Obamacare Will Kill Far More Than the Veterans Administration

The news that some forty veterans died while waiting to receive care from a Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital—care that was denied because of bureaucratic chicanery—will seem small in comparison to the numbers of Americans who will die from the implications of Obamacare.

At this point, some nineteen VA hospitals are under suspicion of engaging in similar practices, but as large as the VA bureaucracy is, it will be small in comparison to what Obamacare requires. The original legislation that combined the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act represented nearly 2,700 pages.

The regulations that are being created to implement it will run to several volumes. By late 2013, the Obama administration had published 11,588,500 words of final Obamacare regulations. If looks can kill, that many words will surely kill. Too many people will be unble to get the care they need because there will be a regulation to prevent it.

What is making headlines now has long been known in other nations with national healthcare systems. It is about rationing, not dispensing care; if for no other reason that is why healthcare should remain in the private sector.

Unless a future Congress repeals Obamacare, the death toll will mount. There have been some forty or more pieces of legislation to repeal it passed in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. No Republican voted for Obamacare when it was introduced.

What we know is that, while serving on the oversight committee, then-Senator Obama was aware of the VA problems before he ran for President. In 2009, as President, he promised veterans to fix the problems. How concerned is he in 2014? There has been a noticeable lack of public comment from a President famed for having something to say about everything that makes headlines.

Add the VA scandal to the long list of Obama administration scandals from the IRS to Benghazi, but it is Obamacare that has already been a monumental failure and, as we begin to receive news of those who will die as because a local hospital closed or because they lost the care of a personal physician familiar with their problem, it will emerge as the greatest scandal of his presidency.

On March 23, 2010 Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. By October, the Obama administration abandoned the long-term-care insurance program that was in the law. It was later formally repealed by Congress, but the changes that President has initiated since then ignore the fact that only Congress, as the legislative branch, has the power to make such changes.

December 2012 was the deadline for states to decide on running their own insurance exchanges; 36 states left all or part of the job to the federal government. In the lead up to the October 2013 launch of HealthCare.gov more delays were announced by the White House and the website turned out to be a complete disaster. That same month insurers notified thousands of policy holders that their health plans were not compliant with Obamacare and would be cancelled.

In effect, Obamacare caused hundreds of thousands of people with healthcare plans they liked to lose them, thus artificially increasing the number of “uninsured”. In April the White House announced that seven million had signed up for Obamacare. Kathleen Sibelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, gave notice she was resigning. The figure cited by the White House is likely dubious.

In May, an article in The Fiscal Times reported that “A handful of state-run exchange websites—which cost nearly a half a billion dollars to build—still don’t work, nearly seven months after they first went live.” The Fiscal Times estimated that Obamacare websites had cost $5 billion and so many were not functional that the original plan to transition signups to them from HealthCare.gov was likely to be abandoned.

To mark the anniversary of Obamacare’s enactment, in March 2014 the American Action Forum released a report that the law’s regulatory burdens are twice as great as its alleged benefits. “From a regulatory perspective, the law has imposed more than $27.2 billion in total private sector costs, $8 billion in unfunded state burdens, and more than 159 million paperwork hours on local governments and affected entities.”

Obamacare Agent BadgeIt’s rarely mentioned or reported, but the implementation of Obamacare will also require an increase in the number of people either full-time or under contract with the federal government. The highest estimate for new Internal Revenue Service hires is around 16,000 as the IRS has been put in charge of enforcing Obamacare. It already employs about 100,000 people nationwide which means there is one IRS employee for every 3,000 Americans.

In an April 4 Forbes magazine article, “Obamacare Shows America Suffers from a President Dangerously Disconnected From Reality”, Peter Ferrera, a Heartland Institute Senior Fellow specializing in entitlement and budget policy, concluded that the numbers of those insured by Obamacare were largely a fabrication or invalidated in some cases by data that the Health and Human Services Department released.

“Obamacare,” wrote Ferrera, “has been a major drag on the economy, preventing full recovery from the recession. Employers trying to avoid the costs of the employer mandate have reduced many full time jobs to part time jobs. Or that have frozen hiring, and the associated costs due to Obamacare. This is contributing to income stagnation and decline for the middle class, the working class, and the poor.”

L. Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center asked “How do we know Obamacare is failing? They’re burying the story. They aren’t in denial. They know the truth. They’re just choosing to ignore it.”

A Center analysis of the three network evening news broadcasts from January through March found only twelve full stories about Obamacare. “None of the networks dared to report the ongoing opposition of the American people to Obamacare” over that period of time, even when they were the ones doing the polling!

The real story of Obamacare, however, isn’t about who signed up or not. The real story of Obamacare that is not being reported is about those who have died and will die as the result of this horrendous experiment in socialized medicine.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

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5 steps for fixing the VA problems — if I were in charge

As I watch the events unfold regarding the Veterans Administration scandal — certainly not a phony one – I’m waiting to hear a concrete plan of action and solutions.

We do not need any more studies, assessments and reports. We certainly don’t need another agency within the Obama administration investigating itself.

I’m also concerned about the number of retired military officers circling the wagons around, it seems, one of their own — retired former Chief of Staff, now Secretary of Veterans Administration, General Eric Shinseki.

What amazes me is that, in uniform, this type of abject and systematic failure over the past six years would have resulted in relief of command. However, it now seems there are different standards and measures of effectiveness in the quagmire we call government bureaucracy — I would have hoped the code of honor and integrity transcends the day one takes off the uniform.

In any event, here are five steps the administration should be taking (not holding my breath):

1. Change of management – I didn’t say leadership because it seems no one is leading and they are certainly mismanaging. But it begins at the top with the Secretary and must go to the senior levels where these issues are being raised.

Some will say leave Secretary Shinseki in place to fix the VA problems, it’s been almost six years and the problem has been exacerbated. Some believe (or hope) once there are resignations, the media will move on and this won’t be a hot topic anymore – that may apply to the fawning Obama liberal media but not the rest of us.

In that vein, we should be listening to our Veterans Service Organizations such as the VFW, American Legion, ROA, NAUS, AMVETS and MOAA as they are the true “voices of our veterans.”

General Shinseki and senior levels of the VA have lost the confidence of the veteran community. As a matter of fact, it seems he’s completely turned his back on it and become just another “Beltway Bandit” — forgetting his oath of office as a commissioned officer in exchange for political loyalties. We thank him for his countless years of service to our nation in uniform, but this is inexcusable.

2. Provide immediate relief with vouchers to civilian hospitals for proper care – of course this process will need scrutiny and tracking to ensure good stewardship of the taxpayer dollar — which we all would humbly want to see go to caring for those who have borne such a burden for this Republic. But the voucher program is not the panacea to solve the greater problem.

3. Develop regional “Centers of Excellence” – five to be exact: North, South, East, Midwest, and West, based upon veteran population concentration, focus resources for staffing and look at relationships with local private hospitals. As well, outpatient clinics should be part of these COEs and we should develop best practices for better automation as part of this initiative. I would say these would be our Tier IA Veteran care facilities and there should be a determination as to their coverage areas.

4. Provide local alternatives for remote areas – we need to assess the remote areas where our veterans need care and coverage and look at developing a process and a system whereby their first line of healthcare can come from a local private hospital. Again, there would need to be a system in place to track these individuals. Along with this comes a very well-trained and responsive system of “Help Centers” that can address issues and resolve them for our vets, and I don’t mean “we will get back to you.”

5. Improve record-keeping – if the Obama administration was so adept at contacting voters they should be able to develop a better automation system for records and caring of our veterans. It is imperative that we are able to quickly and seamlessly transition health records of those who have served in uniform, regardless of Active Duty or Reserve Component, into the VA system. No more drop-offs into the abyss.

You might have thought this would have been what President Obama would have articulated last week, instead of more faux outrage and lecturing about others taking responsibility.

And yes, something criminal has occurred within the Veterans Administration and the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, should conduct an independent investigation — or is it just not that important?

I always taught my young officers that any issues you bring to me must have at least once recommendation for a solution — above are just a few off the top of my head. And I don’t have an entire policy staff.

But I must ask, if the Obama administration, indeed government itself, is having a problem handling veterans healthcare, which is less than two percent of our American population, how do you think they’ll handle trying to manage the entire country’s healthcare?

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com.

