Gay Patriot introduces us to the myth often put forward by the left. This post by Gay Patriot will add to the video by Bill Whittle that follows it:
One of the myths Progressive Leftists elevate to “fact” by constantly repeating it to each other is the idea that Scandinavian countries are the closest on Earth fulfillment to their socialist dream utopia. ~ Gay patriot
Visitors say Danes are joyless to be around. Denmark suffers from high rates of alcoholism. In its use of antidepressants it ranks fourth in the world. (Its fellow Nordics the Icelanders are in front by a wide margin.) Some 5 percent of Danish men have had sex with an animal. Denmark’s productivity is in decline, its workers put in only 28 hours a week, and everybody you meet seems to have a government job. Oh, and as The Telegraph put it, it’s “the cancer capital of the world.”
So how happy can these drunk, depressed, lazy, tumor-ridden, pig-bonking bureaucrats really be?
I think my favorite paragraph is where he cites the Scandinavian Social Contract as the “Ten Commandments of Buzzkill.”
“You shall not believe that you are someone,” goes one. “You shall not believe that you are as good as we are,” is another. Others included “You shall not believe that you are going to amount to anything,” “You shall not believe that you are more important than we are” and “You shall not laugh at us.”
They read like the 10 Commandments of Progressive Leftism…
…From 1970 until 1989, taxes rose exorbitantly, killing private initiative, while entitlements became excessive. Laws were often altered and became unpredictable. As a consequence, Sweden endured two decades of low growth. In 1991-93, the country suffered a severe crash in real estate and banking that reduced GDP by 6 percent. Public spending had surged to 71.7 percent of GDP in 1993, and the budget deficit reached 11 percent of GDP.
TURNING POINT The combination of the crisis and the non-socialist government under Carl Bildt from 1991 to 1994 broke the trend and turned the country around. In 1994, the Social Democrats returned to power and stayed until 2006. Instead of revoking the changes, they completed the fiscal tightening. In 2006, a non-socialist government returned, and Finance Minister Anders Borg, with his trademark ponytail and earring, has led further reforms. Sweden successfully weathered the global financial crisis that started in 2008, and the Financial Times named Borg Europe’s best finance minister last year.
Before 2009, Sweden had a budget surplus, and it has one again. For the past two years, economic growth has been 4 percent on average, and the current-account surplus was 6.7 percent in 2011. The only concerns are the depressed demand for exports caused by the current euro crisis and an unemployment rate that is about 7.5 percent.
Sweden’s traditional scourge is taxes, which used to be the highest in the world. The current government has cut them every year and abolished wealth taxes. Inheritance and gift taxes are also gone. Until 1990, the maximum marginal income tax rate was 90 percent. Today, it is 56.5 percent. That is still one of the world’s highest, after Belgium’s 59.4 and there is strong public support for a cut to 50 percent.
The 26 percent tax on corporate profits may seem reasonable from an American perspective, but Swedish business leaders want to reduce it to 20 percent. Tax competition is fierce in some parts of Europe. Most East European countries, for example, have slashed corporate taxes to 15-19 percent….
Reason.org Weighs in on the “Swedish” experiment, how it got its wealth, noting how it squandered it, and how it is returning to the pre-70’s ideology:
Sweden is a powerful example of the importance of public policy. The Nordic nation became rich between 1870 and 1970 when government was very small, but then began to stagnate as welfare state policies were implemented in the 1970s and 1980s. The CF&P Foundation video explains that Sweden is now shifting back to economic freedom in hopes of undoing the damage caused by an excessive welfare state.
And do not think for a moment that the free-market has not allowed Sweden or other Nordic nations to get back on their feet. This is is pointed out in the following “101” presentation on economics:
For those of us who place more trust in free markets than state-directed economies, we must inevitably (and repeatedly) confront the skeptical interlocutor who details the “successes” of Swedish social democracy. “If state intervention into the economy is so bad, high taxes so destructive, then why is Sweden such a success?” It’s an irritatingly simple question with a incredibly complicated answer, though I do recommend pointing out, when the conversation turns to health care and secondary education, that nothing, in a state the confiscates a massive portion of your income, is “free.” But as many have pointed out, during its boom years, Sweden was a pretty free market place; from the 1970s through the 1990s—when taxes and regulation dramatically increased—the economy slowed until it spun out in the early 1990s…
…So here is my bottom line: When some American pundit, with expertise is everything, explains why some European welfare state “works,” or how everything you know is wrong about taxing income at 75 percent, do a little digging, make use of Google Translate, and don’t trust that, because Swedes and Danes tell researchers that they are happy, the United States should introduce “daddy leave” and provide subsidies to syndicalist newspapers.
