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Republicans Abroad Hong Kong provides news feeds and links to other websites as a service to our users. This does not imply Republicans Abroad Hong Kong's endorsement of these news feeds and websites, and Republicans Abroad Hong Kong is not responsible for the content or availability of these news feeds and websites.May 8, 2014 In October 1986, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met for a forty-eight-hour summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. Originally intended as a short, inconsequential gathering to outline future talks, the meeting quickly turned to major international issues, including the Strategic Defense Initiative and the possibility of eliminating all nuclear weapons. With both men at the height of their power, they had the rare opportunity to move towards disarmament and peace in a way neither side had predicted. Read more May 8, 2014 Every election, as presidential hopefuls jockey for the Republican nomination, each one claims to be a “Reagan conservative.” But are these candidates truly carrying on the mantle of Ronald Reagan, or are they abusing the memory of our great president? Read more April 14, 2014 Covering an eventful period in Herbert Hoover’s career – more specifically, his life as a political pugilist from 1933 to 1955 – The Crusade Years is a previously unknown memoir that Hoover composed and revised during the 1940s and 1950s – and then, surprisingly, set aside. A parallel volume to Hoover’s Freedom Betrayed, this work recounts Hoover’s family life after March 4, 1933, his myriad philanthropic interests, and his unrelenting “crusade against collectivism” in American life. Aside from its often feisty account of Hoover’s political activities during the Roosevelt/Truman era and its window on Hoover’s private life and campaigns for good causes, The Crusade Years invites readers to reflect on the factors that made possible his extraordinarily fruitful post-presidential years. As least as much as Theodore Roosevelt, he came to personify the activist ex-presidency; some historians even argue that he invented it. Read more
Big Tent: The Story of the Conservative Revolution – As Told by the Thinkers and Doers Who Made It HappenApril 10, 2014 Drawing from his comprehensive, star-studded course at The Citadel, Mallory Factor, the New York Times bestselling author of Shadowbosses, brings together a fascinating and diverse range of essays from leading figures and activists which explore and illuminate the conservative intellectual tradition in American politics. The Big Tent offers a panoramic portrait of the intellectual history of the conservative movement. Some of the leading lights of the Right offer an unparalleled introduction to conservative figures and ideas, from the Revolution to William F. Buckley; Barry Goldwater to the Reagan Revolution; Libertarianism to the War on Terror. Read more April 8, 2014 Solutions ... not theories. Political progress ... not political posturing. Instead of the constant jockeying for political advantage, in What Works, Cal Thomas focuses on what promotes the general welfare, regardless of which party or ideology gets the credit. He addresses questions such as: Why must we constantly fight the same battles over and over? Why don't we consult the past and use common sense in order to see that what others discovered long ago still works today? And why does present-day Washington too often look like the film Groundhog Day, with our elected officials waking up each day only to repeat identical talking points from previous days, months, and years? What Works is about solutions, not theories. It's about pressuring political leadership to forget about the next election and start focusing on the needs of the people who work hard to provide for themselves, send their tax dollars to Washington, and want to see the country achieve something of value ... like it has always done. Read more
What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White HouseApril 3, 2014 From Cicero to Snooki, the cultural influences on our American presidents are powerful and plentiful. Thomas Jefferson famously said "I cannot live without books," and his library backed up the claim, later becoming the backbone of the new Library of Congress. Jimmy Carter watched hundreds of movies in his White House, while Ronald Reagan starred in a few in his own time. Lincoln was a theater-goer, while Obama kicked back at home to a few episodes of HBO's "The Wire." Read more March 20, 2014 Over the last three years, the State of Wisconsin has witnessed a transformation. Through tough, but prudent, structural policy reforms, the State has balanced its budget without raising taxes, reduced government debt, increased job opportunities, begun a revitalization of its educational systems, and provided tax relief to its citizens. Policymakers at all levels can learn much from the Wisconsin example. Join us as Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch reflects upon these policy reform efforts and the positive effects they have had, and are continuing to have, in laying a solid foundation for Wisconsin’s future. Read more March 19, 2014 Out of over 22 million veterans living in America today, 30% suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – making up a fifth of the homeless population – and an estimated 18 commit suicide every day. Read more March 19, 2014 Has the Federal Reserve functioned as it was intended? How well has the Fed managed the economy and calmed business cycles? Do its successes outnumber and outweigh its failures? Join us as leading experts address these and other important