Thursday, December 5, 2013

Obama Bad For Blue States
By DICK MORRIS
Published on TheHill.com
 


In the wake of President Obama's decision to allow state insurance commissioners to decide if the cancellations of health insurance policies Obama-Care has forced are to stand, Democratic, blue state commissioners are digging a hole for the president -- and for their party. So deep and so wide is the hole, it could serve as a grave in which to inter Democrats' fortunes in the 2014 election.

Obama gave these commissioners the power to let insurance companies waive the cancellations after an outpouring of bitterness and outrage forced Senate Democrats to find a way to blunt the anger from their constituents at having their policies canceled. Not only did the cancellations force them to pay more for insurance -- and perhaps also lose their doctors and hospitals -- it served as a bold reminder that the president had lied when he promised that people could keep their plans and their doctors if they wished.

In red states, Republican insurance commissioners have generally decided to let insurers and their customers cooperate to waive the cancellations. But the true believers in the blue states who serve as insurance commissioners have largely refused. Thus, the very voters the Democratic Party depends on are the most likely to continue to be forced to cancel the policies they want, despite their wishes and protests.

It's hard to think of a more shortsighted policy than to anger your own voters in so heavy-handed a way. Now the arguments about big government and the heavy hand of regulation will no longer be theoretical to Democratic voters. They will be forced to endure the cancellation of their own healthcare plans.

The legions of people who have lost their individual health insurance plans are only the tip of the iceberg. Many more tens of millions will face cancellation of their group- or employer-provided health insurance down the road, and the decision of the blue state insurance commissioners to sustain these cancellations assures that they will provide plenty of ammunition for Republicans who oppose the Affordable Care Act and a vast, willing constituency, right in the heart of Blue America, willing to listen.

But Obama's gift to blue states doesn't stop there. The Supreme Court has granted states the right to opt out of the Medicaid expansion built into the ObamaCare legislation. Those who have OKed raising the Medicaid threshold for eligibility to 133 percent of the poverty level are finding that there are millions who are eager and willing to take advantage of the program. Some of these are already eligible, and others are not. Both groups will cost state taxpayers a lot: One now, and the other later.

Immediately, the new Medicaid enrollees who have always been eligible but who haven't signed up until now will cost states a bundle. These new enrollments will only receive the federal reimbursement that Medicaid has always had -- usually between a half and a third of the cost, varying by state. The extra reimbursement will not be available for this new group of enrollees. We don't know how many there are, but in Washington state, one-third of the new Medicaid enrollees were eligible before ObamaCare was passed. So, no extra reimbursement for them.

In three years' time, the states must pay 10 percent of the cost of the new enrollees who were made eligible by ObamaCare. And three years after that? Who knows.

The net effect of this new spending -- only in states that accepted the Medicaid expansion -- will be huge increases in taxes now, in three years and in six years. The divide between the high-tax blue states and the low-tax red states will be heightened to the disadvantage of Democrats in blue states, particularly when jobs flow to red states.

So, all in all, ObamaCare sends a crushing political burden to blue states, but a much milder one to red states. Democratic policies carry within themselves the seeds of their own destruction.
"The bottom line is this law is working and will work into the future," President Barack Obama said of his signature Affordable Care Act on Tuesday. It would be easier to believe the president if he hadn't said in 2009, "If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too."

One million Californians who lose their individual plans in 2014 know that's not true; when many saw their new premiums, they experienced "sticker shock." Next comes "doc shock" -- the revelation that many folks also won't be able to keep their doctors.

Meet Chico, Calif., attorney Kenneth Turner. His wife found out that she has breast cancer two days before they received their cancellation notice. She's scheduled for surgery Dec. 20 and will hear the prognosis Dec. 30. Two days later, she loses the doctor who will have operated on her, as well as other doctors she has seen for decades.

Because state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones used a technicality to force Blue Shield to grant 90-day reprieves, the Turner family will be able to extend its plan -- and face two years' worth of deductibles in 2014. Turner is just glad the family can afford that. "A lot of people couldn't swing this," Turner said. "I'm lucky I can."

California Association of Health Plans President Pat Johnston acknowledged that the state's 19 regions can restrict access to outside providers. Johnston believes that all consumers will have access to "quality care" but not necessarily the same doctors.

There also will be fewer choices in the new health order. Blue Shield is restricting access to close to half of its doctors and a quarter of its hospitals in the individual market -- and Blue Shield spokesman Steve Shivinsky told The Orange County Register these providers "had to agree to cut their rates" to get into the network.

In Southern California, the Los Angeles Times reported, Health Net individual policyholders will have access to less than a third of the doctors on employer plans.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, told the San Francisco Chronicle that all but three of the 12 state exchange providers limit doctors and hospitals.

Lee rightly points out that for years -- even before Obamacare -- the market has narrowed choices to cut costs. He is absolutely right. The New York Times reports that the University of California, Berkeley is about to exclude two nearby Sutter hospitals because UC could not reach a price agreement with California's highest net-income nonprofit hospital.

Critics of today's delivery system rejoice in such moves because they want a single-payer system. But the UC faculty union warned that the move will lead to "significant degradation in the quality of insurance" and "significant increases in costs" for members seeking "the same quality of care."