The best English-language explication of the Swedish model comes from my pal Johan Norberg, who wrote this brilliant piece for The National Interest a few years back. And watch my interview with Norberg on Swedish welfare politics here and on Naomi Klein here.
The following interview is Johan Norberg, author of In Defense of Global Capitalism, sits down with reason.tv’s Michael C. Moynihan to sort out the myths of the Sweden’s welfare state, health services, tax rates, and its status as the “most successful society the world has ever known.”
National Review seems like a good place to continue the theme of showing how the Nordic countries have used the free-market system to recoup what it has lost with previous regulations that crippled free-enterprise. Here is a comparison between Sweden and Venzuala that was helpful in explaining how Sweden has less regulations that us in many places (a recent phenomenon BTW):
Talk to a Bernie Sanders voter about “socialism” — and they can be very insistent about using the word — and you’ll get paeans to Sweden, which is not a socialist country but a country with large, expensive welfare state. The distinction is not trivial: There is relatively little in the way of state-run enterprise in Sweden; the Swedish government is in fact only a 60 percent partner in the postal service. The Swedish government is, alas, in the casino business, albeit in a more transparent way than American government is. On the Heritage economic-freedom rankings, Sweden isn’t that far behind the United States. It has very high taxes, but taxes are not the only burden that governments put on the economy, not necessarily even the most important, and Sweden outscores the United States on a number of important metrics: free trade, property rights, freedom from corruption, investment freedom, monetary policy, etc. The United States’ small edge in the rankings comes mainly from relatively low taxes and a much less regulated labor market.
Reason.org again weighs in on whether Sweden is the right model for the U.S. to emulate:
The Above Video Description:
To the American mind there may be nothing more quintessentially Swedish than the leggy, blond supermodel.
But there’s another Swedish model that inspires almost as much admiration—the Swedish economic model. With a generous welfare state and high living standards, Sweden seems to prove that socialism works. Much of the hope that swept Barack Obama into the White House rests on the belief that America could reach new heights under a regime of enlightened progressivism, that we could be more like the Swedes.
Not so fast, warns Stockholm University sociologist Charlotta Stern: “If an American told me that the US should be more like Sweden I would say I don’t think it’s possible.” The United States can centralize its health care system and pass other laws that mimic Sweden’s welfare state polices, says Stern, but it’s impossible to replicate a culture that allows those policies to operate about as smoothly as possible. Swedish bureaucracies inspire trust, but their American counterparts (DMV, TSA, IRS) inspire punch lines, if not outrage.
But America could emulate some of the Swedish policies that don’t require extensive bureaucracies. Take school vouchers. Teachers unions in America regard the idea as free-market radicalism, but families in Sweden enjoy universal school choice. Sweden adopted its famously progressive policies during the 1970s, but after years of sluggish economic growth the land of ABBA altered its course in the 1990s, adopting a host of free-market reforms, from deregulation to tax cuts.
Although much of the disco-era welfare state remains, economist Andreas Bergh credits the free market reforms with reviving his nation’s economy. “Sweden is moving in the market economic direction,” says Bergh, “but that does not mean America should be moving in the socialist direction.”
What if the two nations continue on in different directions? Maybe some day when America is looking for a way to rejuvenate its economy, pundits will point to a different kind of Swedish model. One that increases individual choice and competition.
“Sweden—A Supermodel for America?” is produced by Daniel B. Klein, and written and produced by Ted Balaker, who also hosts. Shot by Jonathan Liberman and Henrik Devell, with additional production support by Zach Weissmueller and Sam Corcos and post production by Hawk Jensen and Austin Bragg. Special thanks to Niclas Berggren, Martin Borgs, Nils Karlson, and the Ratio Institute.
Finland is joining military exercises with other Scandinavian countries, as well as several members of NATO, in late May, Finnish media report. The maneuvers called Arctic Challenge will span 12 days, starting May 25, and include nine countries and close to 100 planes. The drills, over Sweden and northern Norway, come amid increased tensions between Russia and its Baltic and Nordic neighbors.
Sweden and Switzerland, which like Finland are not members of NATO, are expected to join the exercise, along with NATO members Norway, the Netherlands, Britain, France, Germany and the United States. Finland plans to send 16 F-18 Hornet fighter jets, while the other countries will supply Gripen “multirole” fighters, F-16s, Eurofighters and Jet Falcons, as well as transports and tankers, Russian news agency Sputnik reported. The Norwegian armed forces said the purpose of the Arctic Challenge exercise is to “learn to coordinate efforts in complicated flight operations conducted in cooperation with NATO.”
