The regulatory authoritarianism of its death panels is small potatoes compared to the rest.
Most commentators have focused on the revelation just before Christmas that Obamacare’s end of life death panel consultations rejected by Congress were resurrected by the Obama Administration by regulatory requirement. There is no truth to the rumor that President Obama has agreed, after his term of office ends, to head up a new organization called Democrats Against Democracy.
But while this regulatory authoritarianism is, indeed, yet another dirty trick of Obamacare, it is small potatoes compared to the real dirty tricks of Obamacare. A dirty trick is defined here as burying in vague language in the abusive, several thousand page Obamacare legislation socially repulsive policies that the public overwhelmingly opposed and that Congress denied it was adopting. Like the end of life death panel consultations.
Phasing Out Private Insurance
But as indicated above, the emerging abuses of Obamacare are much graver than that. Also just before Christmas, on December 21, HHS Commissar Kathleen Sebelius claimed authority buried deep within the Obamacare abomination to impose federal price controls on health insurance companies, which members of Congress again denied they were adopting when they passed Obamacare. In fact, she issued a 136 page “regulation” providing precisely for such federal rate regulation.
Most states have long regulated health insurance premiums. The state regulators know from long experience that in this regulation they have to make sure that the insurance company has the money to pay the promised benefits. If the regulators don’t allow sufficient premiums to pay benefits, in the states they know that it is the sickest people covered by the insurance company who lose out. Because then the insurance company goes out of business and the sick people it was covering don’t have the money to pay their medical bills.
State insurance regulation is consequently simply a matter of mathematics. The regulators analyze the cost data, and the actuarial probabilities, and they set premiums based on that data sufficient to allow the insurance company only a modest, reasonable, market rate of return on its operations. As a result, the hard numbers unquestionably show that health insurance companies only make modest if not below average profits at best. That is why in many states there are so few health insurance companies left, and so many of those that remain are actually non-profits.
The resulting bottom line is that health insurance company profits are not a significant factor in overall health costs. And those politicians who rant and rave about them, calculating that they can take political advantage of the clueless and gullible, are shameless demagogues who dishonor our democracy by their participation in it.
Under the new federal power that Sebelius has seized, the supposed smarter, wiser bureaucrats in Washington will review the state regulation, and Washington will decide if the state approved rate increases are “reasonable.” If the Washington wise guys decide the increases are not, they will deem the state regulation not “effective,” and substitute Washington’s rate regulation.
Sebelius has already decreed, not based on a review of the actual data, that increases over 10% are probably not reasonable, even though many increases across the country are coming in over 20%, based on the analysis described above, as predicted. Indeed, the Red Queen has intimated that even lesser premium increases may be deemed too much.
But there is socialist method behind the madness. Obamacare raises health insurance costs by mandating that health insurers provide expensive new benefits. That is why it was so obvious that Obamacare will raise health insurance costs. But now come the federal regulators who plan to dictate to the insurers that they cannot reflect those costs in higher premiums.
It will work just like the Democrats’ “affordable housing” policies worked in causing the financial crisis. First the regulators forced banks to lend mortgage money to so many who were not financially qualified under traditional lending standards. Bill Clinton bragged in 1995 that through this scheme he had found a way of spreading housing prosperity to so many “without costing the taxpayers a dime.”
But now we know how all that turned out. When so many proved unable or unwilling to pay the mortgages, as the displaced traditional lending standards suggested they might, the mortgage backed securities that had been spread so widely throughout the financial system began their downward spiral that froze credit markets, and the whole financial system began to unravel, costing taxpayers a fortune in bailouts and lost jobs.
Left-wing sophisticates know from experience that their grassroots troops can’t follow that logic. Your average grassroots Democrat supporter can’t understand that if the law forces health insurance costs up with required new benefits, but the insurance company can’t raise premiums to cover those higher costs, the company goes out of business.
But this is exactly what the Reds who now run today’s modern Democrat party want. They are planning precisely to use this new federal rate regulation power to drive private insurers out of business, so the only option left will be the outright socialized medicine public option that first the public and then the Congress rejected in the health care “debate” last year. Hence the foundation for the new organization, Democrats Against Democracy.
This plot against the people is already underway in the more Left states that the Democrats still control. On December 22, the Wall Street Journal editorialized regarding the ongoing “political thuggery” in Connecticut regarding former state insurance commissioner Tom Sullivan. The Journal explained, “In September, following a thorough actuarial analysis, Mr. Sullivan approved some rate increases reaching 20% for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, the largest insurer in the state by membership.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?