RELATED ARTICLE: America’s Veterans Deserve Better: 5 Priorities to Fix VA

FL District 9 Congressional Candidate Jorge Bonilla Calls for VA IG Investigation and vouchers for veterans

Florida District 9 Republican Congressional candidate Jorge Bonilla released the following statement calling for an Inspector General investigation of the Department of Veterans Affairs and vouchers for veterans to obtain healthcare outside the single-payer VA system:

The unfolding scandal surrounding the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has revealed many ugly truths about the executive competence of this administration and about the disastrous practical application of single-payer healthcare in the United States. But worst of all, this scandal has revealed the extent to which we have reneged on our solemn debt of honor towards our returning heroes.

I recently called on Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down from the VA. However, we continue to receive new reports of clandestine wait lists, with no concrete action yet taken.

It is now time for our Commander in Chief to lead from the front, and relieve Secretary Shinseki of his duties at the VA. Rather than send a deputy chief of staff to review a single clinic, I call on the White House to appoint an independent Inspector General to conduct a system wide review of the manner in which our Veterans are cared for.

A proper investigation of the wait list scandal also calls for the appointment of a special independent prosecutor. A thorough, unimpeded investigation of the facts at hand will determine whether or not these are indeed isolated incidents, and if not, whether there is probable cause for prosecution of those responsible under federal RICO statutes.

Make no mistake; if the deaths of over 40 Veterans and the needless suffering of countless others are the result of denied care as part of a systemic effort to enforce wait list metrics, then we have broken faith with our Wounded Warriors, and there is no other option except to pursue swift justice.

Finally, I join Congressional Republicans who have called for enactment of a Veterans’ voucher system. Our Veterans are at the short end of the sort of bureaucratic entanglements and critical staffing shortages that are endemic to the single-payer healthcare system, and this is unacceptable.

Veterans (or all Americans, actually) should be able to see a doctor of their choice at a time of their choice. A voucher system could break the logjam at the VA, and allow those who need specialized VA care to receive it in a timely manner.

This is the very least we could do for those to whom we owe a debt of honor

FL Governor Rick Scott Suing Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki

Governor Rick Scott, a veteran himself with a son in the U.S. Army, announced plans to file a lawsuit establishing the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) authority to inspect federal VA hospitals in Florida, and to stop the federal veterans affairs agency from obstructing state actions.

Governor Scott said, “As the chief health policy and planning entity for the state that licenses, inspects, and investigates consumer complaints, AHCA should be allowed access to federal VA hospitals to inspect their processes and their facilities. On seven separate occasions at six federal VA hospitals, however, state inspectors have been blocked by federal officials from carrying out their mission of ensuring facilities in Florida meet the healthcare needs of our veterans. I have asked AHCA to sue the federal veterans affairs agency to shine a light on their activities and protect the lives of our heroes who have earned nothing short of access to the best care possible.”

The complaint will be filed in federal court against U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to establish AHCA’s right to inspect and regulate health facilities in Florida. The suit will stop the federal government from obstructing AHCA’s inspections of these facilities.

Governor Scott said, “With 1.5 million veterans that call Florida home, we’re committed to being the most veteran-friendly state in the nation – and reports of deaths, neglect, poor conditions and a secret waiting list in federal VA hospitals in Florida are unacceptable. To date, Sec. Shinseki has refused to step down, our inspectors continue to be turned away, and none of the information we’ve asked for has been provided. Transparency and accountability are critical to supporting our veterans, and this suit will fight the federal VA’s continued practice of stonewalling our inspectors.”

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VA Bottleneck: Scandal or Norm? by D.W. Mackenzie

Problems with the VA go deeper than recent episodes.

The revelation of inefficiency in the VA hospital system has caused strong reactions. Critics of the Obama administration regard this as another scandal, evidence of gross incompetence, and some are calling for measures to fix the VA system. Fatal delays in treatment in VA hospitals are tragic. The Obama administration was aware of these problems, but failed to apply solutions. However, there is no reason to simply blame VA inefficiency on the incompetence of one administration.

Bureaucratic organizations are inherently prone to the types of inefficiency seen at the VA. Ludwig von Mises explained bureaucratic rigidity in 1944. What are the key problems with bureaucratic management of economic activity? Government bureaucracies always lack the incentives and coordinating mechanisms of profit-driven entrepreneurship and market prices. Bureaucratization of an industry substitutes either bureaucratic rules or bureaucratic discretion for entrepreneurship.

How do bureaucracies function? If bureaucrats have discretion to act, they may attempt to serve the public. Mises assumed that bureaucrats would at least try to serve the public, and some modern surveys suggest that people in bureaucracies want to serve the public (at least at the outset of their careers), but these attempts fail. Bureaucratic discretion requires a removal of set limits on the ability of each bureaucrat to draw on public funds. If each bureaucrat can spend money (or regulate) based on what they perceive to be “needed,” how will they each decide when costs are excessive? The point here is that benefits are far more obvious than opportunity costs. A well-intentioned bureaucrat faced with an ill veteran sees a need for costly medical treatment. Decisions of one bureaucrat to approve more and more treatments come at the costs of either treatment to other veterans in other facilities (who are seen by other bureaucrats), or at a cost to taxpayers (who perceive the results of losing more of their income). Since benefits are obvious and costs are obscure, well-intentioned bureaucrats will overspend; they need to be reined in with bureaucratic rules or by high authorities.

Gordon Tullock and William Niskanen assumed that bureaucrats are self-interested. Selfish bureaucrats cannot be trusted with discretion. The inability of taxpayers to effectively monitor most bureaucratic activities means that these officials will tend to use public funds and state regulatory powers to benefit themselves, most of the time. Since benefits to bureaucratic malfeasance are real and costs of detecting this malfeasance are high, selfish bureaucrats do misuse authority; again, they need to be reined in with bureaucratic rules or by high authorities.

Can high authorities direct bureaucratic activities? This might be possible in small local bureaucracies. Central direction of a large national bureaucracy is clearly impossible. A bureaucracy such as the VA is far too large for effective central direction. Well-intentioned bureaucrats tend to overspend specifically because they each have local knowledge of the medical needs of specific veterans. The central officials of the VA might have a better idea of the financial costs in the VA generally, but they do not understand the vast trade-offs involved in the direction of these funds to specific needs, so they cannot understand opportunity costs.

Friedrich Hayek explained the importance of prices in communicating knowledge of opportunity costs: Rising prices signal increased relative need and higher costs, while falling prices signal falling relative need. Can relative demands be signaled in a bureaucracy? Tullock explained how bureaucratic reporting distorts knowledge transmitted through a bureaucracy. The bottom line here is that central authorities cannot direct the activities of a large bureaucracy efficiently.

The Obama administration cannot be held directly responsible for specific problems in the VA system. Attempting to prevent inefficiency and rigidity in a large federal bureaucracy is like trying to prevent earthquakes or monsoons. Large federal bureaucracies are necessarily slow, rigid, and inefficient. While it is impossible to make a large bureaucracy efficient, it is quite possible to deconstruct bureaucracies. Deconstruction of bureaucracies means greater reliance on entrepreneurship and private enterprise. It is, of course, obvious that Obama believes in the bureaucratization and regulation of industry and objects to private enterprise. This is the real scandal. The failure here is not that the VA continues to be inefficient. The failure is that Obama and his supporters continue to believe in the fool’s errand of bureaucratizing healthcare. It is scandalous that so many people persist in believing in a type of organization that never has worked and never can work.

Nobody should be shocked or surprised by failures of the VA to provide timely and effective medical treatment of veterans. Nobody should be shocked or surprised by the efforts of officials and politicians to cover up their failing: This is all just bureaucracy as usual. It is shocking only to see people cling to a belief in bureaucracy when private enterprise has proven, time and again, to work better.

ABOUT D.W. MACKENZIE

D. W. MacKenzie is an assistant professor of economics at Carroll College in Helena, Montana.

Returning Jihadi Fighters from Syria are a Clear Threat to Public Health

Dr. Jill Bellamy van Aalst is an international renowned Bio-warfare expert whom we have interviewed and published articles by her in both the NER and The Iconoclast blog.  Recently we posted on a Dutch intelligence report concerning the threat of returning  home grown Jihadis from the Syrian civil war.  In this article, republished from Dr. Bellamy’s The Biowarfare Blog, Black Six, she assesses the potential bio-warfare threat posed by these returning Dutch jihadis.