Russia has ramped up military activity along its borders with northern Europe, causing consternation in several Baltic and Nordic countries and pre-emptive actions to head off — or prepare for — a possible military crisis. Latvia, which reported a Russian submarine near its coast in mid-March, is beefing up security on its eastern border, while Finland recently began a letter campaign notifying some 900,000 reservists of their duties in a potential crisis. Sweden also intercepted four Russian planes flying over the Baltic Sea in March with their radios off. Russian jets have been intercepted in other instances while flying in European international airspace….
I also pointed out that this promise went back to the Cold War, and was not known about till a Swedish defense think-tank/security firm uncovered the agreements in 1994. The original story’s link has been lost, but it is here on FOI’s site. FOI’s “about us” page has this:
FOI is one of Europe’s leading research institutes in the areas of defence and security. We have 1,000 highly skilled employees with various backgrounds. At FOI, you will find everything from physicists, chemists, engineers, social scientists, mathematicians and philosophers to lawyers, economists and IT technicians…. The Armed Forces and the Swedish Defence Material Administration are our main customers. However, we also accept assignments from civil authorities and industry. Our clients from the defence sector place very high demands on advanced research, which also benefits other customers.
Initially after the end of World War II, Sweden quietly pursued an aggressive independent nuclear weapons program involving plutonium production and nuclear secrets acquisition from all nuclear powers, until the 1960s, when it was abandoned as cost-prohibitive. During the Cold War Sweden appeared to maintain a dual approach to thermonuclear weapons. Publicly, the strict neutrality policy was forcefully maintained, but unofficially strong ties were purportedly kept with the U.S. It was hoped that the U.S. would use conventional and nuclear weapons to strike at Soviet staging areas in the occupied Baltic states in case of a Soviet attack on Sweden. Over time and due to the official neutrality policy, fewer and fewer Swedish military officials were aware of the military cooperation with the west, making such cooperation in the event of war increasingly difficult. At the same time Swedish defensive planning was completely based on help from abroad in the event of war. Later research has shown that every publicly available war-game training, included the scenario that Sweden was under attack from the Soviets, and would rely on NATO forces for defence. The fact that it was not permissible to mention this aloud eventually led to the Swedish armed forces becoming highly misbalanced. For example, a strong ability to defend against an amphibious invasion was maintained, while an ability to strike at inland staging areas was almost completely absent.
In the early 1960s U.S. nuclear submarines armed with mid-range nuclear missiles of type Polaris A-1 were deployed outside the Swedish west coast. Range and safety considerations made this a good area from which to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike on Moscow. The submarines had to be very close to the Swedish coast to hit their intended targets though. As a consequence of this, in 1960, the same year that the submarines were first deployed, the U.S. provided Sweden with a military security guarantee. The U.S. promised to provide military force in aid of Sweden in case of Soviet aggression. This guarantee was kept from the Swedish public until 1994, when a Swedish research commission found evidence for it. As part of the military cooperation the U.S. provided much help in the development of the Saab 37 Viggen, as a strong Swedish air force was seen as necessary to keep Soviet anti-submarine aircraft from operating in the missile launch area. In return Swedish scientists at the Royal Institute of Technology made considerable contributions to enhancing the targeting performance of the Polaris missiles.
Some More Discussion
In this first back-and-forth, I noted some of the above and got this response:
Seems Sweden is searching for the viable balance of Capitalism and Socialism. Good for them. Bernie Sanders seeks the same.
To which I respond:
They want [and have] a lower tax rate than Sanders wants. They dumped their “wealth tax” and “death tax.” They lowered their corporate tax-rate and want it at 20% and below. Lessened regulations on businesses… on-and-on.
Bernie wants the 70’s through 90’s Sweden… I am down with the 2006 and beyond Sweden.
Someone else joined the discussion, and mentioned the following:
My family is Swedish and I can tell you with 100% accuracy they are way better off than we are…. Across the board pretty much.
Again, I respond:
There is a Swedish economist in the post that from first hand experience (and expertise in his field) telling you they are where they are because of the free market and a reduction [greatly] of the welfare state/socialism enterprise. [And, BTW, they use the many life saving drugs produced by the profit motivated “Big Pharma” spending on R&D to extend the lives of their fellow Swedes.]
When you get all these health care services for “free” then people start taking them for granted, calling ambulances without second thoughts, and going to the doctor for simple things that you don’t really need to see a doctor for… False alarms for ambulances and fire trucks end up costing the government and indirectly tax payers huge amounts of money every year. Which is why Sweden has as of late started to reform its health care system by privatizing parts of it. Mind you, these are somewhat limited in scope, but people are able to pay now for private care (1-in-10 now have private insurance/health-care).
