Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Obamacare story. Why we need #FullRepeal!




I have asthma. Asthma is a chronic yet easily managed disease. I have been taking the same medications for years to control my symptoms. I have not needed to see a pulmonologist (asthma doctor) for the past several years. I saw one recently primarily because my health insurance company is not covering my medications any longer. These are medications they saw fit to cover last year and the year before and the year before that.

I have private health insurance, not Obamacare exchange insurance. It is individual and small group coverage. I pay 100% of the cost of the insurance. It is essentially the same plan with the same health insurance company that I had last year, except it is more restrictive and more expensive than last year's plan.

My pulmonologist is a scientist at a university hospital conducting groundbreaking research into the genetic component of chronic airway disease. Yet, since President Obama decided that the blue pill works as well as the red pill, my doctor is forced to spend part of his day writing letters to insurance companies explaining why some patients need the red pill.

I live in a state that created an Obamacare exchange. My insurance company participates in the state exchange though my plan is not an exchange plan. Nonetheless, the drug formularies are identical, not similar but identical. Consequently, even though Washington, D.C. regards me as a millionaire and billionaire since I can afford to purchase my own health insurance, I am forced to live under the same rules as those whose health insurance I am subsidizing. Equality really does mean poorer care for all. Just ask veterans who are dying while waiting for treatment at the VA.

The irony of being treated by a research physician is that even if my doctor creates a breakthrough treatment to cure chronic airway disease, a condition that afflicts millions of Americans, I will never be allowed enjoy its benefits. In fact, I suspect no one will.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

If you want to be inspired…

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The NRSC and Push Polling

http://www.redstate.com/diary/eyeonfreedom/2014/04/12/nrsc-push-polling/

The NRSC and Push Polling

Why is the NRSC trying to fix the Republican primary in Mississippi?

A short click over to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) website confirms their claim to be "the only national organization solely devoted to electing Republicans to the United States Senate." This makes one wonder why the NRSC would involve itself in primary fights seeking to defeat Republican challengers who presumably they would want to help should these challengers win their primary battles.

 The question occurred to me after receiving an email from the NRSC touting a poll claiming that 36 year United States Senate incumbent Thad Cochran enjoys a 17-point lead over challenger Chris McDaniel. Meant to despirit supporters of the Tea Party backed insurgent who has received endorsements from conservative organizations like The Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks, The Madison Project and Tea Party Express and conservative leaders including Sarah Palin and Mark Levin, the poll tells a much different story on closer examination.

Commissioned by a polling firm whose president is a former strategist for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the companion arm to the NRSC in the House of Representatives, the poll finds that 57% claim to support the "goals and ideals of the Tea Party". In addition, the poll reports that 59% identify as very conservative and 32% identify as somewhat conservative. Think about this for a moment. Nearly 3/5 of those polled self-identify as very conservative and support the Tea Party movement yet an insurgent candidate supported by leading national Tea Party groups and the nation's leading conservative voices is trailing a 36 year incumbent who claims not to know much about the Tea Party movement. Does this make sense?  It does when you consider that nearly 3/5 of those polled are 66 years of age or older and only 1/10 of those polled are under the age of 50. That might help when polling support for a 76 year-old incumbent.

While this poll lies in stark contrast with other recent polling data showing the race to be much tighter, it begs a larger question. Why did the NRSC commission this push poll and why is it going out on a limb to support an incumbent when either candidate would crush his Democrat opponent in a general election? Perhaps, the answer lies in the NRSC's true mission. Though the website claims that their mission is to elect Republican candidates, NRSC staff admits freely that its mission is really to re-elect incumbents.

Therein lies the problem. What happens when conservatives believe incumbent Republicans are not representing their interests and national Republican organizations are aligned against them? They do not vote. One need look only at the 2012 Presidential election where the Republican candidate failed to improve on the 2008 Republican vote total despite running against an incumbent with a record of real unemployment north of 10%.

If six-term United States Senator Thad Cochran needs the support of the NRSC in order to win a seventh term, perhaps it is time for him to consider taking a well-earned retirement. Considering that Thad Cochran was first elected to the United States Senate when Chris McDaniel was in first grade, perhaps it is time for Mississippi to have new representation in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ted Cruz v Rand Paul?


The liberal media and Washington establishment is celebrating the foreign policy 'feud' between Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. They fan the flames of discord because they oppose the policies where these leaders agree: reducing spending and the size of our federal government, and paying off our ever growing burden of national debt. Senator Cruz's embrace of Constitutional Republicanism encouraged him to join Senator Paul's filibuster and Senator Paul's commitment to repealing ObamaCare caused him to join Senator Cruz's filibuster.

