The Senate health care bill was unveiled on Thursday, and it appears to be dead on arrival. At least four conservative senators say that they can’t vote for the current version because it doesn’t go far enough, while several moderate Republicans are expressing concerns that it goes too far in repealing popular Obamacare provisions. You can read the full text of the bill here. Since Democrats are going to be united in voting against any bill that the Republicans put forward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only lose two Republican votes if he wants something to pass. I don’t know how that is going to be possible, and so in the end we may be stuck with Obamacare for the foreseeable future and that would be a total disaster. It is astounding to me that Republicans don’t want to pass the exact same clean Obamacare repeal bill that they got to Obama’s desk in 2016. If they got that same bill to Trump’s desk, he would sign it. Instead of trying to do everything at once, just repeal Obamacare and then start working on various pieces of the health care system one at a time. According to Real Clear Politics, Congress currently has an average approval rating of just 17.6 percent. It is an institution that has failed the American people over and over again, and we are never going to move things in a positive direction in this country until we do something to clean up that cesspool of filth and corruption. If we truly want to fix health care in this country, we need to rebuild the entire system from the ground up based on free market principles. But of course the bill that was just unveiled in the Senate simply tries to patch up the system we already have, and that ultimately won’t work…
Lengthy standing ovation from the Freedom Caucus when @POTUS walked into the Cabinet Room just now. Big momentum toward #RepealAndReplace. pic.twitter.com/N1FLGAVFMN — Cliff Sims (@CSims45) March 23, 2017
Summary of the chaotic day’s key events: GOP House leaders delayed their planned vote Thursday to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” which as AP put it was a “stinging defeat” for Paul Ryan and President Trump in their first major legislative test. The decision came after Trump failed to reach agreement with a bloc of rebellious conservatives. Moderate-leaning Republican lawmakers were also bailing on the legislation, leaving it short of votes. At least 30 Republicans said they opposed the bill, enough to defeat the measure. But the number was in constant flux amid the eleventh-hour lobbying. The bill could still come to a vote in coming days, but canceling Thursday’s vote is a significant defeat. It came on the seven-year anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the Affordable Care Act, years that Republicans have devoted to promising repeal. “No deal,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N. C., said after he and his group of more than two dozen rebellious conservatives met with Trump to try to get more concessions to reduce requirements on insurance companies. The Republican legislation would halt Obama’s tax penalties against people who don’t buy coverage and cut the federal-state Medicaid program for low earners, which the Obama statute had expanded. It would provide tax credits to help people pay medical bills, though generally skimpier than Obama’s statute provides. It also would allow insurers to charge older Americans more and repeal tax boosts the law imposed on high-income people and health industry companies. The measure would also block federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year, another stumbling block for GOP moderates.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 23, 2017.
Rather than bemoan the inevitable failure of centralized “fixes,” let’s turn our attention and efforts to the real solutions: decentralized, networked, localized. Those looking for centralized solutions to healthcare, jobs and other “macro-problems” will suffer inevitable disappointment. The era in which further centralization provided the “solution” has passed: additional centralization (Medicare for All, No Child Left Behind, federal job training, Universal Basic Income, central banking “free money for financiers”, etc.) have all entered Diminishing Returns. The systemic costs of centralization–corruption, cronyism, soaring prices, declining quality, over-reach, insider rackets, regulatory capture by corporations and oligarchs– are soaring as the benefits of centralization plummet. ObamaCare was the penultimate flowering of centralization: every self-serving healthcare cartel and racket had a say in the centralized sausage-making, and the results were entirely predictable: highly profitable to the healthcare cartels and rackets, and soaring costs that rendered the program unaffordable.
