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

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

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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.

An open letter to America’s Veterans

I have been paying attention to your plight to gain the health and financial benefits you so deserve and have earned through your service to the nation. There is no reason for you to die so soon without them, as you have served with honor and came home to begin a new life in the “pursuit of happiness” afforded you by the US Constitution and under the patient care rights in each state.

Therefore, on your behalf and in my limited capacity to meet with each and every one of you I want you all to know that I am looking into ways that I can best help you and your family. I am seeking ways to cut the corners and wait time for you to obtain health care and financial services, including pensions, you have earned in your battle to keep America the best country in the world free from tyranny.

As a resident of Florida I have contacted our state Department of Veteran Affairs (FDVA) in Tallahassee, Florida. I was put in contact with a wonderful lady who had the time to listen to my concerns. I was given information regarding a new law passed by Congress, which reduces to 300 days the initial file review for approval or denial of all VA claims. Currently the file review time is 600+ days. President Obama has set a goal of 125 days to process VA claims.

Meanwhile what does the Veteran do for services?

According to FDVA, clinics and private physicians services can be accessed immediately. I discussed with FDVA the record numbers of reported deaths of our Florida veterans. It is at an alarming rate of 22-55 per day, not including those who pass away, in increasing numbers, from suicide. I asked my contact if she had any information on what the Florida Congressional delegation was doing at this time, in addition to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The only action is the new law reducing the wait time for initial medical review. Time to contact your Florida member of Congress?

So, if a disabled Florida veteran is now waiting 300 days for approval and is not a resident in a long term care facility then what? It is understood that a resident in a long term care facility will receive care and we know that in a facility there is a department that oversees the admissions and payments the veteran is likely to have, at least short term via Medicaid. However, those who do not have long term care or home care are living under the bridges. How Sad.

I have been provided with the following calling numbers nationwide for help. For those in long term care centers contact the OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM: 1-888-831-0404. Out side of a long term center call: The Agency on Health Care: 1-888-419-3456. In Florida you may call: 1-863-534-5220.

Don’t be afraid to call and report your concerns, you are protected from being punished and so is the veteran. There is a right to reasonable care for our veterans. This will help agencies provide a caring Advocate to the veteran. In addition the state will provide available support to the family and community on a temporary basis. A spokesman generally can break the barriers.

Education is provided to those who are considered high Suicide risk in addition to counseling. Press reports on those homeless veterans help highlight the immediate needs. There has been help with back to school and job training in Florida. On March 3rd, 2014 in an e-mail the Florida Department of Veteran Services advised me that “a copy of my letter has been sent to Mr. Brian Meniles, Regional Director for Senator Marco Rubio. Mr. Meniles is the Florida Department of Veteran Affairs Benefits Director for Senator Rubio.

I believe those who live outside of Florida could follow this process and likely inform their state Department of Veterans Affair of what Florida has done. Please feel free to ask for my help by contacting me via my Facebook page. I will try to assist each veteran and their family in any way I can.

Now the wound has been opened so let us all work together to close the wound so that our Veterans receive the care and services along with pensions they have earned. Speak up or keep quiet, the choice is yours.

Concerned-Veterans-for-America-Circle-LogoOne national group that has focused on the plight of America’s warriors is Concerned Veterans for America. The have started the VA Accountability Project, which states the problem as:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is failing America’s veterans. For too long, veterans of all generations — and their families — have been underserved, overburdened, and flat-out ignored by an unaccountable bureaucracy. Veterans submit claims for battlefield injuries…and then wait for years.  Veterans seek basic medical diagnosis…and then wait for weeks.  And in the most tragic cases, veterans are given sub-standard care…and lose their lives in VA facilities.  Families, along with their veterans, share the burden of these bureaucratic failures.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image was taken by Addison Mohler, a refuge wildlife biologist for Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, who enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on his 17th birthday during the height of Desert Storm. He says: “I wanted to a be grunt and was guaranteed it, so after boot camp I went to Marine Combat Training and School of Infantry a few miles up the road at Camp Pendleton. After graduating, I was sent to the Fleet Marine Force, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (Get Some!), which is the most decorated unit in the Marine Corps and based in Camp Pendleton at San Mateo. My days were spent shooting (every weapon organic to a Marine), cleaning weapons, running, jumping out of helicopters, shooting some more and running some more. I won a competition to put me into a platoon of Marines that followed Seal Team 9 around with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable in case they needed a reactionary force.” Mohler has a great story about dissecting a mouse that had been killed and identifying “its parts on an MRE box. My lieutenant told me I should be a biologist. Fast-forward 100 years later…I am.“ This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Obama suggests people cancel cable and cell phones to afford Obamacare