Cover photo

Returning Jihadi Fighters from Syria: The threat to European Public Health Security

“The tendency in our planning is to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable. The contingency we have not considered seriously looks strange; what looks strange is thought improbable; what is improbable need not be considered seriously.” — Thomas C. Shelling

blogs.discovermagazine.com

European security services are quietly monitoring radicalized groups and returning jihadi fighters from Syria. The Netherlands has instituted new laws designed to criminalize travelling to war zones to fight jihad or commit acts of murder and terrorism. While the Dutch should be applauded in their efforts, it may ultimately prove irrelevant. According to French sources, “As things are now, it’s easy enough identifying just who is in Syria-or returned  and are urging others to join the fight. But that’s bound to change when jihadi leaders in Syria and elsewhere decide to internationalize their fight, and order recruits to mask their identities and movements even before they leave to join Syrian militias.” “According to the French official, security forces across Europe anticipate jihadi leaders will instruct European fighters to take their holy war beyond the borders of Syria, once they return home from fighting Assad.” “Under most scenarios, they have little to lose by unleashing terror operative in Europe and would tend to view such activity as logical within their wider worldview,” That’s the one very bad way we don’t expect Syria to be much different from Afghanistan–except in possibly being an even bigger threat.” See: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/0422/Europe-keeps-wary-eye-on-jihadists-traveling-to-fight-in-Syria.

The problem however and the threat to Europe is multi-dimensional, particularly where biological weapons may be the next coveted and possibly preferred weapon of use in Europe by returning and trained jihadi fights and operatives; mainly due to deniability. While the current focus both of returning jihadi fighters and the services which monitor them, appears centered on conventional threats, the risk such fighters may be trained on chemical and biological weapons or deployment tactics suitable to releasing weaponized biological agents cannot be ignored; particularly in light of continued statements by Al Qaeda to use biological weapons against said targets. It may be naive to consider Al Qaeda would task inexperienced radicalized youth with deploying biological warfare agents in European cities, it is possible such Europeans may have been trained in deployment tactics, suitable to releasing weaponized biological agents and not the weapons itself. Such training could be undertaken at a later date and in different locations. Recalling too that “The use of biological weapons against population centers is allowed and is strongly recommended,” U.S. born Anwar-al Awlaki is quoted as saying in one of two issues of the Inspire Magazine. Awlaki was killed in a drone strike in September 2011.” See: http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20120503-alawlaki-posthumously-urges-biological-chemical-attacks-on-u-s

“According to counter-terrorism officials and independent experts, the number of newly radicalized European Muslims flocking to fight with jihadi militias in Syria more than doubled in 2013, as the war ground toward its fourth year.Though figures vary significantly, specialists’ estimates indicate between 2,000 and 3,000 Europeans are currently acquiring combat and explosives skills as part of their anti-Assad fighting. Virtually all are considered a formidable potential terror threat whose eventual return home is just a question of time.” See: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/0422/Europe-keeps-wary-eye-on-jihadists-traveling-to-fight-in-Syria

disease spreading via airplanes In Silico Study of Role of Airports During Disease Epidemics (video)

photo: medgadget

“MIT researchers have been studying how US international airports would affect a rapidly spreading disease epidemic to maybe one day help in dealing with a real situation. A number of relevant factors have been used in the simulation including how many planes come in and out of airports, their intersecting times, the patterns of passengers coming through and the geographic variety of the people int he airports. ” See: http://www.medgadget.com/2012/07/in-silico-study-of-role-of-airports-during-disease-epidemics-video.html

The use of biological agents in a multi-state attack would surely give Al Qaeda the spectacular type of attack it has been calling for since 911. Perhaps concern should be raised as well that the networking of such radicals and operatives (I draw a distinction, with the later being professionally trained and instructed in intelligence operations), increases the risk that unconventional weapons will be selected for use in Europe; and that such networking increases the potential for a well orchestrated multi-state attack. Biological weapons are well suited for enclosed mass transit infrastructures which run unimpeded across Europe i.e. trains, subway systems, air transport.

France-tgv-dup-paris-nice

www.seat61.com

A well orchestrated multi-state attack which introduced disease into a number of commuting infrastructures could exponentially increase the attack and give Al Qaeda more bang for their buck. Health surveillance systems which are fairly robust in some European countries are almost non-existent in others. Such inconsistencies are known by Al Qaeda and would certainly be exploitable. Selected points of release which included rapid transit in countries with minimal bio-defence capabilities would likely succeed. Even a small train station or a line which runs to a major train station could be quite vulnerable to this type of deployment. Additionally, as is usually incorporated into war-games and scenarios (see Atlantic Storm: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1369238/) , staged releases of BW, weeks apart using different locations and transit veins throughout Europe, perhaps with a focus on the Balkan states, would be likely to produce higher numbers of casualties.

While a number of suspected AQ terrorist attacks involving trains has been a major concern in Europe, the threat appears to be a conventional one. See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/10251941/Al-Qaeda-planning-attacks-on-Europe-rail-lines.html

The risk of radicalized European fighters returning from Syria, fighters who know their local transport infrastructures and who may have networked with operational AQ members, exists that they might become involved in wider and complex plots involving unconventional weapons using, conventional means. European transportation infrastructures are highly vulnerable to this type of attack.

RELATED STORIES: 

U.S. can’t track all of the American jihadists home from Syria
Number of Muslims from U.S. waging jihad in Syria higher than thought

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Democrat launches “Obamacare Hurts Seniors” website

woodrow wilcox

Woodrow Wilcox

Woodrow Wilcox a longtime Democrat, Party precinct committeeman and elected delegate to the state convention of Democrats has launched a new website which explains how Obamacare hurts seniors on Medicare.

Wilcox states, “Since the passage of Obamacare, the rules of Medicare have been changing to the harm of millions of senior citizens.  If the current Democratic Party leaders won’t change direction and change the Obamacare law to stop harming seniors, then I am one Democrat who wants to change the leaders of the Democratic Party.”

Wilcox states on his website, “The articles on this website fall into three main groups: Articles that explain why Obamacare is bad for seniors. Articles that criticize Senators and Congressmen for voting for Obamacare. Articles that demonstrate my background in helping seniors with Medicare related medical bill problems. (I’ve done that work for over a decade.)” Wilcox has written a book through book titled “Solving Medicare Problems.”

One of the articles by Wilcox is titled “Three Kinds of Democrats Revealed.” In the column Wilcox notes:

The vote on the Obamacare law in March 2010 revealed three kinds of Democrats holding elected federal office in Washington, D.C.

The first group of Democrats were those who voted against Obamacare. Over thirty Democrats in the House of Representatives joined the Republicans to vote against Obamacare.

[ … ]

The second group of Democrats were in an inner circle who knew that there were things in the final version of the Obamacare bill that had not been in previous versions of the bill. These were the Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid who pushed for a vote without allowing enough time for senators and representatives to read and check the final version before casting a vote.

[ … ]

The third group of Democrats were those who voted for the Obamacare bill without even bothering to insist that the final version be read. That was simply “blind” voting. That was totally irresponsible.

“Some people may consider me a “turn-coat” because I am against Obamacare. That is not so. I care about senior citizens more than I care about any political party, any political candidate, or any political agenda. If anyone is a “turn-coat”, it is the Democrats who support Obamacare,” writes Wilcox.

Wilcox has written extensively and authoritatively on the impact of Obamacare on seniors. To read all of his columns on Obamacare and its impact on senior citizens visit ObamacareHurtsSeniors.com

RELATED VIDEO: Dr. Ben Carson on ‘The View’ discusses Obamacare and health savings accounts:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/Z-V6VMIy5Hc[/youtube]

 

RELATED STORY: Yes, Some People Will Have to Pay Back Their Obamacare Subsidies

Is All Love ‘Equal’?

The following is adapted from a one-page flier passed out by AFTAH President Peter LaBarbera at an April 14, 2014 protest at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada [see this excellent video commentary by Canadian pundit Brian Lilley]. At the protest, led by Canadian pro-family/pro-life activist Bill Whatcott, both he and LaBarbera were arrested on the charge of “mischief” for not abandoning their peaceful sign protest against homosexuality and abortion. In explaining why the university felt the need to eject Whatcott and the three other protesters, U of R provost and vice-president Thomas Chase said, “The materials were graphic and the materials were disturbing,” he told the Regina Leader-Post. “The materials, we felt, could harm members of this campus community who we have a duty to protect and support.”

hrc-equal-sign-logo-adapted

Is All Love ‘Equal’?