The Republicans have a problem. Healthcare prices are so swollen by government imposed monopolies that most people cannot possibly afford to pay the crazy bills without subsidies. What to do? Example: my son recently went to an out-of-state emergency room for food poisoning. The bill came in at over $8,000. And how is this for fairness: our insurance company knocked it down to about $4,000. An uninsured person would have been liable for the full amount. Might even have faced bankruptcy for failure to pay it. I personally lobbied for a provision in Obamacare preventing hospitals for charging the uninsured more than the insured. Obama said no. Why? Because the idea upset the hospitals. They wanted to be able to continue to exploit the uninsured. Whew. What does that tell us about Obama? Under these circumstances, average people cannot possibly pay their medical bills unassisted. Yet if you repeal Obamacare by imposing new price controls and subsidies, in other words, pour old, spoiled wine into new bottles, you just perpetuate the problem. So what to do? Prices can never be reduced by price controls, much less by price controls on government imposed monopoly prices. Most people do not realize that the government, through Medicare, has fixed medical prices for half a century and the results speak for themselves. At the same time, government has fed price increases by protecting monopolies set up by the drug companies and the American Medical Association. This is what government always does, and it wrecks any sector of the economy where this crony capitalist system is applied.
Back in August, we reported of a fascinating case of crony capitalism, whereby Aetna gave the DOJ a not too subtle ultimatum which boiled down to the following: “If the Humana deal is blocked, we exit Obamacare.” Well, be careful what you wish for, because six months later, and with Obamacare well on its way out, moments ago a US federal judge blocked Aetna’s $37 billion deal to buy rival insurer Humana, thwarting one of two large mergers that would reshape the U. S. health-care landscape. The judge’s ruling, which was filed in Federal court in Washington, said the deal would be “anticompetitive”adding that the deal would have hurt competition among insurers.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 23, 2017.
As Donald Trump himself tweeted on Monday morning… “Busy week planned with a heavy focus on jobs and national security. Top executives coming in at 9:00 A. M. to talk manufacturing in America.” -via twitter- … the president’s first official day on the job will be busy, including a meeting with business executivesm congressional leaders (including a separate meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan), signing executive orders and getting his cabinet picks voted through. According to the WSJ, Trump is also expected to sign various executive orders around 10:30am, which as previewed yesterday will include such topics as trade, immigration, government hiring, Obamacare and a lobbying ban. According to the White House, which released daily guidance for the president on Sunday evening, Trump’s Monday will include a ‘breakfast and listening session with key business leaders’ and a similar afternoon session with union leaders and ‘American Workers.’ Among this week’s key meetings, Trump is scheduled to with meet “top executives” at 9 a.m. today to discuss manufacturing, and British PM Theresa May on Friday.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 23, 2017.
Having already signed a (mostly symbolic) executive order on Obamacare on Friday night, urging US agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation” of provisions deemed to impose fiscal burdens on states, companies or individuals, Trump is preparing to unload a volley of many more executive orders. Courtesy of Axios, which quotes “one of the best-wired Republican lobbyists in town”, here is a preview of the initial round of Trump executive actions, some of which may hit as soon as Sunday afternoon: Look for a possible hiring freeze at executive branch 5-year lobbying ban on transition and administration officials Mexico City policy, which prevents foreign NGOs from getting U. S. family planning money if they provide abortions with non-U. S. funds. (It’s already illegal to use U. S dollars on abortions.) Task the Defense Secretary and joint chiefs to come up with plan to eviscerate ISIS Report on readiness, and something cyber security related Border/immigration: Something on sanctuary cities, expand E-Verify, an extreme vetting proposal Trade: Withdraw from TPP and a thorough review of NAFTA Axios also notes that “the Mexico City executive order could come as soon as today.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 22, 2017.