When employers cut off providers, the market can respond. When states and the federal government restrict access, they begin to make every health plan into a health maintenance organization.

Johnston believes that most consumers can find a plan with quality local providers. As for those doctors who no longer will be providers in the post-Covered California system, he noted, "Some doctors don't want to take a lower rate than they used to take."

Obama should have said: If your doctor likes a pay cut, you can keep your doctor.
President Barack Obama recently asserted, "Thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, also known as 'Obamacare,' the cost of health care is now growing at the slowest rate in 50 years." So, you may be losing your health care coverage, and you may end up paying more -- but, hey, rising costs are slowing overall "in part" because of Obamacare.

True, as Obama says, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services -- the agency that administers Medicaid and Medicare -- "estimated that ... (in) the three years since Obamacare passed, we've seen the slowest growth in health care costs on record."

But is this due "in part" to Obamacare?

About Obama's claim, the Washington Post said: "The President, in his comment, used the word 'helped,' which is sufficiently vague that in theory it could mean any impact, no matter how slight.

Yet he also cited this as a reason for not walking away from the law, which suggests he thinks it had more than a modest impact. In fact, some listeners might interpret his statement as suggesting the law has had a significant impact. However, 'help' could also simply mean 'contributed.'" In other words, this is similar to the President's pre-"stimulus" push. He claimed it would "save or create" 3.5 million jobs -- a claim sufficiently slippery and vague so as to escape measurement.

Here, the President wants us to believe that: millions now have subsidized health care insurance; carriers cannot decline based on pre-existing illness; carriers cannot "discriminate" when setting rates; carriers must allow "children" under 26 to remain on their parents' policies -- all of which has been accomplished while "slowing down the rise in costs"?

The Obama-sympathetic ABC News "fact-checked" it. Yes, increases are more modest, as the President claims, "but many independent experts believe the slowdown is largely due to the economy and a contraction of spending during the recession. The role of the Affordable Care Act has been limited and hard to measure, they say. ... Experts note that changes under ACA could ultimately (SET ITAL) increase (END ITAL) the growth rate of health care costs initially, since more people will be covered (and paying for) health plans and treatments. The continued economic recovery is expected to contribute, as well, as more Americans have increased income to spend on health care."

The "fact checker" from the Obama-friendly Washington Post said, "The evidence has become too murky to reach a firm conclusion. Clearly, even economists are unsure why health care inflation has continued to remain low so long."

Illinois High School Requires Parents To Self-Identify As Liberal Or Conservative

by     
This article was originally published by Illinois Review.

An assignment sent home from an Oak Forest, Ill., high school government class is raising eyebrows among parents who are shocked by the questionnaire they and their children are required to fill out.

The questionnaire (below) has the parents identify their positions on a number of highly charged issues, and then places them on a “political spectrum.”

The survey is from the textbook U.S. Government 2, published by the The Center for Learning. It is part of Oak Forest High School’s Common Core curriculum, which, according to the school district’s website, is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.”

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In Stage 1 of this particular unit, students are to match political philosophies with political parties, debate a political/social/economic issue from their viewpoint on the political spectrum and identify the viewpoint of a social issue on that spectrum.

In Stage 2, the students are to conduct a “Political Spectrum Interview” (questionnaire above) “with someone 40 years old or older.” The specific curriculum instructions are as follows:

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Parents of some of the students told Illinois Review they fear possible retribution on their children if they refuse to complete the survey. However, each had determined not to do so.

Why is this man still president...


Western allies holding talks with Syrian jihadists

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer


syria-rebels_2618699b.jpg

This is an admission of defeat and failure: the fading Western powers are tacitly admitting that the secular groups in Syria are finished. Yes, the same secular groups that just weeks ago they were confidently assuring the world were firmly in control.

"Britain holds first face-to-face talks with Islamists fighting Assad," by Richard Spencer for the Telegraph, December 4:
Britain and its western allies have held their first face-to-face talks with Islamist factions fighting President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, including militant groups demanding a hardline Sharia state, as the secular forces they previously backed lose ground. 
The meeting was held in the Turkish capital, Ankara, officials said, as the western alliance grows increasingly alarmed by the strength of jihadist, al-Qaeda-linked factions that now dominate parts of rebel-held territory.
The western alliance is hoping that non al-Qaeda Islamist groups will form a common cause with the secular Free Syrian Army and the western-backed Syrian National Coalition, despite their deep ideological differences. However, they have previously refused to back several of these Islamist groups for fear that arms sent to moderate groups will just leak to the extremists.
The officially recognised head of the Free Syrian Army, Gen Salem Idriss, this week repeated his belief that if Assad falls from office, rebels will have to join forces with the remnants of his army to drive al-Qaeda forces out of Syria.
“Most of the rebels taking part were from the middle ground, but then moved down the spectrum,” a western official briefed on the talks said. “The aim was to understand where these Islamic groups stand on the spectrum.”
As regime troops and rebels have fought to a near stalemate in recent months, the most significant development on the ground has been the formation of a new pan-Islamist alliance among the rebels, confirmed at the end of November.
Some of the brigades who signed up were “moderate Islamist” groups which had previously been backed by western allies, such as the Liwa al-Tawhid in Aleppo, and were loyal to Gen Idriss and the FSA’s Supreme Military Council.
But others included Ahrar al-Sham, a hardline Islamist group that has rejected the West and Gen Idriss and since last year fought alongside Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda faction that signalled its presence in Syria last year with a series of suicide bombings.
Ahrar was also cited in a Human Rights Watch report alleging the murders of a number of civilians from Assad’s Alawite sect after an attack in the north-west of the country in which it participated.
Both groups contain foreign jihadis, including from Britain, and apart from the general rise of militant Islam intelligence services fear that their growing role may feed back later into Islamist terrorism in Europe....

