Wednesday, June 29, 2011

“Mandatory Life Insurance,” Cries California Congress Person

Perfect Match for Health Insurance Exchanges

BROADMOOR, CA. June 29, 2011: “Tomorrow I plan to introduce the Affordable Life Insurance Empowerment Act in Congress,” said Arly Esperson, Congressperson from California’s 54th Congressional District. “Now that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the health insurance mandate is constitutional, I think it’s time we take the next step.”

Today, a three-judge federal appeals court in the Sixth District upheld the cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. “The progressives in Congress wanted to be sure the court upheld the mandate before we started moving ahead with the rest of our agenda,” Esperson explained. Esperson spoke about the controversial ACA provision known as the individual mandate that will require every American resident to enroll in a health insurance plan by 2014.

Progressives breathed  a sigh of relief over the decision, Esperson said. Esperson leads the Latte Party Caucus in Congress, a group of lawmakers who believe government needs to do more for “working people. And that’s why I am moving ahead with this new bill.”

The Affordable Life Insurance Empowerment Act (ALIE), Esperson explained, would require all United States’ residents to purchase a minimum of $10,000 in what Esperson called “lifetime coverage.” Ron Kelly, a spokesman for New Mexico Life Insurance clarified the term: “Esperson means whole life or cash value insurance, and it lasts a lifetime, or, well, until death.”

Esperson’s bill would go farther and require everyone older than 35 to own a minimum of $250,000 in term life insurance in addition to the $10,000 whole life policy.  “This will do several things for working people,” Esperson explained. “First, there will be money for burial cost. Second, it will help settle estates. And third, and just as important, the federal tax of 25 percent on the death benefit will help to reduce the national debt.”

ALIE overcomes two hurdles that might otherwise doom the bill: premium cost for low-income people, and accessibility coverage. 

First, Esperson explained that low-income people – the threshold is set at family income of less than $50,000 a year – will receive help paying their mandatory life insurance premiums. “America’s richest individuals often use life insurance to dodge paying estate taxes,” Esperson said. “We will levy a 35 percent tax on the life insurance proceeds of all plans that exceed $500,000.” In this manner, “we will make sure the rich pay their fair share.”

Second, Esperson plans to fold enrollment in mandatory life insurance plans in the Health Insurance Exchanges required by the ACA. “Hey, every state must have the Exchanges, and it would be nothing for Exchange enrollers to fill out life insurance applications.” 

Under ALIE, insurance companies will have to issue life insurance to anyone, regardless of their medical condition or age. “That’s why we mandate ownership,” Esperson explained, “to eliminate cherry picking of insured people, as the life insurance companies do now.”

The other ALIE key feature will help keep the premiums low for everyone, according to Esperson. “We will limit the premium rates on a three to one ratio, so that the younger people will not get stuck paying too high of premiums.” People under 33, according to ALIE, would pay one-third as much as people older than 65.

“This is the perfect adjunct to the Affordable Care Act,” Esperson said. “For the first time in our nation’s history, everyone will have health and life insurance.”

President Obama has remained silent on ALIE.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

We elected Sue Johnson as President proving girls can govern

Cong. Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann wants to be President of the United States. She’s a girl. I can attest to this because I have met her personally. You can take my word for it.

But can a girl win the presidency? Yes, and on this you can also take my word for it.

In 1961, Sue Johnson defeated me, Dave Racer, for the Presidency of Dr. James Phillips’ Ninth Grade Core Class. Sue served admirably. I think I became secretary of something.

Alright, running a Ninth Grade class isn’t exactly like being The Most Powerful Leader in the World. I grant you that.

But what makes a good U.S. President? It depends on the times and the challenges.

For my money, the next president have a demonstrable record of commitment to solid principles of faith, family, thrift, limited government, and understand that we are going broke. In my family, it’s the girl that worries most about budget – and not overspending.

