“It takes some doing to get embroiled in a court fight with nuns who provide hospice care for the indigent. Amazingly, the Obama administration has managed it. Its legal battle with the Little Sisters of the Poor is the logical consequence of Obamacare’s conscience-trampling contraception mandate. The requirement went into effect January 1, but Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a New Year’s Eve injunction against enforcing it on the Little Sisters.
“They are Catholic nuns who follow the doctrinal teachings of the church and therefore oppose contraceptive and abortive drugs and sterilization, all of which Obamacare mandates that employers cover in their insurance plans. Given the ongoing delays, waivers, and exemptions associated with the law, it would seem natural simply to let the Little Sisters go about their business of pouring out their hearts for the sick and dying. But this is a fight the administration won’t walk away from. For this White House, it is a matter of principle. And the principle is that the state trumps the convictions of people with deep-held religious beliefs. …
“Who is harmed if the Little Sisters don’t provide contraception coverage? They are a voluntary organization. They aren’t imposing their views on anyone. Who, for that matter, is harmed if a secular organization run by people with moral objections to contraceptives and abortifacients refuses to cover them? Employees are still free to go out on their own and get contraceptives, which are widely available. If this sounds like an outlandish imposition, it is what people managed to do throughout American history all the way up to last week.
“The contraception mandate has always had a strong ideological impetus. Opponents of the mandate ‘want to roll back the last 50 years in progress women have made in comprehensive health care in America,’ Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius notoriously declared in 2011. ‘We’ve come a long way in women’s health over the last few decades, but we are in a war.’ By this bizarre way of thinking, a small congregation of nuns that cares for the most vulnerable is somehow complicit in a war on women’s health.” —Rich Lowry, Obama vs. the Little Sisters
“In one of the few Hollywood epics that wasn’t entirely wretched, there was a stirring moment in ‘Spartacus’ when the Roman general stands before the slaves huddled on the ground and demands that Spartacus, the leader of the revolt, stand and identify himself. As Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) begins to get up in order that his fellow prisoners not be tortured on his behalf, the others rise, each of them insisting ‘I am Spartacus.’
“I think that when Obama and his thugs demand that an order of nuns or anyone else who holds sincere religious beliefs caves to the power of the state, it behooves us to stand and declare, whatever our religion or gender, that we are all Sisters of the Poor.
“Judas betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver. This administration would have Christians betray their convictions for a handful of birth control pills and publicly funded abortions.” —Burt Prelutsky, I Am a Little Sister of the Poor
“ObamaCare is more than a medical problem, though there are predictable medical problems – and even catastrophes – that will unfold in the course of 2014 and beyond. Our betters have now been empowered to run our lives, with whatever combination of arrogance and incompetence they may have, or however much they lie.
“The challenges ahead are much clearer than what our responses will be. Perhaps the most hopeful sign is that increasing numbers of people seem to have finally – after nearly five long years – begun to see Barack Obama for what he is, rather than for what he seemed to be, when judged by his image and rhetoric.
“What kind of man would blithely disrupt the medical care of millions of Americans, and then repeatedly lie to them with glib assurances that they could keep their doctors or health insurance if they wanted to? What kind of man would set up a system in which people would be forced by law to risk their life savings, because they had to divulge their financial identification numbers to strangers who could turn out to be convicted felons?
“With all the time that elapsed between the passage of ObamaCare and its going into effect, why were the so-called ‘navigators’ who were to be handling other people’s financial records never investigated for criminal convictions? What explanation could there be, other than that Obama didn’t care?” —Thomas Sowell, A New Year and Old Problems
“As Americans are only recently discovering, much of the media, long aware that ObamaCare was built on a tissue of lies, were more than willing to kick journalistic integrity to the curb. ‘Three years ago and longer these journalists knew there were a growing number of doctors warning about government intervention, rationing, price increases, Americans being kicked off their plans, the forced replacement of primary-care doctors and mass confusion,’ writes Doug MacKinnon, who further contends the media ‘desperately wanted to see Obama re-elected in 2012 and knew it would be much harder to obtain that outcome if his signature program were exposed as the fraud it was. [...] The most newsworthy story of 2013 was the mainstream media burying the most newsworthy story of 2013.’” —Arnold Ahlert, The Year of Obamacare
“Why is it terrible news that millions more people are signing up for Medicaid? Here are just a few of the reasons:
“Medicaid is one of the entitlements whose growth endangers national solvency. Together with Medicare, Medicaid was already consuming more than one in five federal dollars before the enactment of Obamacare. The growth in health care spending was one of the rationales for Obamacare, but expanding Medicaid spending simply contributes to the problem.