…The paradox is that America has been doubling down on government authority over healthcare with the Affordable Care Act, just as more and more European governments, including Denmark, England, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden, have been forced by public outcry to address the unconscionable waits for care by introducing new laws. But it is even more essential for American voters to realize, and for our government leaders to acknowledge, what other countries are beginning to recognize all over the world. These governments have started to understand that the cure for their failed nationalized health systems is a shift to privatization. And citizens under government-dominated health systems are increasingly circumventing their own systems, pursuing private healthcare to solve the uniformly poor access to care and limited choices.
Let’s consider Sweden, often heralded as the paradigm of a successful welfare state. The facts tell a very different story. Having failed its citizens in healthcare access, the Swedish government has aggressively introduced private market forces into healthcare to improve access, quality, and choices. Although once entirely public, over a quarter of Swedish primary care clinics are now run by the private sector. Sweden’s municipality governments have increased spending on private care contracts by 50% in the past decade. Private nursing facilities now receive substantial public funding to care for patients. Widespread private sector competition has also been introduced into pharmacies to tear down the pre-2009 monopoly over all prescription and non-prescription drugs. Since the Swedish government sold over half of its pharmacies to private firms in 2009, 20 private firms entered the market and over 300 new pharmacies opened, not only improving accessibility but providing the first pharmacies ever to many small towns.
Moreover, despite the fact that an average Swedish family already pays nearly $20,000 annually in taxes toward healthcare according to Swedish economist Per Bylund, about 12% of working adults bought private insurance in 2013, a number that has increased by 67% over the last five years. Half a million Swedes now use private insurance, up from 100,000 a decade ago, even though they are already “guaranteed” public healthcare….
…In the pre-Reagan Era, the media was just as left-leaning and reluctant to discuss the poverty and oppression that permeated the Soviet Union. But there were enough people willing to talk about it outside the media for the truth to get out. The pervasiveness of social media should make it easier, not harder, for conservatives to get a message out around the media gatekeepers. Millennials should be told what happened in Venezuela after his ideological brother Hugo Chavez took over; they should be told how toilet paper became a black market commodity and supermarket shelves became bare. And they should be made aware that Sweden is not quite the utopia they’ve been taught it is, either.
Medicaid was created in 1965 as a safety net for the poor. But Obamacare distorted it, edging the U.S. closer to a Medicaid-for-all or single-payer system. Swelling the Medicaid rolls — not making private insurance affordable — is the main way Obamacare dealt with the uninsured.
Almost 75 million people are now enrolled, 20 million more than in Medicare, the program for the elderly. If the repeal bill doesn’t pass, Medicaid enrollment will soar to 86 million by 2026, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis released Monday.
Who’s picking up the tab for this vast Medicaid expansion? You. Worse, you pay twice — once as a taxpayer, and then again as an insurance consumer. Families with private insurance pay $1,500 to $2,000 or more in added premiums yearly already to keep Medicaid afloat. The more Medicaid expands, the higher their premiums will go. That’s because Medicaid shortchanges hospitals and doctors, paying less than the actual cost of care. They make up for it by shifting the costs onto privately insured patients. Ouch.
That cost shifting only works until Medicaid enrollment grows too large. The Mayo Clinic warned three months ago that Medicaid enrollment has reached the tipping point. The renowned clinic announced it will have to turn away some Medicaid patients or put them at the back of the line, behind patients with commercial insurance.
Years earlier, when Obamacare was still being debated in Congress, the dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Dr. Edward Miller, issued a similar warning: Allowing a vast expansion of Medicaid could have “catastrophic effects” at places like Hopkins.
His dire prediction came true. Obamacare loosened Medicaid eligibility rules and urged states to enroll as many people as possible, with Uncle Sam paying 100 percent of the tab until 2016 and 90 percent or more thereafter.
Medicaid enrollment spiked in many states, including New York, where it skyrocketed up by a third to 6.3 million. Blame the incentive to rake in federal dollars.
And waste money. Roughly 10.5 percent of Medicaid payments are in error. Any company with that record would be out of business….
In fact, quite the contrary. The Senate bill will codify and make permanent the Medicaid expansion, and will, in fact, have the federal government pay the lion’s share of the cost. Remember, ObamaCare created a new category of eligibility. Working age, able-bodied adults with no dependents for the first time became eligible for Medicaid if their income is below 138 percent of the poverty level. [editor’s note: which is why it (the ACA) should be repealed completely, not replaced!]
The Left’s rhetoric is legend, here you can see it in action regarding Medicaid:
…It doesn’t help that news reports criminally misrepresent the CBO score, stating flatly that 22 million people will “lose” insurance under the plan. Or when ostensibly neutral news articles announce that Medicaid will be “slashed” or “gutted” under the Senate bill.