According to President Obama, low-income families may have trouble affording Obamacare premiums because they simply do not know how to spend their own money. Last week, during a town hall meeting for Spanish language media where Obama was promoting enrollment, a viewer challenged the economics of it for low-income Americans now forced to buy health insurance, according to Hot Air.

The president responded that “if you looked at their cable bill, their telephone, their cell phone bill… it may turn out that, it’s just they haven’t prioritized health care.” He added that if a family member gets sick, the father “will wish he had paid that $300 a month.

Not that the father has any choice in the matter, considering the government is forcing him to buy it.

No Sir, it just means they haven’t prioritized spending on the health care you’re shoving down their throats. The hypocrisy never ceases to amaze. While the “era of austerity is supposedly over,” it’s clearly over for the federal government only.

Once again, President Obama finds someone else to blame for the failures of his own policy — which is so unappealing he keeps delaying it piece be piece. Ironically, cell phones are okay if they’re given away “free” at the expense of the hard-working American taxpayer, but not if you want to buy one yourself.

Daniel Garza, Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative said of Obama’s remarks, “If the president actually believes that a family earning less than $40,000 per year can afford nearly $4,000 in health insurance premiums, then he truly does not understand middle-income families. Americans do not need the President to tell them how to budget their households. People are already cutting back on things like cable television and cell phones, just to compensate for an awful economy. This president promised he would deliver on affordable health care. Instead, premiums are up, out-of-pocket expenses are up, and overall cost of living is up. The president simply doesn’t get it. And his condescending attitude adds insult to injury.”

Once upon a time, families had the choice of using Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSAs) to spend pre-tax money on routine care and smaller emergencies, while using so-called catastrophic insurance to deal with serious illness requiring hospitalizations. But as part of Obamacare, HSAs are now taxed as well. So much for freedom of choice.

Perhaps we should take away Obama’s cell phone (and pen, while we’re at it) so the politicized executive orders will stop.

Obama is trying to convince Americans that the unaffordability of the Affordable Care Act isn’t his fault. It’s the fault of the states (run by those rascally Republicans) that won’t expand Medicaid. And it’s the fault of those selfish, irresponsible folks who’d rather have cable and cell phones.

If you like your iPhone, you can’t keep it. Period.

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RELATED COLUMN: Delaying Obamacare’s Individual Mandate Due to ‘Hardship’ — Caused by Obamacare

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

New Study: Florida Medicaid expansion is unwise

jmi policy briefAlthough a Medicaid expansion under the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) seems unlikely in the 2014 Legislative Session, Florida’s leaders will continue to grapple with the issue. A new policy brief from The James Madison Institute (JMI) explores the many problems with Medicaid and alternative solutions that can ensure those in need attain better access to timely medical care.

“Doubling down on the flaws of the current Medicaid program and its expansion are risky propositions for Florida,” said Dr. Bob McClure, JMI president and CEO. “We too want to see improved access to health care for the underinsured and the uninsured. However, simply expanding a program that is unreliable and filled with broken promises on the premise that the federal government is dangling money to the states is fool’s gold. Market reforms that put patients first instead of bureaucrats will provide better outcomes for Floridians such as quality care, lower costs and expansion of coverage.”

Alternatives to Expanding Florida’s Medicaid Program” reminds Floridians that:

  • Over the last 12 years, Medicaid in Florida has grown five times as fast as general revenue and currently accounts for 30 percent of the state budget.
  • There are flaws with the viewpoint that this is a “good deal” for Florida. The federal government’s promise to fund 100 percent of the cost is:

    – Temporary: There is no guarantee that a future Congress and administration will maintain this higher match for those added to the Medicaid program under the new eligibility guidelines (those with incomes up to 138 percent of the federally defined poverty level).
    – Only applicable to the newly eligible: The federal government’s promise does not cover the cost of patient additions to the current, state-funded Medicaid program (those that already qualify, but have not yet enrolled) Our current Medicaid program continues to grow and consume state funds that could otherwise be used for other important priorities such as education and public safety.
    – Funded by tax dollars
    : Taxpayers in Florida are still footing the bill for a Medicaid expansion; it’s not “free” money. The end result of the federal government providing funds for the program versus the state is the same for Floridians: increased costs, more taxes, slower growth and another step for the nation toward greater debt.