Okay. I am convinced that Michelle Bachmann is qualified to be President of the United States for the times in which we live. She may not be the only candidate so qualified, but she is the Real Thing.
In fact, I am willing to say it straight: If any one of the GOP boys want to be President, they should quickly adopt Bachmann’s convictions. I’m pretty sure that Mitt Romney can’t do it, and I wonder about Newt Gingrich. Ron Paul has convictions, but not for these times (he is either two centuries too late or 10 years too soon).

I see Tim Pawlenty, my governor, as an enigma. This is because I am not a pragmatist, and because I am an idealist. Pawlenty governed exceptionally well, but faced a Democrat legislature most of the time. Pawlenty also had to deal with Minnesota’s GOP “conservatives,” many  of whom are to the left of a Missouri Democrat. Clearly, he can do the job, but he also knows how to cut a deal – and I’m thinking this is not the era where we need deal-cutters.

But I got off course. My purpose in this odd piece is to demonstrate that the problems we face in the United States are so ponderous that we have to throw aside the trivial arguments about race and gender, and find someone to bring about a change in course. The change, of course, is to give Barrack Obama the chance to play golf everyday – even twice daily if he wishes, and keep him away from the White House.

Don’t carp at me that Michelle Bachmann kissed George Bush, or said something silly about Paul Revere. Every politician is flawed. This is because they are human beings. Even Sue Johnson had flaws, but far fewer than mine. 

If you don’t want a girl to be president (or at least the girl named Bachmann) then lean on the boys to prove they can do it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Resisting Federal Encroachments: Founders v. Today

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…”
The Declaration of Independence – 1776
Why not read those words again before you move ahead with this blog. Do they sound extreme to you? I mean, “throw off such government;” that certainly sounds extreme, doesn’t it? Or does it?
Throwing off the chains of oppressive government meant taking up arms to the Founders. They did not have the protection of a Constitution they had dutifully adopted, endorsed, and wished to defend.
The Founders cited the primary reason for establishing government to be to “secure these [unalienable] rights,” the God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (translated in the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment to mean, the right to own property). Simply, a government that no longer defends life, liberty, and property, said the Founders, must be thrown off.
“The individual mandate is outside Congress’ Commerce Clause power, and it cannot be otherwise authorized by an assertion of power under the Necessary and Proper Clause. It is not Constitutional,” [i] wrote Federal Judge Roger Vinson. (Vinson ruled on the individual mandate to purchase health insurance required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, passed by Democrats in Congress, and signed by President Obama.) Other judges have disagreed with Vinson, and the Supreme Court will ultimately decide.
When Congress acts in such a manner so as to attack liberty and property, as Vinson stated clearly in his ruling, what should we as citizens do? Well, if we agree that no one should be coerced by government to purchase something they may not want (in this case, health insurance), maybe we should resist? Sam Adams and the other Declaration signers would cheer us on.
Has the time come to resist?
The Declaration speaks of “a long train of abuses and usurpations” as a critical element in deciding whether to “throw off such government…” Judge Vinson’s decision looked back at how Congress has butchered, sliced, and diced the enumerated powers of the Commerce Clause; mostly since the 1930s. Vinson identified a train of ever-increasing, ever-broadening Congressional encroachments on private commerce. He quoted the Congressional Research Service and the Congressional Budget Office, both of which stated the individual mandate is an unprecedented expansion of the reach of the Commerce Clause.
When Congress decides to tell us that we must purchase health insurance has their action crossed the line into tyranny, or is that too strong of word? Would you supply me with an alternative? And is this a one-time assertion of power, or evidence that Congress intends to continue a long train of usurpations?
When you view the growth of government under the light of the Founders’ reasoning, and then under the scrutiny of history (including recent history), you see the “long train of abuses and usurpations” upon which the Founders based their claim to independence. The Founders chose to fight a hot war of rebellion as their answer, but resistance can take many other forms long before war becomes the only option. This is one of the chief blessings of our United States Constitutions.
What methods of resistance?
We express resistance to tyranny at the ballot box. We elect individuals to represent our views. If our view is that Congress does not have the power to force someone to purchase health insurance, we will resist Congressional tyranny by electing a different Congress. In fact, we started that process through the 2010 election, and hopefully, will continue it in 2012. So elections are an alternative to taking up arms, as an expression of resistance – God be praised.
Are there other ways to resist tyranny beyond the next election?
Lawsuits, such as the one Judge Vinson ruled upon, are one way to resist. Another is to ask state and federal lawmakers that are currently serving to use every possible legal scheme of which they can conceive to resist all federal encroachments on liberty. It means asking lawmakers to scrutinize all legislation related to the Affordable Care Act of 2010, searching for any instance in which they dare to challenge the federal government by taking no action, or taking adverse action.
There is an ultimate form of resistance to tyranny that falls short of the Founders’ resort to arms: If millions of Americans choose en masse to resist laws that threaten unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property, Congress and the Courts will notice. Perhaps, if the individual mandate stands, we should incite millions of Americans to drop health insurance coverage as a form of civil disobedience; sort of like dumping tea into Boston Harbor.
On the other hand, millions of Americans may remain indifferent. Today’s elected state lawmakers may choose, instead, to capitulate to Congress. If so, James Carville may prove to be right when he said recently, “…we’re going to start to see civil unrest in this country. I hate to say that, but I think it’s imminently possible.”[ii]

