NH Senate: Shaheen tells constituents to pay more to keep doctors

Jeanne Shaheen

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) isn’t too concerned about New Hampshire residents who are losing access to the doctors they had and liked. Instead of keeping her August 2009 promise that Obamacare would let her constituents “keep their doctor and their insurance plan,” she now says that they’ll just have to pay more.

“One of the things that we’ve heard from people in New Hampshire, which I share, is concern about the limited [provider] network,” Shaheen said in an interview with Concord-based WKXL on Friday. “Like the governor, I’ve expressed my concern about to Anthem and what I was told was they’re trying to keep rates that, and that was their reason for limiting the network.”

“But, unfortunately, the state insurance commissioner said that their limited network met the adequacy requirements for the state law,” she noted. “So I think what I’m hoping to do as part of this letter and at looking in legislation is to see if we can get a look through the federal Department of Health and Human Services about the adequacy of the networks that exist.”

There is only one insurer, Anthem, participating in New Hampshire’s Obamacare exchange, which is run through the federal website, Healthcare.gov. As has been the case in other areas of the country, insurers have offered plans with skimpy provider networks as a way to cut back on costs, which, in many cases, has left people without access to their doctors.

Obamacare deductibles causing sticker shock

With all of the new mandates and taxes buried in health insurance premiums, some may be wondering why health plans available on the state and federal Obamacare exchanges aren’t more expensive. Well, it’s because insurers are making up for lower premiums by offering plans with higher deductibles (emphasis added):

According to a report released by PwC’s Health Research Institute, insurance premiums on the new health exchanges are cheaper than those paid by the majority of Americans who have employer-based coverage—partly because of high deductibles.

The report found that the average cost of premiums sold on the Obamacare exchanges is about $5,844 annually —or 4 percent less than the average cost of $6,119 for an employer-provided plan with comparable benefits.
Still, PwC’s study doesn’t account for other costs to consumers—like deductibles, which are likely to be more expensive under the new plans. A study by HealthPocket Inc. in December found that the average individual deductible for Obamacare’s bronze plan was $5,081 a year—42 percent higher than the average deductible of $3,589 for an individually purchased plan.

“Picking one dimension as PwC and others do gives a distorted picture of what the consumer is likely to experience,” Joe Antos, health policy analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute said. He added that the PwC study also doesn’t mention other changes that affect consumers like insurers narrowing provider access.

Federal Reserve report: Obamacare’s negative impact on employment

In mid-January, the Federal Reserve released its monthly Beige Book, which offers a wide-ranging look at commentary on economic conditions in each of the central bank’s 12 regions. While it’s mostly mundane, the Heritage Foundation found some key details buried in the report that relate to Obamacare and its affect on employment:

The Beige Book finds businesses repeatedly stating that Obamacare and rising health care costs have held back the labor market:

AFP ad features former Obamacare supporter who lost health plan

 Emilie's story

An ad rolled out last week by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) features the powerful, heartbreaking story of Emilie Lamb, a lupus patient who lost her insurance coverage and is now facing higher healthcare costs because of Obamacare.

“I voted for Barack Obama for president. I thought that Obamacare was going to be a good thing,” says Lamb in what AFP describes as a major national TV ad effort. “Instead of helping me, Obamacare has made my life almost impossible.”

Lamb, a Tennessee resident, was a guest of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) at Tuesday’s State of the Union address. She purchased her health plan through CoverTN, which was sponsored by the state’s TennCare program.

Lamb’s plan was canceled because it had a $25,000 yearly cap on benefits, according to a September report on CoverTN from The Tennessean. This type of health plan is one of many that have been made illegal by Obamacare.

“Barack Obama told us we could keep our health insurance if we liked it, and we can’t. I got a letter in the mail saying my health insurance was over. That it was gone,” she notes. ”It was canceled because of Obamacare.”

“My premiums went from $52 a month to $373 a month. I’m having to work a second job to pay for Obamacare. For somebody with lupus, that’s not an easy thing. If I can’t afford to continue to pay for Obamacare, I don’t get my medicine. I don’t get to see my doctors,” she adds.

Labor leaders still frustrated with Obamacare

Two labor leaders sent a blistering letter to top Democratic congressional leaders this week expressing their frustration with Obamacare, according Nevada-based journalist Jon Ralston, the latest example of frustration with the law from one of the party’s key special-interest constituencies:

Las Vegas’ own D. Taylor of UniteHERE and Terry O’Sullivan of LIUNA sent the letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week, part of an unrelenting campaign against the health care law’s implementation that they have been waging since last year. The letter, attached here, concludes: “It would be a sad irony indeed if the signature legislative accomplishment of an Administration committed to reducing income inequality cut living standards for middle income and low wage workers.”

The full letter is available here (PDF).

This isn’t the first time labor leaders have spoken out against or expressed frustration with Obamacare. In July, for example, three big-name union leaders, including James Hoffa of the Teamsters, sent a letter to Democratic congressional leaders urging them to address their concerns with the law.

LA Senate: Poll shows Landrieu down by 4 points

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) trails her likely Republican challenger for the first time, according to the latest poll out of the Pelican State.

