Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ Category

Many doctors are getting around Obamacare by helping patients directly

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

The alleged goal of Obamacare was to increase the amount of people who have health insurance. It instead created a problem: While more people are covered (millions after the plans they had were banned), insurance is more expensive overall, and has not correlated with increased access to care.

High deductibles (the amount of money a patient has to provide out of pocket before insurance starts paying) have rendered many insurance plans essentially unusable for working and middle class Americans.

While this is a negative development – and speaks to the cronyism inherent in government and insurance companies colluding with each other – a silver lining has appeared as a market response to this chaos.

Many doctors are starting to open cash-only practices where insurance isn’t accepted. This can provide patients with a high-quality, affordable alternative for access to basic care.

As Kathleen McGrory reported for the Tampa Bay Times, many doctors are moving toward a direct primary care model, with 400 now providing basic services for cash payments since Obamacare was enacted. This allows doctors and patients to work with each other absent the nefarious government-insurance complex middleman.

McGrory highlighted the story of a doctor named Trinette Moss, whose cash-only practice in Clearwater, Florida is thriving. Wrote McGrory, “Billing at [Moss’] office works like this: Patients between 18 and 49 years old pay $60 a month. The fee covers unlimited office visits, urgent care services and an annual physical. It costs $15 a month to add a child.”

“Moss says the model, known as direct primary care, makes financial sense. She doesn’t have to hire anyone to file and track insurance claims. And she collects enough in monthly fees to keep her practice small.” Eliminating the bureaucratic barrier that so often divides doctors and patients? That sure sounds good to a lot of consumers, especially in the age of high deductibles and co-pays.

In Florida, legislators have taken notice of Moss and doctors like her, and want to accommodate this direct primary care model. As McGrory explained, “Lawmakers are considering a proposal (HB 37/SB 132) that would ensure direct primary-care providers don’t run afoul of state insurance laws, paving the way for more doctors to contract directly with patients.”

The fact that laws making it difficult for doctors and patients to contract directly exist in first place is a telling problem. Advocates of freeing the healthcare market have long noted that the regulatory maze around insurance and access to care has put consumers at a disadvantage. How can a person shop for the most cost effective services – and how can competition drive those costs down – when the government has essentially banned a market all together?

While the direct primary care model is far from a solution to the overall corporatist mess of Obamacare, it’s an instructive innovation; a response to the fact that the government has so distorted the market that it’s time to get back to basics. When paired with a catastrophic insurance plan, direct care can make sense.

The trouble however, is that it doesn’t on its own, satisfy the requirements of Obamacare’s individual mandate, which can fine you thousands of dollars, depending on your income, if you don’t have health insurance.

Overall, direct access to a doctor without the drama of government bureaucracy and insurance is a good thing. As Dr. Moss said, “It just seems like this is the right thing to do. You can help everyone from waitresses making minimum wage to executives, and be more accessible to them all.”

If only the government would allow more direct competition rather than the crony prototype it’s relied on through Obamacare, there could be more of a market in healthcare overall. But small pockets of innovation are always welcome amid the central planning.

Hopefully, more state governments will follow Florida and work to accommodate this model.

Bernie Sanders’ socialized healthcare plan is a utopian joke

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

Bernie Sanders believes that access to healthcare is a right – and he’s willing to blow up any semblance of individual choice you enjoy in this arena (along with the economy) – to pursue this ideological fantasy.

You have to give the man credit for one thing – he’s honest about his extreme, radical, and frankly dangerous intentions: He’s calling for a $28 trillion federal takeover of your healthcare.

Unlike President Obama, who famously said, “if you like your plan you can keep it” under Obamacare (the joke was on us) Sanders is explicit: He will ban private insurance. You will not be able to pay a doctor directly for his or her services.

This is the intellectual equivalent of the government declaring that food is a right and nationalizing grocery stores. Your taste preferences? Desire to shop at Wal-Mart versus Whole Foods?

They’re subordinate to the Greater Good, comrade!

Health care policy analyst Avik Roy recently laid out the trouble with Bernie’s inaccurately named “Medicare For All” plan, not least of which is that it’s likely to increase the deficit by an eye-popping $19 trillion.

As Roy explains:

“The plan would effectively abolish the private health insurance industry, including companies like UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, and Anthem. It would charge the government with designing and administering a universal, comprehensive insurance product that would cover ‘the entire continuum of health care, from inpatient to outpatient care; preventive to emergency care; primary care to specialty care, including long-term and palliative care; vision, hearing and oral health care; mental health and substance abuse services; as well as prescription medications, medical equipment, supplies, diagnostics and treatments.’”

There’s no pretense here about you being able to keep your plan or your doctor: You will quite literally be forced into whatever scheme government bureaucrats see fit – including the possibility of being forced to forego treatment because some government official deemed your preferred method of care “medically unnecessary.”

And naturally, this attack on your liberty comes with a hefty price tag, paid primarily by, you guessed it, the middle class! So much for Bernie’s fist shaking rants about millionaires and billionaires: You could tax them at 100 percent and it would fund the government for less than half a year (ignoring the economic fallout and resulting loss of additional tax revenue, of course).

