The View From 1776

ObamaCare Adds To Our Ills

Fed: Obama’s health law leading to layoffs

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/10 at 05:42 PM
  1. Thomas,

    The test of your post says that higher health care costs are leading to some layoffs, but it does not attribute these cost increases to ObamaCare.

    Health care costs have increased annually for a long time, and recently (fortunately), the rate of increase has begun to slow. Whether this slowing of cost growth can be attributed to ObamaCare has not been established.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/11  at  10:16 AM
  2. The "text" of your post...
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/11  at  10:17 AM
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  5. J. Jay,

    I would be justified in treating your response as argument for [partisan] argument’s sake, but will forego that in the spirit of civility. We realize you are baiting us with this nonsense, but casual readers might not see that, and mistake your objections as naïve, possibly even valid criticisms.

    President Obama and the liberal media have gone down a rabbit hole tying observation to a presumed/preferred causation, and you have followed him down it. Since it is not obvious where he got his “ rate of increase has begun to slow”, I will fill in blanks for you so that others who may read this will not get the idea it is anything more than wishful thinking on the part of certain parties hoping to spike anti-PPACA rhetoric. It appears to have originated with a Washington Post staffer whose focus is healthcare. The staffer, writing on WP’s blog page (not the paper itself where it probably wouldn’t have passed muster), references two sources in support of ‘her opinion’ healthcare costs are slowing significantly; a chart lifted from Bipartisan Center and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    It turns out the BPC chart comes from a BPC evaluation of the 2012 CBO outlook report predicting healthcare will continue to rise at (at least) the present level (which is considerably faster than the rest of the economy) for the foreseeable future.

    Backtracking to CMS.gov, I found her other source provided reports from which she drew her own unsupported inference the observed trend may (repeat MAY) be a result of the 2009 PPACA legislation. The CMS reports essentially agree as to most of her particulars, but do not show how the correlation is made between slowing and rise on a GDP normalized basis without some further data reduction (not included). The WP staffer says something just enough twisted logically to mislead others in her blog, wherein she wrote “Health-care costs grew slower than the rest of the economy in 2011 for the first time in more than a decade”. As most here realize (or should), the economy has been growing slower than 2% for the past several years; including 2011. Per her CMS citation, the change in the rate of rise for healthcare was 3.9%. Therefore, the rate of rise cannot be said to be slower than the rate of inflation for 2011, or for any other year going back at least to the late-1970s. Moreover, hers compares a rate derivative with a rate (apples v oranges comparison). Regardless, it seems obvious this was the source President Obama tapped into for his State of the Union Address wherein he claimed the rate of rise was slowing and that that is due to his signature legislation. In fact, the CMS report only states it is slowing without making (or suggesting) any connection to Obama-care. Although 2009 marks the start of the slowing trend for the derivative, it is not matched by a falling trend in the actual rise. That rate flattens in the period 2009 through 2011, but only after jumping up sharply from 2008 (which looks an awful lot like a ‘market self-correction’). What is obvious to me is that, while any slowing is welcome, this is far too small to matter in the larger scheme. If we go broke well before we run out of bills to pay, what does it matter the bills are coming in a bit slower?

    It should be noted this same staff- reporter is said to have made false claims regarding the seal sniper who nailed bin Laden (i.e., that he had been stripped of health insurance, thereby using him as a poster boy for her own agenda), caused a stink among pro-life activists by lamenting millennial pro-choicers lack passion, caused a similar stir during the 2010 Obamacare debates, who regarding the gay-agenda’s supposed lack of progress recommended “Rather than pursuing piecemeal, state-level initiatives … the movement … ought to focus on pressuring Congress and President Obama to take more decisive action”, who regularly disparages abstinence initiatives, and who regarding late-term abortions fatuously claimed "Past viability, no doctor will terminate a pregnancy without a compelling reason". This suggests her value as a source is less than trustworthy, as well as in need of ‘sensitivity training’.

    There is one other possible source for the missing-link to Obama-care, and it is a respectable one (NEMJ). However, that source was many months out of date by the time of Obama’s speech and admits that its inference was not in any way corroborated. It also takes no account of the timing (which the staffer does, but ignores), which later analysts used to annihilate their assumed correlation.

    Ironically, a BPC authored paper in the National Journal effectively debunks both Obama and the staffer claims this has any significance or relevance (see http://www.nationaljournal.com/healthcare/why-obama-s-optimism-on-health-costs-is-premature-20130214 ). The last item cited in this article may be the big kicker spoiling any notion this trend will continue slowing. Even a cursory view of the data confirms a brief, stepwise drop followed by new constant rate of rise parallel to but lower than the old rate of rise. The kicker is that we Boomers are aging and retiring in droves; and that is only going to continue to feed the observed upward trend. This just isn’t something Obama can make go away without draconian cuts to senior care targeting Boomers and still older Americans.