questions. Read more March 14, 2014 State marriage laws across the country are facing constitutional challenges in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor, which struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Several state Attorneys General have publicly announced that they will not defend their state laws against such legal challenges, and United States Attorney General Eric Holder recently came out in support of these state officials. Join us as our distinguished guests discuss the duty of the top legal officers in the federal government and state governments to defend laws in court. Read more March 13, 2014 History has not ended. Across the world today, we are witnessing both a heroic struggle for democracy and reform and the disturbing strength of tyrannical regimes and movements. Whether it be the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war, the aggressiveness of Putin’s Russia or the increasing bellicosity of China, the forces of democracy and the forces of tyranny are in a dead heat. Read more March 12, 2014 The 21st Century is likely to witness Asia’s two largest civilizations – China and India – join the United States in an elite club of global superpowers. By some economic indicators, the two Asian giants are already the second and third largest economies in the world, and they are developing world-class militaries to complement that economic clout. While Beijing and Delhi have spent the past 50 years free from armed conflict, elements of rivalry have shadowed the relationship since the two countries went to war in 1962 over their disputed Himalayan border. In the 21st Century, the rivalry has evolved in unpredictable ways, as India has moved toward a strategic partnership with the U.S. and has expressed growing concerns about Chinese aggression and militarism. Read more March 11, 2014 ASIA 2014: The View from Capitol Hill Read more March 11, 2014 Join us as our distinguished guests reflect upon Japanese, Chinese and American space policy and the strategic implications they hold for the future. Read more March 8, 2014 This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference has had something of a deflated … Read more March 8, 2014 Day two of CPAC was livelier than the first, perhaps auguring the … Read more March 8, 2014 Yesterday afternoon, a panel of conservative policy luminaries shared their ideas and … Read more March 8, 2014 If only Nixon could go to China, then, in the opinion of … Read more March 8, 2014 It might be a tradition that every year that GOProud is excluded … Read more March 8, 2014 Douglas Hine wrote a wonderful piece at Aeon Magazine Thursday on information … Read more March 7, 2014 John Solomon, the editor of the Washington Times, opened the privacy panel at … Read more March 7, 2014 Which of these text messages do you think would be more likely … Read more March 7, 2014 Read more March 7, 2014 “Off with Obamacare’s head!” Such was the battle cry at the first … Read more March 6, 2014 In assessing the motives and actions of Vladimir Putin, Hillary Clinton compared … Read more March 6, 2014 Conservatives Unite Around Health Reform Ideas
Excerpt below. Read the full article online here.
Conservative political leaders and free-market policy analysts painted a picture of what true market-based health reform would look like if consumers had more control over choices in a truly competitive market, during a conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on February 27.
While reform proposals offered by these Republican leaders differ, they all start with repealing ObamaCare and share many common themes of reform: allowing people freedom to choose the insurance policies they want, help for people with modest incomes in purchasing coverage, a strong safety net, allowing portability of health insurance, and competition rather than government edicts to create more choices of more affordable insurance. Most importantly, all are organized around market-based reform principles.Read more March 6, 2014 Republicans who don’t want to be doomed by demographics were likely to … Read more March 6, 2014 Concerns expressed at CPAC’s “Common Core, Choice, and Accountability” forum are much … Read more March 6, 2014 Gentrification has consequences, as Ed Leibowitz’s Wednesday piece in Politico Magazine makes clear. … Read more March 6, 2014 A glut of Ph.D.s and endlessly rising college tuition prompted Hollis Robbins … Read more March 5, 2014 Rarely do opinion pieces in college newspapers emerge as subjects of national … Read more March 4, 2014 Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty late Friday reminds Americans that we live in a dangerous world. Russia now controls the Crimean Peninsula, but the struggle for control over the region is far from over. Read more February 27, 2014 In Game Plan (Regnery 2014), Kevin Freeman examines the emerging risks facing investments and provides a game plan of response for investors at all levels. As he notes, there is no "one size fits all" solution as domestic and international events are happening quickly and the challenges can morph suddenly. Just as a football team, however, must plan for a variety of offensive strategies and attacks, investors must be prepared to strategically adjust as well. This “how to” handbook can help everyone in determining their own game plan in light of the ever-changing global economic situation. Read more February 26, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise and 80 other RSC Members today submitted a public comment to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding its proposed rule to limit the free speech of certain organizations.