In fact, the bill merely slows Medicaid’s rate of growth. Under the Senate plan, federal Medicaid spending would still increase $73 billion by 2026 — and while that’s well below the scheduled amount of spending under Obamacare, conservatives maintain the current law’s trajectory is unsustainable…
This remind’s me of when the Democrats said Bush was cutting benefits to veteran’s, but in fact he was raising them mroe than during Clinton’s tenure:
Only in government does slowing the growth of spending mean “cuts”
FORBES deals with a couple of the lies/myths by the Left in regard to “cuts.”
False claim: Growing costs are the main problem & per capita cap funding will not be enough
Reality: Enrollment growth is driving spending increases and per capita caps are a good first step towards reform
When the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored these bills, the projected savings from changes in Medicaid were almost entirely related to Medicaid enrollment changes– not capping the program. In fact, analysis by my colleague Jonathan Ingram at the Foundation for Government Accountability has shown that, historically, almost all states would not have exceeded the caps set in the House bill. Just 0.4 percent of spending would have exceeded the cap.
Actually, the caps are projected to grow at a higher rate than projected spending for seniors and the disabled. (4.8% projected for 2019 and beyond vs. 4.6%)
Altogether, if the caps had been in place starting in 2000, actual spending growth would have remained lower than the targets set by BCRA.
But here is the line of cutting spending overall… remember, not by capping the program:
But in reality, the benefits of Medicaid is lacking, as any government program:
Medicaid is a program that is rife with inefficiency. A 2015 study found that recipients derived only 20 to 40 cents of benefit for every dollar governments spend on it. Researchers have struggled to find any positive effects Medicaid has on beneficiaries’ physical health. — Ramesh Ponnuru
“If enacted, the President’s budget would be a major down payment on federal entitlement reform. It cannot be overemphasized that analysts and economists, often of very different political persuasions, are united in their conviction that policymakers must take decisive steps to slow the growth of federal entitlement spending. By putting Medicaid on a budget—either through a fixed allotment to the states in the form of a block grant or a per capita cap—the Trump budget would give state officials much needed flexibility in managing the program and better target services to the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens.” — Robert Moffit
In September, the Department of Health and Human Services sent out a warning that improper payments under Medicaid have become so common that they will account this year for almost 12 percent of total Medicaid spending — just shy of $140 billion. (Total improper payments across federal programs will come to about $139 billion this year, according to estimates that have proved too generous in the past, and almost all of that is Medicaid-driven.) That rate has doubled in only a few years, driven mostly by the so-called Affordable Care Act’s liberalization of Medicaid-eligibility rules. — Kevin D. Williamson
And there is waste in other areas as well. CNS-NEWS has an article on how many children are born on Medicare…
New Mexico led all states with 72 percent of the babies born there in 2015 having their births covered by Medicaid.
Arkansas ranked second with 67 percent; Louisiana ranked third with 65 percent; and three states—Mississippi, Nevada and Wisconsin—tied for fourth place with 64 percent of babies born there covered by Medicaid.
New Hampshire earned the distinction of having the smallest percentage of babies born on Medicaid. In that state, Medicaid paid for the births of only 27 percent of the babies born in 2015.
Virginia and Utah tied for the next to last position, with 31 percent of the babies born on Medicaid.
However, according to KFF, some of the nation’s most populous states shared the distinction of having 50 percent or more of the babies born there born on Medicaid.
In California, Florida and Illinois, for example, 50 percent of all babies were born on Medicaid in the latest year on record.
In New York, 51 percent of the babies were born on Medicaid.
In Ohio, 52 percent of babies were born on Medicaid.
The Kaiser Family Foundation gathered its data on the number of babies born on Medicaid in each state by surveying the state Medicaid directors.
“Medicaid directors were asked to provide the most recent available data on the share of all births in their states that were financed by Medicaid,” said a KFF report.
“About half of the states were able to provide data for calendar 2015 or fiscal year 2015,” said KFF. “Other states generally provided data from 2013 or 2014. On average, states reported that Medicaid pays for just over 47 percent of all births.”
“Eight states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia) reported that Medicaid pays for 60 percent or more of all births in their state,” reported KFF.
By 2010, according this report, the percentage of births in the United States covered by Medicaid had risen to 47.75 percent—or 1,805,151 out of 3,780,519 total births.
Another report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlater in December 2013, looked at the form of payment for births in the 33 states and the District of Columbia that as of 2010 had adopted the 2003 version of “U.S. Standard Certificate for Live Birth.” This certificate specifically asks the mother to say which of four categories the payment for her child’s birth falls into: private insurance, Medicaid, self-pay, or other.
This data, according to the CDC, covered all 2010 births in the 33 states and the District of Columbia, which accounted for 76 percent of all births in the nation in that year. According to the CDC, this data revealed that 44.9 percent of the babies born in these jurisdictions in 2010 were born on Medicaid.
