More Los Angeles restaurants add #Obamacare surcharge

September 4, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

First it was Republique, announcing they were charging customers an additional 3% to cover the added costs imposed by Obamacare and being ripped for it by outraged liberals. Now the owners of Lucques and other trendy restaurants have decided to add a healthcare surcharge, too.

Economics — it’s the law:

The cost of offering these benefits is significant and the reality is that restaurants, particularly smaller restaurants like the ones many of us own, have a very high ratio of staff members to revenue and run on very slim profit margins. Successfully run restaurants generally make between 5-10% net profits so a health care benefit which eats away 3% of gross sales will take away anywhere from 30% to 50% of annual profits for a restaurant. We’ve discussed simply raising menu prices, but ultimately food prices are tied in many ways to the ingredients we purchase. Those ingredient costs have increased astronomically recently so we’re already struggling with working creatively to keep menu prices down and don’t feel it’s right to try to factor health care costs into menu prices as well. We’d rather keep our menu costs as an accurate refection of our ingredient prices so that customers know that if we have to raise them it’s because we can’t avoid passing on our increased costs.

Like I’ve said before, labor is a cost. If you increase the cost of labor –in this case, by commanding employers to provide  expensive health insurance coverage– something has to give. Either the restaurant takes a huge hit in their profit margin, calling into question the reason for being in business in the first place, or they cut hours and jobs, or they raise prices. There is no way to avoid that choice. These restaurant owners have chosen the third option: raise prices, and they have chosen to be bluntly honest with their customers about it.

Good for them, and I hope all businesses follow the trend. Why shouldn’t customers know why their meal or other commodity or service has become more expensive? Isn’t transparency good? Or is it gauche to remind the largely progressive clientele of places like Melisse that their legislated largesse to the proletariat actually has a cost?

The ACA is an anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law. It needs to be repealed; it’s inflationary effect is just one reason why.

More under Elections have consequences.

via Truth Revolt


Some Praise for a Minor Part of Obamacare

August 17, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Hmmm…. Dan has a point, here.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I like to think that very few people despise Obamacare more than me.

I don’t like Obamacare because it’s a fiscal boondoggle.

I don’t like Obamacare because it’s bad healthcare policy.

I don’t like Obamacare because it generated an embarrassingly bad decision by the Supreme Court.

I don’t like Obamacare because it is driving people out of the labor force and into government dependency.

I don’t like Obamacare because it has increased corruption in Washington.

And I don’t like Obamacare because it further enriches and empowers Washington’s political class.

But I also like being honest and that means I’m willing to acknowledge that there’s one small part of Obamacare that will have a positive impact.

More specifically, the so-called Cadillac tax on expensive employer-provided health plans will slightly reduce the distortion in the tax code that encourages over-insurance and exacerbates the healthcare system’s pervasive third-party…

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Something for #Obamacare apologists to worry about

August 11, 2014

satire Train Wreck

Supporters of the ACA were blaring the trumpets when it was announced last April that the system had reached 8 millions enrollments, one million more than the the figure former HHS Secretary Sebelius said was the minimum needed for Obamacare to be viable. That’s great news for fans of state-run healthcare systems, right?

Maybe, except for the fact that those numbers seem to be crumbling:

The nation’s third-largest health insurer [Aetna] had 720,000 people sign up for exchange coverage as of May 20, a spokesman confirmed to IBD. At the end of June, it had fewer than 600,000 paying customers. Aetna expects that to fall to “just over 500,000″ by the end of the year.

That would leave Aetna’s paid enrollment down as much as 30% from that May sign-up tally.

“I think we will see some attrition … We’re already seeing it. And we expect that to continue through the end of the year,” CEO Mark Bertolini said in a July 29 conference call.

It’s not clear how representative Aetna’s experience is of broader exchange trends, or whether its projection may be too conservative. (If it were representative, a similar 30% decline would drop ObamaCare enrollment to 6 million or less.)

Still, as one of ObamaCare’s largest players, participating in exchanges in 16 states plus D.C., Aetna’s experience provides a pretty good window into what is happening across the country, and there are other indications that enrollment has turned down.

Emphasis added.

One of the questions many of us have had about Obamacare enrollments has been “how many have really paid,” since you don’t get services until you make that first payment, and it’s not clear from article whether those initial 720,000 were all paying customers. IBD correctly points out that there are a number of reasons why paying customers might drop out of an exchange plan, other than simply being dropped for non-payment (1). For example, purchasers of exchange-plans may have since found work that provides employer-based coverage, or they may have suffered a decline in income and thus qualified for Medicaid. (That’s a plus?) But they may also have dropped out because the premiums, with or without subsidy, are still too much to bear, especially with higher deductibles and reduced provider networks. Some may have decided to do without insurance altogether, just paying the fine and buying coverage when a serious ailment strikes, since insurance companies can no longer turn one down.

