people who do not necessarily agree with him, because it helps him find the best solutions.
Horn hopes to participate in more town hall meetings around the county in the future.