So we learned this week that ObamaCare won’t hold down costs. And it won’t let everybody keep their current health insurance if they like it.
The House Budget Committee called as its first witness on Wednesday Medicare’s Chief Actuary Richard Foster, an independent straight-shooter if ever there were one, to get to the truth on these two central promises made by the president and his supporters.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-CA, asked Foster for a simple true or false response on the two claims: that it will bring down unsustainable medical costs and that it will let people keep their current health insurance if they like it.
On the costs issue, “I would say false, more so than true,” Foster responded.
As for people getting to keep their coverage, “not true in all cases,” he said.
Is it a tax? In another hearing the same day, the Ways and Means Committee called a top economic advisor to the president to talk about the tax increases in the health overhaul law.
The chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Austan Goolsbee, rejected the idea that the individual mandate was a tax increase on the middle class.
This puts the administration in a very difficult position since its Justice Department is arguing in court that the mandate is a tax in efforts to justify its constitutionality. In September of 2009, President Obama “absolutely” rejected the mandate as a tax.
The conflicting statements are not making the courts happy. During a hearing last year, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Virginia, questioned how the government can claim it is a tax when “members of Congress and the president deny to everyone in America it was a tax.”
Mr. Goolsbee also argued other provisions in the health care law — such as the new Flexible Spending Account restrictions — don’t in reality violate the President’s promise because they “aren’t in the normal form” for tax increases. He also claimed that “the totality of” the law means individuals will benefit, because health costs will do down.
On that, see above…
Who wrote the reg? The White House regulatory czar admitted at a third hearing that he had no idea who attempted to sneak regulations on end-of-life care into part of a massive, 692-page physician payment regulation released in late November.
This caused an uproar in 2009 when the House version of the health overhaul bill contained a provision to pay doctors to provide end-of-life counseling to their Medicare patients.
The Senate pulled the provision out so it wasn’t in the final law, but then it found its way into a 692-page physician payment regulation released last November. When The New York Times wrote about in December, the administration yanked it yet again.
So members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee wanted to know what was going on.
The head of the Office of Management and Budget’s regulatory office Cass Sunstein said he doesn’t know who tried to manipulate the rulemaking process to insert this controversial provision into the regulation.
Mr. Sunstein also conceded that the rulemaking process is one way for the federal government to enact controversial policies without allowing elected Members of Congress to have a say in the matter.
These three hearings seriously undermine claims of what the law will do and how the administration is implementing it. And this is just the first week of hearings.
Underwhelming: The president’s State of the Union address was “underwhelming” in indicating whether he gets the message of the 2010 elections — that people want elected officials to get government spending under control, that entitlements are the most serious threat to our nation’s solvency, and that the health reform law is massively unpopular.
The president had to acknowledge that his health plan is not popular after the House voted to repeal it. But he still sounds very stubborn in saying that he will only work with them to make coverage better and more affordable.
The Associated Press did a fact check on the speech and concluded, among other things, that “The idea that Obama’s health care law saves money for the government is based on some arguable assumptions.” Since Medicare actuaries found that government health spending will increase by more than $310 billion as a result of the health overhaul law, the president’s credibility is serious questioned.
Of all the things the president talked about in his speech, health care is the issue where the president and the new Congress will have the hardest time finding common ground. The Republicans have a very different vision of how you get to a more affordable, patient-centered system, and they can’t build their plan on top of the infrastructure of the president’s law that relies on government and central planning.
I also would bet that earlier drafts of the president’s speech had lines they had to take out about his health law getting more popular as we go forward. The latest Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows that is simply not true. It found that public opposition to the health care reform law spiked to a record high: 50% of Americans have unfavorable views of the law, and opposition to the law jumped 9 percentage points from a month earlier.
Paul Ryan: And I thought Paul Ryan was right to make a passionate case for the need for entitlement reform in his response. The president should have done the same. A couple of the commentators criticized Chairman Ryan for not presenting the details of his Roadmap, but that was simply not the time nor the place for that.