The Senate began working through President-elect Trump’s cabinet appointments this week, as Washington prepares for next week’s inauguration (which will cost taxpayers over $100 million.) One of the pressing concerns worrying libertarians is Senator Jeff Session’s view on the war on drugs, which has been one of the most successful areas for states’ rights in recent years. Obamacare has also been in the news, as the Republican Congress has begun taking steps to ‘repeal and replace.’ Unfortunately, as Per Bylund notes: In the present debate on Obamacare, all possible alternatives are simply a move from one interventionist economy to another, and this only distracts us from the real alternative: a radical rolling back of the state. Of course this approach of less politics, more markets is the approach needed in all facets of America today. On Mises Weekends this week, Jeff talks about crony capitalism with Nick Sorrentino, proprietor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. Jeff and Nick discuss how huge public companies – think defense giants like Lockheed Martin and Boeing – engage in an obvious form of fiscal cronyism, while Wall Street funds and investment banks engage in what we might call monetary cronyism. And they also discuss how average people reap undue benefits in a million small ways, from selling their homes in artificially overheated markets to making money from small businesses made possible only by bubbles. Is that tech startup really “worth” a $50 million payout to the founders? Thanks to the endless distortions of crony capitalism, we may never know.
With the Trump inauguration just over 10 days away, attention has now shifted to what Trump will do the moment he steps foot in the White House, and as The Hill reported this morning, judging by his campaign promises, Donald Trump will be a busy man starting on his first day in the Oval Office: “Trump has pledged to take sweeping, unilateral actions on Jan. 20 to roll back President Obama’s policies and set the course for his administration. Many of Obama’s policies he can reverse with the simple stroke of a pen.” The Hill then lays out some of the key agenda items in terms of Immigration, Environment, Lobbying, Trade and Healthcare. The reality, however, is a bit more nuanced than captured in the report, and has to take into consideration not only what Trump’s intentions are, but how they would integrate with Congress, where simply structural limitations could put hurdles ahead of the Trump agenda. So, for a more comprehensive preview of what Trump can – and can not do – both on day one, and for the rest of 2017, we present a recent analysis by Alec Phillips of Goldman Sachs (which, now that Trump has surrounded himself with Goldman alumni will be as critical when it comes to fiscal policy as Goldman was when it came to advising the Federal Reserve on monetary policy), which notes that the political agenda for 2017 is starting to take shape, with tax reform and Obamacare repeal seemingly at the top of the agenda. Trump will be delighted to know that both items can be passed without Democratic support via the budget reconciliation process.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 9, 2017.
Obamacare premiums are exploding, just as mises.org has long predicted. Another disastrous example of politicians discarding basic common sense in passing through legislation to address a problem they themselves have created. Unfortunately there is little hope of politicians learning from their mistakes, as they continue to push through bill, after bill, after bill that expands their influence at the expense of the market and human freedom. No wonder public faith in elections is collapsing as the reach of the state grows larger. Hopefully this growing distrust can spur a libertarian populist awakening, leading to the spread of the ideas that make civilization prosperous. The Mises Institute will further discuss the collapsing public trust in politics next weekend during our Dallas-Ft. Worth, Mises Circle. You can join Jeff Deist, Lew Rockwell, Robert Murphy and our other great speakers in person, or follow the event live at Mises.org/live. On Mises Weekends, Jeff is joined by Nomi Prins, a prolific writer and speaker on the subjects of central banking, financial markets, and Wall Street cronyism. She is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns, but left investment banking to speak out against what she perceives as global financial malfeasance by commercial, investment, and central banks. Nomi is a dedicated progressive who supported Bernie Sanders, but she’s also a harsh critic of the Fed and sympathetic to Austrian depictions of malinvestment and artificially-created bubbles.
“Global warming”? “Obamacare”? “Terrorism”? all rank in the Top 10 fears for Americans. While ‘creepy clowns’ are all the rage, according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears, corruption of government officials is the top fear among U. S. adults this year.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 21, 2016.
