HEALTH CARE COMPACT Blog

4-18-2014
Health Care Compact

The politics, they say, is a profession where no disaster goes unrewarded. The Hill reported that former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may be going to her just reward: the US Senate.


Democrats are dying to have Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius enter the Senate race in Kansas.


It seems crazy to Republicans, who see Sebelius as the face of the botched ObamaCare rollout and believe her candidacy would make it even easier for them to win the Senate majority.


But Democrats say her candidacy would make Kansas more winnable, would blunt the problems ObamaCare poses to their party and would force Republicans to pour money into a red state.


It would also send a message to the Democratic faithful. If you are stand up person, like Sebelius, willing to take the metaphorical bullet for the team, the guys will take care of you.


Democrats see Roberts, who was first elected to the upper chamber in 1996, as vulnerable even though Kansas has not had a Democratic senator since former Sen. George McGill in the 1930s.


Roberts was damaged by the revelation earlier this year that he does not have his own home in Kansas and listed the residence of a longtime supporter has his voting residence.


He has made himself more of a target in a general election by shifting to the right to fend off a conservative primary challenge from Milton Wolf. Roberts voted against the 2014 farm bill and against funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kan., Democrats note.


The contest is interesting for another reason. Kansas is one of the states which has passed the Health Care Compact through both houses. Sebelius would be matchup between Obamacare and the Health Care Compact. The question is whether the political pundits have seen that angle or whether their conventional calculators have missed that aspect altogether.

4-18-2014
Health Care Compact

President Obama reserved the right to make any changes to Obamacare. Obama said any changes in Obamacare, such as those sought by the business community, would “require a change in attitude on the part of the Republicans.”


It was a remarkably royal attitude to take towards the legislative branch, which after all, is the arm of government with the constitutional authority to make the laws.


“The point is, the repeal debate is and should be over,” he added. “The Affordable Care Act is working. And I know the American people don’t want us spending the next two-and-a-half years re-fighting the settled political battles of the last five years. They sent us here to repair our economy, to rebuild our middle class, and to restore our founding promise of opportunity, not just for a few, but for all. And as president, that’s exactly what I intend to keep doing as long as I’m in this office.”


Obama claimed enrollment had hit 8 million, ending the debate.


Obama trumpeted the figure, which exceeded projections, during an unannounced visit to the White House Briefing Room, saying that more than one in four (28 percent) who signed up for coverage on federally-controlled marketplaces are between 18 and 34 years old. The first enrollment period concluded at the end of March, but those who began applications for coverage before that date had until this week to complete them.


The 28 percent figure is below administration targets for young and healthy individuals, but the White House has said they are confident that the exchanges will still function at that rate, noting that the figure is almost identical to that in Massachusetts when the state instituted its exchange in 2006/7.


But Republicans believe that despite the bluster, Obamacare is actually the president’s Achilles heel. Polls show that the majority of Americans are opposed to his program, and every time the subject is mentioned it works against the president.  Armed with this knowledge, the Republicans may not be scared off the field, seeing it instead as a bluff by a president who doesn’t want to find out what happens if he is opposed.

4-17-2014
Health Care Compact

 The problem with the concept of sustaining a national health care system with subsidies was highlighted by a number “buried deep on the website of the U.S. Census Bureau”: 86 million workers sustain 148 million recipients of benefits.  The Associated Press reports: “The Congressional Budget Office predicts that health insurance subsidies under the so-called "Obamacare" plan will total a little more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years, instead of almost $1.2 trillion initially estimated”.


That’s the size of the transfer payments from one group to the other. Recently the media has reported that corporation and individuals who’ve opposed Obamacare have actually received subsidies. But as a case now before federal court shows, the government argues that subsidies cannot even be refused.


The IRS claims it has the authority under the law to grant subsides to people enrolling in both the state and federal exchanges. The challengers, however, argue that only the states have the authority to grant tax subsidies and that it’s unlawful for the federal exchanges to do the same. …


The IRS believes that it has the power to “dispense billions of dollars in federal spending that Congress never authorized,” Michael A. Carvin, a lawyer who is representing challengers of the Obamacare provision, said in court briefs.


An official with the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said the architects of Obamacare likely didn’t expect so many states would decline to establish their own exchanges.


“Congress gave states the power to veto exchange subsidies,” Cato’s Michael Cannon said. “That’s the last thing President Obama wants, so the president decided to issue the subsidies in federal exchanges, even though he only had the authority to issue them for state exchanges.”


Subsidies have become the modern-day equivalent of the “King’s Shilling”, the receipt of which put an individual in indentured service to the British Crown.


For many years a soldier's daily pay, before stoppages, was the shilling given as an earnest payment to recruits of the British Army and the Royal Navy of the 18th and 19th centuries. The expression "to take the King's shilling" (or the Queen's shilling as the case may be) meant that a man agreed to serve as a soldier or sailor.


Recruiters of the time used all sorts of tricks, most involving strong drink, to press the shilling on unsuspecting victims. The man did not formally become a soldier until attested before a Justice of the Peace, and could still escape his fate by paying his recruiter "smart money" before attestation.


One trick was to place the coin in the bottom of a mug of ale, so that the unsuspecting victim never saw the money until it swam into view as he finished the contents of the drink.


To this day tankards in Britain are made with a glass bottom. “The legend is that the glass bottomed tankard was developed as a way of refusing the King's shilling, i.e. conscription into the British army or navy. The drinker could see the coin in the bottom of the glass and refuse the drink, thereby avoiding conscription.”


The trick has been revived in the form of “subsidies”. Except in this case the King’s Shilling doesn’t come from the King. It comes from the 86 million workers who cough up the shillings for redistribution.