Regardless of the reason or reasons, this is not a good trend, particularly if those leaving the exchanges are mainly those who mostly pay into the system, leaving behind those who mostly take from it. And when you factor in the coming premium increases, that rate of decline may accelerate. It will be interesting to see figures from other companies over the course of the summer.

As ST likes to say, stay tuned…

Footnote:
(1) I also wonder how many of these are duplicates or otherwise-defective applications weeded out in the effort to clean up Obamacare’s troublesome 834 problem.

 


#Obamacare: the more Americans know it, the more they hate it

August 5, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

That’s the unavoidable conclusion of a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which, if I recall correctly, has been friendly towards the ACA. Byron York reports:

According to new polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has closely tracked Obamacare for years, 37 percent of those surveyed have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, while 53 percent have an unfavorable view. That’s an eight-percentage-point jump in unfavorability over last month, and a two-point drop in favorability over the same time.

Why the shift? It’s not because millions of Americans have suddenly become conservative Republicans. Kaiser found that disapproval of Obamacare has risen across the board. Among Democrats, for example, the law’s unfavorable rating jumped six points in July, while its favorable rating fell four points. A similar thing happened among independents and — it hardly seemed possible — among Republicans who already hated the law.

Obamacare’s unfavorables also rose among all income groups — people who make less than $40,000 a year, those who make between $40,000 and $90,000 a year, and those who make more than $90,000. The same among all age groups. And the same for race and ethnicity: Disapproval rose among whites, blacks, and Hispanics.

Rather than a shift among some identifiable group, Obamacare’s rising unpopularity seems to be a product of the simple fact that, several months into its implementation, more and more people are having personal experience with the law.

Remember how Democrats swore people would love the law, once they got some experience with it? Critics suspected that was wishful thinking, and we seem to have been right.

Read the rest of York’s article for the details, but this is really the result of two things: 1) monumental progressive arrogance in seizing control of a health insurance system that a majority of the nation was satisfied with, substituting their judgement for that of their constituents and face-slapping the constitutional order in the process; and 2) doing a crappy job of writing the actual legislation, causing all sorts of problems for people across the nation. After the disruption of doctor-patient relationships, shrunken provider networks, increased deductibles, and massive cancellations of policies people were happy with –and the savaging of large group plans is still to come!–  after all that, is it any wonder more and more people hate this thing, the more they get to know it?

Obamacare has been pushed into the background somewhat, as other crises du jour have taken it’s place on the front pages. But it’s still there, and it is still going to annoy the heck out of people, especially as the rate increases hit this summer and group policies start getting cancelled. And you can bet that surveys like this one fill Democrats with dread as we approach November.

As they should.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Boom: #Obamacare architect upholds #Halbig decision

July 25, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“The end of Obamacare?”

I normally use that graphic as a metaphor for the needlessly disruptive, even harmful effects the Affordable Care Act is having on the American health care system and the millions who rely on it. But the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Halbig v. Burwell (formerly Halbig v. Sebelius) turned the ACA into its own flaming wreck by holding that purchasers of insurance on the federal exchange were ineligible for subsidies, meaning those buyers would be forced to pay the full cost of their new, needlessly more expensive O-care plans.

Oops.

Some background: When the writers of Obamacare were designing this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law, it was decided that states would be able to set up their own exchanges, with the federal exchange serving as the “insurance mall” for those that didn’t. To encourage states to create exchanges, it was written into the bill that subsidies for insurance purchases would only be available to those who bought their policies via an exchange “established by the State.” The idea was that pressure from purchasers who wanted those subsidies would force even conservative governors and legislatures to “opt in” to the system.

Trouble was for Obamacare fans, it didn’t work out that way.

Only 14 states set up their own exchanges (and some of those have been such disasters that their states are switching to the federal marketplace). That meant that, under the law, insurance buyers in the federal marketplace would be paying full price for their policies. It also meant that the federal government could not collect the “Roberts tax” (penalties) for not buying insurance, since those taxes were triggered by the availability of subsidies. No subsidies, no tax revenues, which the government was relying on to fund those same federal subsidies. You can just imagine how that prospect thrilled the pols in D.C.:

panic button red

 

So the IRS, hearing its master’s voice, suddenly decided it had the power to declare that “established by the State” intended to include the federal exchange, and thus the subsidy money could keep flowing.

Enter Halbig  and its argument that, no, the law meant what it plainly said, and then the First Circuit’s agreement.