Who can keep up with all the revelations coming out of over 10,000 of Hillary camp chairman John Podesta’s leaked emails? It’s actually a brilliant strategy to give people corruption fatigue because it’s so many revelations so quickly that, just like the Snowden leaks, it overwhelms people and they shut down. Toss something about learned helplessness in there, and we’re about on target for what’s going on with Hillary right now. It’s actually pretty amazing she’ll be able to show her face at the debates tonight. But this particular email is key to just how utterly fake and fraudulent our government really is. Remember when Nancy Pelosi infamously told Congress they’d have to pass the Affordable Care Act bill so they could find out what was in it? Check this out:
During the last year of his reign of error, our beloved Nobel Peace Prize winner, Obama ran out of government accounting gimmicks to falsely proclaim Federal deficits have been falling. His legacy of debt accumulation will go down in history as the last dying gasps of a crumbling empire built upon Keynesian delusions, political corruption, and a Deep State establishment hellbent upon retaining power at the cost of global war and financial collapse. The entirely fabricated government propaganda data point known as the Federal deficit skyrocketed by 34% in fiscal 2016 (Federal year is Oct. 1 to Sept. 30). The reported deficit in FY15 was a mere $438 billion. Obama and his brain dead minions had boasted about such a small deficit. The country has been in existence for 227 years and Obama had the balls to boast about ‘achieving’ the 8th highest deficit in our history. Just for some context, the savior also led the country to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th highest deficits in the country’s history. Bumbling Bush achieved the 7th highest in the glorious year of 2008. The $149 billion surge in the reported deficit to $587 billion is a national disgrace and happened during a year in which we supposedly aren’t waging any real wars. Even with artificially suppressed interest rates, interest on the national debt went up by $30 billion. The Obamacare abortion has caused healthcare spending to soar, blowing a hole in the Federal budget. Remember Obama bloviating about Obamacare not adding one dime to the national debt? He was right. It’s adding trillions of dimes to the national debt. But, at least every family in America has gotten that promised $2,500 savings in their annual premiums. Right?
Minnesota is in good company. Like dozens of other states across the country, its government-mandated health care exchange is facing steeply-rising premiums for individual plans at levels that are both outrageous and completely impossible for the average Middle Class family to pay or keep up with. And as future rates continue to rise – and it’s going to hurt a lot of people. Because the system was designed to fail; or, because the government and health care lobbies have so little regard for the people that will actually have to live and die by their rules, the prices are skyrocketing by more than 50% in Minnesota – and by similarly absurd numbers in other states – and the exchange narrowly avoiding collapsing altogether in 2017. via the Daily Caller: Minnesota will let health insurers increase their rates by at least 50 percent next year to protect the state’s Obamacare health insurance individual market from ‘collapse,’ the state announced Friday.
This post was published at shtfplan on October 3rd, 2016.
The American health care system had become the perfect poster child for cronyism long before Obamacare went into effect. Insurance companies, health care providers, and the government have become so intertwined, it’s almost impossible to discern where one ends and the other begins. While candidates of all ideological persuasions campaign on replacing, repealing, maintaining, or even expanding Obamacare, at this point public and private health care institutions have become so entangled there is almost no feasible way to untie the knot. Instead of looking to Washington to fix a problem they are at least partially responsible for creating, the private market has taken matters into its own hands by providing options. The Surgery Center of Oklahoma, for example, discovered that in order to offer patients the best quality care for the lowest possible prices, they were going to have to opt out of the traditional health care system all together. Prospective patients visiting the center’s website will notice that each procedure offered comes with its own set price tag. By choosing not to accept any insurance policies, the Surgery Center of Oklahoma is able to set its own prices, which often end up being more affordable than services rendered through a traditional hospital and then processed through a third-party insurance company.
The average cost of health coverage offered by employers pushed above $18,000 for a family plan this year, though the growth was slowed by the accelerating shift into high-deductible plans, according to a major survey. Annual premium cost rose 3% to $18,142 for an employer family plan in 2016, from$17,545 last year, according to the annual poll of employers performed by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation along with the Health Research & Educational Trust, a nonprofit affiliated with the American Hospital Association. Employees paid 30% of the premiums for a family plan in 2016, compared with 29% last year, according to Kaiser. For an individual worker, the average annual cost of employer coverage was $6,435 in this year’s survey, with employees paying 18% of that total. The change in annual premium for individual coverage from 2015 wasn’t statistically significant. Economists have long debated the reasons for the slow pace of growth in premiums, which has continued for several years. Some have argued that the limited rate of increase is primarily linked to aftereffects of the recession and continued economic uncertainty.