“Love is Love,” same-sex “marriage” advocates are fond of saying. At a recent protest in Weyburan, Saskatchewan, Canada, a pro-“gay” activist said, “It doesn’t matter who you love, it just matters that you love.” The implication is that homosexual sex and relationships are equivalent—morally, practically and health-wise—to natural sex and relationships (i.e., marriage) between a man and a woman. But is that true?

Capacity to Produce Life

Sex between men or between women alone can never produce children.  “Gay parenting” requires a previous heterosexual relationship by one or both of the same-sex partners, or adoption or artificial means to acquire a child.  That child will then intentionally be denied a father or a mother.  In contrast, heterosexuality and natural marriage produce children, families and future generations.

‘HIV Is a Gay Disease’

Homosexual sex between men is the biggest risk factors for HIV/AIDS. A stunning 94-95 percent of all HIV diagnoses in 2011 among boys and young men were linked to homosexual sex, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports.[1] A 2008 CDC study of “gay” men in 21 major cities found that nearly one in five were HIV positive while 44 percent of those did not know it. [2] Facts like these have led some homosexual activists to admit that, “HIV is a gay disease.”[3] Yet students rarely are educated on the heightened health risks associated with homosexual behaviors.

CDC slide demonstrates the strong correlation between

CDC slide demonstrates the strong correlation between “male-to-male sexual contact” and HIV among adolescent boys and young men. To view the full CDC slide presentation, go HERE; to read the related AFTAH article, go HERE. Yellow highlighting did not appear on original CDC slide.

Viral Hepatitis and High-Risk Homosexual Sex

“Among adults, an estimated 10% of new Hepatitis A cases and 20% of new Hepatitis B cases occur in gay or bisexual men,” the CDC reported in October 2013. The disproportionate risk is linked to high-risk sexual behaviors by “men who have sex with men” (MSM). The CDC reports: “Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter—even in microscopic amounts—from an infected person. Among men who have sexual contact with other men, Hepatitis A can be spread through direct anal-oral contact or contact with fingers or objects that have been in or near the anus of an infected person.”[4]

Sex Practices Common Among Homosexual Men Are ‘Highly Efficient Ways of Transmitting Disease,’ Says ‘Gay’ Writer

“Some practices common among gays–especially rimming [mouth-to-anus sex] and anal intercourse–are highly efficient ways of transmitting disease.”–”Gay” writer Jack Hart, Gay Sex: A Manual for Men Who Love Men [5]

CDC-table-Intimate-Partner-VIolence

A 2010 CDC study on “Intimate Partner Violence” among homosexuals and bisexuals found higher rates of “rape, physical violence, and/or stalking” among lesbians and bisexual women compared to heterosexual women–and higher rates of “sexual violence” among homosexual and bisexual men compared to heterosexual men. Go HERE to read CDC report summary.

Domestic Partner Violence Higher for Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals

“Rates of some form of sexual violence were higher among lesbian women, gay men, and bisexual women and men compared to heterosexual women and men,” the CDC reported in 2010.

“Forty-four percent of lesbian women, 61% of bisexual women, and 35% of heterosexual women experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime…

“Four in 10 gay men (40%), nearly half of bisexual men (47%), and 1 in 5 heterosexual men (21%) have experienced SV [sexual violence] other than rape in their lifetime. This translates into nearly 1.1 million gay men, 903,000 bisexual men, and 21.6 million heterosexual men.” [6]

Anal Cancer

“The incidence of anal cancer in gay men is approximately 80 times that of the general population.” [7]

Syphilis

“In 2012, 75% of the reported primary and secondary syphilis cases were among men who have sex with men (MSM)/” the CDC reported. [8]

Dr. Stephen Goldstone

Anus: ‘Highest Risk Place for STDs,” Says Homosexual Doctor 

“[An] anus is the highest risk place for STDs [sexually transmitted diseases].”–Dr. Stephen Goldstone, The Ins and Outs of Gay Sex: A Medical Handbook for Men [9]

Sources:

1. ”CDC: 94 to 95 Percent of HIV Cases among Boys and Young Men Linked to Homosexual Sex,” AFTAH website, September 11, 2013 [link HERE]; links to CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] presentation, “HIV Surveillance in Adolescents and Young Adults,” National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatisis, STD and & TB Prevention, Div. of HIV/AIDS Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/statistics_surveillance_Adolescents.pdf.

2. CDC Press Release: “1 in 5 men who have sex with men in 21 U.S. cities have HIV; nearly half unaware,” National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention; “The CDC study tested 8,153 MSM in 21 cities participating in the 2008 National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System (NHBS).” [link HERE]

3. Sharon Bernstein, “HIV Ads Embrace, and Stun, Audience,” Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2006: “the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center had embarked on a controversial ad campaign with this stark declaration: ‘HIV is a gay disease,’ with the tag line ‘Own It. End It.’ on billboards and in magazines.” [story link HERE].

4. CDC, “Viral Hepatitis: Information for Gay and Bisexual Men,” October 2013; http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Populations/PDFs/HepGay-FactSheet.pdf.

5. Jack Hart, Gay Sex: A Manual for Men who Love Men (Revised & Updated, Second edition, October 1998). Published by [now defunct] Alyson Books (Los Angeles, New York), pages 194, 212-213. [AFTAH link HERE] Full quote by Hart, a homosexual, is below:

“Many sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) occur more often among gay men than in the general population. Several factors contribute to this difference: Gay men have the opportunity to engage in sex with more people than do most heterosexual men, and some practices common among gays–especially rimming [oral-anal perversion*] and anal intercourse–are highly efficient ways of transmitting disease….”

6. NISVS: “An Overview of 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation,” The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/cdc_nisvs_victimization_final-a.pdf

7. HIV Essentials 2013 (Sixth Edition), by Paul E. Sax , Calvin J. Cohen, Daniel R. Kuritzkes, (Jones & Bartlett Learning: Burlington, MA, 2013), p. 132. [Amazon book link HERE]

8. CDC, “Syphilis & MSM (Men Who Have Sex With Men) – CDC Fact Sheet; page last updated: January 7, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/STDFact-MSM-Syphilis.htm

9. Dr. Stephen Goldstone, The Ins and Outs of Gay Sex: A Medical Handbook for Men, (Dell: 1999), p 16; in the passage, Dr. Goldstone, a homosexual and “gay” advocate, is urging condom use. For more quotations by Goldstone, see this AFTAH article. [Amazon book link HERE]

RELATED STORIES:

Clinic to underage kids: ‘Sex is fun … we’re here to help’
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Bryan Singer’s Accuser Names Three More Alleged Sex Abusers | Variety
Beijing shuts down thousands of websites in online pornography purge – World – News – The Independent
Boy Scouts Drop Washington Troop Over Homosexual Scout Leader

I just got a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services

charlie_rothwell

Charles Rothwell, NCHS Director.

I just received a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) asking me to provide them the vaccination information and other private health information on my 2 children age 28 and 27. They want me to give them the information in their immunization records. They said they picked me at random by my phone number.

They want me to call them at 1-877-267-8154 and disclose information that is protected by the HIPPA Privacy Rules. HIPPA is the American Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is a set of rules to be followed by doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. HIPAA helps ensure that all medical records, medical billing, and patient accounts meet certain consistent standards with regard to documentation, handling and privacy.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule Ref: 45 CFR Part 160 and Part 164. The Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals medical records and other personal health information. The Privacy Rule also applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers that conduct health care transactions electronically.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization.

This information is being requested by Charles J. Rothwell the Director of the National Center for Health Statistics. Rothwell has been an adviser to the United Nations (U.N.) for automating Peru’s national statistical activities; served as a member of a U.S. team providing on-site consultative services to East Germany, and U.S. representative to a U.N. committee that helped develop electronic data transmission standards between countries. Imagine that ? I wonder if he is taking your health info and sending it to the UN ? He also served as a legislative assistant for Senator Lieberman, working primarily on bipartisan health care reform legislation. He signs off on the letter “Thank your for your cooperation.” Much like the cop in the Fifth Element.

I cooperated all right. I called the number and told them in voice-mail they are close to violating the HIPPA Act a federal law and I will report them to my Congressman. They definitely will have a bad day when they open my voice-mail. Well my Congressman Jeff Miller only contacts me when he wants a petition signed so I doubt he will respond or investigate so I am sending it across the nation as a warning to you all.

If you receive a similar letter I suggest you report it to your representative if you get such a letter.

