It was just February of this year that the Health and Human Services Department announced it would cut payments to Medicare Advantage, using those funds to help finance the expenses of ObamaCare. Now, in a reversal the Obama Administration said it will increase the payment for health insurers who offer the Medicare Advantage program.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said on Monday it will increase the rate by 3.3 percent in 2014, reversing a 2.3 percent cut announced in February.
This reversal followed an intense lobbying program by seniors and Medicare Advantage Insurance providers who were warned of significant cuts to the popular program. Some insurance providers had hinted they would drop the program due to the cuts.
“The policies announced today further the agency’s goal of improving payment accuracy in all our programs, while at the same time ensuring program stability and preserving beneficiary choice,” Jonathan Blum, acting principal deputy administrator for the CMS, said in a statement.
Again, as with the Affordable Care Act itself, it appears there was little actual foresight or planning.
The First Amendment is bandied about more often than just about any of the others, and it got a full work-out thanks to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) during his grilling of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. It definitely is worth viewing, even if you’ve seen it before:
While that was undoubtedly painful for Sebelius, in theory, it may have opened a whole new can of worms. By taking it from the purely legal standpoint, Gowdy may have inadvertently opened an opportunity for the left on other issues, including abortion. Yes, there are religions out there that do not have strict restrictions against abortion, Judaism included. In theory, the left could use the same balancing act Gowdy used to justify preventing legislation against abortion, at least in the circumstances permitted by given religions.
Now, before anyone starts frothing at the mouth, that is an unlikely result of this little moment, if for no other reason, the left-wing would have to find people that observe those faiths to come forward and file lawsuits. That’s unlikely, of course.
But, the hearing did cause me to think yet again about the economic end of this perennial debate. Yet again, I am wondering about the feasibility of the I.R.S. adding a checkbox to tax forms that could settle it once and for all. If taxpayers could just tell the government whether or not they were willing to have their tax dollars be applied to public funds for contraception and/or abortion, then the crusade to end all abortions should be considered a purely religious movement. Arguably, it would be rendered moot, at least on the Federal level.
If no one is paying for something that they disagree with based on religious belief, then the government is not preventing anyone from observing their faith. Remember, the rights granted by the Bill of Rights end where the rights of another individual begin. That’s why those of us from the generally Libertarian neck of the woods don’t tend to join in social conservative crusades. It’s none of our business. It shouldn’t be the business of government. Gowdy had it right when he pointed out that Sebelius was wrong when she pushed the mandate for coverage of contraceptives. While what I’ve said here might annoy some social conservatives, keep in mind that I’m suggesting that we take Gowdy’s principle a step farther, and include individuals, not just religious institutions. If you personally do not believe it is moral to have contraceptives, your hard-earned money should not pay for it, ever. If you personally do not believe that abortion is acceptable for anyone, the same applies. But, that should be the extent of your rights. You do not have the right to force those that disagree with your belief system to comply with it. Fairly simple, so it’s highly unlikely it would work in this country. After all, we love having a government that could mess up a one man parade.
The White House said Thursday it has no plans to reverse course on its decision to require that all employers cover contraception in their insurance plans, despite a wave of criticism from Republicans and Catholic leaders.
After a bruising week for health officials on the issue, the White House arranged a conference call with reporters to address what it called “confusion” over the policy. It also put up a blog post by Cecilia Munoz, director of the House Domestic Policy Council, pointing out that “no individual health care provider will be forced to prescribe contraception” and “no individual will be forced to buy or use contraception.”
And White House press secretary Jay Carney said at Thursday’s afternoon briefing that there was “not a debate” over reversing the decision. “The decision has been made, and it was made after careful consideration,” he said.
So the White House says that its decision on forcing American businesses to cover contraception is final. That’s cute and all, but it is just one more example of the foolishness of this president and the way his health care law was written. It also serves as a great illustration of why our federal government’s dependence on executive agencies as a whole is incompatible with effective government.
Despite what President Obama may like to believe, this issue is far from dead. The contraception requirement isn’t a law that was passed through Congress – it’s just a regulation that came out of the Department of Health and Human Services.
That means that when a Republican president is inaugurated in 2013, he can simply get some new people in place at HHS that will repeal it for him. Then, the next time a Democrat is elected president, he can reinstate the contraception requirement. And back and forth forever. How stable!! That will definitely help businesses plan for the future.
This instability is one of many reasons that rule-making by executive agency wasn’t provided for in the Constitution. By creating a fairly deliberate law-making process (along with electing only 1/3 of the Senate every two years), our Founders made it much less likely that one Congress would pass a law only to have the next come along and immediately repeal it. That type of stability and dependability create exactly the type of environment that is necessary for freedom and economic prosperity to thrive.
So despite the laughable insistence by the White House that this issue has been decided, the debate has only begun. That is good news for any one who believes that the President has no business dictating what Americans spend their money on. The bad news is, the threat posed to everyone’s freedom by our government’s crack-like dependence on executive agencies to make laws doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.