He made it absolutely clear that the challenge of this generation is getting the country’s fiscal house in order so the next generation still has a shot at the American dream. I thought that was just the right focus for the much shorter Republican response, and he set the stage for the work that the Congress is going to have to do.
CLIP OF THE WEEK
In this clip from Wednesday’s House Budget Committee hearing, Chief Medicare Actuary Rick Foster answers questions regarding two promises made in support of the health law: that the law will hold costs down, and that if you like your plan, you can keep it.
Watch now >>
GALEN IN THE NEWS
Rationing Has Arrived
Green Bay Press-Gazette, 01/22/11
Many Americans correctly worry that, as government controls more and more of the health sector, treatment will become increasingly centralized, and patients will wind up with fewer choices and compromised care. These fears are now being realized. For example, in November, a Medicare advisory panel reviewed findings from an investigation into Provenge, a cutting-edge but costly vaccine approved to treat prostate cancer. And in mid-December, the FDA revoked approval for Avastin for late-stage breast cancer. These examples shouldn’t come as a surprise. ObamaCare’s 2,801 pages of legislation and insidious regulatory structure give the Secretary of Health and Human Services almost unlimited authority to rule over every corner of our health sector. Unless this law is repealed and replaced, average citizens will find themselves with fewer treatment options as bureaucrats gain more and more control over medical decisions.
Read More »
The Fiscal Consequences of the New Health Care Law
Testimony Before the House Budget Committee, 01/26/11
CMS Actuary Rick Foster
James C. Capretta
ObamaCare and the Budget: Playing Games with Numbers
James C. Capretta and Kathryn Nix, The Heritage Foundation, 01/21/11
Just Call Me Liar of the Year
Michael F. Cannon, Kaiser Health News, 01/24/11
Why Obama Should Drop the Insurance Mandate
Merrill Matthews, The Wall Street Journal, 01/24/11
State of the Union: A Taste of Budgets To Come
Joseph Antos, Health Affairs Blog, 01/26/11
Fixing The Failure At Physician Compare
Michael L. Millenson, Kaiser Health News, 01/27/11
Three Areas Where Obama Can Help America Innovate
Paul Howard, The Examiner, 01/26/11
Insurers’ Efforts to Prevent Health Care Fraud
America’s Health Insurance Plans, 01/11
The Insurance-Benefit Canard
James C. Capretta, National Review Online: Critical Condition, 01/26/11
Affordable Health Plans Are an Endangered Species
Devon M. Herrick, National Center for Policy Analysis, 01/21/11
The “12 Cent Problem”
David Gratzer, ConservativeHome.com, 01/26/11
Better Off Bankrupt
Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich, Los Angeles Times, 01/27/11
Are Medical Devices Turning the Corner against Heart Failure?
John E. Calfee and Gabriel Sudduth, American Enterprise Institute, 01/11
The New BRAT Pack
Peter J. Pitts, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, 01/17/11
MEDICARE AND MEDICAID
ObamaCare and Medicare Advantage Cuts: Undermining Seniors’ Coverage Options
James C. Capretta, The Heritage Foundation, 01/20/11
The States’ Next Challenge — Securing Primary Care for Expanded Medicaid Populations
Leighton Ku, Ph.D., M.P.H., Karen Jones, M.S., Peter Shin, Ph.D., M.P.H., Brian Bruen, M.S., and Katherine Hayes, J.D., The New England Journal of Medicine, 01/26/11
Enabling Personalized Medicine through Health Information Technology
The Brookings Institution Event
Friday, January 28, 2011
9:00am – 11:30am
Achieving Better Care at Lower Costs through Accountable Care Organizations
The Brookings Institution Event
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
9:30am – 1:00pm
New Technology Informational Workshop
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Event
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
9:00am – 11:30am
Health Care Prognosis and Prognostications
Georgia Public Policy Foundation Luncheon
Friday, February 4, 2011
Grace-Marie Turner will join Rep. Tom Price, MD, for this policy briefing.
Would a Soda Tax Help Fight Obesity?
American Enterprise Institute Event
Monday, February 7, 2011
10:00am – 11:30am