Recent Posts From Jason Pye
Not only did President Barack Obama tell Americans that they could keep their health plans under Obamacare, he also said on numerous occasions that they could keep their doctors. Like his health plan promise, there was no ambiguity or nuance to the statement.
“Under the reform that I’ve proposed, if you like your doctor, you’ll keep your doctor,” said President Obama on July 29, 2009. “If you like your health care plan, you will keep your plan.”
“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” he said, again, on March 10, 2010. “I’m the father of two young girls –- I don’t want anybody interfering between my family and their doctor.”
Despite that promise by President Obama, many Americans are losing their doctors. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that UnitedHealth Group dropped thousands of doctors from its Medicare Advantage network, leaving many seniors without access to the doctors they liked and trusted:
Back in July, the Obama Administration delayed enforcement of Obamacare’s employer mandate for one year, citing concerns from the business community and reports of employers slashing hours in order to avoid the requirement to offer health benefits to workers.
But the delay of the provision hasn’t eased businesses concerns, according to a new poll by Public Opinion Strategies via The Christian Science Monitor, many are still taking steps to mitigate the impact of Obamacare (emphasis added):
Although the provision won’t be enforced until 2015, some employers with 40 to 500 workers have already started adjusting for the new landscape, the survey by Public Opinion Strategies found:
In a 261-257 vote, the House of Representatives passed the Keep Your Health Plan Act, which would allow insurers to extend the policies that had been canceled because they didn’t comply with the mandates and provisions of Obamacare.
The Keep Your Health Plan Act, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), would permit insurers to let consumers keep health plans in effect before January 1, 2013 through 2014. It wouldn’t force insurers to offer the plans, but it would give these plans “grandfathered status,” meaning that they wouldn’t have to compliant with Obamacare’s minimum mandates.
“The president broke his word, had a chance to fix the problem, and only did more damage to his credibility,” said Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) after the passage of the measure. “Today, the House made a big, bipartisan statement about the need to make things right.”
“The Keep Your Health Plan Act represents an important step toward providing relief to those who have lost their plans and face much higher premiums, but the real solution is to scrap the president’s fundamentally-flawed health care law and focus on effective, patient-centered reforms that will protect all Americans from this train wreck,” he added.
The measure would also allow insurers to extend coverage under these plans to new customers, which Democrats complained would undercut the Obamacare.
Thirty-nine House Democrats broke with President Obama and party leaders and supported the measure. Four Republicans voted against it, one of whom was Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), who explained his vote on his Facebook page.
Call it sour grapes after their candidate lost. Call it dissatisfaction with the Republican establishment. But a group of Tea Party activists are openly boycotting Bradley Byrne, the Republican nominee in Alabama’s First Congressional District, which Democrats think could tilt the race in their favor.
Byrne defeated Dean Young in a special runoff election on November 5, the results of which were much closer than expected. Tea Party activists were drawn to Young, despite his proclivity for making inflammatory statements.
Just after the results came in, Young declared that he wouldn’t back Byrne in the general runoff election against the Democratic nominee, Burton LeFlore, on December 17. Shortly after the runoff, “Boycott Byrne” signs featuring the Gadsden flag began appearing around AL-01, according to Yellowhammer News, an Alabama-based blog.
It was initially suspected that LeFlore was responsible for the signed, but one of Young supporters has since claimed responsibility. Some Alabama-based Republicans understand the Tea Party activists’ frustration with Byrne.
Citing a scandals and failure to comply with congressional investigations, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) has announced on Wednesday that he will introduce articles of impeachment against Attorney General Eric Holder:
A group of 11 House Republicans will introduce a resolution Thursday calling for the impeachment of Eric Holder, saying the Attorney General has lost credibility and trust over a string of issues in recent years.
The articles of impeachment, drafted by Rep. Pete Olson of Texas, faults the Attorney General for refusing to comply with a congressional investigation of the botched gun-walking operation known as “Fast and Furious,” led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
“This was not a decision that I made lightly,” Olson said in a statement. “The American people deserve answers and accountability. If the Attorney General refuses to provide answers, then Congress must take action.”
CNN reported last week that Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Florida, was highly involved in this new effort to try and impeach Holder.
Given the mood among House Republican leadership, which wants to avoid any big political battles with President Barack Obama between now and the mid-term election, this isn’t likely to get very far. CNN noted that it the impeachment effort probably won’t get a vote in committee.
Even if it did manage to get out of committee and pass the House of Representatives, the Senate, controlled by Democrats, would never bring it to the floor for a vote. The impeachment effort is, basically, a statement of disapproval against Holder than anything substantive.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced on Wednesday that he is backing Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) as he tries to leverage his hold on the nomination of Janet Yellen to serve as the next chair of the Federal Reserve for a vote on legislation that would require an audit of the nation’s central bank.