Bernie wants us to pay an astounding amount of new taxes. In fact, for many earners, including the not-so-super-rich, they could see what they owe to the federal government nearly double.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t count existing state and local tax burdens. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the price of “free” health care, college, [insert utopian fantasy of your choice here]. You give, in some cases the majority of your earnings to the government, all for them to restrict your access to a market otherwise filled with endless options.

As Dr. Michael Hurd explained:

“Ideologically, Sanders is completely wrong. People do not have a morally justifiable reason for using government to force others to pay for their health care. And if they already pay for their medical care through taxes, they have a right to opt for purchasing medical care on a free market instead. Doctors likewise have a moral right to sell their very important services on a free market. Their skills, minds, bodies, and years of specialized training do not belong to the government; they belong to doctors themselves. Patients should want it this way, because doctors sovereign over their own destinies are also the most self-responsible and capable.”

Sanders’ health care plan is a disaster, morally and economically. The good news is, as even Hillary Clinton has pointed out, that the American people don’t support this nonsense.

Outlawing private insurance is about as feasible as outlawing private schools. The task before us now, as Avik Roy pointed out, is to fight for free market reforms that make healthcare more affordable and put individuals in control of our own medical choices.

Obama’s State of Delusion

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Originally published at Every Joe

Two themes have permeated Obama’s presidency: Hope and cynicism. He famously invoked the former during his 2008 run that captured the imagination of an eager electorate. And when the realities of governing failed to match his lofty rhetoric, he has consistently blamed the latter; attributing it, of course, to his ideological foes, bent on curbing progress.

Obama’s hope versus cynicism dichotomy reared its head once again in his last State of the Union address. “What I’m asking for is hard. It’s easier to be cynical; to accept that change isn’t possible, and politics is hopeless, and to believe that our voices and actions don’t matter,” he said, almost sounding as though he was trying to convince himself of this more than his fellow Americans.

Observing the president at the end of his term, it almost seems as if he still hasn’t quite processed that he is, in fact, the leader of the free world. His State of the Union felt like a warmed-over attempt at an eight-year-old campaign speech precisely because he seems pathologically incapable of dispensing with his emotionally satisfying “good versus evil” worldview.

The president may rely on “hope versus cynicism” rhetorically, but what he’s invoking is nothing short of the world’s oldest literary device: Obama is Good. His enemies are Evil. But the trouble is the specter of George W. Bush is no longer as useful from a blame-assigning standpoint, and it makes his attempts at moral grandstanding a bit trickier than they were when he was the alternative: the Great Hope.

Obama seems aware of this, to an extent. “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” he said. But he stopped short of accepting blame for this even though rancor and suspicion are the lifeblood of his campaign outfit, Organizing For Action. “Call out the climate change deniers,” reads a data-mining petition on OFA’s website.

This is Obama’s mode of operation. He said during his State of the Union address that we should stop assuming those we disagree with politically are “motivated by malice” or “unpatriotic,” yet he has been at the forefront of doing just that throughout the duration of his presidency. In fact, I lay what I’ve long chronicled as the highly disturbing rise of Donald Trump at Obama’s feet.

Ben Domenech writing at The Federalist is right: Donald Trump is in fact the candidate of white identity politics. And why is this happening? Because many whites, especially working class men, are sick of being demonized, precisely in the manner Obama said should never occur during his State of the Union. “As frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background,” said the president, quite obviously, and justifiably hitting Trump.

But has he ever stopped to ask himself why there are “voices” doing this? Is the president not aware that he has actively encouraged just those kinds of tribal politics among his own supporters? The blind hatred often seen on the left toward those they disagree with has undoubtedly been fostered and encouraged by Obama’s colleagues, and his own “community organizing” group. Not to mention the fact that Obama and his ilk constantly attack members of congress for not bowing to his will whenever he demands it. The representatives people elected specifically to stop his agenda are maligned as unproductive barriers to progress. Because in Obama’s mind, he is the beacon, and those who oppose him are the cynics.

It never seems to cross the president’s mind that perhaps the people who disagree with him aren’t simply cynical opponents of progress. The real world is far more complicated than the easy dichotomy he repeatedly invokes. Many of us are just as optimistic about average Americans as he is. In fact, Obama reserved a large portion of his speech to shower praise on the everyday people who keep America moving.

“When I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizen — inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far,” said Obama. “Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed.”

These are beautiful words but they ring flat when they’re accompanied by constant calls for government-centric solutions – as if social progress can be measured by how much money is extracted from the productive sector and thrown into the black hole that is the federal bureaucracy. “Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future,” says the president, once again couching progress as government-run.

Many of us feel quite the opposite; that government is the barrier to progress. That the red tape strangling our economy has discouraged entrepreneurs. That Federal Reserve policy has robbed low-income households of prosperity. That reliance on the American people requires empowering individuals, not politicians. That doesn’t make us “cynics.”