Op-ed:
The devil is in the details
By: Diane Sori

Less than a week after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif signed the 6-month agreement with the P5+1 in Geneva to freeze part of its nuclear program (while leaving it fully intact) in return for Western powers easing some of the crippling economic sanctions in place against them, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO), Ali Akbar Salehi, this past Sunday said that Iran needs more nuclear power plants…and to that effect Tehran and Moscow are discussing the construction of a second and third nuclear power plant in the southern province of Bushehr…in effect a second and third nuclear reactor which they are NOT now supposed to build. 

So knowing this how do like that 'supposed' real good deal Barack HUSSEIN Obama and John ‘Swiftboat’ Kerry got us with Iran…a ‘Fools Deal’ agreed to by two fools who believed what they were promised…two fools who were manipulated and played like a fiddle all while Iran had its fingers crossed behind its back.

Two fools who obviously did NOT read the details or heed the words of Iran President Rouhani who has said time and again that “any dismantling of nuclear facilities in Iran ‘is a red line’ Tehran will never allow to be crossed.” And with the devil always being in the details…NOWHERE in this ‘supposed’ deal did Iran promise NOT to build new plants, continue its nuclear research, or enrich uranium. In fact, enrichment of uranium at the existing Natanz and Fordow facilities will continue at a range of 3.5 to 5 percent purity level as Iran only promised NOT to enrich uranium past a 5 percent grade…which by the way means NOTHING as 5 percent is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the 20 percent grade needed for a nuclear weapon.

And as Iran laughs at the foolish Americans and the equally foolish other members of the P5+1 who agreed to this deal, the head of the Iranian Energy Committee, Jalil Jafari Boneh Khalkhal, told the Fars News Agency that the second and third plants will be similar to the existent Bushehr facility…a facility which came online with help from Russia who will provide fuel for it through 2021…but that the new plants will be built with even higher ‘safety standards.’

Higher safety standards my eye…harder for the Israelis to takeout is more like it.

Saying Iran should produce 150 tons of nuclear fuel to supply five nuclear power plants, IAEO's Salehi added that the two new plants…with construction set to begin on March 21, 2014 which marks the new Iranian calendar year 1393…would help the country reduce its carbon emissions and its consumption of oil. One has to laugh at the absurdity of those words for Iran has an almost endless supply of oil and its carbon footprint is quite small.

NO…these new ‘supposed’ nuclear electricity plants are just a ruse…a front…for Iran’s continuing of its goal to get a nuclear bomb.

And isn’t it odd that the existing operational Bushehr nuclear plant (in fact the Bushehr site itself is capable of holding six power reactors and Tehran has identified 16 additional sites throughout the country suitable for other atomic plants) was NOT addressed in the Geneva nuclear deal as this plant is capable of producing plutonium, another type of nuclear fuel that could provide Iran an alternate way to a nuclear weapon. And because the deal was but a ‘framework’ that still must be finalized…as per the Obama White House…Iran technically can still continue its nuclear activities while final details are worked out, because there was NO mechanism put in place to prevent Iran from continuing to pursue its nuclear ambitions.

And here’s a little goodie…at this point denied by our State Department (like we can believe what they say) but nevertheless reported on in Kuwait’s Al-Jarida newspaper and disseminated by the Islamic Republic News Agency…a little goodie that Barack HUSSEIN Obama wants to be the first US president since Jimmy Carter’s visit before the 1979 Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis to visit Iran and that he wants to go before mid-2014, and is just waiting for an official invite from President Rouhani.

Guess he wants to be there in time to help his islamic brethren break ground on their two new nuclear plants it seems.

And what does Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say to all this…especially to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif saying that any and all future discussions about Iran’s ‘supposed’ nuclear ambitions and right to nuclear power must leave out Israel, because Iran will NOT attend a meeting with a state that is headquartered in Jerusalem.

“The largest darkness that threatens the world today is a nuclear Iran,” the Times of Israel quoted Netanyahu as saying. “We are bound to do all we can to prevent this darkness. If possible, we will do this diplomatically. If not, we will act as a light unto the nations.”

And I think that says it all for Benjamin Netanyahu’s words always speak 'the truth' and he has the courage to stand by his convictions…by his words…something the two fools in DC that have allowed Iran NOT only to get the deal of the century but have allowed Iran to actually call the shots…know NOTHING about.