“Only after it was revealed that the IRS actively stalled the applications of hundreds of groups that sought 501(c)(4) status, did this hurried and overly-restrictive rule get proposed under the guise of providing clarity to the public and the IRS,” write the members in the letter. “The correct, measured response would have been to ensure that the backlog of 501(c)(4) applications was appropriately reviewed and processed in a timely manner, free of the disgraceful partisan political interference that has come to light. Rescinding the First Amendment rights of 501(c)(4) organizations fails to address the problem and reveals a pattern of politically motivated abuse of power. For these reasons, we respectfully request that this proposed Rule be abandoned.”
More than 116,000 public comments have been submitted to the Administration regarding their proposed rule. The full public comment and a list of signing members can be found here.Read more February 26, 2014 Since our country has been at war for over a decade, Americans are vaguely familiar with concepts like rules of engagement, friendly fire, and the law of armed conflict. Our collective knowledge is informed by anecdotes, movies, the news, and documentaries – most from a decidedly American-centric viewpoint. Join us as we hear from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Deputy Military Advocate General Colonel Eli Bar-On, as he discusses the challenges posed to his country by non-state actors and the phenomenon of asymmetrical warfare. A 20-year veteran of the IDF, Colonel Bar-On will share his experiences and thoughts on the application of the law of armed conflict and international law in order to preserve the lives of both civilians and soldiers alike on both sides of the battlefield. A former military prosecutor, defense counsel, judge, legal advisor, and Deputy Military Advocate General, Colonel Bar-On takes us inside the challenges and threats to his country, and how Israel fights terrorism under the rule of law. Read more February 25, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise today protected the First Amendment rights of all Americans by voting to stop the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from targeting certain Americans because of their political beliefs. The proposal by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp blocks the IRS from implementing regulations that stifle free speech and constitutional rights.
“We need to stop the IRS from targeting Americans based on their political views, and our free society cannot tolerate continued threats to our constitutional liberties,” RSC Chairman Scalise said. “The IRS’ proposed rule last fall raised alarming concerns, and I applaud the leadership of Chairman Camp for leading the charge to rein in the IRS. Targeting civic groups on the basis of their political views should send a chilling message to every American that holds sacred the free speech rights that are guaranteed to us under the Bill of Rights. Chairman Camp’s legislation takes an important step to stop the Obama Administration from implementing new rules that are focused on unfairly targeting their political enemies. The freedom of speech is one of America’s most basic rights, and this Administration should not be able to pick and choose which Americans can speak freely about their political beliefs.”
More than 70 RSC Members will soon join the more than 94,000 Americans who have submitted public comments regarding the proposed IRS rule.
Read more February 25, 2014 The United States recently informed its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies that Russia is potentially violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty. For years, the Obama Administration has left the issue unaddressed, all the while pursuing a “reset” consolatory policy with the Kremlin. Meanwhile the U.S. missile defense program continues to be scaled back and the nuclear triad keeps aging. The Administration’s desire to conduct further unilateral nuclear weapons reductions and a lack of commitment to sustain U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure and missile defense programs are raising questions about the U.S. strategic posture vis-à-vis allies and potential adversaries. How should the U.S. respond to Russian violations? What are potential allied concerns? Read more February 24, 2014 Graves Op-Ed: Stop government abuse: We need common sense for federal regulations
Online Op-Ed can be found here.
The economic recovery is slow, the labor force has been reduced, and small businesses are losing speed, but there's one area that just keeps growing: federal regulations. There's no shortage of new red tape or of bureaucrats to write new regulations, and small businesses are becoming overwhelmed.
It's time for some common sense from federal agencies. Federal regulations should promote safety without unnecessarily burdening small firms and costing much-needed jobs.
As Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, I've worked for several years now with colleagues of both political parties to update and strengthen the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The outgrowth of that collaboration is the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act. This week, for "Stop Government Abuse Week," the House is scheduled to vote on a regulatory reform bill that includes this legislation — a priority of the Small Business Committee.
The RFA requires federal agencies to assess the economic impact of their regulations on small firms, and if significant, consider less burdensome alternatives. Federal agencies sometimes fail to comply at all, or simply "check the box," fulfilling the letter of the law, while missing the purpose of the law entirely. Their analysis is weak; their solutions unworkable. These agencies must be accountable for the way their rule-writing plays out in the real world.
