Tag Archives: affordable care act

Obamacare repeal begins. For real this time.

WASHINGTON, DC — On 4 May 2017, the U. S. House of Representatives overcame fear-mongering from opposition party members to pass the American Healthcare Act.  The American Healthcare Act is a bill that begins the process of repealing and replacing the prior Administration’s signature healthcare law.  Noteworthy within the prior Administration’s law were a large number of taxes, mandated benefits to be included in all health plans, employer mandates and the prohibition against health insurance companies pricing health plans by the health of the customer.

A brief review of the summary of the American Healthcare Act shows that this bill does repeal many of the taxes included in the prior Administration’s healthcare law, as well as  individual and employer mandates.  It looks like the bill may also open up the definition of what coverages are allowed/required in ‘qualifying health care plans.’  More freedom is seldom a bad thing.  The bill also allows health insurers to price their offered coverage according to the age and health condition of customers whilst also assisting those with ‘pre-existing conditions’ and severe health conditions in paying for their own coverage.

Further, it appears to allow States to decide whether to roll back the Medicaid expansion.  Federal Funding for the Medicaid expansion will continue to remain available to States through 2020.

The American Healthcare Act has several hurdles yet to be crossed before it can become law.  It must still be debated, amended and voted on in the U. S. Senate. It must have differences in the House and Senate versions worked out by a Joint Committee.  The final version must pass both houses of Congress.  Finally, the President must sign it into law.

This bill appears to go a long way toward removing the shackles the prior healthcare law placed on the entire U. S. economy with the taxes and mandates.  Employers will be free to give more hours to part-time employees and to expand their businesses by hiring more total employees, without the mandate to provide expensive healthcare coverage.

Without the mandates, philanthropists, public-spirited organizations and religious denominations will have to step in to ensure that noone falls through the cracks.

The bill passed the House by a margin of 217 to 213, with no members of the Democrat Party voting for it.

Opinions expressed herein are my own and in no way reflect those of Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Military Department, the U. S. Army or the U. S. DoD.  All of these organizations have their own public affairs offices and spokespersons, which do not actually include me.

 

Sources:

Summary and full text of the American Healthcare Act

Reuters

Wall Street Journal

Parting thoughts on the 2014 U.S. Congressional Election

Last Tuesday was Election Day in the U. S.

Citizens turned out to vote in surprising numbers.  Many states, counties and cities reported turn-out that rivalled turnout for Presidential elections.  This is a positive sign.  It indicates that many of our fellow citizens were interested enough to make their voices heard.  Exit polling data showed that of those voting against Democrats, most did so because of the policies of the Administration.  Exit polling data also suggested that in some metro areas, like St Louis and Chicago, Black/African-American voters and women voted Republican in addition to customary Republican voters such as whites, Christians, and families with children and at least one wage-earner.

The Republican Party, which ran on no national platform, and has been labelled by Democrats and the media as the ‘Party of No,’ won impressively.  In the next Congress, the Republican Party will have its largest majority in the House of Representatives since the 1920s.  Republican Candidates for Governor who ran on platforms of lower taxes, more personal freedom, more personal responsibility and free market principles such as the right to work and less government regulation — such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio and Rick Scott in Florida also won handily.  Republicans also won impressively in the State Legislatures and other state and local offices.  Without a national platform, such as former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, there’s only one way to interpret this:  those who voted largely wanted to change the direction of the country.  They want to stop the Administration’s Policies.

The U. S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Republican Establishment campaigned in force for Establishment candidates running for re-election.  In South Carolina they supported Lindsey Graham who won handily in the national election, but only won his primary by 56%.  Similarly in Mississippi, Thad Cochran was re-elected last Tuesday, but nearly lost his primary.  The Republican Establishment may say that they have crushed the conservatives and the Tea Party and try to compromise with the Democrats.  But they spend enormous amounts of money and political capital in personal appearances to keep Sen Graham and Sen Cochran in office.

So Messers Boehner and McConnell may think they have a mandate to compromise, to pass amnesty for illegal immigrants, to keep the borders open, to leave the Affordable Care Act in force.

On the other hand, where conservative ‘Tea Party’ candidates ran for open seats, they won.  Joni Earnst, a Pro-life, conservative woman and retired military Veteran won a U. S. Senate seat from Iowa.  Mia Love, a Tea Party favorite in Utah, will be the first Black woman Republican in the House of Representatives. Ms. Love will also be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.  And the first African-American elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction was Tim Scott a Tea Party candidate, not a Democrat.  These candidates won because of their merits, their ideas, and the content of their character, not some Government mandated affirmative action.  And every U. S. Senate candidate, who campaigned to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also won.