Yet, the crisis in the Ukraine has highlighted their different approaches to foreign policy and caused a bit of a public spat, especially given speculation that both senators may run for president in 2016. Though I view it as counterproductive to the many principles which conservative and libertarian-leaning Republicans share to fan the flames dissension, it is worth noting why Senator Cruz's approach is superior.

In an op-ed in Breitbart, Senator Paul suggests that many Republicans embrace the foreign policy approach championed by President Ronald Reagan, peace through strength, because they "lack their own ideas or agenda." This straw man argument is similar to one espoused by Democrats who suggest that the Republican answer to every economic ill is to cut taxes and regulations. Look back on a Reagan economic legacy that created tens of millions of private sector jobs, then look back on a Reagan foreign policy legacy that defeated the Soviet Union without ever firing a shot. As the saying goes, if it ain't broke....

Senator Paul continues by praising President Reagan for retrenching in the Middle East after a homicide bomber killed 241 U.S. Marines with a truck bomb in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983. It is this retrenchment that is often viewed as the encouragement of modern-day terrorism. Truck bombs can cause the mighty United States of America to retreat and create a level playing field with terrorists. Is Senator Paul suggesting that a President Paul would react to terrorism in this fashion? Is Senator Paul suggesting that a President Paul would wait until we are hit before prosecuting war against our enemies large and small?

Regarding the crisis in Ukraine, Senator Paul continues by suggesting that there is a "finite menu of diplomatic measures to isolate Russia." Really? How so? While the United States can expel Russia from the G8 or seek to interrupt trade or introduce a resolution in the United Nations, why not take this opportunity to be creative? Senator Cruz has suggested several options including allowing the export of U.S. energy so Europe is not dependent on Russian energy resources. That is hardly "beat[ing] [his] chest" or "talking tough for the sake of [his] political career." Exporting U.S. energy would also have the side benefit of liberating our economy from the malaise of Obamanomics.

No one is "latching onto" the Reagan legacy as Senator Paul suggests. I do not believe Senator Cruz is "misinterpreting it" either. Ronald Reagan knew who his enemies were and used every arrow in his quiver to defeat an evil empire. Those who pretend otherwise are the ones who are misinterpreting history.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Fight to #MakeDCListen


There is a myth in politics that elections are won and lost in the middle. The premise is that "independent" voters support tenets of both major political parties and candidates must craft their message to attract a majority of these "moderates." Despite the fact that nearly twice as many Americans self-identify as conservative as compared to liberal, conservatives are often referred to as "extremists," or worse.

Prominent political operatives write op-ed pieces proclaiming that Republicans win elections by ignoring the base of their party and that sticking to your principles is a "self-defeating strategy." Yet, these same political operatives commission polls whose results state the opposite to be true.

One such poll was commissioned by a mainstream Republican advocacy group in early June of last year. Several months before millions of Americans discovered that their health insurance premiums and deductibles were set to skyrocket in 2014, nearly two thirds of Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike told a pollster that the top priority of health care policy should be reducing the cost of health care.

Before the defund debate had begun and Senator Ted Cruz stood for 21 hours to implore his U.S. Senate colleagues to defund Obamacare, a cool two thirds of Republicans and Independents told a pollster they wanted Congress to take whatever steps possible to "dismantle" Obamacare now.

The most startling fact of all: when asked whether people should be allowed to purchase insurance across state lines, more than 75% of Democrats, Republicans and Independents agreed. In fact, the greatest agreement was seen among Independents, a cool 85% of whom do not want the government restricting their choice of health insurance.

This brings up a larger point. A record 42% of Americans self-identify as Independent rather than Republican or Democrat because the major political parties do not advance policies that are important to those voters. As an example, while few agree that our present immigration system is ideal, Republican and Democrat politicians press the immigration debate despite only 3% of Americans viewing immigration as the most pressing issue of the day. It is no wonder that pollster Frank Luntz suggested that the most effective political soundbite of 2013 was one where Senator Ted Cruz observed that the President and Congress are not listening to the American people.



In the aftermath of the 2012 election, a prominent Republican political operative suggested that Republicans could regain their political swagger by deploying an "army of computer engineers, mathematicians and social scientists" as the Obama campaign had done to mine electoral data and achieve electoral success. The creation of Para Bellum Labs within the Republican National Committee would seem to indicate that the RNC has heeded this operative's advice.

As a mathematician, I would suggest that the answer is much simpler. Do not target voters, target the message they are sending. When three fourths of the voting public tells you something, LISTEN!

Republicans should offer a simple alternative to Obamacare. Suggest that if you elect us in 2014, we will allow you to buy whatever health insurance plan you want, wherever it is offered, and we will not punish you if you choose not to purchase anything at all. Pass a one page bill out of the House of Representatives and offer it up in the United States Senate with every Republican Senator as a co-sponsor. Take a clear unadulterated stand and follow through! Freedom works!