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton has given us reason to expect more of the same divisiveness. During the first Democratic debate, Clinton was asked, “which enemy that you made during your political career are you the most proud of?” Her answer? “Republicans.” This is precisely the “rancor and suspicion” Obama claims to oppose in action. He has fostered and nurtured it, and the Democrats will continue apace as they always do. Conservatives are no doubt equally culpable for the division we see in our politics, but the fundamental problem here isn’t differences of opinion – it’s the size of government.

If you want less political divisiveness, stop making everything political. When the vast majority of major societal decisions are made by politicians, bureaucrats and their special interest buddies instead of being decided on an individual level in a marketplace, expect “rancor and suspicion.” Obama’s growth of government and demonization of his enemies has yielded that. Clinton – and Trump – very much desire to continue it. Obama might label me a cynic who has “given up on our democracy” for this viewpoint. But I’d label him hopelessly naive, even as his presidency comes to an end, for still believing that an activist government yields anything but the major political divides that he defined as the “biggest regret of his presidency.”

Rep. Justin Amash wonders why Obama has time to meet with rappers but not congressmen

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is a prolific Twitter user. The libertarian Republican has become known for taking fights with his colleagues to the Twitterverse using quick-witted statements that delight his over 60,000 followers.

On Monday, he pondered why President Obama has time to meet with his favorite rappers, but ignores repeated requests from congressmen seeking to discuss crucial issues.

 

Amash then tweeted a follow-up explaining that he doesn’t have a problem with the fact that Obama met with popular rapper Kendrick Lamar, but suggests that perhaps the president should also make time for arguably more important endeavors.

The surveillance and civil liberties reform issues cited by Amash enjoy bipartisan support. Anti-establishment politicians from both sides of the aisle tend to want NSA reform while those who tow the establishment line often work to expand the agency’s powers.

For example, Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are strong advocates of increased bulk data collection and spying by the NSA. On the other hand, Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.) have been leaders in calling for NSA reform.

Amash, who has led the pro-civil liberties charge in the House, wrote that the White House has ignored his repeated requests for a meeting. When he first ran for president, Obama was a critic of Bush-era civil liberties violations. Instead of rolling back the surveillance state however, Obama has repeatedly reinstated the Patriot Act and utilized pro-reform rhetoric that doesn’t reflect his record.

According to James Byrnes at The Hill, the White House did not have an immediate response to Amash.

MSNBC host’s anti-gun policy would leave domestic violence victims defenseless

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry made the argument this week that because “a lot of people shoot their wives with perfectly legal guns,” weapons owned by law abiding citizens should be confiscated. When pressed by former New York City police officer Jon Shane to explain her argument, Harris-Perry suggested that if men who fatally shot their wives hadn’t acquired their guns through legal channels, the domestic violence deaths in question would have been avoided.

This is a questionable argument at best, because a man willing to flout the law to the extent that he murders his wife isn’t likely to shy away from obtaining a weapon through illegal means.

Harris-Perry’s logic embodies the false sense of comfort inherent in statist thinking: If the government only bans bad things, they’ll cease to happen!

Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work that way.

Signs that say “gun free zone” don’t stop mass shootings, and weapon bans don’t stop violence. While it’s true that the risk of homicide for women increases dramatically in domestic violence situations where a gun is present, the idea that yet another gun control law is what will change that tragic truth doesn’t reflect reality.

Gun control advocates argue that a man can overpower and turn a weapon around on a woman in a domestic violence situation to undermine the idea that an armed woman can prevent herself from becoming a victim.

In some cases, this is accurate, but it isn’t an argument for gun control, which has failed to keep weapons from abusers. What good does legally disarming an abused woman do when her partner is still illegally armed?

Gun control hasn’t done much to curb violence, particularly in urban areas. Chicago, which has some of the strictest anti-gun laws in the country, endured nearly 3,000 gun related deaths in 2015. Nearly all of the weapons utilized were obtained illegally.

While statistics on gun related deaths are staggering, especially as they relate to domestic violence, there’s little reason to conclude that gun control, particularly when it disarms victims in the face of already illegal weapons, is a viable solution.

Nevertheless, President Obama has moved forward with unilateral action on gun control, issuing an executive order on Tuesday that contained four key elements. His first change seeks to enhance background checks, requiring that all gun sellers run one. The president also said that he will work to further enforce gun safety, and increase access to mental health treatment, especially for those who have indicated that they might harm themselves or others. The last portion of the plan includes a focus on increasing gun safety technology.

These provisions aren’t likely to reduce gun violence, but act as a signal to the president’s Melissa Harris-Perry-watching base that he’s willing to “do something.”

Since Congress, upholding the will of a majority that opposes gun control, has in the president’s words “refused to act,” he’s apparently choosing to start the last year of his presidency abusing his executive power.

One wonders how liberals like Harris-Perry who are cheering the president’s actions today would feel if a President Trump availed himself of kingly powers in the same manner.

Perhaps they aren’t considering that possibility today, but it’s a good lesson in the value of respecting constitutional governance – the 2nd Amendment included – regardless of who’s in office.