Archive for September, 2013

CBO: Mandate delay would save $36 billion

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

A federal health law mandate delay bill offered by Republicans in the House could save about $36 billion over a five-year period, with about half of the savings coming from reductions in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollment.  Should it win passage, the bill also could increase the total number of uninsured people to about 55 million in 2014, compared with 44 million if the PPACA mandates take effect on time, according to analysts at the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

The PPACA mandate delay could cut Medicaid and CHIP enrollment by 5 million; commercial individual policy ownership by 2 million; and employer plan enrollment by 4 million.  The analysts also predicted that the mandate delay bill would increase commercial individual health premiums, because insurers would still have to sell coverage on a guaranteed-issue basis, without basing premiums on applicants’ health status.  “Those features would be most attractive to applicants with relatively high expected costs for health care,” the analysts say.

The CBO and JCT analysts published their figures in a review of the Fairness for American Families Act bill.  The bill would delay the effective date of both the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act individual coverage mandate provision and the employer mandate provision by one year.  PPACA now calls for many individuals who fail to own a minimum amount of health coverage to start paying penalties for the 2014 tax year. The penalties would start at $95 per affected individual in 2014 and rise to $695 in 2016.

The employer mandate would require large employers that fail to offer a minimum amount of coverage to some or all employees to pay a penalty of $2,000 per worker in some situations or $3,000 per worker in others.  The employer mandate would not have any effect on federal or spending or revenue, because the Obama administration already has agreed to postpone implementation of the employer mandate, CBO and JCT analysts said.

Beware! Medicare won’t pay for Hospital Observation

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Betty Rickett was billed $15,000 after three days in a hospital for a broken ankle in 2009.

The 85yr knew Medicare covers the cost of nursing home rehabilitation if the patient was admitted to a hospital for three days. What she didn’t know was that time spent in a hospital bed under observation doesn’t count toward the three-day minimum needed for Medicare payment. Medicare requires patients to be admitted to a hospital — and being under observation does not count.

It is a lesson that hundreds of thousands of elderly and sick Medicare beneficiaries are learning every year, according to the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services.  “I just couldn’t believe it,” Rickett said. “I was definitely in the hospital. I had to have surgery. I had a rod and a plate put in my foot.”

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Work hard, save money, and Government screws you

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

London’s Daily Mail  “Carney: Savers have to suffer for greater good.” Bank of England’s new governor, Mark Carney, saying that while he has sympathy for savers who have done everything right and yet earn negligible rates on their savings, the tough reality is that they are the sacrificial lambs necessary to save England’s economy. Mr. Carney vowed to keep U.K. interest rates at 0.5% for at least another three years, and to not even contemplate a move up until unemployment – now at 7.8% – sinks below 7%. To hell with the savers who will lose out on what should have been an estimated $780 billion in interest payments through 2016 if rates were at normalized levels. Sounds a little different from what Ben Bernanke has promised us here at home. Which leads me to a question: Why does modern society insist on saving the losers?

At what point did wussies overtake capitalism?

Somewhere between the end of World War II and the end of the Reagan-Thatcher years – and it’s clearly the rise of self-absorbed, multicultural-aware and politically correct Baby Boomers – Western nations lost their testosterone. Instead of allowing the world’s losers to lose – i.e. General Motors, Citibank, financially incompetent home buyers – our soft, cultural mores now insist that we step in and help these losers as though they are somehow not responsible for their own demise. It’s the same philosophy at play in little league sports today: everyone gets a trophy just for breathing. Sorry, but no. Life does not – and should never – reward the losers for having lost. Your team finishes the season in last place because all the players stink? Tough; you get no trophy. Improve your game. Your car company collapses because you grew fat, dumb and lazy on your early successes? Tough; your company goes away. Improve your management skills. You lose your house because you don’t realize that interest payments on your teaser-rate adjustable-rate mortgage will go higher and price you out of your home? Tough; no house for you. Improve your critical-thinking skills, or ask a trusted advisor for help in understanding the risks in the mortgage the bank is offering you.

Harsh? Possibly. But none of us are morally obligated to provide for our neighbor’s wellbeing. That’s a function of altruism, and altruism imposes no bearing on personal responsibility and objective self-interest. Each of us is fundamentally free to use our wealth as we deem most appropriate. If I want to help my neighbor stay in his house, I can give or loan him the money. But government has no right or moral authority to require that I do so – though that is exactly the authority it implies when it bails out the losers with taxpayer dollars or, in the case of Mark Carney and Ben Bernanke, when it penalizes those who have done right by imposing on them negative consequences necessary to save the losers from their own piss-poor judgments. Alas, I am not so naïve that I think America will change her path. The path, however, will change America. Those wheels are already in motion across various parts of the country. The United States of America that you know today will not be the united states your grandchildren know tomorrow. – Jeff Opdike “Sovereign Digest”