TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION: Latest on Obamacare in Colorado

The Colorado legislature has been unable to audit the Colorado health exchanges, yet, at the same time the health exchange can raise a tax on all health insurance plans—including those plans bought through an employer and outside the exchange.  We are quickly approaching a situation where the average Coloradan is getting taxed by an organization it cannot hold accountable.  On top of this, Coloradans cannot opt of health insurance without paying a penalty, meaning it’s impossible to avoid paying a tax despite having no voice or representation with the organization levying it.

As reported by Health News Colorado:

A $13 million tax on all Coloradans with health insurance would pay half the operating costs at the state health exchange next year and in 2016 under the newest financial projections.

The proposed tax would affect at least 875,000 people and includes Coloradans who get their insurance through their employers or outside the exchange. [the Peak emphasis]

Perhaps state Sen. Owen Hill said it best:

“Not only is this not fair. It really is against the law. We have a law here in Colorado that says you can’t increase taxes without a vote of the people,” said Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, who sits on the exchange’s legislative oversight committee.

How do they justify such an outrageous tax?  By vaguely saying all people are better off when people have insurance since emergency rooms will no longer have to pass the costs of treating the uninsured onto people with insurance.  Yet, this ignores the fact that most of the expansion of health insurance has been gained through Medicaid, and Medicaid is notorious for such a low reimbursement rate to doctors that doctors either limit the number of Medicaid patients they have, or refuse them outright, saying they lose money on every Medicaid patient they see.

On top of this, a Harvard study recently revealed people on Medicaid end up going to an ER 40% more than those without.  If Medicaid doesn’t pay enough to reimburse doctors, how are they going to cover ER expenses which are much higher?  And since ERs can’t refuse to treat Medicaid patients, who do you think will end up subsidizing their visits?  Yep, looks like we’re back in the same boat as before, if not worse off, and on top of that, we have a new tax that we have no say over.

It gets worse. Connect for Health Chief Financial Officer is expecting 20% of the 120,000 that allegedly enrolled to not pay, or opt of their insurance in the coming year.  Unfortunately for them, because of the bill liberal Sen. Udall passed (and would pass again) they’ll have no ability to find other insurance until November.


NOT DC: Greeley Tribune Gives Udall Some Home Cooking by Serving up Big Fat Meatballs

Wow Greeley Tribune, we here at the Peak are looking forward to when our teams play each other in the softball league; those big fat meatballs you tossed at liberal Senator Mark Udall make us wonder if you didn’t secretly rescue Allison Sherry away from her exile up north.  For example:

GT Question: So, senator, why are you out and about today?

Translation: So, senator, what propaganda can we spread for you today?

GT Question: It’s believed Gardner will hit you particularly hard on the Affordable Care Act. Do you think that’s warranted?

Translation: You know that little law you said wouldn’t cause Coloradans to lose their health insurance or doctors?  Yeah, forget about trying to answer those questions, we’d rather just let you spew some 100% pure BS to us on how you didn’t pass this monstrosity.

Alright, PeakNation™ you get the idea of how lazy of reporting was coming from The Greeley Tribune, but Udall needed a friendly reporter after he was getting mauled by the DC press.  We don’t think he’ll be that fortunate when he sits down across from The Durango Herald editorial board later this week.  Might we be of service and suggest some questions:

  1. Senator Udall, you were pushing hard this last week on equal pay, citing numerous times that Colorado women make less 80 cents an hour for every male dollar; yet, when this same context-free statistic is applied to your own staff, your female staffers only make 84 cents to every male staffer dollar; using such talking-point driven statistics makes us believe you don’t take this issue seriously and are only using it as a wedge issue, how do you respond? And, when can we expect you to pay your female staff appropriately?
  2. Senator Udall, back in November your staff had quite the disagreement with CDI over cancellation notices; come this fall when these plans no longer have an option to renew, will you and your staff finally feel that these people had their health insurance plans canceled?
  3. In a related follow-up: back in 2009 when you said Coloradans could keep their health insurance and doctor if they liked them, did you say this knowing full well they couldn’t or had you just not read the bill closely enough?  Did you understand what you were voting on?  Knowing what you know now, would you vote for Obamacare again?
  4. You’ve repeatedly said you are for an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, yet despite your fellow Colorado Senator Michael Bennet voting for it, and the State Department saying it would add no noticeable emissions, your staff told constituents that you are not in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline.  Are you really for an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy or is that just a political line you hide behind to protect your extreme environmentalist nature?  Does billionaire Steyer factor into this decision at all for you?
  5. Yes or no: will you campaign with President Obama?

