Obamacare Causing Rural Hospital Closures

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Changes ushered in by the Affordable Care Act are putting the financial squeeze on smaller, rural hospitals and contributing to an alarming number of closures.

The Washington Post, in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, reported on this disturbing trend happening throughout the United States.

The specific changes brought about by the ACA that are hurting rural hospitals include its reduction of Medicare payments, the reduction of payments made to hospitals to cover the uninsured, and the high deductibles that are often part of ACA approved plans. In many cases, deductibles “are running between $2,500 and $5,000,” and people can’t pay them, said Maggie Elehwany, chief lobbyist for the National Rural Health Association.

One of the assumptions of the ACA is that states would all sign on with the federal government to expand Medicaid and share the costs; but 23 states have declined to take on the new, unknown financial burden.

The Post reports other factors contributing to hospital closures include:

…declining populations; disproportionate numbers of elderly and uninsured patients; the frequent need to pay doctors better than top dollar to get them to work in the hinterlands; the cost of expensive equipment that is necessary but frequently underused; the inability to provide lucrative specialty services and treatments; and an emphasis on emergency and urgent care, chronic money-losers.

The NRHA, representing over 2,000 rural hospitals and other health care facilities, stated that 48 hospitals have closed since 2010 and 283 are in trouble. In Texas alone, 10 have closed. Rural hospitals serve approximately half of the nation’s population.

Rural health care experts warn that the country could undergo a similar rash of closures as that experienced in the mid-eighties and early nineties following a change in how the federal government reimbursed Medicare billing to fixed payment amounts. That change favored large, efficient hospitals and hurt smaller, rural ones, which lacked the same economies of scale. The policy was amended in 1997 to make exceptions for smaller hospitals.

The ACA, passed with the intention of giving more access to health care, may have the unintended consequence of causing many communities throughout the United States to have less, unless changes are made.

h/t: IJReview

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

The Real Reasons ObamaCare’s Cost Projections Fell, A Little


The Congressional Budget Office released its updated federal budget projections for the next decade, which included an adjustment downward in the overall cost of the Affordable Care Act. The CBO now estimates that the program will cost $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years, rather than the $1.35 trillion it estimated in a report released in January. This represents a decrease of $142 billion over the period.

There are two reasons the CBO lowered its cost estimates for ObamaCare. (See table A-1) First, health insurance rates are rising more slowly than originally projected, year-over-year, which means the government subsidies paid through the exchanges will be lower. The cost is currently estimated to be $849 billion rather than the $1 trillion figure released in January.

Second, fewer people are expected to sign up for subsidies and Medicaid because the Administration overestimated the number of Americans who were without insurance and the number who would lose their employer-provided coverage as a result of the law.

Those who support and oppose the Affordable Care Act found reasons in the lower estimated costs for their positions. Those who support the law point to the slower rising premiums as proof the law is already having its intended effect. However, the slower rise in premiums has been a trend since 2006. From 1998 to 2005, healthcare insurance premiums rose an average of 5 percent per year. Since 2006, that figure fell to 1.8 percent a year.

The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, and its first full year of implementation was last year–so the law clearly could not be the reason for the falling rates. Experts point to the recession and the slow recovery from it as one of the primary reasons healthcare cost increases have remained low.

Those who oppose the law note that the federal government still is running one-half trillion dollar deficits, and healthcare costs will likely quickly balloon if the economy gains strength.

The real reasons ObamaCare cost projections decreased slightly appear to have little or nothing to do with the law itself, but in the assumptions the Congressional Budget Office made.

Do you believe ObamaCare will cause the overall cost of healthcare to rise or fall over the next ten years?

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

More Of Gruber’s Obamacare Lies Exposed For The World To See


Thanks to some careful research by Matt Palumbo who writes for the Foundation for Economic Education, a series of lies and half-truths being promulgated by Obamacare mouthpiece Jonathan Gruber have been uncovered.

The first lie cited is the bogus analogy Gruber makes between a mandate forcing Americans to buy Obamacare and one forcing drivers to buy auto insurance. This completely pushes aside the fact that no one is required to drive a car and thus carry auto crash liability insurance. Asserting that the burden to carry Obamacare is no different than the mandate of auto liability insurance is a lie.

Another of Gruber’s false claims focuses on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which mandates hospitals to provide emergency medical treatment for anyone without regard for their ability to pay. He insists that the EMTALA causes an appreciable increase in the cost of medical care for everyone else, which is equally bogus.  The truth is that emergency room costs for both insured and uninsured Americans represent only about 2% of what is spent on healthcare.

Moreover, no evidence can be found that supports Gruber’s allegation that medical bills are the number one reason for individuals having to file for personal bankruptcy protection.  In fact, a Department of Justice study found that among those seeking bankruptcy protections, although 54% had no medical insurance, 90% reported debt under $5,000.00–which indicates a lack of medical insurance was not the primary cause for their bankruptcy.

One of the more disingenuous of Gruber’s claims is that 20,000 people a year die for want of medical insurance.