“The economics of the Medicaid expansion are bad, but the health care involved for the underserved is even worse,” said Jason Fodeman, M.D., JMI adjunct scholar and author of the policy brief. “Medicaid is beleaguered by bureaucracy, fraud, rising expenditures, restricted access, and compromised patient care. By applying further strain to an already strained system, expansion could very well worsen the quality of the care that current Medicaid patients receive.”
Fodeman explains that the current problems that plague the Medicaid program are deeply rooted at the core of the Medicaid statute and cannot be rectified without comprehensive Medicaid reform.  He lists several issues that leave state lawmakers with few options to constrain costs other than paying providers less. He points out that Florida Medicaid reimbursements are lower than the national averages.

“Medicaid’s business model is not a free lunch or an example of free-market economics. Rather it is centralized price controls – nothing more than the government bludgeoning prices down by fiat,” said Fodeman. “Ultimately, these price controls are passed along to Medicaid patients in the form of diminished access, long waits for appointments, and compromised care.”

The policy brief outlines health system reforms at the state and federal level that could provide an alternative to expanding the Medicaid program including:

  • Telemedicine: Implement and expand telemedicine, especially into the state’s Medicaid program. Florida could selectively incorporate telemedicine into high-cost areas where this new discipline can be used to enhance access, improve efficiency, and lower overall costs of the program.
  • Price Transparency: Pool and make public pricing data to give patients clearer insight into the costs of medical interventions, thereby giving them more tools to become smarter consumers of health care dollars. Increased public awareness would also put pressure on higher-cost suppliers to lower their prices to attract patients.
  • Pro Bono Care: Provide a malpractice haven under the Federal Tort Claims Act that would protect doctors who would like to provide “charity care.” The cost of malpractice insurance can be daunting, especially in certain specialties and in certain geographic regions of the state. Florida could consider substituting an administrative system akin to the workers’ compensation system used for patients who incur an injury or illness in the workplace. In addition, the state could arrange for forgiveness of the medical school loans for those providers who agree to “work off” the obligation by donating a stipulated amount of services during a given time period.
  • Provide Health Insurance: Provide a Health Savings Account (HSA) with a reasonable deductible. This could be considerably cheaper than placing these patients into Medicaid, and it would also be likely to provide them with better access to quality care. For those who could not pay the deductible, grants, donations, charity care and other means could be created at the local level to assist.

“Reasons abound as to why Florida and nearly half of the states in the nation have concluded that a Medicaid expansion under PPACA provisions is unwise,” said Fodeman. “Florida has an obligation to use the debate as an opportunity to reform its health care delivery system to ensure that the most financially fragile and medically vulnerable receive the care they need and deserve.”

Read the full policy brief, “Alternatives to Expanding Florida’s Medicaid Program” here.

Healthcare.gov is fraudulent, deceptive and illegal

My good friend Lieutenant Colonel Orson Swindle, USMC (Ret.) was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission in 1997 and remained in that position until 2005. I have been friends with Colonel Swindle for many years.

The Honorable Orson Swindle asked me to remind us, the American people, that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal government’s principal Law Enforcement Agency for enforcing antitrust and consumer protection laws. The FTC deals with mergers and acquisitions, fraudulent, deceptive, and illegal business practices, and information system privacy and security.

In a National Review Online article by Andrew Stiles, former FTC Commissioner Swindle outlines a number of illegal aspects in the Obama administrations healthcare website (http://Healthcare.gov) and how the Obama administration has been promoting the Health Care law. He points out how the website runs afoul of Federal Regulations of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Here are excerpts from the Stiles column:

Orson Swindle, who served as an FTC commissioner from 1997 to 2005, says there are a number of practices that, if HealthCare.gov were a private entity, would result in its being “taken to the shed and horsewhipped” by government regulators.