Call them up and listen to their voice-mail. The number is 1-877-267-8154. Tell them to stop data mining our children. Its illegal and unconstitutional.

Surviving Obama

In many ways, the November midterm elections are about surviving Barack Hussein Obama, the worst President this nation has ever had the misfortune to electing to that high office. His approval rating hovers around 47% and that means that nearly half of the likely voters still think he’s doing a great job.

If history is any guide, Democrats tend to not turn out in large numbers for midterm elections and we can only hope this holds true. Among Republicans, the TEA Party movement has pushed their candidates, incumbents and aspirants, to the right and that is a good thing. We have had our fill of RINOs (Republicans in Name Only).

In a recent La Jolla, California fund-raiser President Obama told the assembled Democrats, all members of the one percent wealthy enough to ante up to $65,000 per-plate to attend, that he thought Americans had developed the “wrongheaded” view that Washington wasn’t looking out for them and blamed conservatives who, he said, told people they’re “on their own.”

Was he including the millions on food stamps? And the millions on Medicaid? Others receiving college loans? Those receiving help paying their mortgage? Those using a free cell phone? Surely he wasn’t including those on Social Security. The benefits of Medicare have been reduced because its funding was cut by billions to fund Obamacare.

Obama blamed Republicans for the plight of the Middle Class, but we know that, other than telling lies, Obama excels at blaming everyone other than himself for the horrid economy that is struggling to recover after six years of his hand on the tiller.

And, please, let’s not mention the $17 trillion in debt he’s managed to run up in the process of wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on everything from his ill-fated “stimulus” to his “investments” in Green energy firms while delaying the Keystone XL pipeline that will generate jobs and revenue without costing taxpayers a dime.

That debt is going to have to be paid by ours and the next generation, but right now his job is to convince more Americans they are suffering from “income inequality.” And, yes, the federal government stands ready to redistribute the money from taxpayers to those who Nancy Pelosi has said should be grateful they don’t have a job so they can devote themselves to their hobbies.

This is the same President who just unleashed yet another report on the climate filled with various doomsday scenarios. Previous reports called “assessments”, largely drawn from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, were devoted to “global warming” until it became apparent to everyone that the planet was not warming thanks to a 17 year old cooling cycle that is still in play.

So “global warming” became “climate change” and now it is “climate disruption” because we all know how disruptive hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, forest fires, and droughts can be or how a rainstorm can spoil a picnic. The weather somewhere is always “disruptive.”

And this just tells you how stupid he thinks most Americans—at least those who still support him—are.

There is a slice of the population who most certainly are stupid. They are called the media and they are the same people who devoted the last six years to ignoring the scandals that keep popping up in an administration more devoted to crushing its political opposition and free speech than to solving the problems of the economy or responding to those it has encountered on foreign shores.

Obama’s solution has been to abandon the rest of the world as much as possible to a point where he is widely regarded by its leaders as spineless and/or totally unreliable. His recent appearance at the White House Correspondent’s annual bash was testimony to their blind love with the exception of those from the Fox News channel whom he referred to, tongue in cheek, as “a shadowy right wing organization.” Well, we hope it was tongue in cheek.

As for Obamacare, the Heritage Foundation recently noted:

  • Obama is backtracking for now on the enforcement of the individual mandate to buy insurance.
  • Obamacare’s higher taxes and its subsidies that drop off if you increase your income are a disincentive to work hard to improve your situation.
  • The employer mandate imposes new costs on businesses that undercut jobs and wages. It has been illegally and unilaterally delayed until after the midterm elections.
  • The Foundation found that, between 2013 and 2014, the number of insurers offering coverage on the individual markets in all fifty states has declined by 29 percent.
  • Obamacare guarantees major premium increases for single and family coverage.
  • Obamacare’s Medicare changes will result in reduced benefits and threaten senior’s access to care.

And that’s just a few of Obamacare’s negative impacts on everyone’s earnings—if they have a job; 92 million no longer do—and on the increased premiums they are required to pay. Three quarters of those that signed up for new coverage are those who had plans that were cancelled!

Surviving Barack Hussein Obama has become the number one priority for all Americans and for the nation.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

RELATED STORIES:

UPDATE: ‘Tea Party’ wins big in Nebraska…
REP: Obama supports ‘worst prison break in American history’…

Does Warren Buffet’s Billion Dollar Support For Pro-Abortion Organizations make him a Eugenicist?

A study by the Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute (CMI) has revealed that Warren Buffett is a billion dollar donor to pro-abortion causes! Between the years 2001 and 2012, Buffett gave over 1.2 billion dollars to various pro-abortion organizations including Planned Parenthood.

That’s enough to fund 2.7 million abortions! For comparison that’s around the same number of people who live in the city of Chicago. 

There are two ways to create a super race. The first is to eliminate those who are genetically inferior. The second is to create more of those who are genetically superior. The first was originally called negative Eugenics, the second labeled positive Eugenics.Today the word “genetics” has replaced the word “Eugenics.” The goals are the same.

The United States was the birthplace of the modern Eugenics movement. The American Eugenics Society was founded in 1922, the Genetics Society of America (GSA) was founded in 1931. Modern genetics evolved from and was created by the American Eugenicists. The purpose of GSA and its members is to, “[W]ork to advance knowledge in the basic mechanisms of inheritance, from the molecular to the population level.”

Genetics has two branches – negative genetics and positive genetics. It is important to understand how both are creating a “racially hygienic” society in America today.

NEGATIVE GENETICS

Edwin Black in his book War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race writes, “On January 19, 1904, the Carnegie Institution formally inaugurated what it called the Station for Experimental Evolution of the Carnegie Institution at bucolic Cold Springs Harbor, [New Jersey].” “The undertaking was not merely funded by Carnegie, it was an integral part of the Carnegie Institution itself,” notes Black, “[Carnegie Institute Chairman John] Billings and the Carnegie Institution would now mobilize their prestige and the fortune they controlled to help [Professor Charles] Davenport usher America into an age of a new form of hygiene: racial hygiene. The goal was clear: to eliminate the inadequate and unfit.”

No war, pestilence, genocide or government policy has done more to limit the numbers of defectives, feebleminded, poor and unwanted than the Eugenics (genetics) movement.

Edwin Black, author of War Against The Weak, writes, “The global effort to help women make independent choices about their own pregnancies was dominated by one woman: Margaret Sanger… Motherhood was to most civilizations a sacred role. Sanger, however, wanted women to have a choice in that sacred role, specifically if, when and how often to become pregnant.”

Black notes, “… Sanger vigorously opposed charitable efforts to uplift the downtrodden and deprived, and argued extensively that it was better that the cold and hungry be left without help, so that the eugenically superior strains could multiply without competition from ‘the unfit.’ She repeatedly referred to the lower classes and the unfit as ‘human waste’ not worthy of assistance, and proudly quoted the extreme eugenic view that  human ‘weeds’ should be ‘exterminated.’ Moreover, for both political and genuine ideological reasons, Sanger associated closely with some of some of America’s most fanatical eugenic racists.” Sanger stated, “My criticism, therefore, is not directed at the ‘failure’ of philanthropy, but rather at its success.”

“The feminist movement, of which Sanger was a major exponent, always identified with eugenics,” wrote Black.

Today we see that negative genetics has led to more black abortions than births in New York City and a 73% black abortion rate in Mississippi. Some have labeled this national birth control effort “Black Genocide. ”Several years ago, when 17,000 aborted babies were found in a dumpster outside a pathology laboratory in Los, Angeles, California, some 12-15,000 were observed to be black,” noted Erma Clardy Craven (deceased) Social Worker and Civil Rights Leader.

POSITIVE GENETICS

Positive genetics focuses on creating a racially pure and superior race to “improve the human stock”. It is not unlike creating a superior ear of corn or breed of cattle. The genetics movement finds its roots in the American Breeders Association. It is not enough to stop the breeding of inferiors, it is just as important to breed the right human. German biologist Johann Gregor Mendel (1882-1884) was the father of genetics.

Recent news has focused on the ultimate achievement of the geneticists – the racially hygienic baby, a.k.a. “designer baby.” The Washington Post reports:

The provocative notion of genetically modified babies met the very real world of federal regulation Tuesday, as a government advisory committee began debating a new technique that combines DNA from three people to create embryos free of certain inherited diseases.

The two-day meeting of the Food and Drug Administration panel is focused on a procedure that scientists think could help women who carry DNA mutations for conditions such as blindness and epilepsy. The process would let them have children without passing on those defects.