This claim was likely based on a 21 year old American Medical Association study that used suspect, estimated mortality rates.  A recent study done in Oregon revealed that mortality rates remained relatively constant without regard for whether those studied did or did not have health insurance.

Yet another of Gruber’s lies holds that the largest group of people without insurance is the “working poor.”  A study found that 17 million uninsured people had incomes exceeding $50,000, and another 8 million made more than $75,000. The uninsured are not the “working poor”; they are the middle class, upper middle class, and illegal aliens.

Gruber also said Obamacare would not increase our health insurance premiums; we could keep our current policy and keep our doctors.

All of this came from a sniveling little twerp who counseled Barack Obama to lie about Obamacare in order to fool people into accepting it.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

A Few Words On Living In Obama World

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Barack Obama is living in his own dream world.

To hear him tell it, thanks to six glorious years of his leadership, America is in great shape again at home and overseas.

According to his boasts, which the mainstream media rarely challenge, the economy has rebounded from the Great Recession; and federal budget deficits have been sliced in half under his watch.

Never mind that we’re in the slowest economic recovery since FDR’s awful policies prolonged the Great Depression.

Never mind that the “official” unemployment rate of 5.7 percent is a statistical fraud because it doesn’t count the millions who’ve dropped out of the job market.

Never mind that the federal government still spends $486 billion more every year than it takes in and future deficits are projected to be a trillion bucks a year.

And never mind that ObamaCare is a fiscal time bomb that’s already driven up the cost of health insurance for millions of individuals and small business owners.

Pay no attention to all those grim realities at home, says our strange man in the Oval Office. All is well on Obama World.

And don’t worry about those bloody wars going on in Syria and what’s left of Iraq. Don’t worry about the future of Afghanistan or the recent terrorist takeover in Yemen, either.

We have ISIS terrorists on the run, President Obama says. We’ve outfoxed Putin in Ukraine. Soon, we’ll sign a deal with Iran’s mullahs about ending their nuclear weapons program.

Dream on, Mr. President. Time’s running out.

After six years of President Obama, it’s frightening to see what an alien, almost un-American worldview he has and how he puts it into practice daily.

When it comes to religion, everyone knows the president lives on another planet.

He’s clearly more interested in sticking up for Islam than for Christianity. And, I swear, he’s more comfortable quoting from the Koran than from the Bible.

He outdid himself at a recent prayer breakfast when he tried to equate the atrocities committed by modern Islamic terrorists with what Christians did during the Crusades a thousand years ago.

But President Obama is most dangerous to the country when he delves into foreign policy.

When he goes overseas to visit our allies, he’s more likely to start off by apologizing for America’s history of slavery or blaming America for something like climate change.

His recent move to unilaterally ease our 54-year-old economic embargo with communist Cuba is a perfect example of how badly Obama negotiates and what he thinks is important.

The Castro Brothers are still high-fiving each other. But the United States — and the imprisoned and impoverished Cuban people — got little in return for making it much easier for trade and travel activities to take place between our countries.

Compare Obama’s blase attitude toward communism and its victims with Ronald Reagan’s. In 1987, my father went to Berlin and challenged the USSR to allow more political and economic freedom for its captive countries.

At the Brandenburg Gate, he called for Mr. Gorbachev to prove he was serious about liberalization by tearing down the Wall.

When the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall came along in 2009, Obama showed how little he cared by skipping the ceremony and sending a video message.

The good news is that in two years, President Obama and his world will be gone.

We’ll be back to reality, and someone much more competent — President Hillary or Jeb or Scott or Rand or whoever — will have to clean up all of his messes.

Whoever our next president is, we’ll be better off. There’s no way in heck he or she could be as strange or as harmful to the country as Barack Obama.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

University Announces Fee For Students Who Opt Out Of Its Health Plan


It’s bad enough that Americans are fined if they refuse to buy insurance meeting Obamacare’s guidelines.  Now, a major university is getting into the act.

David Skorton, the president of Cornell University, has sent an email to students announcing a $350 fee for students who opt out of the school’s health care plan.

Skorton writes: “Although introducing a new fee is never desirable, moving to a model that includes a health fee — a standard in college health nationwide — will make student costs more predictable and encourage students to seek the care they need.”  It goes into effect this upcoming academic year.

Skorton expects that 70 percent of undergrads, 10 percent of grad students, and 30 percent of professional students will be affected, netting the University an estimated $3.9 million.  It turns out that Gannett Health Services, which services the needs of students, has been operating at a deficit.

Unlike Obamacare, students who get “fined” will be eligible for a $10 co-pay covering most Gannett visits.

News of the fee resulted in a sit-in Monday, but the president had already made up his mind. He told protestors that nothing can be done about the fee.

It’s not a bad deal for the university, which charges students $2,352 to opt in this year.  If they opt out, the school will soon charge $350.  It makes you wonder if that kind of model would work for a college cafeteria — charging a higher fee for students who eat in the dining hall and a lower fee for students who eat off campus.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom