Posts Tagged Medicare
Jeb Bush, who’s described Obamacare as a political “loser,” will unveil his plan Tuesday to replace the health insurance law with a system that he believes will cut back on regulation and lower health care costs.
The Republican presidential candidate said as recently as last week that he believes the law can be repealed, and he plans to lay out a proposal for undoing the law at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.
“I think Obamacare will collapse under its own weight,” he said in Oskaloosa, Iowa. “Politically, it doesn’t get better with time. It actually, I think, is likely to get worse.”
But, he has argued, Republicans need to offer a viable replacement.
For Bush, that means allowing state exchanges to continue to exist, if they so choose, but they would not be mandatory. He wants to enable access to affordable, catastrophic plans and provide a tax credit to purchase policies that protect Americans for costly medical events, according to his campaign.
Bush also wants to expand Health Savings Accounts, one of his elder brother’s pet programs. He would increase contribution limits and uses for these accounts, which must be paired with high-deductible health plans. Enrollees can use the funds in their accounts to pay for medical care.
“We’re going to call for moving to a system that is consumer driven with a lot more transparency,” he said in Iowa. “No employer mandate, no employee mandate, no mandated benefits.”
Bush doesn’t favor doing away with everything from the current law. He supports the continuous coverage guarantee provision for people with pre-existing conditions, and previously Bush has said he favors allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26.
To promote innovation, he also wants to reform the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory policies and increase funding and accountability at the National Institutes of Health, according to the campaign.
And he’d like to see more leaders in the private sector figure out ways to enable better access to patient de-identified Medicare and Medicaid claims data.
Repealing Obamacare will not be a simple task. There are more than 10 million people enrolled in the federal and state Obamacare exchanges. Some 87% of them are receiving federal subsidies averaging $272 a month, to lower the cost of their premiums. And 56% of them receive separate subsidies to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses.
Also, Bush would jettison the expansion of Medicaid to all Americans under age 65, which 31 states and Washington have adopted. Nearly 13 million people have joined Medicaid since October 2013, when expanded enrollment began. Prior to Obamacare, it was difficult for adults, particularly childless adults, to sign up for the safety net program in many states.
But in an interview this weekend Bush described Medicaid and its expansion as “one of the worse insurance programs in the country.”
Bush’s plan also shifts away from Obamacare’s focus on preventative care. Under health reform, insurers must provide so-called essential health benefits, including mental health counseling, maternity coverage and emergency services. Also, enrollees in Obamacare plans can get an array of free annual screenings for conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure and vaccines. Women can get an annual gynecological visit and mammograms.
Bush’s campaign says he would allow employers to use financial incentives to encourage wellness programs.
After touring the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop with Rick Harrison, star of the TV show “Pawn Stars,” Rubio told reporters he plans to be back “quite often” as he sought to localize his “New American Century” campaign theme.
“Nevada is a state that in many ways embodies some of the challenges we have in the 21st century,” Rubio said
Rubio is the youngest 2016 candidate, though he’s just half a year younger than fellow presidential contender Texas Senator Ted Cruz, also a freshman lawmaker. But he’s 18 years Jeb Bush’s junior and more than 20 years younger than Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Harrison said during a Fox and Friends appearance that he isn’t concerned about the first term senator’s age, however.
After chatting with him over lunch in Los Angeles recently, Harrison said he was convinced that Rubio was the best candidate for the job.
‘A governor is a politician, a senator is a politician. What you need is a very strong leader,’ Harrison said. ‘Someone who’s willing to speak his mind and put the right people in charge of things and if they do a bad job, fire them.’
What impressed Harrison most about Rubio was that he didn’t mention ‘the party’ during the meeting.
‘Which was a really big deal to me,’ he said. ‘This guy honestly cares about American people and free enterprise.’
Rubio, he said, truly ‘wants to make it easier to do business. It will bring people out of poverty. It will do things for the economy, so I’m behind him.’
The Democratic National Committee mocked the union of Rubio and the Pawn Stars clan with a series of graphics depicting ‘Mario Rubio’s Pawn Shop.’
‘This is a fitting theme for Mr. Rubio, as his entire campaign is pawning off old, failed GOP ideas as new,’ it said in a blog post.
It hit him for backing ‘the old, rejected GOP policy of ending Medicare as we know it,’ opposing comprehensive immigration reform, ‘marriage equality’ and so-called equal pay for equal work legislation.
‘Dusting off these old ideas and trying to pawn himself off as something new isn’t going to work,’ it said.
Rubio, notably, does support comprehensive immigration reform and was a sponsor of the bipartisan Senate bill formed by a group of lawmakers known as the Gang of 8.
He’s since said that he’d be open to a piecemeal approach that also shuts down a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants if that’s what it takes to get legislation passed – but that’s not his preferred option.
‘I still believe we need to do immigration reform,’ he said earlier this month during a Fox News appearance. ‘The problem is we can’t do it in one big piece of legislation.’
That’s because ‘the votes aren’t there’ in the House of Representatives, he explained.
Harrison’s support could give Rubio a boost in Nevada, a state that is important to both the nomination process and the general election.
He also has the backing of the state’s Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison. Hutchison, the campaign has already announced, will serve as state chair of his campaign there.
But Rubio has other, familial ties to the state, as well, that may help him.
Rubio’s family lived in Las Vegas for a six-year stretch during his formative years before ultimately returning to Florida, the state the U.S. Senator still calls home.
Politics runs in his family’s blood. His cousin, Mo Denis, is a state senator in Nevada.
Though, he and Rubio come from the same family tree, they do not share the same political beliefs. Denis is a staunch Democrat.
When his cousin Marco came to town in 2012 to headline a fundraiser for that year’s GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, Denis parked himself outside and gave a rebuttal speech.
Rubio’s walk down memory lane won’t end with his birthday party today at Harrison’s pad tonight.
He’ll talk to tech startups tomorrow morning at Nevada’s Switch Innevation Center and meet with GOP activists in the afternoon in Reno at the home of Kim Bacchus, a registered lobbyist and the chair of the Washoe County Republican Women’s Club.
Written by David Corbin and Matt Parks
President Obama unveiled a 2015 budget this week that puts an end to what he fantastically described as an “era of austerity.” (Finally: we can stop worrying about the government spending too little.)
His budget would increase spending from $3.5 trillion to $6 trillion and the national debt from $17.3 trillion to $25 trillion over the next ten years. His plan is the equivalent of the head of every American household relaying that while the fam continues to fall $1,000 short of paying its bills each month, and has $170,000 in debt, we’ll be putting solar panels on Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, buying more Wonka bars, and hiring Mary Poppins in the next decade.
Yet, if math’s not your thing, and you quickly scanned the Washington Post‘s visual breakdown of the President’s budget, you might have thought defense spending to blame and started searching the internet for a new bumper sticker: “It will be a great day when pre-K education and the wind energy industry have all the money they need, and the Navy has to hold a bake sale to outfit its fleet.”
In perfect Progressive form, the Post failed to emphasize that its graphs only accounted for “discretionary” spending, which amounts to only about 30% of the budget. You learn a lot about the geopolitically-challenged age we live in when on the same day that the Russians are securing their military installations in Crimea, our elites sweep non-discretionary social welfare spending under the rug and throw appropriations for national defense under the bus.
The Constitution, of course, places no limits on the total amount of tax revenue raised or dollars spent by the federal government. Alexander Hamilton explains this omission in a number of Federalist essays, including Federalist 34:
There ought to be a CAPACITY to provide for future contingencies as they may happen; and as these are illimitable in their nature, it is impossible safely to limit that capacity. It is true, perhaps, that a computation might be made with sufficient accuracy to answer the purpose of the quantity of revenue requisite to discharge the subsisting engagements of the Union, and to maintain those establishments which, for some time to come, would suffice in time of peace. But would it be wise, or would it not rather be the extreme of folly, to stop at this point, and to leave the government intrusted with the care of the national defense in a state of absolute incapacity to provide for the protection of the community against future invasions of the public peace, by foreign war or domestic convulsions?
The Constitution was not written for 1787 (or 2014), but for all time. As a result, it would be “the extreme of folly” to include within it limitations on taxing or spending calculated according to the needs of the moment or on the assumption that the relative peace of that day would extend indefinitely into the future. The Constitution would not have survived the War of 1812–much less the Civil War or World War II–had its authors presumed to know the full scope of future spending needs and placed precautionary limits within the document itself.