A small business owner from Wichita, Kansas, Carl Harris, earlier this year testified before the Committee that "…the reality is that far too often agencies either view compliance with the [Regulatory Flexibility] Act as little more than a procedural 'check the box' exercise or they artfully avoid compliance by other means."
That's not acceptable. The economy needs thriving, job-creating small businesses, but excessive and ill-considered regulations too often get in the way of growth. Congress must insist through the provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act that federal agencies can no longer get away with paying mere lip service to the RFA. The law is there to protect small businesses, and these job creators deserve those full protections, as Congress designed.
The point of the RFA is to ensure agencies examine how the regulations will affect small businesses and get the input of those who have to live with the requirements before putting a rule into effect. If agencies followed the spirit of the RFA, they would effectively work with — not against — America's 28 million small businesses. As Harris said in his testimony, "Agencies should seek to partner with small entities to help create more efficient, more effective regulations and, in so doing, reduce the compliance costs for small businesses."
The bipartisan Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, now Title III of the ALERT Act, updates the RFA's requirements and provides new tools to ensure compliance from regulating agencies. Among these key provisions, the bill requires all agencies to convene small business review panels to get input before proposing rules that will have a significant impact on small businesses. This way, small firms have a chance to be involved in the development of regulation on the front end before they have to live with it on the back end. Additionally, the bill requires agencies to consider the economic impacts more thoroughly, by assessing indirect impacts from regulations — the ripple effect — not merely the immediate or direct effect.
In September, 125 small-business groups and organizations signed a letter voicing the strong support of the small-business community for this legislative effort. Moreover, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce small-business survey revealed that regulations are among the top concerns of small businesses, only exceeded by the requirements of the health care law — further justifying the legislative fix.
Small businesses bear a heavy regulatory cost without the same resources in personnel or expertise as larger companies. In fact, in 2010, the Small Business Administration's study found that regulations cost small companies an average of $10,585 per employee, and compliance costs were 36 percent higher than large companies. The same study found that regulations cost the U.S. economy $1.75 trillion annually.
Regulations are mounting up, and the pace of new rule-making has reached record levels in recent years, with 2012 the costliest year on record. That regulatory pace is unsustainable for a healthy economy. The common sense provisions of this small-business legislation will encourage smarter, better regulations that avoid stifling growth, innovation and job creation. If the federal agencies can do their work as the law requires, then more Americans will be working for our nation's best job creators: small businesses.
— By Sam Graves
Sam Graves (R-Mo.) is chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Small Business Committee and U.S. representative of the 6th congressional district of Missouri. Graves, who is a sixth generation family farmer, has served in Congress since 2001 and served as chairman of the Small Business Committee since 2011. Follow the committee on Twitter @SmallBizGOP. Read more February 21, 2014 For weeks, Venezuela has been overcome by peaceful student-led protests. After a decade and a half of government abuses, skyrocketing inflation rates, and significant losses of political and economic freedom that have become more acute in recent months, supporters of democracy have taken to the streets to voice their discontent in numbers unprecedented in recent memory. In response, the police and government-sanctioned mobs have violently retaliated against protestors, arrested the leader of the democratic opposition, and expelled three U.S. diplomats. Read more February 20, 2014 Black Op-Ed: Three ways Obamacare supporters are continuing to mislead the American people
Click here to read the op-ed online.
A recent Fox News poll found that 64 percent of voters do not think Obamacare would have become law if Americans knew in 2009 what we know about it today. Given all of the broken promises that have come to light since its rollout, this is very likely the case. However, if it were not for the continued misinformation campaign coming from the administration and proponents of Obamacare, that figure would likely be much greater than 64 percent. The following are just three examples of how Obamacare supporters continue to mislead:
Healthcare.gov is now “working the way it’s supposed to.”
First of all, no one predicted that with four years and hundreds of millions of dollars, the most tech savvy Administration in history would fail so badly at launching a website. And it is without a doubt that Healthcare.gov is working much better today that it was when it first launched on October 1st. However, working better is hardly a barometer of success, and the website clearly is not working “the way it’s supposed to.”
For instance, 22,000 people have filed appeals to get mistakes corrected with Healthcare.gov, but the appeals system is not yet working so they are stuck in limbo. Also, an Associated Press poll released at the end of January found that just 8 percent of those who have used the website to sign up say it worked well. And despite arguments that the root of the problem with the federal website was resistance from Republicans, Democrat-led states such as Oregon, Maryland and Massachusetts have actually created worse exchange websites than the federal government.
