Over the past few weeks there has been much discussion of the Obama Administration’s decision to mandate that even organizations associated with the Catholic Church cover contraception. This has raised the ire of many on the right, who view this mandate as an assault on religious freedom. Since the Catholic Church does not believe in using contraception, they argue, forcing them to cover it means they must violate their consciences. Leaving aside the details, one thing is clear to me - the critics of the mandate are almost without exception missing the larger point.
The contraception mandate is awful, for sure, but not because it is an “assault on religion.” It is wrong because the government has no business telling ANYONE what they must cover. The mandate would be wrong whether it was inflicted on a Catholic group, or a secular one. And to be honest, I don’t think that religion is even a major factor in the decision to establish the mandate. It is born out of a belief that there is some imaginary “right” to free health care, including contraception. That is the true abomination.
Furthermore, why is there outrage only now? Is it somehow okay to force non-Catholics to pay for other’s health care? I understand this involves an issue of great moral importance to Catholics. But is a federal mandate more wrong because it goes against a religious teaching? I say this because many, including myself, do not subscribe to a religion, or belong to one without much political clout. It is disturbing that somehow my liberty is not worth as much because I am in a minority and I don’t have groups lobbying on my behalf.
Note: I intended to merely comment on this chart when sharing it via my Posterous. During the 5 or so minutes I was commenting, it grew to be something more substantial, and at the urging of others, it has been cross-posted here.
Since the 1960s, the percentage of total healthcare cost paid directly by the end consumer, aka patient, has dropped drastically, but out of pocket costs have risen and the cost of healthcare has risen drastically over that same period.
What has happened between then and now? The intervention of government into the marketplace. Insurance regulations, government mandates about what MUST be covered, Medicare/caid, and inflation make costs skyrocket, but the opacity of the prices keeps patients from seeing what each visit, prescription, and procedure actually costs. With that opacity, there is no competitive pricing, because the prices paid by patients are merely co-pays and the withholding from their paycheck for employer-sponsored health plans, insurance companies, and government programs that pay negotiated rates. Without competition and price transparency, prices will continue to rise.
In addition, patients largest out of pocket expense is their insurance coverage, which does not fluctuate to accommodate the amount of healthcare services consumed. The patient knows they only pay $10-$50 for each office visit, but the overall costs of those visits can be thousands of dollars. The patient rarely, if ever, sees the actual cost… Usually only if their insurance claim is denied.
More than three years after it was signed into law, ObamaCare remains unpoplar with Americans, according to the latest tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Overall, the public remains as divided as ever when it comes to their overall evaluations of the health law,” stated the Kaiser Family Foundation, which does a monthly tracking poll of ObamaCare. “This month, 35 percent report a favorable view, 40 percent an unfavorable view, and a full 24 percent report they have no opinion on the law, continuing a recent trend of particularly high shares not offering an opinion.”
While it’s still vigorously defended by the Obama Administration, the poll notes that only 57% of Democrats have a favorable view of the law, which is low, while 67% of Republicans have an unfavorable view.
The poll also shows that a majority of Americans support efforts to alter or prevent ObamaCare. “In terms of the law’s political future, just over half of Americans (53 percent) continue to say that they approve of efforts by opponents to change or stop the law ‘so it has less impact on taxpayers, employers, and health care providers,’” noted the Kaiser Family Foundation. “One in three (including more than half of Democrats) believe that the law’s opponents should accept that it is the law of the land and stop trying to block its implementation, down somewhat from January (33 percent now compared to 40 percent at the start of the year).”
Interestingly, the poll found that some 40% of Americans don’t even know that ObamaCare is still law and still being implemented by the administration.
Tomorrow is third anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which we’ve come to know as ObamaCare. Americans still haven’t embraced the law as many have seen their insurance premiums continue to rise at an astonishing pace or changes to their coverage — in some cases, losing it entirely.
Many businesses are experiencing problems as they try to deal with the mandates, the latest example of which comes from a San Diego bakery that could lose half of its profits or half of its full-time workers because of ObamaCare.
Despite a concerted effort from the Obama Administration to sell the law, the refrain from from at least one official — Henry Chao, Deputy Chief Information Officer and the Deputy Director of the Office of Information Services at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — doesn’t sound all that optimistic about the state health insurance exchanges.
Philip Klein has the story:
With time-running out before the major provisions of President Obama’s health care law are set to be implemented, the official tasked with making sure the law’s key insurance exchanges are up and running is already lowering expectations.
Universal Orlando, a frequently visited Florida theme park, announced yesterday that they will no longer offer health insurance coverage to part-time workers, becoming the latest employer to make moves to avoid the costs of ObamaCare:
The giant theme-park resort, which generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue, began informing employees this month that it will offer health-insurance to part-timers “only until December 31, 2013.”
The reason: Universal currently offers part-time workers a limited insurance plan that has low premiums but also caps the payout of benefits. For instance, Universal’s plan costs about $18 a week for employee-only coverage but covers only a maximum of $5,000 a year toward hospital stays. There are similar caps for other services.