I have been warning that 2017 was the Year of Political Hell with four major referendums/elections that would undermine the confidence in government – BREXIT, US Presidential Elections, French Elections, and Germany Elections. These four events hold the potential to overturn the expectations of the future. Whatever the general public felt about government would flip. The key to a shift from Public confidence to Private lies within the scope of these four elections. This is what our computer has been forecasting – political instability on the rise. This is the age of anti-establishment (3rd party) rising globally. However, I have also warned that Social Security and Medicare go NEGATIVE next year in the United States, which of course mainstream media is not bothering to report for fear that would add fuel to the bonfire of political corruption. But what is also not explained by mainstream media, is that Obamacare is crumbling from within. The entire structural design of Obamacare was the perpetual Ponzi Scheme they used for Social Security.
Later this year, residents of Pinal County, Arizona, who go shopping for health insurance under Obamacare will face a peculiar dilemma – they’ll have to buy a product that may not exist. The 400,000-population county southeast of Phoenix currently doesn’t have a single health insurer offering coverage next year on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, where Americans can shop for the insurance they’re required to have under the law. With the impending pullout of major health insurers – including Aetna Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc., and Humana Inc. – Pinal County is just one place around the country where Americans will be left with few, if any, choices for coverage. ‘The idea was that people who use the exchanges would have a variety of plans by different carriers,’ said Robert Blendon, a health-policy professor at Harvard University’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health. ‘If it isn’t addressed, you will have more companies drop out and you’ll have more pressure on the other companies in terms of their potential losses.’ The dropouts also undermine a key promise of the law: multiple insurers would compete for consumers’ business each year, and the power of the market would control costs and raise quality. Instead, the opposite is happening. Rates may jump 24 percent next year, according to ACASignups.net, a website that tracks the law, and a quarter of U. S. counties could have just one insurer on the exchanges, according to Cynthia Cox, a researcher at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
US health insurer Aetna already made waves earlier this week when it announced on Monday that it would exit 11 of 15 state exchanges in which it offers Obamacare plans as a result of mushrooming financial losses. While that move was largely expected due to the inherent flaws in Obamacare, today it surprised market watchers, and its shareholders, again by handing an ultimatum to the Department of Justice, and thus the US government, threatening it would immediately reduce its presence in the remaining Affordable Care Act exchanges and cancel a planned expansion, if its merger with Humana was blocked. Amusingly, the analysis of the announcement broke down firmly along party line: according to some, the previous decision to exit more than two-thirds of Obamacare exchanges was the first shot across the DOJ’s bow, coming a few weeks after the Department of Justice filed a suit to stop the Humana merger. Prominent Republicans, including Donald Trump’s campaign, said the move, which came after similar ones by other major insurers, reflected flaws of the ACA. Others, notably those with a more Democratic bent, including Elizabeth Warren, suggested that Aetna’s stance on the exchanges was affected by the Justice Department’s decision. ‘The health of the American people should not be used as bargaining chips to force the government to bend to one giant company’s will,’ she wrote in a Facebook post.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 17, 2016.
Aetna Inc., facing more than $300 million in losses from Affordable Care Act health plans this year, may exit Obamacare markets in some states as challenges to the health-care overhaul pile up. While the health insurer has yet to leave any states in which it now sells Obamacare programs, Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini said Aetna is evaluating its participation by market and will start making decisions in coming weeks. The company, which covers 838,000 people through Obamacare, is halting a planned expansion of those offerings in new states for next year. ‘We’ve got to be able to cover the costs associated with providing the care,’ Bertolini said in an interview. Big insurers’ flight from Obamacare’s marketplaces, beginning with industry leader UnitedHealth Group Inc. earlier this year, will leave more consumers with fewer coverage options in 2017. The health law relies on privately run insurers to offer health plans that consumers can purchase, often with government subsidies. Last week, Humana Inc. announced a broad retreat from selling ACA plans, and Anthem Inc. said it would lose money from participation in the program.