Additionally, the White House has now confirmed that the back end of the website that processes payments is still months away from being built. This hardly speaks to a website that is working the way it’s supposed to, and leads us to the next misleading claim surrounding Obamacare.
Misleading enrollment figures
In the insurance industry, an enrollment occurs when someone chooses a plan and pays their first month’s premium. But much like the president’s distorted metric of jobs “saved or created,” the Obama administration claims anyone who has merely selected a plan as a successful enrollment when they release Obamacare numbers. Because the back end of the website has not been built, they say they have no way to know who has paid for their plans. This makes their claim of 3.3 million enrollees almost meaningless, as these are just the number of people who have gone online and placed a plan in their shopping cart.
This figure includes those who may have decided against purchasing the plan, or simply failed to pay for their first premium on time. An analysis from the New York Times estimates that 20 percent of enrollees fall into this category, while data from some state exchanges, such as in Minnesota, find that almost half of those who have selected plans have failed to make their first payment. Without payment, these people are not covered and should not be counted.
Additionally, this does not take into account those that already had coverage that was cancelled due to Obamacare. Millions of policies in the individual market have been cancelled, and being forced into the exchanges is hardly a cause for celebration for proponents of this law. Furthermore, it is likely that many of these people were happy with their prior coverage, and even though they are now enrolled, they may still be unhappy with Obamacare. One study from McKinsey & Co. in January found that “only 11 percent of consumers who bought new coverage under the law were previously uninsured.”
Even worse for Obamacare’s prospects is that it is incredibly unpopular with the uninsured. One Kaiser Family Foundation study found that almost twice as many uninsured have an unfavorable view of the law than a favorable one, and this is before any of them have even been forced to pay the individual mandate tax for not purchasing adequate Obamacare coverage. Even under the Congressional Budget Office’s rosy estimations, 31 million Americans will still remain uninsured a decade from now, though it is impossible to project where things will stand when the Administration constantly changes Obamacare.
Republicans have no alternative
It is true that there is no Republican alternative that is 2,000 pages long and costs $2 trillion over the next decade, but members of our party have put forth a number of alternative plans that seek to expand access and reduce costs. We have plans to help those with preexisting conditions get coverage, and House Republican Leadership has signaled that we will be moving forward with alternative legislation this year. Obamacare advocates should know that an alternative does not require the harmful mandates and taxes in the president’s health care law, and that those of us who oppose the president’s health care law do have our own ideas for reforms.
After misleading the American public for years about the harmful effects that Obamacare would have, it is very disappointing that we are still being misled. The remedy for dishonesty is not more dishonesty, and as long as support for this law is built upon myth versus reality it will only continue to become more unpopular as the truth comes to surface.
Congressman Diane Black represents Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. She has been a registered nurse for more than 40 years and serves on the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees.
Read more February 17, 2014 GOP bill would delay ObamaCare's individual mandate until 2016
Click here to read the article online. Excerpt below.
The chairman of the House Republican Study Committee has introduced new legislation to retroactively delay the individual health insurance mandate under ObamaCare until 2016.
The bill from Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) is in reaction to last week's decision by the Obama administration to delay part of the employer mandate for another year. The administration said companies with at least 50 but fewer than 100 employees will have until January 2016 before they are required to offer health insurance to their workers.
Read more February 16, 2014
RSC Chairman Scalise, Rep. Brooks introduce FAIR ActSuspends Individual Mandate penalties whenever Obama delays Employer Mandate
Washington, D.C. - Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise and Rep. Susan Brooks, (IN-05) introduced the Freeing Americans from Inequitable Requirements Act (FAIR Act), a bill providing the same relief to American families under the President's health care law that President Obama has offered to special interests and corporations. The bill would retroactively suspend the individual mandate penalties until 2016, as has been done to the employer mandate most recently on February 10, 2014.
“President Obama does not have the legal authority to unilaterally rewrite laws that pick winners and losers, but that’s exactly what this Administration has attempted each time it delays the law for a select few,” Scalise said. “Hard-working taxpayers and their families deserve the same relief from the Obamacare train wreck that select corporations are being offered by the White House. President Obama has unilaterally delayed his unworkable and unaffordable health care law at least eighteen times, and it is only fair to simultaneously provide the same relief to the millions of hard-working Americans that he is offering to the politically connected. By repeatedly delaying key components of his signature law, President Obama has acknowledged that his health care law is failing to fulfill the many promises that were made. It’s time for him to let American families off the hook as he’s already done for special interests and corporations.”