President Obama’s oft-repeated falsehood, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” — something the administration knew was untrue — would almost certainly be a textbook case of deceptive advertising, punishable under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practice in or affecting commerce.” This includes a “representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer,” such that the consumer would be “likely to have chosen differently but for the deception.”

Other examples of potentially deceptive practices include the apparently deliberate decision to withhold information from HealthCare.gov visitors as to the actual prices of the policies offered via the exchanges. In fact, users aren’t told how much those policies will cost until after they have created an account, which requires giving a slew of personal and financial information.

Additionally, a recent CBS News investigation found that HealthCare.gov contains a pricing feature that tends to “dramatically underestimate” the cost of insurance.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s gross violations of FTC’s and CFPB’s Federal Regulations are being ignored by US Attorney General Holder and the Democratically controlled Senate, whose members continue to permit the President to disregard Federal Laws, Federal Regulations and provisions of the US Constitution with impunity.

We are appreciative of the fact that Orson Swindle has pointed out these violations of Federal Laws and Federal Regulations by the President.

Orson_Swindle

Lieutenant Colonel Orson Swindle, III, USMC (Ret.), former Assistant Secretary of Commerce.

Orson Swindle’s impressive background follows.

Lieutenant Colonel Orson Swindle, III, USMC (Ret.) is a Vietnam POW who retired from the US Marine Corps in 1979. His military career is one of extraordinary triumph. On November 11, 1966, he was serving as a US Marine Corps aviator in South Vietnam flying his 205th mission, on what was to be his final combat mission, when he was shot down, captured by the North Vietnamese, and held as a Prisoner of War in Hanoi for six years and four months.

On March 4, 1973, LTC Swindle was released from captivity at the conclusion of America’s involvement in the Vietnamese War. For valor in combat, he was awarded with more than twenty military decorations, including two Silver Star Medals, two Bronze Star Medals, two Legions of Merit Medals, thirteen Air Medals, and two Purple Heart Medals. From 1981 to 1989 Mr Swindle served in the Reagan Administration, where he directed financial assistance programs to economically-distressed rural and municipal areas of the country.

As the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development he managed the Department of Commerce’s national economic development initiatives, directing seven offices across the country. In 1993, Orson Swindle worked with former Cabinet Secretaries Jack Kemp and William Bennett, former Congressman Vin Weber, and Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick to form Empower America.

He was the Republican candidate for Congress in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District in 1994 and 1996. LTC Swindle was a former roommate of Senator John McCain’s in the Hanoi Hilton prison in North Vietnam.

The Honorable Orson Swindle’s full biography is listed on the “Leadership” page of the Combat Veterans For Congress PAC website.

What Florida’s Health Care Reform did for Moise Brutus

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Imagine waking up from a coma to find that both of your legs and your left hand are gone.

After a motorcycle accident that nearly killed him, this was Moise Brutus’s devastating reality. And he had to navigate the broken Medicaid system to try to recover. Now, he calls those days “the dark times.”

Medicaid wasn’t working for Moise. His extremely difficult injuries meant that he had specific challenges and needs. But as he says, the old government program was a “one-size-fits-all” model.

Thankfully, Moise lived in Florida, which was trying out some reforms to Medicaid. He was able to switch out of the old Medicaid program into a private plan—and that changed his life.

The private plan gave Moise an individually tailored approach to his needs.

“That’s when everything started to get better for me,” he says. He was able to get “the best care, the best prosthetics, the best of everything.”

Ultimately, the higher quality of care empowered Moise with the rehabilitation and motivation he needed to get his life back. He’s now training for the Paralympic cycling team.

“Health care reform” is an abstract phrase. It means many things to many people. But for Moise Brutus, Medicaid reform was the key to a new beginning in life.

This is exactly why Heritage has supported reforms to Medicaid that would give every patient the type of care Moise was able to get. Everyone deserves to have his or her health needs addressed in an individual way.

It’s one thing to talk about the fact that Medicaid provides substandard care. It’s another to hear a story like Moise’s and see how that can make the difference in someone recovering from a traumatic event.

Obamacare merely makes Medicaid worse by dumping millions more people into this broken program. Heritage supportsreforms that would subsidize private health insurance for low-income Medicaid beneficiaries.

Learn more what Congress and the states could do to bring personalized care to low-income Americans.