Durango Herald-ites, feel free to call us in if you need help!


SALT MEET WOUND: Individual Mandate Tax Will Begin to Hit Americans Today

We guess that Tax Day wasn’t enough of an f-you to the American people because today Obamacare’s teeth get even sharper.  Americans have already begun to feel the sting of Obamacare as they’ve watched their healthcare premiums increase – or worse, their plans get cancelled.  Now, millions of Americans are about to see their taxes go up under the individual mandate. 

It is the last day for individuals to sign up for health insurance coverage.  That means if you haven’t signed up for coverage by the end of today then you’re going to owe $95 or 1 percent of your income, whichever is greater, on next year’s tax bill. According to a recent study in the Wall Street Journal, the penalty is almost always more than $95, for example:

In a more common case — a married couple with two kids making $50,000 a year on the adjusted basis — the penalty for not having insurance could run about $300 a year. The same couple making $100,000 a year on this basis could be subject to a fine of about $800.

Those penalties will grow significantly larger in 2016, and young adults between 18 and 34 are going to get hit hard.   Colorado is no exception.  The Denver Post has well documented the problems facing young adults in Colorado trying to shop for affordable coverage.  Those reluctant to sign up for Obamacare over cost concerns are being forced to choose between insurance they can’t afford and a tax penalty that actually might be less money out of pocket.

So happy Tax Day Peak Nation™!  AND happy individual mandate day!  Anybody else want a shot?


FACT CHECK: Executive Director of CDHCP Claims Medicaid Expansion Will Reduce ER Visits

A Denver Post story today details how Obamacare wasn’t so much about making private insurance affordable as expanding government-run healthcare:

In Denver, 2½ times as many people enrolled in the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program from October through the first quarter of 2014 as those who signed up for private insurance through the state exchange, state figures show. [the Peak emphasis]

State Sen. Kent Lambert argues this will end up as unfunded mandate by the Federal government, as Colorado in the future will have to come up for the funds to support this expansion of Medicaid.

It’s a huge burden on taxpayers,” Lambert said. “Colorado made a decision, the governor made a decision under Democratic leadership to expand the criteria for Medicaid to a much larger population, and the federal government also expanded Medicaid.” [the Peak emphasis]

The Hickenlooper administration believes this is false, as the expansion of Medicaid will result in fewer ER visits and more preventive care:

Susan Birch, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, said the Medicaid expansion will not impact the state budget but will help get costs under control.

Taxpayers are paying for these people in emergency rooms and jails,” she said. “It’s far cheaper to coordinate care and keep asthma under control, keep diabetes from resulting in amputation.” [the Peak emphasis]

In the immortal words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend!”  According to a Harvard study reported on by The Washington Post back in January, the expansion of Medicaid actually does the opposite, it results in more ER visits:

As the health-care law expands Medicaid to cover millions more Americans, a new Harvard University study finds that enrollment in public program significantly increases enrollees’ use of emergency departments.

The research, published Thursday in the journal Science, showed a 40 percent increase in emergency department visits among those low-income adults in Oregon who gained Medicaid coverage in 2008 through a state lottery. [the Peak emphasis]

Not only will Colorado be on the hook to the tune of over $70 million next year to cover the Medicaid patients, according to the Joint Budget Committee, but we can now expect emergency rooms to be even more crowded.  The worst of both worlds.

Peak Fact Check Verdict™: You’re full of it.


SHOCKING REVELATION: Impossible to Buy Private Insurance until November

In another major unintended consequence of Obamacare, not only are people unable to buy health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges now that the enrollment deadline has passed*, but the possibility of buying health insurance through a private carrier also won’t be possible until November.

For a law designed to insure the uninsured, making it impossible to buy health insurance for a majority of the year seems quite stupid.  Before Obamacare, if you wanted to buy health insurance any time of the year, you could.  Now?  Private insurers will follow the enrollment period of Obamacare, which only lasts for a couple of months every year.  As The Denver Post reports:

[I]nsurers are refusing to sell to individuals after the enrollment period for and the state marketplaces. They will lock out the young and healthy as well as the sick or injured. Those who want to switch plans also are affected. The next wide-open chance to enroll comes in November for coverage in 2015.