“The Affordable Care Act continues to make life harder for Americans struggling to pay their bills and support their families in a tough economy,” Brooks said. “Sadly, President Obama won’t provide individuals the same relief he’s repeatedly given to corporations and special interest groups. At a time when restoring faith in our elected officials and public servants is so vitally important, this is no way to build trust between Americans and the government that serves them. The FAIR Act simply requires the President to fix this sad imbalance created by the failed implementation of his new health care law. If the employer mandate is delayed until 2016 then there’s no good reason for the individual mandate to be in effect right now."
Over the past year, the Obama Administration, through the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of the Treasury, has unilaterally delayed or changed the Affordable Care Act at least eighteen times.
On July 2, 2013, the Administration delayed until 2015 the requirement that employers with at least 50 full-time equivalent employees provide health coverage for their full-time workers or risk paying a penalty (the employer mandate).
On February 10, 2014, the Administration once again delayed the employer mandate until 2016 for employers with between 50 and 99 full-time equivalent employees.
H.R. 4064, the FAIR Act, specifically delays the Obamacare individual mandate penalty whenever the employer mandate is delayed. Read more February 12, 2014 Ellmers Op-Ed: Reform medical bidding process to protect seniors
Click here to read the op-ed online.
What was Medicare’s competitive bidding process meant to do?
Simply put, it was designed to provide competition and lower prices for our disabled citizens and seniors. But for years, this well-intended process has been overrun with errors and fraud.
When competitive bidding was first debated on Capitol Hill, there was widespread agreement among lawmakers and policymakers that Medicare needed a more cost-effective method of determining prices for home medical equipment such as oxygen therapy, wheelchairs, hospital beds and diabetic testing materials.
Yet, since its inception in 2011, the program began drawing concerns from consumer groups, Medicare beneficiaries, and businesses large and small. Their concerns were based on the fact that this program is jeopardizing the health of Medicare patients and forcing equipment suppliers to close or lay off workers.
Shortly after the program was first implemented, Congress legislatively delayed it for 18 months due to critical flaws in the bidding process, which produced fewer competitors, fewer homecare services, and a substantial decrease in the quality of care for seniors and the disabled. Since the delay, no significant improvements have been made to the program or the bidding process.
These problems have hit my own constituents in North Carolina, where patients and businesses have been negatively affected following the program’s launch in four locations throughout the state.
Businesses like Family Medical Supply in the Triangle area of North Carolina are being forced to close stores and lay off workers. In Gastonia, Joseph Reutter of BSI Medical Supply worried about how he would tell his employees that he couldn’t afford to keep them. And in New Bern, Medicare patients like 73-year-old Joseph Metts went through a lengthy ordeal trying to get the right diabetic testing supplies.
This is happening in states and communities throughout the country. Medicare beneficiaries are facing delays in getting equipment or repairs — or not getting them at all. Since July, more than 2,600 patients have contacted a consumer watchdog organization with complaints about poor service or not receiving the equipment that has been prescribed by their physician.
Back in September 2012, I held a hearing before the House Small Business Committee to find out whether the program should be expanded from 9 to 91 metropolitan areas. According to our witness testimony, the answer was a resounding “no.” At the hearing, we learned that the program is fundamentally flawed and violates basic auction principles.
The hearing included as a witness Laurence Wilson, director of the Chronic Care Group with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), who runs the Medicare Competitive Bidding Program.
He testified that the bidding program “it is not an auction.” I agree with Mr. Wilson on that point. However, without an auction, this program would violate current law.
In 2003, Congress passed legislation that required the CMS to conduct a competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment. Yet competitive bids and auctions are the same thing. Thus, Mr. Wilson is saying that the CMS is not abiding by the law.
In reality, the so-called “competitive bidding” process is actually price setting by the government. The CMS has implemented a convoluted bureaucracy that assigns prices for products and services somewhere between the lowest and highest bids. One of the major flaws is that the bids are nonbinding, allowing bidders to enter low-ball bids and then walk away if they win the contracts.
Last summer, price cuts averaged 45 percent for home medical equipment, amounting in some cases to reimbursements that are lower than the provider costs for obtaining the equipment. And the entire process is cloaked in secrecy because the CMS has never fully disclosed the formula for determining these prices.