Note, however, that it is military spending (alone) that Hamilton has in view. If the Founders did not constitutionally limit the size of the federal budget, they did limit its scope. From the time of the founding until the dawn of the Progressive era in the early twentieth century, federal spending, following the Constitution, was used almost exclusively to buy things (like bullets, ships, and road-building materials) or pay salaries (elected and unelected officials and contractors).
Limited military pensions and payments to disabled veterans and the widows and orphans of those killed in action accounted for the only spending in any way analogous to the modern welfare state–and that not with a view toward redistributing wealth or overcoming natural differences in ability or achievement, but rather as compensation for sacrifices made in defense of the nation’s independence and liberty.
Today, of course, the dominant items in the federal budget are entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and various forms of welfare, which, in 2013, accounted for $2.3 trillion in federal spending–none of which were anticipated in Hamilton’s essays or derivable, without the most fatuous verbal gymnastics, from the enumerated powers of the Constitution.
The shift in governmental priorities is explained in part by an equivalent shift in American political norms, having experienced the horrors of a Civil War, two hot world wars, a cold war, and now, a war on terror. Many Americans have been won over by William James, the “father of American psychology,” who thought that the great alternative to war is not partaking in a peaceful arcadian economy under the auspices of an extensive representative republic, but in engaging in the “Moral Equivalent of War” against social and economic injustice at home and abroad:
Pacifists ought to enter more deeply into the aesthetical and ethical point of view of their opponents . . . So long as antimilitarists propose no substitute for war’s disciplinary function, no moral equivalent of war, analogous, as one might say, to the mechanical equivalent of heat, so long they fail to realize the full inwardness of the situation. And as a rule they do fail. The duties, penalties, and sanctions pictured in the utopias they paint are all too weak and tame to touch the military-minded.
James argues that the best way for utopian pacifists to make peace with the military-minded within society is by enlisting their counterparts in wars of a different kind, and in becoming militant themselves. If you doubt at all the effectivness of his psychological prescription, try to engage in a peaceful conversation with a member of NARAL, Green Peace, or MoveOn.org about the merits of their arguments. You’ll be hard pressed to find a 19th century Jane Addams-type pacifist among them. And the co-opting of leaders of strategic institutions has been almost as successful as few in this cohort publicly challenge progressive conceptions of the moral equivalents of war.
Is it possible to give peace a chance in this political environment? Earlier in this series, we addressed the need for entitlement reform and suggested an alternative approach to helping the poor. But might a resetting of our national priorities and a cure for our fiscal ills, at least, be found in a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget?
We fear not, for at least two reasons:
1. All reasonable versions (for example) of a balanced budget amendment provide for an exception to the rule in cases of war or when a congressional supermajority (⅗ or ⅔ vote in both houses) otherwise judges it expedient. One of the predictable, if unintended, consequences of all supermajority requirements is that they open up room for factious behavior by a minority determined to name the price for its cooperation. We may go to bed dreaming of stalwart conservatives holding out against runaway spending and wake up to find stalwart progressives have made new entitlement spending their condition for supporting critical defense appropriations. We may find, in fact, that votes to override the amendment requirements simply become routine, as members of both parties find the only way to protect their cherished spending programs is to form a bipartisan super-faction that funds “all of the above.”
Do away with the overrides, then? That cure is worse than the disease, amounting to unilateral fiscal disarmament.
2. More broadly, the amend-the-constitution approach to solving our political ills carries with it several serious political risks. In the near term, it seems highly likely to fail, given that just thirteen blue states can stop any amendment approved by Congress or a newfound convention. Of course, some longshots are worth playing, but the underlying desire to embalm a final political victory in the Constitution would create a false sense of security even if it succeeds. The original Constitution has all the language and limits necessary to protect liberty if the people would have it. And no set of amendments can protect it if they won’t.
Perhaps the most powerful lure of progressivism made militant is its promise of permanent victory for its side and permanent defeat for its enemies. Progressivism isn’t going away. Victory against its excesses, never permanent, will require a return to the public square, where the case for limited government is made plainly, boldly, and vigilantly, as is ever the price of liberty.