Conservatives were excoriated during the defund debate last fall as being outside the mainstream. It was a question of tactics we were told, notwithstanding the fact that those doing the questioning were sitting on polling data stating that they ought to have been following the conservatives. It is no wonder that a recent Freedomworks poll found nearly half of its respondents listing health care as a top concern.

The Obama administration told Americans recently that it is "good news" that they will have the "opportunity" to work less as a consequence of Obamacare. Only in a dystopian Orwellian fantasy is more unemployment "good news." By that economic scorecard, Washington should be celebrating with parades every month!

Washington is not listening to the American people. If Republicans are not proactive in fighting our decline into dystopia, their political fortunes will get sucked into its vortex.

Monday, December 2, 2013

What if you could buy health insurance on Amazon.com?


President Obama: "I am accused of a lot of things but I don't think I am stupid enough to go around saying this is gonna be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity a week before the website opens if I thought that it wasn't gonna work." What if companies competed to sell health insurance on functioning websites like Amazon or Travelocity? What if ehealthinsurance.com, a private website that delivers quotes and connects millions with actual insurance plans, could sell insurance to all fifty states?

Today, Cyber Monday is supposed to be the moment of truth for HealthCare.gov. Even if the website "functions" for the "vast majority" of those who try it, there will hardly be any holiday "deals." In fact, over 5.5 million Americans will visit HealthCare.gov because Obamacare is forcing them to do so.

These are only the people whose plans have been cancelled in the individual health insurance market. Some estimate as many as 100 million Americans may lose health insurance coverage under Obamacare. In fact, the Obama administration estimates that at least half of those with private health insurance will lose coverage when Obamacare employer mandates go into effect by the end of 2014. 

For those seeking private insurance on the upgraded website, costs are soaring like never before. Families are seeing premiums double. Students with inexpensive coverage are seeing that coverage dropped. Even the Speaker of the House saw his premiums double when he joined the District of Columbia health insurance exchange.

HealthCare.gov is a disaster. Insurance companies are not receiving correct information. Enrollment data has been hacked and is appearing in Google searches. The person in charge of building HealthCare.gov testified before Congress that all of the back-office payment and accounting systems have yet to be built. Can you imagine if actual commerce operated this way? It is no wonder that more than half of the American people do not trust President Obama or believe his "leadership" inspires confidence.

Where do we go from here? 

The logical approach would be to repeal Obamacare in its entirety and begin the process of introducing free market reform to the health insurance market. The House Republican Study Committee and Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) have market oriented plans for review on their websites. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) intends to offer his own plan in the coming days. Unfortunately, many Republicans in Senate "leadership" have demonstrated little appetite for this approach.

The Senate Republican "leadership" strategy seems to be to allow Harry Reid to walk further and further out on the plank defending Obamacare. As Americans become increasingly angry, nervous Senate Democrats will make Harry Reid jump off the plank in order to save their political skins. This strategy is risky for two reasons.

(1) The Obama administration can further delay mandates until after the 2014 election as they have done recently with the small business mandate thereby delaying the harmful effects of Obamacare to the voting public.

(2) The GOP runs the risk of being perceived as a party of all talk and no action. While party insiders have taken great glee in showcasing Obamcare's failings and the Democrat politicians who supported them, many Republican politicians have not thrown political weight behind practical alternatives.

The GOP needs to fight to roll back Obamacare at every opportunity. Now is not the time to offer a "fix" for something that was built on lies to begin with. Some of us cannot wait that long.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Obama will never "let 'em keep what they got!"


Referring to the nearly five million Americans who have already lost their health insurance as a result of Obamacare, former President Bill Clinton suggested that "even if it takes a change in the law, the President should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let 'em keep what they got."

Later that day at a White House press briefing, an NBC reporter asked "if some people are allowed to stay on their old plans and other people are forced to get on the Obamacare system because they did not have any coverage, then the whole system collapses, basically there is no way to balance both. Does the White House acknowledge that there is no way to make both of those work?"

In response, White House spokesman Jay Carney agreed stating that "any fix that would essentially open up for insurers the ability to sell new plans that did not meet standards would create more problems than it fixed because it would essentially allow insurers to... charge prices that undercut prices of other plans that kept to the basic coverage."

Therein lies the crux of the issue. A free market system where insurers compete to "undercut the prices of other plans" and you decide what coverage best suits your personal needs and budget is a "problem" in President Obama's view. President Obama is worried that his plan will not fare well competing alongside private insurance offered outside the restrictions imposed by the Unaffordable Care Act unless Obamacare is subsidized. That is why President Obama has resisted calls from nervous Democrats including the senior senator from California to delay the imposition of the individual mandate.

President Obama never intended to allow you to keep your health insurance whether you liked it or not.



Ironically, neither did Hillary Clinton.