“The technology involves taking defective mitochondria, the cell’s powerhouses, from a mother’s egg and replacing them with healthy mitochondria from another woman. After being fertilized by the father’s sperm in a lab, the egg would be implanted in the mother, and the pregnancy could progress normally,” notes WaPo.

As CH Waddington, a British developmental biologist and geneticist, wrote in 1957, “It is of course a truism which has long been recognized that the development of any individual is affected both by the hereditary determinants which come into the fertilised egg from the two parents and also by the nature of the environment in which the development takes place.” It now appears that American geneticists, under the guidance and with the approval of the FDA, may create a new “racially hygienic” baby.

It appears that Warren Buffett has come down on the side of negative Eugenics. His contributions indicate that he is firmly in the Eugenicist camp much like Carnegie and Rockefeller.

RELATED STORIES:

Dr. Alveda King Tells Students of Modern Day Black Genocide
Hillary Clinton: Abortion Needed for Equality —and Human Development…
‘Death test’ predicts chance of healthy person dying within five years – Telegraph
Rev. Bill Owens: Administration ‘Is Promoting Murder’ by Promoting Abortion (+video)
Planned Parenthood President: When Life Begins Not ‘Really Relevant’ in Abortion Debate | National Review Online
In Georgia, 53.6% of the Babies Aborted Are Black | CNS News
Scientists create first ‘designer chromosome’
Genetics accounts for more than half of variation in exam results
Craig Venter’s DNA Company Is Planning to Make 100-Years-Old ‘The New 60′ – Bloomberg

Hawaii Spends the Most and Florida Spends the Least on Obamacare

“April 30 was the final deadline to signup for Obamacare.  All the numbers are in.  Hawaii spent $920 per enrollment, and $87 per uninsured person and enrolled the fewest people in the USA.  Nobody spent more and nobody achieved less,” notes Andrew Walden.

Here is the news:

State-based exchanges spent far more per consumer than states in the federal marketplace did

National Journal: Hawaii spent $920 to enroll each new Obamacare consumer, while Florida spent only $16….

New data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation details the amount spent on consumer assistance for the Affordable Care Act in each state, and like overall enrollment numbers, the state totals vary a huge amount.

Consumer-assistance programs are those intended to help individuals understand and enroll in coverage under Obamacare, including the Navigator program, the In-Person Assister program, and Certified Application Counselors. The totals do not include funding for the exchange systems or other types of public and private outreach….

Overall, the state-based marketplaces spent far more to help get residents enrolled than states in the federal marketplace. State exchanges accounted for 50 percent of total consumer-assistance funds, yet have only 31 percent of all uninsured, according to RWJF. Federal marketplaces accounted for 33 percent of the funding but house 63 percent of the uninsured, and the five partnership states received 17 percent of the assistance funding, yet include only 6 percent of the total uninsured.

State-based exchanges had far more discretion over how much of their exchange establishment grants they would allocate for consumer assistance, while funding on the federal exchange was based to a larger degree on the number of uninsured residents. Thus state-based exchanges had a much larger range in assistance funding: While spending in federal-marketplace states ranged from $16 per enrollee in Florida to $186 per enrollee in Alaska, spending in state-based exchanges was across the board, from $40 in Idaho to $920 in Hawaii.

Top Five Spenders per Enrollee:

  1. Hawaii: $920 per enrollee, $7,904,918 total (state-based exchange)
  2. District of Columbia: $645 per enrollee; $6,906,057 total (state-based exchange)
  3. Arkansas: $442 per enrollee; $19,211,296 total (partnership exchange)
  4. West Virginia: $385 per enrollee; $7,647,178 total (partnership exchange)
  5. Maryland: $385 per enrollee; $25,620,449 total (state-based exchange)

Bottom Five Spenders per Enrollee:

  1. Florida: $16 per enrollee; $15,932,367 total (federal exchange)
  2. Wisconsin: $20 per enrollee; $2,772,728 total (federal exchange)
  3. Virginia: $20 per enrollee; $4,263,053 total (federal exchange)
  4. Pennsylvania: $22 per enrollee; $6,905,518 total (federal exchange)
  5. Georgia: $23 per enrollee; $7,194,944 total (federal exchange)

Hawaii’s Exchange Spent $87 on ‘Consumer Assistance’ for Every Uninsured Person in State

NRO: Hawaii’s exchange was particularly troublesome for users from its beginning. Perhaps almost as infuriating for residents is the small fortune that the state spent on efforts to help people sign up; the state is spending $87.86 in “consumer assistance funding” for every eligible uninsured person in the state, according to a new report by the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Hawaii’s insurance exchange ranked among the nation’s most dysfunctional, not working at all for the first two weeks. It was supposed to be self-sustaining starting next year but enrollment — 8,742 as of mid-April — fell short of projections; state lawmakers approved another $1.5 million in spending to prop up the exchange for the next year.

But Hawaii wasn’t the champion spender. The District of Columbia spent $163.90 per eligible uninsured person, according to the report….

Most Hawaii exchange enrollees didn’t receive aid

AP: Sixty-two percent of the 8,592 people who bought plans as of March 31 didn’t get aid, data released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed. That leaves 38 percent who got help buying a plan.

The numbers run counter to national enrollment figures, for states participating in the federally run exchange as well as for states operating their own exchanges, like Hawaii. Nationally, 85 percent of people who bought plans through an exchange set up under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul got financial aid….

The only other jurisdiction that had a majority of enrollees sign up without financial assistance was the District of Columbia, which enrolled 10,714 people, 84 percent without using financial assistance….

The last-minute Obamacare shoppers were bargain hunters

WaPo: What explains this federal-state difference in bronze enrollment? Federal subsidies appear to have driven Americans to more expensive silver plans. HHS reported that 86 percent of people selecting plans in the federal exchanges qualified for federal assistance, compared to 82 percent of people in the state-run exchanges.

There was a pretty wide disparity in the percentage of people qualifying for federal subsidies in some state-run exchanges. In the District of Columbia, for example, just 16 percent of sign-ups qualified for premium subsidies. The subsidy eligibility rate was also relatively low in Colorado (60 percent), Hawaii (38 percent) and Vermont (59 percent). In Hawaii’s case, major technical problems with the exchange prevented people from applying for subsidies, officials there said.

Related: Feds Release Profile of Hawaii Health Connector Signups

Crain’s Business News: Exchanges with the lowest enrollments (as of April 19, 2014) were Hawaii, 8,592, North Dakota, 10,597, the District of Columbia, 10,714, and Wyoming, 11,790….

UPDATE: Final figures May 2, 2014: Hawaii Health Connector Claims 9,785 Enrollees (still the lowest in USA)

RELATED STORIES:

Insurance CEO: Shut down Hawaii health exchange – Yahoo News
$474 M for 4 failed Obamacare exchanges – Jennifer Haberkorn and Kyle Cheney – POLITICO.com

The Real Cost of Healthcare: Questions Not Asked or Answered

A quick review of current literature on healthcare costs and healthcare cost containment is not a very productive use of one’s time.  Within minutes of beginning a review of the published literature, the researcher quickly finds himself so deep into the weeds that it is impossible to make any sense of what is being conveyed.

Throughout the entire public debate over the efficacy of Obamacare, no one seemed to be asking the pertinent questions.  No one has asked, why is healthcare so expensive, and who gets all that money?

I can recall once reading a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a Southeast Asian family who arrived in Philadelphia with their infant daughters… Siamese twins joined at the abdomen. Upon examination by a team of surgeons and pediatricians, doctors concluded that it would be possible to surgically separate the twins and that, after a period of recovery, the two little girls could expect to live happy and productive lives.

But then one of the reporters asked the operative question.  The Asian family had no healthcare insurance and very little money, so the question arose, how much would the estimated eleven-hour procedure cost?  The hospital spokesman responded, quite matter-of-factly, saying, “About a million dollars.”

No one batted an eye; no one questioned the estimate and no one asked for a cost breakdown.  Yet, it is necessary to ask, who gets all that money?  How many physicians would participate in the separation procedure?  How many nurses?  What would be the cost of disposable medical equipment?  What would be the cost of post-operative care?  A million dollars is a hell of a lot of money for an eleven-hour surgical procedure and a month or so of post-operative pediatric care.