In this 2010 CDC data for 33 states, New Mexico also led with the highest percentage of births on Medicaid—with 57.5 percent of all babies born there that year having their births covered by Medicaid.
When I see this it is the same thing as the Pentagon buying a toilet seat for $640, I expect everyone to be besides themselves with that. The same thing I expect with the above list. The problem is that Democrats are pinning their single-payer hopes on Medicaid.
Claude Castonguay, the father of the Canadian Health Care system, and a model adopted by the NHS in Britain, has said his model is failing:
Just yesterday, I wrote about how unpopular the British healthcare system has become. Today comes news that the man largely responsible for Canada’s conversion to a single-payer health care system has admitted the system’s failure:
“Back in the 1960s, (Claude) Castonguay chaired a Canadian government committee studying health reform and recommended that his home province of Quebec — then the largest and most affluent in the country — adopt government-administered health care, covering all citizens through tax levies.
The government followed his advice, leading to his modern-day moniker: “the father of Quebec medicare.” Even this title seems modest; Castonguay’s work triggered a domino effect across the country, until eventually his ideas were implemented from coast to coast.”
Four decades later, as the chairman of a government committee reviewing Quebec health care this year, Castonguay concluded that the system is in “crisis.”
“We thought we could resolve the system’s problems by rationing services or injecting massive amounts of new money into it,” says Castonguay. But now he prescribes a radical overhaul: “We are proposing to give a greater role to the private sector so that people can exercise freedom of choice.”
As more and more nations throughout the world seek to infuse more private, market-based solutions into their government-controlled healthcare systems, for some reason lefties in this country want to make the same mistake that countries like Canada made decades ago…
One person eventually wrote a book about their experience, noting in a CITY JOURNAL article:
…I was once a believer in socialized medicine. I don’t want to overstate my case: growing up in Canada, I didn’t spend much time contemplating the nuances of health economics. I wanted to get into medical school—my mind brimmed with statistics on MCAT scores and admissions rates, not health spending. But as a Canadian, I had soaked up three things from my environment: a love of ice hockey; an ability to convert Celsius into Fahrenheit in my head; and the belief that government-run health care was truly compassionate. What I knew about American health care was unappealing: high expenses and lots of uninsured people. When HillaryCare shook Washington, I remember thinking that the Clintonistas were right.
My health-care prejudices crumbled not in the classroom but on the way to one. On a subzero Winnipeg morning in 1997, I cut across the hospital emergency room to shave a few minutes off my frigid commute. Swinging open the door, I stepped into a nightmare: the ER overflowed with elderly people on stretchers, waiting for admission. Some, it turned out, had waited five days. The air stank with sweat and urine. Right then, I began to reconsider everything that I thought I knew about Canadian health care. I soon discovered that the problems went well beyond overcrowded ERs. Patients had to wait for practically any diagnostic test or procedure, such as the man with persistent pain from a hernia operation whom we referred to a pain clinic—with a three-year wait list; or the woman needing a sleep study to diagnose what seemed like sleep apnea, who faced a two-year delay; or the woman with breast cancer who needed to wait four months for radiation therapy, when the standard of care was four weeks….
One of David Gratzer’s books opened my eyes to what was going on up in Canada and gave me ammunition to respond to silly liberal emotive arguments. The book is “Code Blue: Reviving Canada’s Health Care System.” But, many people believe the Michael Moore’s of the World:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor and architect of ObamaCare Jonathan Gruber told CNN’s Carol Costello on Wednesday that ObamaCare, which is set to see a sharp increase in premium prices next year, is going just as planned.
When asked what could be done to the Affordable Care Act in order to drive the prices of premiums down, Gruber responded by saying “the law is working as designed.”
WORKING AS DESIGNED?
YES, as designed:
I have pointed this out before… single-payer is the goal:
An after thought. Since the DNC leadership has said — recently — the goal is single-payer… the question becomes this then: “what other area of life would a person want single payer in?” The airlines? Fast-food? Grocery stores? Car dealers? Education? Gyms?
In other words, why would someone reject a single airline, a single grocery-store (sorry weekend BBQ’ers, no more carne-asada from Vallerta), one gym, etc. — competition drives prices down and offers the best way (supply and demand) to get to the consumer what they want… but reject all that for a system that is failing in Canada, Britain, and the like?
It seems counter-intuitive that the left likes to break up large companies/corporations that get too big, and speak about/to the “evils” large companies inflict on the consumer, but then want single-payer. Odd indeed.