[ii] Carville, J. (2011) “Carville: There Will be Civil Unrest—Over Economy.” June 6, 2011. Retrieved June 8, 2011.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Who should ration health care?

“Racer,” you may have already said, “why resort to false, emotional words like ‘ration’ when what we need is a serious discussion about health care reform?”

Easy. Rationing is an essential element of the ACA way. 

Fifteen commissioners, each earning $165,000 a year, will do the rationing. They are called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, and are foundational to how ObamaCare will function.

President Obama and the Democratic members of Congress, in passing the misnamed Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), took $500 billion away from future Medicare payments. They did this knowing that more than 78 million Americans are beginning to qualify to enroll in Medicare. What happens when less money is available for more people? You choose your favorite term: I use the appropriate one: It’s called rationing.

Make no mistake about it. Rationing will happen as  revenue fails to keep up with cost of care. 

Medicare Revenue is directly linked to the expansion (or retraction) of the economy, except that President Obama does not believe this. Instead, he believe there is a finite amount of money, and the role of politicians is to divide it up.

The way to divide up a finite amount of money in Medicare is to ration care. The instrument to accomplish this is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). This 15-member board, set up under the ACA, will decide what care will be allowed to be provided to Medicare enrollees, and what will be denied. Denial of care is called rationing.

It is true that there are other forms of rationing. If a person has no money, and there are not medical providers willing to care for that person, it is called rationing. But the Affordable Care Act will create more of this type of rationing, not less. Why? Because the ACA discourages individuals from becoming physicians. If there are no doctors, there is no health care – well, professional health care.

If a person has prepaid health coverage (some call it insurance), and the insurance company or Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) is in charge of deciding who gets what coverage, that is a form of rationing. But it is far different from the way the IPAB functions. There is at least some competition among health care insurance companies to provide coverage for individuals. If there would be only one insurance company, it could dictate – yes, dictate – who will get what care, when, where, and under what conditions. This is precisely what the IPAB will be able to do, because Medicare is single payer, government-run health care – it has no competitor. 

Repeat it. Tell the truth. ObamaCare, the ACA, is the process to ration health care. First, to senior citizens on Medicare, and then to the rest of society (as Exchanges give way to single payer systems, and as Accountable Care Organizations submit to the federal paymaster).

We start to fix this by repealing the IPAB. And the requirement for Exchanges. And the individual mandates. We fix it by expanding access to consumer-directed health care, Health Savings Accounts, and medical entrepreneurism. 

We cannot, absolutely cannot waste our time trying to fix the ACA. It cannot be fixed. It must be rationed out of existence.

Health care  decisions are the realm of patients, their families, and doctors. Communities join this process voluntarily. This is the way to pursue rational decisions about health care.