If we assume five attending physicians… two surgeons, an anesthetist, an obstetrician, and a pediatrician… at $1,000 each per hour for eleven hours, the cost for physician’s services would come to $55,000.  If we assume five operating room and neo-natal nurses at $100 per hour for eleven hours, the cost of nursing care would come to $5,500.  If we assume a cost of $1,000 per hour for the use of the operating theater, the cost of surgical facilities would come to $11,000.  And if we assume a cost of $5,000 for drugs, medicines, and miscellaneous medical equipment, the direct costs accumulated on the day of the separation procedure would come to $76,500.

Then, if we assume a post-operative stay of 30 days for the twins, at $400 each, per day, for a bassinette in neo-natal recovery, that cost would come to $24,000.  And if we assume a cost of $1,000 per day to have surgeons look in on their patients, $500 per day for nursing care, and $500 per day for miscellaneous medicines, food, and diapers, the total cost of post-operative care would come to $84,000.  That would bring the total cost of the separation procedure and the post-op care to $160,500.

All of these estimated costs and daily and hourly rates are admittedly inflated.  So if the hospital prepares an invoice for $1,000,000, who gets the other $839,500?

No one in Congress, the White House, or in the mainstream media is asking the operative question that needs to be addressed.  No one is asking why healthcare is so expensive.  No one is asking, who gets all that money?

A part of the answer to that question was suggested by a recent caller to the Rush Limbaugh radio show.  The caller was a bookkeeper in the finance department of a major hospital; her husband was an orthopedic surgeon who practiced at the same hospital.  The woman explained that each time an orthopedic surgeon performed a hip-joint or knee-joint replacement, he/she was paid a flat rate of $1,250 for their time and talent.  However, when the manufacturer billed the hospital $8,000 for a prosthetic hip joint, the hospital routinely billed the patient, or the patient’s insurance company, $32,000… a 300% markup for the hardware.

Over the past three or four years, a close friend and neighbor has survived a serious bout with cancer.  And although I am unaware of the total cost of his cancer treatments by local physicians and cancer specialists at the M.D. Anderson Clinic in Houston, I am aware that the bill for his bone marrow transplant procedure came to approximately $1.2 million.

Again, how many physicians and nurses actually saw him?  How many hours did they spend treating him?  What was the actual cost of a few hours of operating room usage?  How was that $1.2 million split up between a few doctors, a few nurses, a few lab technicians, and the clinic itself?   Who got all that money?

In recent weeks, Dr. Tom Coburn has announced that he will retire from the U.S. Senate with two years remaining on his current term.  Dr. Coburn is one of the two or three finest members of the U.S. Senate and his departure will be a great loss to Oklahomans and to the country.  Unfortunately, Dr. Coburn suffers from cancer and is undergoing treatment at M.D. Anderson in Houston.  What caught my attention was a recent statement by Dr. Coburn, saying that each time he has a consultation at M.D. Anderson, he is billed for $32,000.

Again, how many physicians and nurses actually see him on each visit?  How many hours do they spend treating him or evaluating his condition?  What is the actual cost of the tests he undergoes?  How is that $32,000 split up between a few doctors, a few nurses, a few lab technicians, and the clinic itself for just a few hours of their time?   If the same team of doctors, nurses, and technicians see even as few as eight patients a day, the total income generated would come to $256,000.  Who gets all that money?

Those who work in the healthcare industry… in hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices… always have a ready answer.  They claim that it is the cost of high-tech equipment and facilities that runs up the cost of healthcare.  Baloney!  There are few hospitals or clinics in the country that cannot obtain the most expensive items of diagnostic equipment, such as MRI machines, through local philanthropy.

And those large portraits of distinguished-looking men and women hanging on the walls of hospitals and surgical wings?  Those are not oil portraits of the hospital’s “Employee of the Month.”  No, those are the portraits of the men and women who have shared their wealth by donating millions of dollars to build a wing onto the local hospital and whose names are enshrined in concrete and marble over the front door.

What is needed is a complete understanding by all concerned… especially those of us who pay the bills… of how a single dollar bill makes its way through the healthcare system and how it is divvied up at the end of the day.  To do so, it would be necessary to conduct a complete micro-economic study of a select number of major medical facilities, identifying over a specified period of time the source of every dollar that comes in the front door, and the recipient of every dollar that goes out the back door.

In other words, in any overhaul of our healthcare system, our first order of business should be to figure out exactly who is bilking the system… who is getting rich, and who is being bankrupted in the process.  Compared to the actual direct cost of healthcare, the price that consumers are asked to pay is far out of balance… perhaps by a factor of as much as four or five.  So who gets all that money?

Early in his first term, Barack Obama promised that he and congressional Democrats would reshape the American healthcare system.  They promised to insure 40 million uninsured, to substantially reduce the cost of healthcare for everyone, to save the average family as much as $2,400 a year in out-of-pocket healthcare costs, to increase the quality of healthcare for all Americans, and to do it all without increasing the number of doctors, nurses, and hospitals.

No one with an I.Q. larger than their hat size would believe they could do what they promised.  But enough low-information Kool-Ade drinkers fell for Obama’s false promise and they elected him.  Now they have to live with what he, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid have produced.  When the small company and large company extensions granted by Obama expire sometime in 2016, or before, everyone will be able to see the disaster that Obamacare is.

It is likely that, beginning in 2015, a Republican-controlled House and Senate will be left with the task of cleaning up Obama’s mess.  And when they do we can only hope that they will be wise enough to begin by asking the question, who gets all the money that pours into the healthcare system?  Until we confront that question, real healthcare reform will be nothing more than an impossible dream.

Battle to free Justina Pelletier continues in Massachusetts!

The battle to free 15-year-old Justina Pelletier from her custody — many have called it captivity — by the Massachusetts Department of Families and Children (DCF) bureaucracy has become even more heated over the past week. And it has continued to make news internationally and be documented across the Internet.

There were a lot of signs like this outside the State House on Tuesday.
[Photos by MassResistance]

Shocking deaths of children force sudden resignation of DCF head

On Tuesday the Commissioner of DCF, Olga Roche, was forced to resign after three young children in DCF’s care were recently found dead through apparentnegligence by the department. The deaths of these children have shocked the region, and have taken some of the public’s attention off of the Justina Pelletier DCF case.

Governor continues to refuse to act

The Governor has continued to shamefully defend the process and claim that he can do nothing to stop it:

Last week, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick stated that the decision to remove Justina from her parents was made “based on a detailed record of the history of neglect in the home.” That was blatantly false, and the local press wasted no time excoriating the Governor for this unwarranted attack on the family.

But also last week, Governor told a family representative that he wanted to get Justina home and that his administration has “appeared in court to have her sent home to Connecticut” but that“the court has jurisdiction in this matter, not us.”

On Thursday, the Governor’s Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz wrote an email to the Connecticut media, where Justina’s family lives, saying that Massachusetts would like to release Justina, but “DCF does not have the authority to determine when and if custody should be returned to Justina’s parents” because of the judge’s ruling “that it is in the best interest of Justina to remain in DCF custody for now. “

Can the Governor free Justina? Given that she is a citizen of Connecticut, and given the other enormous irregularities of this case, and given that he controls DCF, it’s hard to believe that an executive order in that regard would not be possible. But if not, the Legislature can.

Bill to free Justina being temporarily blocked in Mass. House

The bill in the Massachusetts Legislature which would overrule the judge and free Justina immediately, HD 4212, written by MassResistance and filed on April 4, continues to be blocked by the Democratic leadership in the House, despite national outrage and a flood of calls and emails from across the country. (More about the bill can be found on our Free Justina Action Page.)

On Friday, the national conservative magazine Human Events reported on the bill,its blockage in the Legislature, and the controversy over whether the Governor has the power to free her himself:

“If Justina Pelletier dies in the state’s care, that’s on the hands of Gov. Deval L. Patrick,” said Brian Camenker, founder and executor director of Mass Resistance, a Waltham-based pro-family action center, who filed H.D. 4212 with the state House in early April. If signed into law, the measure would release 15-year-old Justina to her parents Linda and Lou Pelletier who reside in West Hartford, Conn.”

Members of the family describe Justina, who was an athlete and competitive skater in declining health and in a wheel chair, he said. “I don’t have the medical evidence but some say she could die.”

Protest at State House in support of bill to free Justina


The demonstration for Justina outside of the State House.

