The next broken Obamacare promise

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior staff react at the White House as the House passes the health care reform bill.

President Obama, Vice President Biden and staff celebrate as the House passes the health reform bill.

Remember the lie of “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan”? Now, it seems, Obamacare’s “promise” of free preventive health care, such as checkups, screenings and immunizations, is also turning out to be something less than accurate.

As summarized in an informative Politico story on the issue, “as millions of newly covered people begin to seek that benefit [of free preventive health care], some are still getting stuck with bills.” This is because many people getting free preventive health screenings and tests (e.g., a colonoscopy) are still being charged for any preventive health care that comes along with it (e.g., immediate removal of not-yet-cancerous polyps found during the colonoscopy).

Just add it to the growing heap of Obamacare falsehoods, misstatements, and factual inaccuracies.

As someone who admires Ronald Reagan, I believe in the political principle of “trust, but verify.” But how do you apply that with an administration that has proven through both incompetence and misleading statements to be untrustworthy when it comes to its signature health care program?

Unnecessary licensing restrictions raise cost of health care

Medical toolsWhy do we have licensing laws that restrict who can treat patients as a doctor and perform medical procedures?

Ostensibly, it is for the health and safety of people who need to visit the doctor (i.e. everyone). We don’t want John Doe off the street opening up a medical clinic, calling himself a doctor, and handing out drugs or performing surgery.

So what does it mean when we find out that some licensing rules meant to protect our health have no connection with health outcomes, and in fact harm us by making medical services more expensive?

A recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research reported that medical licensing rules that allow only physicians – not nurse practitioners – to prescribe drugs to patients “do not seem to influence health care quality.” Changing these licensing regulations does not seem to impact health outcomes such as infant mortality rates.

However, these licensing restrictions are connected with higher health care costs. For instance, the study “shows that more rigid regulations increase the price of a well-child medical exam by 3 to 16%.” This happens through various mechanisms, such as requiring a parent (or the parent’s insurance company, which charges premiums to cover those costs) to pay the more expensive rate charged by a physician for their child’s checkups, in order to access that physician’s ability to prescribe any drugs needed.

When nurse practitioners are allowed to prescribe drugs, the cost of a well-child exam goes down because the time of the nurse practitioner is less expensive than that of a physician. And as the study suggests, this less expensive medical option is likely to come without significant negative effects on health outcomes.

Why does this matter to Utah and Utah families? In every legislative session, without fail, there is a raft of new proposals to heighten licensing restrictions to prevent people from providing various services.

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Sutherland’s position statement on Medicaid expansion

hiddenmoneySutherland Institute understands the perspective of those calling for Utah to follow Obamacare’s vision of Medicaid expansion. The argument sounds reasonable: Since Utahns are paying tax dollars to Washington, D.C., under Obamacare, then why shouldn’t Utah take every Medicaid expansion dollar it can get?

Sutherland also recognizes this as a moment for political courage and leadership. The decision regarding Medicaid expansion is an opportunity for Utah politicians to become statesmen and stateswomen: to rise above short-sighted concerns of moneyed special interests and well-intentioned advocates and, instead, take the long view recognizing the real risks that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion creates for taxpayers and the neediest Utahns. This is a moment for Utah’s leaders to show why it is and will remain one of the best-managed states in the nation.

Medicaid expansion is an idea that sounds reasonable in the short term, but it’s not. Thoughtful consideration of the issue from a broader, long-term perspective leads to the undeniably logical conclusion that Medicaid expansion is imprudent, irresponsible policy for taxpayers and dishonest, harmful policy for Utahns in need.

Click here to read the rest of this position statement.

It’s naïve to believe Medicaid expansion promises

This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

iStock_000002098320MediumI have long felt that Medicaid expansion is a central component of Obamacare. If President Obama can get more and more people on Medicaid, he is well on his progressive way to a single-payer health care system.

Obamacare is like a three-legged stool supported by the Obamacare mandates, the insurance exchanges, and Medicaid expansion. If we’re being honest with ourselves, voting to expand Medicaid is voting to expand Obamacare and, as we’re finding out more and more each day, Obamacare was sold based on half-truths, deceptions and outright lies.

We’re familiar with President Obama’s promise that if you like your health plan and your doctor you can keep them both, “period.” But in place of that promise we were delivered stories like Debra Fishericks’. A working grandmother in Virginia, Debra has fought kidney cancer for ten years and relied on her employer-sponsored insurance in that battle. She recently learned her insurance was being canceled because it doesn’t meet Obamacare’s standards. After a fruitless search for affordable options on, she is left asking “Will I have my same specialist? Will I have to search for other specialists? I have so many unanswered questions.”

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Stop sniping about website fiasco – focus on real health care issues

This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

Medical toolsI’ve watched with great interest how Obamacare seems to be crumbling right before our eyes. It has won every political hurdle it has faced from presidential elections to Supreme Court decisions. Who would have thought that the poor execution of a website would be its demise?

Of course, a true impression of the situation would have us admit that the website debacle has nothing to do with Obamacare as a policy – there is no relationship between the website problems and the veracity or goodness of Obamacare (unless we argue that anything the federal government attempts is doomed to failure – but that’s simply inaccurate).

Conservatives and other opponents of Obamacare make a huge mistake by not continuing to focus on its main defect. Obamacare will hurt freedom and Americans. It sounds reasonable, but it isn’t. It destroys any meaning of insurance and any balance between personal responsibility and true health insurance coverage. Conservatives need to argue that Obamacare is an entitlement, pure and simple. There is no concept of insurance underlying it. Forget insurance under Obamacare – insurance is dead. If anyone can be covered at any time with any pre-existing condition, the concept of insurance disappears forever.