It’s a little-noted consequence of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, which requires nearly all Americans to be insured or pay a fine and requires insurers to accept people with health problems.

I have people that can buy insurance, but the companies shut them down. They won’t take the applications,” insurance broker Steve Bobiak of Frackville, Pa., said. “We’re a free country. You should be able to buy anything anytime you want.” [the Peak emphasis]

PeakNation™, we’ll be honest with you, with everything that has come out about Obamacare, we thought there was nothing left about it that could shock us.  We were wrong.  Now, even if you had the desire and the money to buy insurance—which, let us remind you once again, was the entire point of the law—you will be unable to until November.

You can’t keep your plan, you can’t keep your doctor, you can’t buy health insurance even if you wanted to.  This bill is a monstrosity that should never have happened in the first place.  Knowing what we know now, how Senator Mark Udall has the audacity to say he’d vote for it again, we have no idea.

What about Sen. Michael Bennett, would he vote for it again?  Because Obamacare appears to be lingering worse than a stale fart and will still be an issue in 2016.

*Well, no one really knows for sure, Obama may have changed his mind this morning


OY VEY: Obamacare Causes Spike in Small Group Premiums, Colorado’s Increase 29%

News about the disastrous implementation of Obamacare has become so widespread that, to be honest, we’re having a hard time keeping up with all of it.  We’ve written extensively about the canceled plans that failed to meet Obamacare coverage requirements, and we’ve written about how Sen. Mark Udall tried to cover it all up.  

Now, we’re seeing reports that if you weren’t one of the unlucky souls whose small group plan was cancelled because of Obamacare, your premiums have likely increased by 29 percent instead.  Colorado is among the top ten states seeing the biggest increases in health insurance premiums for small group plans, according to a new survey of brokers who sell to that market.  Forbes reports:

The April survey shows the largest acceleration in small and individual group rates in any of the 12 prior quarterly periods when it has been conducted….

…The analysts conducting the survey attribute the rate increases largely to a combination of four factors set in motion by Obamacare:  Commercial underwriting restrictions, the age bands that don’t allow insurers to vary premiums between young and old beneficiaries based on the actual costs of providing the coverage, the new excise taxes being levied on insurance plans, and new benefit designs.

Democrats will no doubt point their fingers at insurance companies over rate increases, but they will only have themselves to blame.  After all, when you let those very same insurance companies write the overhaul of your healthcare system behind closed doors, what else can you expect?


CUTTING CRITIQUE: Peggy Noonan Illustrates Why Udall and Romanoff Are Unfit to Represent

The eloquence of Peggy Noonan is rarely matched in politics today, and her most recent column on Obamacare is no different.  She thoroughly details what was promised by Obamacare—like your plan, keep it; will reduce the deficit; that the law that was passed has been changed substantively 30 times— and the ever-increasing downward trajectory the law has taken.  Through this she dismantles the argument most vulnerable Democrats are making to defend Obamacare now:

Finally, the program’s supporters have gone on quite a rhetorical journey, from “This is an excellent bill, and opponents hate the needy” to “People will love it once they have it” to “We may need some changes” to “I’ve co-sponsored a bill to make needed alternations”

She wasn’t talking specifically about Colorado’s most liberal Senator, Mark Udall, or embattled CD6 liberal candidate Andrew Romanoff, but the narrative fits them to a ‘T’.  Yet, the most devastating part of the article is when Noonan compares the Obamacare quagmire to the Iraq war quagmire.  She makes one important distinction: at least those who voted for the Iraq war had the decency to admit their mistake and would not vote for it again, if they knew then what they knew later.

I will never forget a conversation in 2006 or thereabouts with a passionate and eloquent supporter of the decision to go into Iraq. We had been having this conversation for years, he a stalwart who would highlight every optimistic sign, every good glimmering. He argued always for the rightness of the administration’s decision. I would share my disquiet, my doubts, finally my skepticism. One night over dinner I asked him, in passing, “If we had it to do over again, should we have gone in? would you support it?” [sic]

And he said, “Of course not!”