    With regard to your first allegation (i.e., the cited articles “... does not attribute these cost increases to ObamaCare”), that is easily refuted from the text of the articles themselves. In The Hill article, paragraph 5 cites the Federal Reserve [Beige Book] as reporting "[Philadelphia] Health insurance costs are mixed, ranging from very high increases to no change"; that “many in the energy sector cited ‘rising health insurance premiums’"; “... Atlanta district reported ... higher healthcare costs contributed to a modest decline in consumer confidence as relates to consumer spending and tourism” and “Higher healthcare costs were ... reported [for] ... Chicago... ”. That makes four undeniable attributions pegging Obama-care to rising healthcare costs by a quasi-official source with a vested interest in not embarrassing the regime in power.

    The second article makes no mention of Obama-care or healthcare costs, so any reference to its ‘failure to mention’ is pure misdirection (or sloppiness) on your part as you make no distinction between the articles. Moreover, as healthcare costs were not the focus of either article (the focus of both was jobs), you a) missed their point and/or b) are in abject denial the first article does, in fact, attribute layoffs in some degree to Obama-care driven cost increases. Now, you can argue what they report is a different matter from what may be actually true; but you haven’t bothered with evidence (and are unlikely to supply any now) and, as that is not how you argued or what alleged of them cannot now claim it is what you meant. Also, as they are only reporting the official pronouncements of others (i.e., Federal Reserve & White House), we must assign any attributions of error and/or falsehood to those officials, and not to the reporters or their articles you here disparage. So, is it your contention the Federal Reserve and White House sources lied to us, or only that they are factually-challenged?

    Returning to your assertion “... the rate of increase has begun to slow. Whether this slowing of cost growth can be attributed to ObamaCare has not been established”, beyond the grammatical problems of this argument do you really want to climb out on a limb anyone with half a wit and better information can saw you off? I mean, there is partisan obstinacy and there is just plain wilful blindness to all that happening around you as has the aspect of delusional rant. The only part of that statement that is demonstrably true is that the [presumed] slowing cannot remotely be attributed to Obama-care. That would be true regardless the ‘slowing’ is real or imagined. Once again repeat after me, correlation is NOT causation. Correlation is a starting point for identifying anomalies for which we then seek causes we haven’t already assumed or presumed, and is not an effective or conclusive means of establishing causality. For that, we need to identify a chain of interactions inexorably leading directly to the effect while eliminating possible competing causes; or, failing that, reducing the list of suspects to those significantly more likely than others and reporting the likelihood of each or of combinations without bias. Inferring one cause is likely (when it isn’t) while ignoring more plausible causes is simply dishonest. In this case, the timing of Obama-care makes causation not only unlikely but virtually impossible (unless you are one of those who believe the mere anticipation of enactment sufficient to induce measurable effects results well before the event). I note some of that fixation in our President the day PPACA passed when he muttered the sky had not yet fallen due to passage (as if mere passage would cause instant cataclysm – which no opponent of passage predicted or expected).

    Even a straightforward, neutrally-worded search on liberal-leaning search-engines (most of them are, in varying degrees) yields scores of hits highly critical of Obama-care but only a handful of hits by pro-Obama partisans defending it. For example, I ran the following search on Ask.com: “effect of Obama-care on health cost”. Article after article reports undeniable evidence Obama-care soon must or already has cost businesses, care-providers, insurers, individuals and even government more than we’d have paid without it, and has caused a good deal of pain as well. The responses are varied, but mostly negative. Ignoring obviously partisan sources, we can safely steer around both Forbes and CNN as similarly but oppositely biased sources. That does not mean we should not hear what they have to say (at least outside their respective opinion pages), only that we should treat any and all such biases with objectivity. Surprisingly, Huff-Post financial section last year reported it as “unlikely” your healthcare cost will go down under Obama-care, and a deeper search of this left-leaning source does little to dispel this impression of the PPACA (if anything, it worsens). If, in the aggregate, far more and varied sources (both media and primary) agree it gets worse rather than better the more we dig into its entrails, and those few reporting it as better have a known and unyielding bias (or vested interest) and little evidence with which to corroborate, which should we believe the more authoritative? I don’t know about you, but I tend to believe a) sources well-armed with evidence, b) minimally (or imperceptibly) biased, c) those I can’t debunk as fraudulent and d) those that conform to my K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) rule; none of which requires I invoke or fall back on frail biases – not even my own.

    There is another sound piece of advice I tend to heed that you should also: “If it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is”. It would keep you out of a lot of drubbings (like this one). Like most Democrats, dictators and even some long-time politicians (either party), Obama makes promises he can’t keep to get elected and re-elected. However, unlike most, he’s a sincere, seriously indifferent-to-consequences (and pain or suffering) radical as well. Having made such grandiose promises, he feels compelled to defend them through false-attribution and premature self-congratulation using any straw he can snatch from nattering-nabobs, and, like you, is indiscriminate as to his choice of props.