Restraining Order requested against Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in New Case Challenging the HHS Mandate

On Monday, December 23, 2013, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed a motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in its newest case challenging the HHS Mandate.  The case has been assigned to Federal District Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III.

TMLC attorney, Erin Mersino, filed the new case on December 20, 2013 on behalf of the Ave Maria Foundation, Ave Maria Communications, Domino’s Farms Petting Farm. Rhodora J. Donahue Academy Inc., and the Thomas More Law Center, all founded by Catholic philanthropist Tom Monaghan.  The Plaintiffs at first sought to be included in an HHS challenge that was already pending before Judge Lawrence Zatkoff. That request was denied on December 20, 2013, and hours later on that same day, Mersino filed TMLC’s newest case.  Due to the late date, Plaintiffs were forced to request injunctive relief on an emergency basis because the HHS Mandate will be enforced against them beginning January 1, 2014.

Click here to read TMLC’s Motion for TRO

The purpose of the lawsuit is to seek a court ruling that permanently blocks the implementation of the HHS Mandate requiring employers and individual to obtain insurance coverage for abortions and contraception on the grounds that it  imposes clear violations of conscience on Americans who morally object to abortion and contraception.

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the HHS Mandate under the First Amendment rights to the Free Exercise of Religion and Free Speech and the Establishment Clause.   It also claims that the HHS Mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedure Act enacted by Congress.

Named as Defendants in the lawsuit are Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the of the Department of Health and Human Services; Thomas Perez, Secretary of the Department of Labor; Jack Lew, Secretary of the Department of  the Treasury; and their respective departments.

ABOUT THE THOMAS MORE LAW CENTER

TMLC Logo(1)The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life.  It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America.  The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities.  It does not charge for its services.  The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization.  You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.

Large Gap Exists Between Lifetime Social Security and Medicare Benefits and Taxes

The American Enterprise Institute’s Jim Pethokoukis found this great chart (below) by the Urban Institute’s Eugene Steuerl. It shows the lifetime Social Security and Medicare taxes and benefits.

“Couples retiring today, with roughly the average earnings of workers in general, as well as average life expectancies, still receive about $1 million in lifetime benefits,” writes Steuerle. However, they will only pay $747,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes over that lifespan.

The gap between taxes and benefits has always been large. However, more people retiring and living longer–both great things–is causing the financial situation of both programs to get worse. As it stands now, Social Security won’t be able to pay full benefits starting in 2033, and Medicare Part A, which pays for hospital services, will go bankrupt in 13 years.

These programs must be reformed or the country will have to endure painful benefit cuts, crushing taxes, or both.

As U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President Bruce Josten said in June, “We need to make the responsible common-sense choices now, even if they are hard, to guarantee the promise of these programs to the next generation.”

Learn more at the U.S. Chamber’s “Ten Truths About America’s Entitlement Programs.”

Small Business Health Plan Website Delayed Until November 2014

UPDATE: The process really won’t get better anytime soon. Politico reports that the federally-run SHOP Marketplace website will be delayed until November 2014:

“We’ve concluded that we can best serve small employers by continuing this offline process while we concentrate on both creating a smoothly functioning online experience in the SHOP Marketplace, and adding key new features, including an employee choice option and premium aggregation services, by November 2014,” according to an HHS notice issued a day before the long Thanksgiving weekend. Those features give workers more choice of health plans, rather than having the business owner choose it.

The administration originally delayed online enrollment in the federal-run small business exchanges just days before the failed Oct. 1 launch of HealthCare.gov. At the time, HHS said online enrollment would be available “sometime in November.” Weeks ago, administration officials said online enrollment would be ready by the end of this November.

In a blog post, the Department of Health and Human Services explains how small businesses can buy health plans for their employees without a functioning website:

For small businesses in states with a SHOP Marketplace that’s run by the federal government, we are making changes to make sure that you can take advantage of SHOP coverage and the tax credit as soon as  possible. Specifically, for 2014, small employers will enroll their employees in coverage through an agent, broker, or insurer that offers a certified SHOP plan and has agreed to conduct enrollment according to HHS standards.

This process, called “direct enrollment,” is similar to how most small employers get insurance today. You don’t need to apply for SHOP eligibility before enrolling, or to use HealthCare.gov, unless you’d like to see information on your plan options, including which insurance companies offer SHOP Qualified Health Plans in your area.