“I agree with Rand Paul: before the Senate votes on whether to confirm Janet Yellen, we should at the very least allow a vote on the Audit the Fed bill,” said Cruz in a statement from his office. “The Federal Reserve has expanded our money supply by trillions, benefitting Wall Street but making life harder for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet.”
“Never-ending quantitative easing threatens to undermine the dollar and to drive up prices on everyday goods from food to gasoline to the basic necessities of life. We need to bring transparency to the Fed, so the American people can understand the scope and consequences of its policies,” he added.
Paul announced his intention last month to place a hold on Yellen’s confirmation until Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) allowed the Federal Reserve Transparency Act to come to the floor for a vote.
“I will object to any unanimous consent agreement or the waiver of any rule with respect to the nomination of Dr. Yellen without a vote on S. 209,” Paul told Reid in a letter. “I know you have been a support of similar legislation in the past, and I hope that we can work together to pass this important legislation.”
Yet another poll shows public opposition to Obamacare amid the embarrassing rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange, millions of canceled health plans, and extremely low enrollment numbers.
Gallup released a poll yesterday finding that 55% of Americans now disapprove of Obamacare, up from 47% a little more than two weeks ago. Just 40% approve of the law, down from 44% at the end of October.
The polling firm notes that the main reasons given from those who disapprove of Obamacare are that it’s “government interference” (37%) and increases health costs and makes coverage less affordable (21%).
Eleven percent (11%) cited their lost health insurance coverage as a reason for disapproval. Eight percent (8%) cited the website problems and 7% said that they disapprove of the law because President Obama lied about Americans keeping their health plans.
Of those who approve of the law, 23% said that it “makes healthcare more accessible.” Fifteen percent (15%) cited their belief that health insurance is a “right” as their reason for support of the law.
Since Wednesday afternoon, the White House, administration officials, and congressional Democrats have been working hard to try to spin the Obamacare enrollment numbers by claiming that 500,000 people signed up for coverage in October.
Fact-checkers have already shot down that particular spin because it’s misleading. The number would get the administration over its original 494,620 enrollment estimate for October, but it includes those eligible for Medicaid, which were not included in the estimates. What’s more, those eligible for the Medicaid have yet to actually enroll.
But some of the biggest spin by Obamacare apologists are the number of Americans who were deemed eligible to purchase coverage on the exchanges but have not yet selected a health plan. Remember, the 106,185 enrollments in October are already an inflated number because it includes those who selected a plan but have not completed a purchase.
Greg Sargent, who writes “The Plum Line” blog at the Washington Post, played up this particular figure shortly after the numbers were released.
After more than three years of getting ready for Obamacare, the White House has put insurance companies in a very tight spot amid cancellation letters they’ve sent to customers informing them that their current coverage would end on December 31.
In response to anger and outrage from Americans and vulnerable congressional Democrats, President Barack Obama announced yesterday that he would allow insurers to continue policies that were slated to be canceled because they lost “grandfathered status” because of Obamacare’s narrowly written regulations.
But insurers aren’t happy with the policy change because they now either have to reverse course and undo three-plus years of work in order to become compliant with the law. The frustration with the move was palpable.
“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,” said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans. ”Premiums have already been set for next year based on an assumption of when consumers will be transitioning to the new marketplace.”
“If due to these changes fewer younger and healthier people choose to purchase coverage in the exchange, premiums will increase in the marketplace and there will be fewer choices for consumers,” Ignagni added.
The number of insurance cancellations continues to rise across the country, a byproduct of Obamacare’s strictly written “grandfathered plan” regulations. To date, more than 4.8 million Americans have seen their health plans canceled, despite President Obama’s promise that they could keep them, and that figure will continue to rise.
California, the most populous state in the country, accounts for approximate one-fifth of the cancellations, as more than 1 million consumers on the individual market have seen their policies terminated because they lost grandfathered status:
More than 1 million cancellation notices have been sent to Californians as the Affordable Care Act begins allowing individuals to buy insurance through exchanges, [state Insurance Commissioner Dave] Jones said. The federal law requires policies to offer minimum levels of coverage, forcing companies to terminate many existing plans. But Jones said that under the law, insurers have another year to do so.
The end of October cancellation estimate in California was 900,000. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced on Tuesday evening that she had co-sponsored Sen. Mary Landrieu’s measure that would allow some Americans to keep their plans, citing concerns of her constituents.