On Tuesday, about two dozen people demonstrated outside of the Massachusetts State House to support Justina and demand the Legislature pass the bill to free her. They filled the outside steps with stuffed animals for Justina. Four Republican State Representatives who have been vocal on Justina’s behalf briefly came out and joined them in solidarity with their push to get the bill passed.


Over a hundred stuffed animals for Justina on the steps of the State House!

Republican State Reps (from left) Marc Lombardo, Jim Lyons, Shaunna O’Connell, and Geoff Diehl came out from the budget debates to show their support.

Justina’s sister talked about how Justina doesn’t even know that one of her pets has died because the State of Massachusetts’ DCF bureaucrats won’t allow the family to discuss anything with her that’s not approved by them.

Administration’s claim to media shows why the Legislature must act!

The email sent by Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz to the Connecticut media includes a number of disputed claims about Justina’s health and well-being while in DCF custody. However, it reflects the Governor’s position that no matter how he says he “feels” about the situation, he intends to let the Juvenile Court decision stand.

Thus, barring a successful court action by the family’s attorneys, such as the recent habeas corpus filing, Justina is at the mercy of the Juvenile Court judge, and by extension the DCF bureaucracy. But this is no “normal” case by any measure. The judge’s actions in this case have been excoriated even by liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz.

Besides a successful legal challenge there is only one other option: The Legislature can act to free Justina. But the Democratic leadership is bottling it up.

Continue pounding on the legislators to get this bill passed!

This week is being taken up by the budget deliberations in the Mass. House. But we’re not letting that stop us. Go to our Free Justina Action Page and keep the pressure up! (And to those in Massachusetts: If you are willing to go and lobby at the State House, let us know!)

Seven Marijuana Myths Debunked

The legalization of marijuana is spreading across the nation. The effort to legalize the general use of marijuana begins with ballot initiatives to legalize medical marijuana. Florida is set to have such an initiative on the ballot in November 2014. It is important for voters to understand the truth and myths about the use of marijuana. Therefore this column by Kevin A. Sabet the author ofReefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuanaand the Director of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)is provided for edification on the issue.

The following is Sabet’s analysis of marijuana myths originally published on The Foundry.

Don’t believe the hype: marijuana legalization poses too many risks to public health and public safety. Based on almost two decades of research, community-based work, and policy practice across three presidential administrations, my new book “Reefer Sanity” discusses some widely held myths about marijuana:

Myth No. 1: “Marijuana is harmless and non-addictive”

No, marijuana is not as dangerous as cocaine or heroin, but calling it harmless or non-addictive denies very clear science embraced by every major medical association that has studied the issue. Scientists now know that the average strength of today’s marijuana is some 5–6 times what it was in the 1960s and 1970s, and some strains are upwards of 1020 times stronger than in the past—especially if one extracts THC through a butane process. This increased potency has translated to more than 400,000 emergency room visits every year due to things like acute psychotic episodes and panic attacks.

Mental health researchers are also noting the significant marijuana connection with schizophrenia, and educators are seeing how persistent marijuana use can blunt academic motivation and significantly reduce IQ by up to eight points, according to a very large recent study in New Zealand. Add to these side-effects new research now finding that even casual marijuana use can result in observable differences in brain structure, specifically parts of the brain that regulate emotional processing, motivation and reward. Indeed, marijuana use hurts our ability to learn and compete in a competitive global workplace.

Additionally, marijuana users pose dangers on the road, despite popular myth. According to the British Medical Journal, marijuana intoxication doubles your risk of a car crash.

Myth No. 2: “Smoked or eaten marijuana is medicine.”

Just like we don’t smoke opium or inject heroin to get the benefits of morphine, we do not have to smoke marijuana to receive its medical effects. Currently, there is a pill based on marijuana’s active ingredient available at pharmacies, and almost two-dozen countries have approved a new mouth spray based on a marijuana extract. The spray, Sativex, does not get you high, and contains ingredients rarely found in street-grade marijuana. It is likely to be available in the U.S. soon, and today patients can enroll in clinical trials. While the marijuana plant has known medical value, that does not mean smoked or ingested whole marijuana is medicine. This position is in line with the American Medical Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Glaucoma Foundation, National MS Society, and American Cancer Society.

Myth No. 3: “Countless people are behind bars simply for smoking marijuana.”

I wholeheartedly support reducing America’s incarceration rate. But legalizing marijuana will not make a significant dent in our imprisonment rates. That is because less than 0.3 percent of all state prison inmates are there for smoking marijuana. Moreover, most people arrested for marijuana use are cited with a ticket—very few serve time behind bars unless it is in the context of a probation or parole violation.

Myth No. 4: “The legality of alcohol and tobacco strengthen the case for legal marijuana.”

“Marijuana is safer than alcohol, so marijuana should be treated like alcohol” is a catchy, often-used mantra in the legalization debate. But this assumes that our alcohol policy is something worth modeling. In fact, because they are used at such high rate due to their wide availability, our two legal intoxicants cause more harm, are the cause of more arrests, and kill more people than all illegal drugs combined. Why add a third drug to our list of legal killers?

Moreover, marijuana legalization will usher in America’s new version of “Big Tobacco.”

Myth No. 5: “Legal marijuana will solve the government’s budgetary problems.”

Unfortunately, we can’t expect  societal financial gain from marijuana legalization. For every $1 in revenue the U.S. receives in alcohol and tobacco taxes, we spend more than $10 in social costs. Additionally, two major business lobbies—Big Tobacco and the Liquor Lobby—have emerged to keep taxes on these drugs low and promote use. The last thing we need is the “Marlboroization of Marijuana,” but that is exactly what we would get in this country with legalization.

Myth No. 6:  “Portugal and Holland provide successful models of legalization.”

Contrary to media reports, Portugal and Holland have not legalized drugs. In Portugal, someone caught with a small amount of drugs is sent to a three-person panel and given treatment, a fine, or a warning and release. The result of this policy is less clear. Treatment services were ramped up at the same time the new policy was implemented, and a decade later there are more young people using marijuana, but fewer people dying of opiate and cocaine overdoses. In the Netherlands, officials seem to be scaling back their marijuana non-enforcement policy (lived out in “coffee shops” across that country) after witnessing higher rates of marijuana use and treatment admissions there. The government now only allows residents to use coffee shops. What all of this tells us about how legalization would play out in the U.S. is another point entirely and even less clear.

Myth No. 7: “Prevention, intervention, and treatment are doomed to fail—So why try?”

Less than 8 percent of Americans smoke marijuana versus 52 percent who drink and 27 percent of people that smoke tobacco cigarettes. Coupled with its legal status, efforts to reduce demand for marijuana can work. Communities that implement local strategies implemented by area-wide coalitions of parents, schools, faith communities, businesses, and, yes, law enforcement, can significantly reduce marijuana use. Brief interventions and treatment for marijuana addiction (which affects about 1 in 6 kids who start using, according to the National Institutes of Health) can also work.

And one myth not found in the book: “Colorado and Washington are examples to follow.”

Experience from Colorado’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana is not promising. Since January, THC-positive test results in the workplace have risen, two recent deaths in Denver have been linked to recreational marijuana use, and the number of parents calling the poison control hotline because their kids consumed marijuana products has significantly risen. Additionally, tax revenues fall short of original projections and the black market for marijuana continues to thrive in Colorado. Though Washington State has not yet implemented its marijuana laws, the percentage of cases involving THC-positive drivers has significantly risen.

Marijuana policy is not straightforward. Any public policy has costs and benefits. It is true that a policy of saddling users with criminal records and imprisonment does not serve the nation’s best interests. But neither does legalization, which would create the 21st century version of Big Tobacco and reduce our ability to compete and learn. There is a better way to address the marijuana question—one that emphasizes brief interventions, prevention, and treatment, and would prove a far less costly alternative to either the status quo or legalization. That is the path America should be pursuing—call it “Reefer Sanity.”

RELATED STORIES:

It’s Legal to Sell Pot in Colorado, But Not If You’re in 4th Grade – ABC News
Marijuana may cause heart problems in young adults – Yahoo News UK
Study: Marijuana Use May Increase Risk of Nicotine Addiction | The Weekly Standard
Marijuana Edibles: You May Not Be Getting What You Think – CBS Denver
Students Find Way To Secretly Smoke Marijuana In Class – CBS Denver
Pocket hookahs proliferate with young marijuana users, sources say – The Denver Post
LA Times – Pot candy ‘geared toward children’ seized at San Clemente checkpoint
Marijuana may cause heart problems in young adults – Yahoo News UK