In his comments the following day, the President remarked that two-thirds of the country did not vote.  I haven’t heard any news sources challenge this statistic, so for the sake of discussion, we’ll accept it.  Two-thirds of the country not turning out to vote, indicates apathy.  This is a bad sign.    Of course the President also said he hears the two-thirds who didn’t vote.  He’s listening to the majority of Americans who are either satisfied with the direction of the country, or too apathetic to vote.  Those of us who do care about the future of our country need to reach out to our friends and neighbors.

We need to reach out today, not next week.  We need talk to them tomorrow, not wait for the next election cycle.  For one reason, we will have to keep the pressure on the Establishment Republicans to stand for principle and not compromise with the Democrats.   But the more important reasons are that we need to show them that self-reliance, not reliance on big government programs, works.  We the People, we the Faithful, not the government, need to be the ones feeding the hungry, clothing the cold, and giving shelter to those without a home.  If we voluntarily join on another, through free-association, and not forced collectivism, we can stand for and strengthen the traditional American virtues of rugged individualism, self-reliance and faith.  We need to reach out because faith, hope and love can change the world, too.


These opinions are naturally my own, unless otherwise cited, and not those of my employers

What do you think of the election results? Do you think Americans are rejecting the Progressive / collectivist direction in favor of self-reliance and faith? Let us know in the comments.

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Election Week: Principles and Faith over politics

In 1994 Republican Newt Gingrich nationalized a midterm Congressional election with the Contract for America.  Recently the White House attempted to do the same thing stating, “these policies are on the ballot.”

So, let’s take a moment and review the policies supported by the White House and their allies, the results of those policies, who has opposed them and what the results have been.  Know your issues. Know your candidates. Vote your conscience.

Let’s take a look at the policy legacy of Attorney General Holder: Fast and Furious, reading news reporters’ emails and tracing their phone records, attempting to prevent banks and credit providers from doing business with fire-arms and ammunition manufacturers and sellers, held in contempt of Congress.  Operation Fast and Furious for those who may not remember was Dept. of Justice initiative that allowed US gun stores to sell weapons to known associates of Mexican based criminal Cartels without track the weapons.  This resulted in the murder of at least one U. S. Border Patrol Agent.  How did Congress and the Committees in the House and the Senate that provide oversight over the Dept of Justice respond?  We saw some very insightful questioning in the House by Rep. Trey Gowdy from SC and a House resolution holding Attorney General Holder in contempt.  But did Speaker Boehner allow the House attempt to exercise the Power of the Purse and defund any of these initiatives?  No.  From the Establishment Republicans we get talk but no action.

Let’s look at the policy legacy of Senate leader Democrat Harry Reid.  He has proposed a Constitutional amendment that would empower the national and State governments to regulate speech in political campaigns and election seasons, effectively allowing the ruling class to stifle dissent.  Over a hundred bills, he hasn’t brought the floor of the Senate for debate.  Only once since the Ominbus spending bill of 2009 has the Senate  passed a budget and sent it to the President.  When Senate leader Reid does bring a bill to the floor, he rarely allows amendments.  Among the bills that Reid did allow to the floor were comprehensive immigration reform (a.k.a Amnesty) and gun control.  And what did our oh, so conservative Republican opposition leaders in the Senate, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas do to stop immigration reform and gun control?  Not much.  It was up to Tea Party favorites Sen. Cruz of Texas and Sen. Lee of Utah to rally the public to call their Senators and stop these measures.

Let’s consider the policy legacies of HHS Secretaries Sebelius and Burwell.  Sec Sebelius oversaw the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which as seen health plan premiums go up by an average of $2500, not down, and seen deductables double or triple. So families are spending over three to four times more out-of-pocket before their health plans pay for anything.  The ACA has forced lesbian couples to pay for men’s health treatments and gay couples to pay for maternity coverage.  Further the ACA has forced men and women and families of faith who purchase individual and family health policies that pay for coverages the religions object to.   And I haven’t even touched on the increased amounts of paperwork physicians and surgeons must now file (taking them away from patients), restrictions on the supply of medications and the numbers of patients hospitals can treat, and squeezing payments to hospitals which has resulted lay offs of hospital staff.  And all the Establishment Republicans would do is pass meaningless repeal resolutions and hold hearings about the HealthCare.gov website.  After promising to repeal the ACA during their last election campaigns, McConnel and Cornyn whipped votes against a House measure to defund the ACA a year ago.  Sec. Sebelius oversaw the implementation of these policies and Sec. Burwell has not reversed them.  The Establishment Republicans had all of the substantive issues I just named off that they could have challenged in the ACA and all they wanted to talk about was website!  And let’s not forget that HHS removed the work and job training requirements for welfare and foodstamps that has seen their rolls swell to the size of a medium European nation!