If only Colorado had a Senator with such decency.  Just last week Udall said, despite knowing everything he knows now, he’d still vote for Obamacare.  And, earlier this year, Romanoff doubled down and said he’d still support it.  Then again, we can’t get a straight answer on this one from him – he’s all over the map.

Colorado deserves better.


PEAKFEED: Even Those Who Want Obamacare Can’t Always Get It

This past week, the Colorado Senate Democrats voted down a proposal that would allow the state legislature to audit Connect for Health Colorado.  KDVR ran a story about people who had signed up for Obamacare in Colorado and are still unsure if they have insurance or not because of mishandling by Connect for Health Colorado.

Yep, sounds exactly like a group who doesn’t need oversight by the Colorado Legislature:

The seriousness of this situation is illustrated by this Nevada man who only found out after he suffered a heart attack that the health care he signed up for via Obamacare was never completed.  Despite signing up and paying the first premium, no one is willing to take him, leaving him with more than $407,000 in medical bills to worry about.  #thanksObamacare


SPENDING SPREE: What to Watch for During Long Bill Debate

The Colorado House is currently debating the state’s budget, more fondly referred to as the “Long Bill” because of its length, and Democrat leaders are already spending this year’s surplus like a bunch of drunken monkeys.  

Here are the top four things to watch for as the Long Bill works its way through the House and Senate:

  1. Health programs related to Obamacare are expected to receive an 18 percent increase in funding, or $1.2 billion more than they had last year.
  2. Contentious debate over the fate of the Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS).  Currently, the Long Bill includes $40.2 million to cover the cost associated with bringing CBMS into compliance with Obamacare.  The non-partisan JBC staff has said this is unnecessary spending.  Expect Republicans to try and spend that money on K-12 education and infrastructure instead, and expect Democrats to fall on their swords defending it.
  3. Colorado has been trying really hard to establish itself as a destination for movie and television production, but so far we’ve only been able to attract D-list projects at best.  However, that won’t stop Democrats from fighting to continue funding incentives for truly bizarre film projects.  Republicans will, again, try to divert that money to K-12 education and infrastructure projects.
  4.  Let’s also not forget the $300 million of additional spending bills sitting in the Appropriations Committees that have not been acted on yet.  Once the budget is passed, there will only be around $20 million “left over” for those pet causes.    This is going to cause major Democrat infighting in the weeks to come.

DOUBLING DOWN: Mark Udall Would Vote for Obamacare Again

“I would do it again, yes.” That’s the soon-to-be famous doubling down by liberal U.S. Senator Mark Udall when asked by 850KOA whether he would vote again for Obamacare.

Listen to the audio here, courtesy of America Rising:

An excerpt from the interview:

UDALL: “So in the end we did the right thing. The law is far from perfect. My focus is making it work for Colorado.”

HOST: “So you’d do it again?”

UDALL: “I would do it again, yes.”

Is this a joke?  Did we miss the sarcasm?  Shall we revisit the harm that this ill-conceived bill has wrought on Coloradans?

1) More than 335,000 Coloradans have lost their health insurance plans due to Obamacare

2) Coloradans are losing access to their long-term, preferred doctors.

3) Coloradans are having to pay more for insurance.

4) Coloradans are having to pay more to see the doctors that their perfectly good former insurance covered.

5) Government employees are having to feel the wrath of Team Udall when numbers don’t go their way.

6) Small businesses aren’t growing.

7) Unemployed Coloradans aren’t getting the jobs they desperately need to care for themselves and their families (see #6).

Need we say more?  Yet, Sen. Udall would do it all again.  In the interview, Udall accuses his opponents of not having Coloradans’ best interests at heart.  It’s impossible to believe that Sen. Udall has Coloradans’ best interests at heart when Coloradans are experiencing severe Obamacare “side effects”.  Yet, he would put Coloradans through the wringer all over again.

UPDATE: An astute reader remembered the Complete Colorado emails that showed that, in fact, Udall’s attempts to “make it work for Colorado” would have had the exact opposite impact.  This document explains why.  The state of Colorado expressed concern that the bill would undermine CO’s health exchange and risk pools.  The Division of Insurance in Colorado seems to think that Udall’s legislation (which was really just designed to save face) was going to hurt – not help – the exchange in Colorado.

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