David Corbin is a Professor of Politics and Matthew Parks an Assistant Professor of Politics at The King’s College, New York City. They are co-authors of “Keeping Our Republic: Principles for a Political Reformation” (2011).
Link to other Essays: http://thefederalist.com/author/dcorbin/
President Obama appeared resolute in his stance on the “fiscal cliff” on Tuesday, insisting on higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, while Republicans showed increasing disarray over how far they should go to compromise with Obama’s demands.
With less than a month left to confront the budget cuts and tax increases that will begin taking effect in January unless Congress acts, Obama dangled the possibility of lowering tax rates as part of a broad U.S. tax code revamp in 2013.
But he again insisted, in an interview with Bloomberg Television, that tax rates for the wealthiest 2 percent of taxpayers must rise in any deal by the end of the year to avert the assorted measures known as the fiscal cliff.
Obama, a Democrat, may face resistance from his own party if and when he’s forced to be specific about how he would cut the cost of entitlements, such as the Medicare health insurance program for seniors.
For the moment, however, the overall political picture Tuesday reflected a relatively solid front of Democrats versus an increasingly shaky group of Republicans.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader in the Senate, even avoided endorsing the negotiating position of his House of Representatives ally, Speaker John Boehner.
“I think it is important that the House Republican leadership has tried to move the process forward,” McConnell told reporters trying to get his views on a proposal Boehner and the House Republican leadership sent to Obama on Monday.
Outside the capital, concern mounted about how and when – not to mention if – the politicians might put their disagreements behind them and deal conclusively with an issue that economists say could trigger another recession.
Corporate chief executives were scheduled to meet with Obama later on Wednesday. The Business Roundtable, a lobbying group for corporations, has arranged the meetings. In addition to prompt action on the fiscal cliff, the group is seeking tax cuts for their companies.
Boeing Co. CEO Jim McNerney, who chairs the group, said its members want “a balanced solution to the nation’s fiscal cliff and long-term deficit and debt issues … including meaningful and comprehensive tax and entitlement reforms.”
The manufacturing sector contracted in November and posted its weakest performance in three years, a report showed on Monday. Companies taking part in the survey said uncertainty over the negotiations in Washington was a factor.
U.S. stocks slipped on Tuesday as investors fretted about Washington’s ability to avoid a year-end budget crisis.
On Capitol Hill, conservative South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint attacked Boehner, a fellow Republican, over Monday’s fiscal cliff offer, which included $800 billion (496.7 billion pounds) in revenue increases from overhauling the tax code, along with spending cuts and entitlement revisions, as part of a deficit reduction deal.
That amount, which Boehner informally accepted during previous debt-ceiling negotiations in 2011, was not enough to satisfy Obama. But it was too much for DeMint and other Republicans who have made opposition to tax increases of any kind a central part of their politics for many years.
“Speaker Boehner’s $800 billion tax hike will destroy American jobs and allow politicians in Washington to spend even more,” DeMint said in a statement on Tuesday.
Signalling some worry about fragmented sentiment in the House, Republican leaders took the unusual step of removing two hard-line Tea Party conservatives, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Justin Amash of Michigan, from the House Budget Committee, where elements of a fiscal cliff deal are likely to be considered.
A few House Republicans, such as Mike Simpson of Idaho and Steve King of Iowa, have said tax increases on the wealthiest may be tolerable under certain conditions.
The president pressed his agenda on Tuesday, reiterating his openness to unspecified reforms in entitlement programs.
He repeated that as part of any deal, low tax rates on 98 percent of taxpayers should be extended, but that taxes on the top 2 percent should rise. “Let’s let those go up,” Obama said, referring to a “down payment” for future negotiations.
“And then let’s set up a process with a time certain, at the end of 2013 or the fall of 2013, where we work on tax reform, we look at what loopholes and deductions both Democrats and Republicans are willing to close, and it’s possible that we may be able to lower rates by broadening the base at that point.”
Fuelling concerns among some Republicans about resisting compromise are surveys, like one released by the Pew Research Centre on Tuesday, which showed that about 53 percent of those polled said they would hold Republicans more responsible than Democrats for going over the cliff; 27 percent said they would hold Obama responsible.