This fatal flaw is exactly why Obamacare will lead quite naturally to single-payer government health coverage like the socialist systems in Canada and throughout Europe. If Obamacare is acceptable, there is no reason to avoid universal government health care. None.

As long as conservatives continue to miss the whole appeal of Obamacare, we will lose this fight.

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The unmasking of the new liberalism

Roman_masksThink back to late 2008. Many in the country cheered the coronation of the new liberalism: the über-confident, unstoppable, aggressive expansion of government powers, entitlements and welfare.

Flash forward to the present, as Washington Post opinion writer Charles Krauthammer describes it:

The centerpiece of this vision is, of course, Obamacare, the most sweeping social reform in the past half-century, affecting one-sixth of the economy and directly touching the most vital area of life of every citizen.

As the only socially transformational legislation in modern American history to be enacted on a straight party-line vote, Obamacare is wholly owned by the Democrats. Its unraveling would catastrophically undermine their underlying ideology of ever-expansive central government providing cradle-to-grave care for an ever-grateful citizenry….

This is the signature legislative achievement of the Obama presidency, the embodiment of his new entitlement-state liberalism. If Obamacare goes down, there will be little left of its underlying ideology.

It shouldn’t have, but the reality of the new liberalism has hit many Americans like a sucker punch to the gut, leaving them shocked, outraged and struggling for air. The most stunning part of the story is how quickly the new liberalism has been unmasked for what it is: a farce. It may even be in time to prevent our history from bumbling into the tragedy section.

More lies: the tax lie behind the ‘keep your coverage’ lie

iStock_000002098320MediumMost of the oxygen in the halls of punditry has been taken up lately by President Obama’s “If you like your coverage, you can keep your coverage, period” lie.

I say it’s a lie out of respect for the President. I think he’s intelligent enough to know what anyone who read or understood the bill – including his own staff and HHS – has known for the past several years: that it would force millions of people off their current plans and into more expensive policies with coverage that they don’t want or need in order to subsidize other people’s insurance.

Sure, he told Newsweek reporter Richard Wolff, “You know, I actually believe my own [B.S.],” but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume even he wouldn’t fall for that whopper. So that means he made a rational if immoral decision to misrepresent the law rather than debate its true tradeoffs. The decision was immoral because it was a blatant in-your-face lie. But it was rational because Obamacare would never have passed had people known that it included a massive hidden tax based solely on age, health, and eligibility for membership in the he-man woman-haters club. And he wanted it to pass.

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Obama now lying about his lies

The following post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

President Obama, V.P. Biden and staff react as the House passes the health care reform bill.

President Obama, Vice President Biden and staff as the House passes the health care bill in 2010.

America tends to be pretty forgiving of its fallen idols. Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods immediately come to mind. We get it. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. So we are quick to forgive when we see and sense contrition and a desire to improve from our fallen idols. Both Clinton and Woods admitted their mistakes and showed a lot of sorrow. Sincere sorrow or sorrow of the caught, we can’t really know. But at least they seemed sincere.

This is why President Obama is in for a very rough road over Obamacare. The president is now lying about the lies he told to sell Obamacare to the American people. In case you haven’t heard them yet, listen to a handful of the dozens of times President Obama promised that Obamacare would not take away your health care plan or your doctor.

[Obama audio: We will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. … First of all, if you’ve got health insurance and you like your doctor and you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you. … No matter what you’ve heard, if you like your doctor or health care plan, you can keep it. … If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep your plan. Period. … If you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. (applause)]

Further damage has come in recent days as the The Wall Street Journal obtained internal memos revealing that the Obama administration knew the applause lines the president was delivering about Obamacare weren’t true. They knew Americans would lose their existing coverage and doctors.

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Health care: the free-rider 'problem'

ER_room_after_a_traumaDuring the 2009 run-up to the passage of Obamacare, supporters often invoked the numbers of uninsured as sympathetic figures to compel support for further government encroachment in health care. Today, as the law finally gets underway amid considerable uncertainty that the uninsured will even sign up for insurance plans, their treatment in the media has shifted. Rather than the sympathetic figures of a few years ago, now they are being called “free riders,” or people taking advantage of the system and passing on their costs to the rest of us.

The thinking goes that ever since the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act of 1986, which requires hospital emergency rooms to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay, people have chosen to go without insurance and instead use expensive emergency rooms for their medical needs. Since they don’t have the means to pay these bills, the hospitals and doctors pass those costs on to the insured in the form of higher prices. This logic is the impetus behind the individual mandate within Obamacare, which requires every person in America to purchase insurance.

The problem with this argument is that, frankly, it’s not true.

Click here to find out why, and more, at Utah Citizen Network.

Sutherland goes live on Utah Legislative Update radio show

Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and Stan Rasmussen of Sutherland Institute (photo by @utahsenate)

Wayne Niederhauser and Stan Rasmussen (photo by @utahsenate)

Sutherland Institute’s Stan Rasmussen joined Senate President Wayne Niederhauser last week in the studio to talk about health reform and charity care on “Niedertalk” on KHQN (1480 AM).

Jim Fell of Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation also joined the show via phone to discuss lowering the legal blood alcohol content level.

Carl Graham, director of Sutherland’s Center for Self-Government in the West, talked about a recent energy development study; and Dave Buer, director of communications for Sutherland, introduced our Utah Citizen Network.

Read the rundown and listen to the audio here at The Senate Site.