Why is it a big deal that Max Baucus has now come around as well? Well, it’s not just that he was one of the architects of O-Care in 2009 as head of the Senate Finance Committee, making his “evolution” towards socialized medicine particularly noteworthy. It’s that Baucus was one of the bulwarks *against* single-payer in the Senate at the time. Leftists begged him to seize the moment eight years ago, when Democrats enjoyed a filibuster-proof majority, and push Medicare for all. No dice, he said. The country’s not ready for it. It won’t pass and Democrats might get wiped out in the midterms for even trying. In the end they got wiped out in the midterms anyway and large chunks of the country do now appear to be ready for it — including Republicans, so long as the small matter of cost isn’t emphasized.
“I just think the time has come,” Baucus told NBC News Friday, after stunning healthcare observers earlier in the day by seemingly coming around on single-payer at a public forum. “Back in ’09, we were not ready to address it. It would never have passed. Here we are nine years later, I think it’s time to hopefully have a very serious good faith look at it.”…
“I started out by saying everything is on the table,” Baucus recalled. “But I did make an exception and that was single-payer. I said, nope, we’re not going to put single-payer on the table. Why? In my judgement, America was just not there … It’s branded as socialistic by too many people.”…
Baucus compared the issue’s evolution to that of gay rights. “It’s anathema for a long time, and then suddenly — acceptance,” he said.
Minnesota will let the health insurers in its Obamacare market raise rates by at least 50 percent next year, after the individual market there came to the brink of collapse, the state’s commerce commissioner said Friday.
The increases range from 50 percent to 67 percent, Commissioner Mike Rothman’s office said in a statement. Rothman, who regulates the state’s insurers, is an appointee under Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat. The rate hike follows increases for this year of 14 percent to 49 percent.
….So a loss of $70 million after less than a year in operation in just a few markets. Harken’s plan was to reduce costs for expensive treatments down the line by allowing all of its enrollees unlimited primary care visits with no co-pays and no deductibles. However those visits could only be with doctors at Harken’s own health clinics. One health broker told Modern Healthcare her clients didn’t like the idea of giving up their regular doctors:
Susan Morris, an independent broker in Atlanta, said Harken “did a poor job of marketing the plan to agents and brokers.” In addition, she said her individual customers didn’t like the idea of giving up their regular primary care doctors and instead using Harken’s staff providers. And Harken didn’t have enough clinic locations to serve the large Atlanta market….
Seems that Washington DC isn’t the only place that’s learned the art of the Friday afternoon news dump. Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced yesterday afternoon that the state had approved health insurance premium increases that will average 60% in MNsure, the state’s ObamaCare exchange. The statement blamed big losses by insurers in the state, and bad predictions about utilization rates, for the decision:
Rothman said that Minnesota’s rate increases are part of a national trend in the individual health insurance market, with nearly all states looking at double-digit rate increases as insurers seek to align premium revenues with expected claims costs. States’ rate increases are also exacerbated by cuts to critical federal programs that were intended to stabilize the market and rates for consumers.
However, Minnesota’s individual market also faces unique challenges because of a disproportionate concentration of individuals with serious medical conditions whose high claims costs must be absorbed by a relatively small risk pool, pushing up rates for everyone in the individual market.
Citing ongoing financial losses, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota announced in late June that it is leaving the individual market, except for its Blue Plus HMO affiliate. The company’s decision affects approximately 103,000 Minnesotans, or about 40 percent of the state’s total individual market…..
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee announced Monday it would no longer offer plans in three of the state’s most heavily populated regions. The insurer posted an explanation on its website (along with a map):
We’re trying hard to make the Affordable Care Act (ACA) work in Tennessee and are offering plans in most of the state for 2017.
Because of many challenges, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to end coverage in three regions for 2017 – the Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville regions (shaded in orange below)…..
Count Minnesotans among the consumers who will get a big rate shock in November when open enrollment begins for ObamaCare. Insurers have applied for massive increases in the state MNsure exchange, with premiums escalating between 36% to 67%, and possibly more. And they’ll get it, because the alternative for insurers is to pack up and leave:
Minnesota health insurers are seeking big premium increases next year for people who buy coverage on their own, with proposed jumps for thousands of people averaging anywhere from 36 percent to 67 percent.
About 270,000 people buy coverage through Minnesota’s individual market, where shoppers buy through insurers, brokers or the state’s MNsure health insurance exchange…..
Double-digit Obamacare premium hikes projected in 2017 may bode in Donald Trump’s favor, as several swing states are being impacted by double-digit increases under the law and consumers are expected to see the hikes around Nov. 1 — one week before heading to the polls.
Trump has promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, but Hillary Clinton has vowed to make the Obamacare exchanges work. Some say the way she would do that is through raising taxes.
“Any reports of premium increases will immediately become talking points on the campaign trail,” stated Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “We’re in an election where the very future of the law will be debated.”