“Medicaid is plagued by fraud. Among the common scams perpetrated by enrollees, the National Conference of State Legislatures lists ‘obtaining medications or products that are not needed and selling them on the black market, filing claims for services not received,’ and more. Providers commit fraud by ‘billing for services not performed, billing duplicate times for the same service, ordering excessive or unnecessary tests’ and so forth. Just last month, dozens of Russian diplomats — yes, noncitizens — were charged with bilking Medicaid of $1.7 million over the course of nine years.
“Medicaid is not just a program for the poor; it’s a poor program. Reimbursement rates for doctors, dentists and other professionals are so low under Medicaid that enrollees have difficulty finding care. Having health insurance does not equate with having medical care. …The startling news is that Medicaid enrollees fare worse on health outcomes than those with no health coverage at all.” —Mona Charen, Welcome to Medicaid for All
“As expected, it’s chaos in the hospitals, as the disastrous system Barack Obama inflicted on America leaves medical staff uncertain whether patients have valid insurance. This is yet another reason why it was important for the chief executive to stay on top of his signature initiative, and order the plug pulled when it became clear the system was not ready for launch on October 1. But instead, as we all know, the Empty Chair just assumed everything was going great, and later claimed he was the most angry and frustrated person in America when he read the newspapers and discovered Healthcare.gov was a useless mass of bugs and unfinished code. …
“Remember how the Administration was running around and claiming victory because the system was ‘fixed’ after Thanksgiving weekend? That was funny as hell, wasn’t it? To this day, Obama’s team of liars claims they have no way of determining how many valid insurance policies have been sold through the ObamaCare exchanges. They throw out a lot of crazy made-up numbers, which the media dutifully reports as if they were valid facts, but the one and only metric that actually matters for the moment is how many fully-processed policies have seen their first completed payment. …
“No doubt Democrats will portray all this as a small price to pay for the Great Health Care Leap Forward, having made an ice-cold political calculation that they can live without the votes of the people who spent hours of their valuable time fighting a bug-riddled system to buy insurance they can’t even use. They’re gambling that general public discontent can be kept under control, while the people suffering through January (and probably February) chaos can persuaded to forget their tribulations when it’s time to hit the ballot boxes this year. They’re already trying to make everyone forget about the humiliating launch-pad detonation of the ObamaCare system in October. But as we can see from today’s chaos, it matters that the system wasn’t ready for prime time when it was launched. The shock waves from that botched rollout will rumble throughout the year to come. And for some of the people who showed up at hospitals and clinics to use coverage that doesn’t really exist, the results are a lot more than merely ‘inconvenient.’” —John Hayward, ObamaCare Foul-Ups Lead to Chaos at Hospitals
“The whole scheme was risky enough to begin with — getting enough enrollees and making sure 40% are young and healthy. ObamaCare is already far behind its own enrollment estimates.
“But things have gotten worse. The administration has been changing the rules repeatedly — with every scrimmage-line audible raising costs and diminishing revenue. First, it postponed the employer mandate. Then, it exempted from the individual mandate people whose policies were canceled (by ObamaCare). And for those who did join the exchanges, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is ‘strongly encouraging’ insurers to — during the ‘transition’ — cover doctors and drugs not included in their clients’ plans.
“The insurers were stunned. Told to give free coverage. Deprived of their best customers. Forced to offer stripped-down ‘catastrophic’ plans to over-30 clients (contrary to the law). These dictates, complained their spokesmen, could ‘destabilize’ the insurance market. […] Shrinking revenues and rising costs could bring on the ‘death spiral’ — an unbalanced patient pool forcing huge premium increases (to restore revenue) that would further unbalance the patient pool as the young and healthy drop out. End result? Insolvency — before which the insurance companies will pull out of ObamaCare. Solution? A huge government bailout. It’s ObamaCare’s escape hatch. And — surprise, surprise — it’s already baked into the law.