    (continued next post)
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/17  at  06:21 AM
  6. (Continued from post #5)

    A number of prominent polls recently revealed Obama’s popularity is in free-fall; and most of those polls demonstrate his decrease in popularity is mostly due to the weak economy, but also to impacts on personal health coverage as the ACA’s provisions begin to kick in. Already, a pinch is being felt, and procedures that were previously available immediately are seeing noticeable delays. These delays are only going to get longer and more uncertain the more ACA’s tentacles reach into our lives. Such delays and denials do, indeed, slow the rise in what we will spend on healthcare if for no other reason than care is being rationed. Rationing will do that, but also leads to scarcity, and scarcity leads to large increases in the cost of the thing rationed – partially negating the savings; if not on the legitimate market then on the black-market, which must surely follow given the demand for quality care is unlikely to abate anytime soon. In a decade or three, as people become acclimatized to rationing, diminished care expectations, and think the ‘new normal’ natural, the black-market will likely shrink (though never return to pre-ACA levels). In the near term and given the large population of mostly affluent aging boomers accustomed to prompt service, however, I foresee an opportunity certain to draw sharks. We may soon find there is something worse than rising cost of a highly-valued commodity, and that is its relative scarcity; made so by misguided attempts at controlling its cost rather than allow it to find its own market-stable value. The reason healthcare cost has risen so fast, is that demand for it is very high right now and is for that reason grossly ‘undervalued’ (law of supply v demand). Allowing the market to find and set price will automatically cause a curtail of any excessive consumption of this prized commodity without recourse to government, and without the disruptive and unfair effects government is sure to impose on all Americans as it gropes to find that balance the market finds so effortlessly, seamlessly, and unfailingly; even if it too is sometimes painful. The pain the market sometimes inflicts is as nothing to the pain government inflicts. If we can acclimate to rationing by fiat, why all the ruckus over rationing by market fiat. The access I have as a poor to modest-means American under unfettered market-fiat can be no worse than that I will have under government-fiat, and at a cost that is also certain to be less. The obsession of government and statists has always been, however, to eliminate a perceived ‘unfairness’, regardless the cost and pain that elimination entails.

    As a healthcare consumer, what do I care if a rich man has access to a higher level of care than I get given I will have far better care and quicker access to it than I would have (under state-run rationed care) without rich folks stimulating development of new products and services, absorbing the initial cost of development, driving the cost down to our level of affordability, and attracting the best and brightest to the medical profession. The rich will always find ways around regulation, and will have better care than I can get. But, I will be less well off from regulating those things out of my reach that he can always get. Let’s assume that under both the free-market and state-run models of care, I have the same dollars to spend on care. In the free-market and as a free-agent, I get to shop around to get the best bang for my buck. Under the statist model, someone else decides for me a) what is the appropriate level of care, b) decides how much I can or should spend on my care, c) denies access to care regardless of my ability and willingness to pay (aka, rationing), d) tacks ‘administrative costs’ onto the already burdensome costs of care (while doing nothing to improve its quantity or quality). Bureaucrats, moreover, are (thanks to ACA) given virtual power of ‘life and death’ over us which can (and often is) exploited by the regime in power (regardless of party) to bully citizens into servile quiescence, a lesson only needing occasional application to be chillingly effective; which is the real reason (not cost) driving this confiscation of care.

    Source links:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/07/the-2-7-trillion-question-are-health-care-costs-really-dropping/
    http://newsbusters.org/people/sarah-kliff – Identifying JJ’s source
    http://bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/2012/02/twelve-takeaways-cbo’s-2012-budget-and-economic-outlook
    http://www.nationaljournal.com/healthcare/why-obama-s-optimism-on-health-costs-is-premature-20130214
    http://bipartisanpolicy.org/library/staff-paper/what-driving-us-health-care-spending

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/160385/obama-rated-highest-foreign-affairs-lowest-deficit.aspx

    http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p60-243.pdf
    http://taxfoundation.org/article/summary-latest-federal-individual-income-tax-data-0#table1
    http://www.thune.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/affordable-care-act
    http://www.askheritage.org/has-obamacare-already-begun-implementation/
    http://www.nfib.com/advocacy/item/cmsid/51298
    http://www.healthcare.gov/law/timeline/
    http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Research/ActuarialStudies/downloads/PPACA_2010-04-22.pdf

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2013/03/07/health-costs-slow-to-lowest-rate-in-15-years-as-employer-commitment-to-benefits-wanes/
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/2013/0213/State-of-the-Union-101-Has-Obamacare-really-slowed-rise-of-health-costs
    http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/412128-PPACA-impact.pdf
    http://www.nfib.com/advocacy/item/cmsid/51298
    http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/editorial/editorial-health-care-spending-slows-but-not-insurance-costs/article_fe92c2c7-4bf2-5ec8-954f-a8969f270118.html
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/04/barack-obama/obama-said-health-care-premiums-went-slower-any-ti/
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/17  at  06:21 AM
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