And let’s not forget the illegal immigration surge of last summer and the lack of Ebola quarantines or travel restrictions this fall.  What did the Establishment Republicans do to counter any of this?  They verbally attacked conservatives who pointed out the problems and proposed actual solutions.   They disparaged deportation of the illegal immigrant surge, and proponents of restrictions on travel visas out of the Ebola hot zone.

So, if you like your Representative or Senator, you can keep him or her.  Know your issues.  Know your candidates. Vote your conscience.

Here are some voter guides to help you sort the wheat from the chaff.  Some of these you may just want to reverse what they say!

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/analysis/2014/voters-guides-2014/

http://www.cc.org/voterguides

http://www.catholicvote.org

http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/elections/2014/voter-guide/

or go to http://www.slate.com or http://www.politico.com or http://www.family.org

Now, the real question is what can we do about all of this?  Two answers come to mind: one from Lady Margaret Thatcher, the other from my son, St Thomas the younger.  Lady Thatcher once said, “First you win the argument, then you win the election.”  St Thomas the younger pointed out the solution isn’t in politics, the solution is in faith.  We’ve got to look into our hearts, into our sacred texts, into our prayerlives and find out what the Saints and Sages have writ about principles that will apply to our situation today.  We’ve got to remember that the Creator is the source of our rights; we’ve got to keep Him front and center in our lives.  And then we’ve got spend our money with businesses that agree with our values. We’ve got to talk to our friends and get them involved.  We’ve got to start helping our neighbors, so they don’t have to go to the Government.  We’ve got to be the change we want to see in the world.

These opinions are my own.

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Hobby Lobby, Religious Liberty and SCOTUS (first thoughts)

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in its suit regarding the contraception mandates in the Affordable Care Act.  Employment law, health care and the pro-life cause aren’t topics I usually write about.  But I want to write about the Hobby Lobby decision, because it’s causing a firestorm of debate and I think I can provide some perspective.

As usual, I’ll start with the facts as I know them and then move on to my opinions.

When it became clear that the Department of Health and Human Services was no longer honoring a religious exemption for employers from the abortion mandates in the Affordable Care Act, Hobby Lobby filed a suit asserting freedom of religion.  The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has ruled in prior cases that corporations enjoy the same rights as individuals.  So, Hobby Lobby was within its rights as a company to file the suit.  Hobby Lobby asserted that since it does not believe in abortion, it should not be forced to pay for drugs that would induce abortions in its employees.

The health plan offered by Hobby Lobby does provide other forms of contraception, many that the stop a pregnancy before conception, but not those that induce an abortion after conception.

No employee of Hobby Lobby is forced to work there.  In any town where Hobby Lobby does business, they are not the sole employer.  If an employee wants a form of birth control that Hobby Lobby does not include in the health plan, he or she can use their pay check to go and buy it for full price.  Or they can find a job with another company whose health plan does provide those forms of birth control.

No citizen is forced to by craft supplies from Hobby Lobby.  Again, in any town where Hobby Lobby does business, there are other stores that sell similar products.  If you don’t like the way Hobby Lobby, as a company, follows the religious views of its owners, buy from another supplier.  Or use your Constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association to get together with like-minded individuals and form your own craft supply company that operates according to your religious or secular views.

I see this decision as a victory for religious liberty and a victory for Federalism.  The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Congress cannot prevent citizens from nearly any form of religious practice (except perhaps animal sacrifice), nor can Congress require this. Atheists, Buddhists, Christians, humanists, Jews, Muslims and any other sect are free to practice their beliefs in public or private.  No one else has to watch or participate.  Much like free speech, an audience is not guaranteed — merely your right observe the dictates of your own conscience.

Absent the Incorporation Doctrine, with pure Federalism, a city, a county or a state is free make laws restricting religion or requiring religious practice.  The Constitution guarantees the mobility of all citizens (provided they can pay for their own move and transportation).   So, if you as a citizen want to live in a city or a state where companies are forced to pay for all manner of benefits in addition to wages, move somewhere like New York City or California.  If not, move to Oklahoma City, or nearly anywhere in Texas.  Work where you want.  Live where you want.  If you don’t like your company or your city, change jobs or move to another town.

But if you do support religious liberty, if you are pro-life, then I encourage you buy your craft supplies from Hobby Lobby and get a job there, if  you need one.

If you like what you’ve read and you want to read me every week, click the ‘follow’ button. Please continue to read me and share me with your friends. If you have thoughts about freedom of religion or contraception, sound off in the comments.

Also, I’m taking some vacation days from my day job and my son is coming to visit, so my posting here will slow down.  If you’re missing your St Thomas fix, go checkout my fiction on fanfiction.net.

Lastly, thank you to all my readers and followers for make June 2014 our best month ever at StThomasPlace.

Views and opinions expressed in these writings are my own, unless attributed or documented to someone else, and either way are not necessarily those of my employers.