The reaction on the Left has been amusing, to say the least. Ranging from shrieks of “judicial activism!!” to whines of “it’s just a typo and you know very well that’s not what Congress intended, meanies!”, they want the full, en banc, First Circuit to reverse the ruling. And, if they don’t do it, then, by golly, it’s on to the Supreme Court, where John Roberts will rewrite the law for us! Or something.

That got an awful lot harder to imagine, though, after the Competitive Enterprise Institute last night uncovered video from 2012 in which Jonathan Gruber, one of the key architects of both Obamacare and the earlier Romneycare, point-blank admitted the plaintiffs in Halbig were right:

The key moment starts at minute 31. Here’s CEI’s transcription of the big reveal:

What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this.

Per Michael Cannon, Gruber is off on one point, because the “Roberts taxes” are only triggered in states that create exchanges and thus get subsidies. But the core is that this destroys the government’s “congressional intent” argument, because we now have one of the designers saying the limitation of subsidies to state exchanges was the intent of Congress.

Where Obamacare defenders go from here (other than to a bar to drown their sorrows), I don’t know. They can’t give up, because the loss of the subsidies wrecks Obamacare. Can you imagine the reaction when customers on the federal exchange are told they have to pay full price, prices mandated by Obamacare, which was passed solely by Democrats?

I have no idea how the courts will handle this. Assuming the government asks for an en banc hearing, it’s possible the ruling in Halbig will be reversed, thus probably ending the matter, but I’d have to think less so after this revelation. And there is a contradictory ruling from the 4th Circuit, a situation that almost guarantees the Supreme Court would take the case in 2015.

As ST likes to say, stay tuned… popcorn.gif

RELATED: More from Reason. The Federalist on Michael Cannon’s revenge. Mr. Cannon himself points out how Halbig frees tens of millions from an illegal tax. Paula Bolyard reports how Mr. Gruber calls the plaintiff’s arguments in Halbig “nutty,” …er… but they’re his own ideas, too. Oops, again. By the way, did you know 91% of fake applicants for Obamacare can get subsidized coverage? Another reason to kill this thing and bury it under a crossroads at midnight with a stake through it.

UPDATE: This is amusing – four ways in which Obamacare defenders have desperately tried to spin Mr. Gruber’s “speak-o.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obamacare is Bad News for Your Wallet Today and Worse News for Your Wallet Tomorrow

July 9, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

The Democrats and their enablers, including the big insurance companies and groups like AARP, have much to answer for.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I wrote a few weeks ago about the hidden economic damage of Obamacare, particularly the harm to the job market.

Today, let’s get further depressed by looking at the ever-worsening fiscal damage of the law.

Here’s some of what Chuck Blahous of Mercatus wrote about this costly new entitlement.

The ACA was enacted in 2010 with the promise of reducing the federal budget deficit while expanding health insurance coverage. Nearly lost amid the recent press cheerleading over ACA enrollment figures is that this promise has disintegrated, and now no one…can say how much fiscal damage the ACA will ultimately cause. …CBO currently estimates that the ACA’s coverage provisions will cost the federal government $92 billion a year by FY2015. This is roughly 0.5 percent of projected U.S. economic output for 2015, well exceeding the relative costs of Social Security and Medicaid at similar points in their histories. (The amount falls…

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Rewarding failure: GSA awards big contract to designer of #Obamacare web site

July 8, 2014
Obama foreign policy advisers

GSA contracts oversight team

Because they did such a great job with the federal Obamacare web site, why shouldn’t they be given the chance to compete for billions more of our tax dollars?

FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA, Jul 08, 2014 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — CGI Federal Inc. (CGI) GIB -1.59% CA:GIB.A -1.49% announced today that the General Services Administration (GSA) has chosen the company as a prime contractor under a new contract vehicle known as One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS). The multi-award contract has an unlimited ceiling, allowing CGI to compete for billions of dollars in complex professional services task orders across all agencies in the U.S. federal government.

GSA oversees the business of the federal government, among other things supplying federal purchasers with cost-effective, high-quality products and services from commercial vendors. CGI is one of 74 awardees under OASIS, an “indefinite delivery indefinite quantity” (IDIQ) contract that will allow awardees to compete on a range of program management, management consulting, logistics, engineering, scientific and financial management services. Awardees will also be able to offer technology solutions as an ancillary service. For the first time, agencies will be able to purchase high-value professional services along with supporting IT solutions through a single contract, saving customers time and money.

The Obamacare site rollout was such a fiasco that the Federal government refused to renew its contract with CGI when it expired last February. And this isn’t the only time they’ve been told to go away: the government of the Canadian province of Ontario fired CGI for missed deadlines and a failure to deliver a functional product, an online medical registry.

So, naturally the GSA decides that CGI warrants even more chances to deliver “quality IT solutions.” This being the same GSA that’s managed our dollars so well in the past.

What could go wrong?

via Iowahawk

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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