“Which is why the GOP needs to act. ObamaCare is a Rube Goldberg machine with hundreds of moving parts. Without viable insurance companies doing the work, it falls apart. No bailout, no ObamaCare.
“Such a bill would be overwhelmingly popular because Americans hate fat-cat bailouts of any kind. Why should their tax dollars be spent not only saving giant insurers but also rescuing this unworkable, unbalanced, unstable, unpopular money-pit of a health care scheme?” —Charles Krauthammer, Congress Should Revoke ObamaCare’s Hidden Bailouts For Insurers
“[Chief Justice] Roberts single-handedly forced all Americans to face — up front and personal — the epic political malpractice that is ObamaCare. ‘It is not our job,’ he added, ‘to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.’ Wow. Tough love.
“The thing is, however, that the decision has spawned another Great Awakening, because ObamaCare is a civics lesson from hell, with vast implications for America’s future. This would not be happening if the law had been squelched in the cradle. People who ordinarily couldn’t care less about wonky debates over federal power now see that the law has less to do with insuring the uninsured than with one political party’s lunge for unprecedented power and control over people’s lives.
“Imagine, though, if the chief justice had opined as everyone expected him to and joined with Antonin Scalia, Sam Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy (ironically the swing vote whom ObamaCare opponents were most worried about) to guillotine the law then and there. The reduction of Mr. Obama’s ‘crowning achievement’ to just a gigantic waste of time when a dismal economy was begging for attention might well have cost him his re-election five months later.
“Howls of outrage would have erupted from every Democrat/leftist stronghold — from the White House to Congress, from Hollywood to academia, and of course from the establishment media. The din would have been relentless. The smearing of small-government Republicans as selfish meanies would be easy as pie and more effective than ever.
“Nancy Pelosi would be Speaker of the House again after next November’s mid-term elections. Harry Reid would certainly remain as Senate majority leader. President Obama would be striding mightily across the national stage. His promised fundamental transformation of the United States of America would continue. Hillary Clinton would be a shoo-in for the White House in 2016. And ‘single-payer’ — full-bore socialist medicine — would be a slam-dunk. HillaryCare redux.
“My, how different is the reality. Democrats are looking ahead in abject terror at the November midterms. And when those results come in, when Obama’s lame-duckness grows acute, it’s possible to imagine conservatives and Republicans being ready to let the far-seeing John Roberts out of the dog house.” —Bill Dunne, The Roberts Trap Is Sprung
“In 2014, 25 to 30 million Americans with employer-provided health insurance are likely to lose it, thanks to Obamacare’s requirement that all plans cover what Washington deems ‘essential benefits.’ Some employers will consider this unaffordable, so after their current lower-cost plans expire over the course of the year, they’ll drop coverage altogether.
“These 25 to 30 million are in addition to 6 million who bought plans in the individual market and had them canceled by Jan. 1. The plights of these 6 million made headline news and caused the first cracks in the Democratic Party’s support for the law. The bigger wave of workplace cancellations will force Democrats seeking reelection this fall to defend a law that harms twice as many people as it helps.
“That’s right. At least twice as many will lose coverage in 2014 as will gain it. The Congressional Budget Office projects 16 million will gain coverage through the law’s Medicaid expansion and subsidized exchange plans. This is a best-case scenario, rosier than the enrollment figures we’ve seen so far, but still half the number of those losing coverage.” —Betsy McCaughey, Obamacare: Workplace Disaster Ahead
“For many years, the giant discount retailer has been the target of unions and liberal activists who have harshly criticized the company’s health care plans, calling them ‘notorious for failing to provide health benefits’ and ‘substandard.’
“But a Washington Examiner comparison of the two health insurance programs found that Walmart’s plan is more affordable and provides significantly better access to high-quality medical care than Obamacare. …
“Walmart offers its employees two standard plans, a Health Reimbursement Account and an alternative it calls ‘HRA High’ that costs more out of employees’ pockets but has lower deductibles. Blue Cross Blue Shield manages both plans nationally. Also offered is a Health Savings Account plan that includes high deductibles but allows tax-free dollars to be used for coverage.
“For a monthly premium as low as roughly $40, an individual who is a Walmart HRA plan enrollee can obtain full-service coverage through a Blue Cross Blue Shield preferred provider organization. A family can get coverage for about $160 per month.