In a poll released on Thursday, Rasmussen Reports found that Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) takes 44% of the vote to Landrieu’s 40%, while 5% of Louisianans would back some other candidate. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

Now, Louisiana does elections differently. It’s basically a “top-two” system where voters have everyone on the ballot in the general election, even multiple candidates from the same party. If no one takes a majority of the vote, there is a runoff weeks later, usually at the beginning of December.

This could complicate efforts to unseat Landrieu, who has managed to survive politically, winning close reelection bids in 2002 and 2008, despite being a Democrat from an overwhelmingly red state. The biggest problem for the GOP is Cassidy isn’t the only Republican running.

Rob Maness, a retired Air Force colonel, is also looking to unseat Landrieu. The insurgent conservative candidate has been endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project. Rasmussen didn’t include Maness in the poll, at least not in its public release.

If Cassidy doesn’t receive a majority on November 4, he’ll face Landrieu in a runoff. Assuming this scenario comes to pass, Republicans will have to overcome Landrieu’s New Orleans-based political machine, which proved essential to her previous successful reelection bids.

Today in Liberty: Worst fears about TSA confirmed, Uninsured not keen on Obamacare, minimum wage hike hits young workers

“I think a lot of people are afraid of freedom. They want their lives to be controlled, to be put into a box… People like that cradle-to-grave concept because it says you don’t have to think too much, you don’t have to worry too much, because someone else is looking out for you. But that also means you can’t do as much as you want. Why should someone else put a limit on how much fun I can have; how much I can accomplish?” — Drew Carey

— Ex-TSA agent confirms your worst fears: Jason Edward Harrington, an ex-TSA agent, has piece up this morning at Politico Magazine in which he offers some insight into what goes on behind the scenes at airports across the country. The title of the article, “Dear American, I Saw You Laughing,” pretty much says it all. “We knew the full-body scanners didn’t work before they were even installed,” writes Harrington. He goes onto note that TSA agents would make fun of passengers and look at “nude images” of them from the scanners, because that’s not at all creepy or anything.

Harrington also offers some of the codewords, part of the TSA lexicon, for certain types of passengers. For example, “Fanny Pack, Lane 2” stands for an “attractive female passenger.” Unsurprisingly, he also acknowledges that TSA agents would target passengers who were rude, making up an excuse to keep them at the screening area.

DNC chair not confident Dems will take back the House

During a post-State of the Union discussion with Politico, DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) expressed doubt that Democrats will be able to take back the House of Representatives in the 2014 mid-term election:

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday sparred over Congress and midterm elections, with the DNC chairwoman saying she can’t “confidently predict” that Democrats will take back the House in 2014 but that they will gain seats.

“I’m not going to confidently predict that Democrats will take the House back,” Wasserman Schultz said when asked about the upcoming midterm elections during POLITICO’s post-State of the Union event.  “But we will pick up seats.”

“Where?” McCarthy interjected.

“Down boy,” the DNC chair quipped.

To this point, Democratic leaders have been insistent that the House is in play, pointing out that they only need to gain 17 seats to take the majority. They even tried spin the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, which caused their numbers to tank. Wasserman Schultz, for example, boldly declared on multiple occasions that Democrats would run and win on Obamacare.

In reality, Democrats don’t have much, if any, chance of taking the House, though they could pick-up a few seats. But even that may be a stretch. Why? Because there just aren’t that many Republican seats in play.

House Dem concerned about Obamacare’s missing Millennials

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) is worried that Obamacare will not be sustainable if more young and healthy people don’t enroll into health plans on the state and federal Obamacare exchanges.

“I’m afraid that the millennials, if you will, are less likely to sign up. I think they feel more independent, I think they feel a little more invulnerable than prior generations,” said Moran in an interview with WAMU. “But I don’t think we’re going to get enough young people signing up to make this bill work as it was intended to financially.”

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, just 24% of those who had selected plans on the Obamacare exchanges are between the ages of 18 and 34. The Obama Administration estimated that 38% to 40% of enrollments would need to be from this particular age bracket, which, insurers hoped, would pick up the cost of older and sicker enrollees.

Moran sees the lack of an incentive for young people to enroll as a big hurdle for the administration to overcome. “[T]here’s some legitimacy to their concern,” he said, “because the government spends about $7 for the elderly for every $1 it spends on the young.”

“I just don’t know how we’re going to do it, frankly. If we had a solution I’d be telling the president right now,” he added.

Senator loses cancer doctor because of Obamacare

Tom Coburn

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is experiencing first hand one of President Barack Obama’s broken promises. The specialist that the cancer-stricken Oklahoma Republican has used isn’t part of the skimpy provider network under his government-approved, Obamacare health plan:

Cancer-stricken Sen. Tom Coburn revealed Tuesday that his health insurance under Obamacare doesn’t cover his oncologist, but said he still is receiving excellent care.

“I’m doing well from a health standpoint, got great docs,” Coburn said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday when asked about his health. “Fortunately — even though my new coverage won’t cover my specialist — I’m going to have great care, and I have a great prognosis.”

The Oklahoma Republican’s spokesman confirmed to POLITICO that since the senator enrolled in his health insurance plan under Obamacare, his coverage has been reduced and he lost coverage for his cancer specialist. Coburn will continue to pay out of pocket and see his oncologist, his office said.

Here’s the video:


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