The Heritage Foundation found dramatic increases on premiums in Wisconsin and Florida as well as Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina under the law in comparison to before Obamacare went into effect. Currently, insurers in the Obamacare marketplace in North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois are wanting double-digit hikes on premiums.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is reportedly requesting to increase rates by more than 18 percent, while in Ohio, the average requested hike is around 10 percent. In Pennsylvania, companies want hikes averaging 23.6 percent, according to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.
Entitlement programs in general spend tomorrow’s money on payments today — in essence, picking the pockets of our children and grandchildren for our own benefit. Here in Minnesota, the state takes that more literally. The NBC affiliate in the Twin Cities reports that families who qualified for MNsure’s Medicaid program are finding out that they’re getting coverage for free now, but leaving their children with tax liens that run into the tens of thousands of dollars:
let’s not pretend that ObamaCare, Medicaid, and Medicare don’t already do exactly what we see here from KARE11. Those programs promise coverage that we cannot possibly fund in real time, which is one reason why our national debt has skyrocketed above 100% of GDP in the past several years. We are placing liens on the backs of our children, grandchildren, and even more distant generations in order to make ourselves feel good about our own generosity to ourselves. The only difference between that and what MNsure has done to its Medical Assistance customers is that it’s easier to pretend with the rest of the entitlements.
Obama had said during his State of the Union speech on January 20, that a small business owner should be able to file taxes “based on her actual bank statement instead of the number of accountants she can afford.”
However, Cramer, co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” said on January 21, that Obama’s very own health insurance initiative had already increased, rather than decreased, the complexity of tax accounting for small businesses.
Cramer said that the president’s statement was “a little out of sync with what’s really happening,” because Obamacare had actually increased small businesses’ dependence on accountants.
“You have to hire accountants to deal with ACA, the Affordable Care Act. You can’t figure it out without them,” Cramer said….
The brief lays out three main complaints about the procedure. The first? Since the form “designates, authorizes, incentivizes, and obligates third parties to provide or arrange contraceptive coverage in connection with the plan,” the brief contends that “once the Little Sisters execute and deliver the Form, the Mandate purports to make it irrevocably part of the plan by forbidding the Little Sisters to even talk to the outside companies that administer their health plan, ‘directly or indirectly,’ to ask them not to provide the coverage.”
In addition, the brief allows that “regardless of whether the government sincerely believes EBSA Form 700 is morally meaningful, the relevant legal question is whether the Little Sisters do. And on that point, there is no dispute: the Little Sisters cannot execute and deliver the contraceptive coverage form without violating their religious conscience. The government may think the Little Sisters should reason differently about law and morality, but their actual religious beliefs — the beliefs that matter in this case — have led them to conclude that they cannot sign or send the government’s Form.”
Finally, the government’s so-called “scheme” is said to violate the First Amendment, because it has “exempted a large class of religious organizations based on unfounded guesswork about the likely religious characteristics of different religious organizations. The government has no power to discriminate in this fashion, allowing some religious organizations to survive while crushing others with fines for the identical religious exercise. This violation of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses is compounded by a clear violation of the Free Speech Clause: the Mandate both compels the Little Sisters to engage in government-required speech against their will, and prohibits them from engaging in speech they wish to make.”
Another short commentary on what took place just a couple days ago via The Daily Signal:
Some organizations are fighting back against the accommodation because it simply shifts responsibility for purchasing coverage away from the employers, and it is still the employer’s action that triggers the objectionable coverage. This bureaucratic tweak to the accommodation, issued this past August, still does not adequately protect the religious freedom of many charities, schools and other religious organizations.
Essentially the court determined that the accommodation is fine because it doesn’t directly force the groups to violate their conscience.
Yet a regulation can still be a substantial religious burden even if the effect is only indirect.
The U.S. Supreme Court said as much in Thomas v. Review Board over 30 years ago. In this case, a Jehovah’s Witness steelworker was denied unemployment benefits after quitting his job because he was transferred to a part of his company that made weapons. Because of his belief in non-violence, Thomas could not participate in the manufacture of weapons. In siding with Thomas, the Supreme Court noted that “[I]t is not within the judicial function and judicial competence to inquire whether [Thomas] correctly perceived the commands of [his] faith. Courts are not arbiters of scriptural interpretation.” Instead, the Court would defer to a religious believer’s interpretation unless the claim was so bizarre or had a non-religious motivation, elements even the government concedes do not apply to Priests for Life or the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Thus, what Judge Pillard calls “a bit of paperwork” is exactly what Priests for Life find morally wrong.
What may seem trivial to one person may give rise to a serious religious dilemma for another. For example, Orthodox Jews may not flip light switches or press buttons on the Sabbath.
In short, courts should not be in the business of line-drawing when it comes to theological questions. Though the Obama administration won the round in the battle over the abortion-inducing drug mandate before the D.C. Circuit, the fight continues with the Little Sisters of the Poor.