Those types of insurance plans — sometimes referred to as “mini-med” plans — will no longer be permitted under the federal Affordable Care Act. Beginning in 2014, the law will prohibit insurance plans that impose annual monetary limits on essential medical care such, as hospitalization, or on overall spending.
Universal Orlando joins the State of Virginia and several restaurants, hotels, and retailers that have taken measures, by either slashing hours or no longer offering coverage, to avoid the costs of ObamaCare. Remember what President Obama said during the debate over ObamaCare — that if you like your coverage, you can keep it. Here is yet more proof that he was lying to you.
ThinkProgress, a well known Leftist blog, reported yesterday that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s new budget will slash some employees’ hours to avoid the mandates of ObamaCare:
As part of his state’s new budget, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and his administration are trying to force potentially tens of thousands of public sector employees in the state to work fewer hours so that the government can avoid providing them health care.
Under Obamacare, employers are required to offer health insurance options for any employee working 30 hours or more per week. So McDonnell and his team have slipped language into the state’s budget bill requiring that any hourly waged workers employed by the state put in no more than 29 hours a week.
Many businesses have been doing the same thing. Back in November, the Wall Street Journal reported that a number of restaurants, hotels, and retailers were trimming hours to avoid the costs of ObamaCare. While this may seem unfair, the mandates that employers would be left with would impose increased costs that would be born by consumers through higher prices.
Although I disagree with the title of his post, which states that employers are “screw[ing] workers,” James Joyner explains that Virginia has only a few ways to get around the increased costs of ObamaCare:
Back in August, John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John’s, noted that his company would have to raise prices in order to cover the cost of ObamaCare and have to scale back hours for workers. This is pretty basic economics. When a expenses rise, either for the cost of raw materials or employing workers, a business will be forced to pass the buck on the consumer or reduce costs elsewhere.
Papa John’s isn’t alone. Last month, Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden, Longhorn, and Red Lobster, announced that it would move hourly workers to part-time schedules because of mandates in ObamaCare requiring businesses to offer health insurance coverage to employees working over 30 hours a week. A Florida-based restaurant owner has said that he’ll add a 5% surcharge to customers to makeup the cost of the mandates from ObamaCare.
Schnatter’s comment, while entirely understandable from a business perspective, stirred controversy on the Left, as activists called for a boycott of Papa John’s. This has caused opponents of ObamaCare to organize “National Papa John’s Appreciation Day” which is being organized by Reboot USA.
Oh look, ObamaCare is having an effect on jobs in the United States as more employers are shifting workers to part-time roles to avoid the mandates that come with the law. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Some low-wage employers are moving toward hiring part-time workers instead of full-time ones to mitigate the health-care overhaul’s requirement that large companies provide health insurance for full-time workers or pay a fee.
Several restaurants, hotels and retailers have started or are preparing to limit schedules of hourly workers to below 30 hours a week. That is the threshold at which large employers in 2014 would have to offer workers a minimum level of insurance or pay a penalty starting at $2,000 for each worker.
The shift is one of the first significant steps by employers to avoid requirements under the health-care law, and whether the trend continues hinges on Tuesday’s election results. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has pledged to overturn the Affordable Care Act, although he would face obstacles doing so.
This is moot after last night. ObamaCare will not be repealed and more employers will begin to look at ways around the mandates, either by dropping coverage, choosing instead to accept the cheaper penalities, or reducing hours.
If you’ve been listening to Rick Santorum over the past few weeks, he’s been really hammering the Obama Administration over the mandate that would require religious organizations to pay for contraception even if it defies their teachings, rhetoric that is hypocritical given some of his past votes. He’s also been known to take a shot or two at ObamaCare, which includes a mandate requiring individuals to purchase health insurance.
However, Santorum hasn’t always been consistent on government mandates. Back in 2008, for example, Santorum gleefully expressed his view that the government should force Americans to buy flex-fuel cars:
What we need is a government mandate! We need to mandate that all cars sold in the United States, starting with the 2010 model year, be “flex-fuel vehicles” - that is, they should be able to run on a blend that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline (the so-called E85 blend), or even a coal-derived methanol/gas mixture. This mandate would cost a fraction of the new fuel economy standard with the added benefit of saving barrels more oil.
Granted, Santorum was probably paid to write that, given the he did work as a lobbyist. But it’s wholly hypocritical for him to complain about mandates when he was pushing for mandates like this.
H/T: Buzz Feed
The White House announced today that there will be an exemption on the controversial contraceptive rule for religious organizations:
With the White House under fire for its new rule requiring employers including religious organizations to offer health insurance that fully covers birth control coverage, at 12:15 p.m. ET, President Obama will announce an attempt to accommodate these religious groups.
The move, based on state models, will almost certainly not satisfy bishops and other religious leaders since it will preserve the goal of women employees having their birth control fully covered by health insurance.
Sources say it will be respectful of religious beliefs but will not back off from that goal, which many religious leaders oppose since birth control is in violation of their religious beliefs.
One source familiar with the decision described the accommodation as “Hawaii-plus,” insisting that it’s better than the Hawaii plan — for both sides.