“Unlike Obamacare, there are no income eligibility requirements. Age and gender do not alter premium rates. The company plan is the same for all of Walmart’s 1.1 million enrolled employees and their dependents, from its cashiers to its CEO.
“A Journal of the American Medical Association analysis from September showed that unsubsidized Obamacare enrollees will face monthly premiums that are five to nine times higher than Walmart premiums.” —Richard Pollock, Surprise! Walmart Health Plan Is Cheaper, Offers More Coverage Than Obamacare
“This birth control mandate represents, I think, the final step in our national transition from a society based on Natural Rights, to one based on ever-changing Artificial Rights. Our Natural Rights are enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and given to us by God, as a condition of our humanity. Artificial Rights are randomly declared by a governmental authority, and have no coherent philosophical or moral basis. Most importantly, unlike Natural Rights, which work in harmony with nature and mankind, Artificial Rights are bestowed on one segment of the population at the expense of another. This is how you can discern Artificial from Natural Rights: the former’s existence rests not on freedom, but on tyranny.
“The birth control mandate is a great convenience for people who wish to have sex on the cheap, but it’s also a profound intrusion on the liberty of the individual or group forced to provide the perk. The Obama Administration has tried to quell opposition by insisting that ‘religious organizations’ will be exempt, but the not-so-hidden caveat is that the Obama Administration gets to decide who and what qualifies as ‘religious.’ Where are the Separation of Church and State folks when you need them?” —Matt Walsh, Why Do Progressives Always Want the Government to Intrude in Their Bedrooms?
“Millions of people have lost their individual insurance plans. In 2015, millions more will lose their employer-provided coverage (a fact which the Obama administration also knew, and admitted elsewhere). The exorbitant additional costs that Obamacare has foisted on unsuspecting Americans are all part of a plan of wealth confiscation and redistribution. That is bad enough. But it will not end there.
“When the numbers of people into the system and the corresponding demand for care vastly exceed the cost projections (and they will, make no mistake), then the rationing will start. Not only choice at that point, but quality and care itself will go down the tubes. And then will come the decisions made by the Independent Payment Advisory Board about what care will be covered (read ‘paid for’) and what will not.
“That’s just a death panel, put politely. In fact, progressives are already greasing the wheels for acceptance of that miserable reality as well. They’re spreading the lie that it will be about the ability of the dying to refuse unwanted or unhelpful care. Don’t fall for that one, either. It will be about the deaths that inevitably result from decisions made by people other than the patients, their families, and their physicians.” —Laura Hollis, We Are Not Subjects (and Other Observations about Obamacare)
“Supporters of Obamacare have long pitched the law as a way to address emergency room crowding caused by lack of health coverage. Individuals without health coverage, the thinking goes, have no place to turn when they need medical attention, and as a result they head to the emergency room. That creates crowding, which can strain medical resources. It’s also more expensive than an ordinary trip to the doctor. The theory was that by giving people insurance, Obamacare could mitigate this problem, allowing more people to skip emergency care facilities by relying on less crowded, less expensive doctors offices instead.
“President Obama pitched a version of this idea in a speech last September, arguing that emergency room visits by the uninsured represented a hidden tax on everyone else. “When uninsured people who can afford to get health insurance don’t, and then they get sick or they get hit by a car, and they show up at the emergency room, who do you think pays for that?” he asked.
“But the best evidence has never really supported the hope that the law would reduce emergency room usage. That’s because much of the law’s expanded coverage comes via Medicaid, the jointly run federal-state program for the low income and disabled. And Medicaid beneficiaries tend to visit the emergency room more often than the uninsured.
“A new study of Medicaid beneficiaries in Oregon makes a strong version of this case. The study, published today in the journal Science, finds that adult Medicaid beneficiaries rely on emergency rooms about 40 percent more than similar uninsured adults.” —Peter Suderman, No, Obamacare Won’t Reduce Emergency Room Usage
For further enlightenment:
Fifty States of Obamacare Confusion, Stress, and Aggravation, by Jim Geraghty
Attorneys General Denounce Unlawful ObamaCare Fixes, by John Hayward
The Contraception Mandate and the Constitution, by Charles C. W. Cooke
An Open Letter to the Obama Administration, by Karri Kinder