The post also notes that the enrollment period to begin coverage on January 1, 2014 has been extended to December 23.

Following up on yesterday’s post on the federal SHOP Marketplace exchange website being little help to small businesses who want to buy health plans, I mentioned that companies can apply by mail or fax. Bloomberg Businessweek’s John Tozzi described the cumbersome process:

Companies with up to 50 employees can browse plans on healthcare.gov, starting on this page. (The government also offers this rather cumbersome, embedded spreadsheet of approximately 45,000 health plans offered across the country—have at it, Excel jockies.) The quotes here are sample premiums for individuals (ages 27 or 50) or for different arrangements of family coverage. There’s no place—that I could find, anyway—to get a single quote that includes some employees on family plans and some on individual coverage.

Actually applying for small business coverage on healthcare.gov right now requires both online and offline steps. Employers must set up an online account, then download a PDF application. After filling out the application (possibly with the help of a broker), business owners must print it out and mail it to London, Ky., where the paperwork is being processed manually. After that, the Health and Human Services Department is supposed to contact employers and confirm that they’re eligible. Then the company can select plans and offer employees coverage. After workers decide whether or not to enroll, companies can finally submit their application online and pay for the first month of their policies. Got it?

Tozzi doesn’t expect this to get better anytime soon:

“We are exploring options to ensure that small businesses have access to coverage in the SHOP marketplace. We are continuing to do an assessment of that work, and we’ll have a process in place by the end of this month,” HHS spokeswoman Julie Bataille said on a conference call with reporters Monday, according to a transcript provided by the agency. She wouldn’t comment on when online enrollment would be working, but she said details on an “enhanced process” would be coming “soon.”

Warning: Your doctor can’t protect your privacy or your medical records

There is a growing concern by Americans that their personal and private information is being collected and shared without their knowledge and consent.

For example, in Florida teachers, parents, administrators and students are voicing concern over the data mining component of Common Core, which will give access to every public school students’ private information to those outside the classroom or school house. WDW – FL reported recently on how the iBloom website was compromised in New York, allowing hackers to post public school students’ medical information and grades on the internet.

Recent scandals about government spying on individuals pales in comparison to the revelation that HealthCare.gov was recently hacked. Cyber security experts are warning about efforts by foreign governments, such as Russia and China, to compromise medical databases. But this is just the tip of the iceberg according to Florida doctors.

As health records are digitized they become more sharable and more vulnerable to privacy violations.

The more individual information is placed on large centralized databases the more that information may be accessed, without the knowledge and consent of  the individual. Doctors in Florida are raising privacy concerns as they fully implement the “electronic health record” (EHR) mandate for their patient’s records. Doctors worry about their loss of control over their patients’ records and their ability to limit those who access them. They worry about the growing the risks and liability of a privacy violation.

The US Department of Health and Human Services website states, “With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), an environment has been created that requires the adoption of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) by 2014 for seventy percent of the primary care provider population.” See an overview of the Recovery Act.

HHS warns, “ARRA authorizes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide a reimbursement incentive for physician and hospital providers who are successful in becoming ‘meaningful users’ of an electronic health record (EHR). These incentive payments begin in 2011 and gradually phase down. Starting in 2015, providers are expected to have adopted and be actively utilizing an EHR in compliance with the ‘meaningful use’ definition or they will be subject to financial penalties under Medicare.”

Florida’s doctors are scrambling to implement the AARA mandate, at the risk of violating the HIPPA mandate.

Doctors can no longer guarantee that a patients medical records are safe and secure from prying eyes. Yet, Florida’s doctors according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) must, “[R]equire that healthcare providers (Covered Entities) and Business Associates apply appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure the privacy of Protected Health Information (PHI). Additionally, the HITECH Act requires that they implement policies, procedures and technical controls to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of electronic PHI data. The Act also tightened breach notification requirements, increased financial liability amounts and established that covered entities are liable for their business associates.” The doctor does not have total control of the patient record, but the doctor is liable for a breach, according to the law.

This is a medical Catch-22. Doctors no longer control their patients privacy but are required by law to protect their patient’s records.

This reminds us of the Capital One credit card commercial that asks: What’s in your wallet? Florida doctors are now asking: Who’s in my medical records?