This is where the Obama administration did a true disservice to the country. Despite repeated requests from industries and outside experts that it be re-evaluated to address serious problems, the CMS expanded the program from 9 to 91 new jurisdictions in July.
Even more remarkable is the fact that the CMS believes the system is working. I am here to say it is not.
While the CMS contends it is saving millions of dollars, my question is: At what cost? Some of these so-called savings merely shift costs to other Medicare categories. And while the bidding process is sharply reducing the availability of home medical equipment, patients are requiring more emergency room visits, increased hospitalizations and longer hospital stays. People are not receiving the care they need.
I strongly believe in the competitive forces of the private market, but the process by which the competition is conducted must be fair — and truly competitive.
It’s time for Congress to step in and fix this problem.
Ellmers has represented North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District since 2011. She sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Read more February 10, 2014
Black Op-Ed: Two months in, Obamacare promises more failures, delays, and uncertainty
Welcome to month two of Obamacare. Millions of Americans have already lost their insurance policies and their doctors, and premiums are skyrocketing across the country. The broken promises are piling up, and to make matters worse, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has now confirmed what conservatives have been warning about for years: Obamacare will be a significant drag on our economy.
Indeed, the CBO now says the president’s signature domestic policy achievement will reduce employment by the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time jobs over the next decade and cost over $2 trillion. This news comes amid the worst labor force participation rate this country has faced since the Carter Administration. At a House Budget Committee hearing last week, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told me pointedly that the reduced labor force participation rate will be “the central factor in slowing economic growth.”
Then this week the president announced yet another delay in the employer mandate ahead of the 2014 election – this despite the fact that individuals are still mandated to purchase insurance or suffer a tax penalty.
My Republican colleagues and I have been derided as “fearmongers” and worse by Obamacare’s advocates for the past several years for voicing our concerns over this law, yet on charge after charge, our predictions are coming true. We warned of cancelled policies, increased premiums, and increased deficits – all of which President Obama promised otherwise.
Obamacare has never been more unpopular than it is right now, and this is before a single person has even been subjected to the individual mandate tax for not buying adequate coverage. The case for repeal has never been stronger, and it grows with each day and each new report confirming what Republicans have been warning about from the beginning: that this 2,000 page rewrite of our entire health care system will have disastrous effects on our economy and on Americans across the country.
The Obama administration has taken great pains to try to convince the American people that there is no alternative to this train wreck America is being forced to experience. This, like so many of the President’s claims, is completely untrue. Republicans and conservatives have put forward many plans to improve access to health care while reducing costs, such as the American Health Care Reform Act, an Obamacare alternative authored by Congressman Phil Roe and the Republican Study Committee. This bill would repeal the president’s healthcare law and lower costs using free-market solutions to give American families more choices. Furthermore, it does not rely on the unworkable mandates and billions in taxes included in Obamacare, and the bill already has 123 cosponsors in the House.
The president’s healthcare law is crumbling, and there is already widespread concern that the administration will be forced to rely on a taxpayer bailout of the insurance industry to keep it afloat. Hardworking American taxpayers should not be forced to prop up a failing program that is hurting their job prospects, raising their healthcare costs and adding to our nation’s debt.
We need a clean slate, and it’s time for any reasonable Democrat to join Republicans in acknowledging the obvious – Obamacare has failed. If we act quickly, we can try to fix what’s left of our broken healthcare system and prevent the devastating effects to our economy that are coming our way. Remember, we are only in the second month of Obamacare – Democrats would be wise to start fearing what comes next.
February 9, 2014
Washington, D.C. - Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise today issued the following statement after yet another Obamacare delay.
“The fact that President Obama is delaying another key component of his health care law through the remainder of his Presidency confirms the devastation that Obamacare is causing throughout the nation,” Scalise said. “This latest Obamacare delay begs the question - where is the relief for American families? Hard-working taxpayers have suffered for too long under the weight of the devastating impacts of President Obama’s signature health care law. Instead of focusing on short-term patches for insurance companies and corporations, it’s time for President Obama to delay the penalties that threaten millions of Americans instead.
“Attempting to bail out some while abandoning the majority of Americans will not hide the failure of Obamacare. Laws are not made to be selectively enforced whenever the Obama Administration wants to try salvaging low poll numbers. It is time for President Obama to admit his broken health care law has failed, and join with House Republicans to suspend the penalties and stop this train wreck before more hard-working families are harmed.”