Medicaid

Happy Tax Day!

Today is (federal) Tax Day. (Virginia income taxes are not due until May 1, although many prepare and pay both on this day.) Americans are working longer than ever to earn the money it takes to pay their share of local, state and federal taxes. Taxes now cost families more per year than the cost of their food, clothing and shelter combined!  If that doesn't overjoy you, than this might: It's where all your hard earned money is spent. Hint: Most of it went to pay for government "benefits." Draining away families' ability to take care of themselves at some point becomes a moral question when their government wastes the money taxed away from them, and then, like a junkie, goes into debt funding its addiction, only to hit up families for more taxes just to keep a step ahead of the collection enforcer.

Amy Payne of The Heritage Foundation explains the budget breakdown today at The Foundry Blog:

In 2013, the major entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care — consumed 49 percent of all federal spending. These programs, and interest on the debt, are on track to consume an even greater share of spending in future years, while the portion of federal spending dedicated to other national priorities will decline.

Major entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) gobbled up 49 percent, while more federal benefits took another 20 percent. These additional "income security" benefits include federal employee retirement and disability, unemployment benefits, and welfare programs such as food and housing assistance. Obamacare spending didn’t really kick in until 2014, so that will show up in next year’s breakdown.

Meanwhile . . .

National defense has been cut, while the major entitlements picked up an even larger percentage.

This chart from Heritage illustrates it plainly:

Where Does All the Money Go?

It's not that we oppose taxes. We oppose more than what is needed to pay for core government responsibilities and functions. We oppose going into debt and not only choking off economic prosperity now, but hanging that debt on future generations that won't have a say on the policies that assuredly will leave them with a country well past its world preeminence (if that hasn't happened already).

Along the way, currently, not only has the government become an addict, its policies have created dependency on countless families, tearing apart our social fabric and sense of community. What else to expect when one junkie pushes junk on the unsuspecting? Sobering, huh? Happy Tax Day!

Pass A Clean Budget! Sign The Petition.

As was predicted for weeks, the General Assembly was not be able to come to an agreement on a state budget prior to leaving Richmond on Saturday. Governor Terry McAuliffe and a majority of senators have made adopting a budget contingent on expanding Obamacare, putting Virginia's economic well-being at risk. Already, far-left organizations like moveon.org are spending millions of dollars to rhetorically assault legislators taking a stand against Obamacare. We need to counter the Left's efforts by doing all we can to stand with those lawmakers who are standing for us!

One simple way you can make your voice heard is by signing the petition at www.passthebudgetterry.com/.

Even many of those who support the expansion of Obamacare, such as the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, have urged the governor and senate to decouple the budget from that debate. Holding state government, local governments, schools and, more importantly, the taxpayers of Virginia hostage because they know they don't have the votes to expand the failure that is Obamacare places an already fragile economy in peril.

Sixty-four members of the House of Delegates and 17 members of the Virginia Senate rejected the expansion of Obamacare. They need to know that we stand with them! Please sign the petition at www.passthebudgetterry.com/ so that they know you want a clean budget with no expansion of Obamacare.

It's unfortunate, but we are seeing more and more of Washington, D.C. style politics coming to Virginia. If the Left can't win the debate with facts and reason — which aren't on its side — it resorts to politically motivated scare tactics and rhetorical bludgeoning. Those who understand the dire straits our Republic is in because of our ever growing $17 trillion debt are painted as "uncaring" and not in favor of health care for those who are disadvantaged! The truth is that Medicaid is the least effective way of providing care to those in need and Obamacare has prevented us from having a real debate over how to fix our health care system.

The first step is to sign the petition. We are currently planning other ways by which you'll be able to make your voice heard regarding this important issue. Stay tuned for more details in the coming days!

In The Category Of You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Tonight, I did my civic duty and attended my local elected official's townhall meeting. In true confession, it's been a long time since I’ve done so. I was disheartened, though not surprised, to see no more than 25 people in the room with the average age being 70. And then it happened.

A nice looking woman asked about the "sonogram" bill. My elected official handled it well but it began to spark emotion in her. To her credit, if she has emotion about these issues, it is wonderful she showed up to engage her legislator.

This woman was concerned about who pays for it and what happens when low income women need it. Upon being told that it is already routine practice at Planned Parenthood, there are free health clinics and most private insurance companies pay for it, she asked, "Would my insurance cover my abortion ultrasound? I’m not sure it would. Would Medicaid?" Then she continued to talk about how it was government overreach and government was stepping its foot right into her life. She also noted how if she wanted an abortion, she could get a sonogram if she wanted. Finally, after listening to all the concern about government mandating something that is going to cost her money, a kind lady next to her helped her out. "I'm sure that if you had to have an abortion Medicare would cover it. If someone over the age of 65 needs an abortion, it'll be covered."

This woman's next question was about the need for sidewalks because at nearly 80, she's worried about what happens when someone tells her she can't drive anymore.

It just goes to show how this year's media hysteria took rational people, fed them a bunch of falsehood and spun them all around.

Deception Reigns At Planned Parenthood

For an organization that has at the root of its business model the destruction of human life, it's not surprising that Planned Parenthood has had to resort to deception to defend itself after taking some of its worst PR hits in its history. But the more Americans learn about Planned Parenthood, the less they like. Purporting itself to be the arbitrators of "women’s health care," it has successfully siphoned more than $300 million a year of taxpayer dollars out of the economy. Planned Parenthood defenders in the General Assembly, Congress and the media are quick to claim that the majority of services provided by Planned Parenthood are not abortion related. If you weren't paying attention you'd think that without your money being diverted to its coffers women would not have access to any health care.

That, of course, ignores the truth. Now, former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson and many others are finally exposing Planned Parenthood for what it is — and what we've said it is all along. The organization has had to resort to deception and hiding behind the White House to protect its public financing.

Most recently, in the debate over federal funding for the nation's largest private supplier of abortion, Planned Parenthood apologists made the assertion that abortion amounts to only three percent of the organization's services (a claim we've heard over and over again in the General Assembly). For an organization that has at its core abortion and the politics of abortion, this claim makes no sense, yet politicians and pundits alike have puppeted the talking point.

According to Johnson, in an editorial she wrote for The Hill:

Planned Parenthood's claim that abortions make up just 3 percent of its services is also a gimmick. That number is actually closer to 12 percent, but strategically skewed by unbundling family planning services so that each patient shows anywhere from five to 20 "visits" per appointment (i.e., 12 packs of birth control equals 12 visits) and doing the opposite with abortion visits, bundling them together so that each appointment equals one visit. The resulting difference between family planning and abortion "visits" is striking.

Further proof of Planned Parenthood's emphasis on abortion is the directive that recently came down from Planned Parenthood's national headquarters mandating that all its affiliates provide abortions by 2013. In addition, its adoption referral number is appalling, and has been decreasing exponentially for years. Per Ms. Johnson:

. . . 98 percent of Planned Parenthood's services to pregnant women are abortion.

That's just the beginning. It also made the claim that it provides cancer screenings such as mammograms, but the truth is that it simply refers women to facilities that do mammograms, something any free clinic can do. No Planned Parenthood clinic has the equipment to do mammograms (of course, those would cost money, and based on what we've seen in the debate over abortion center regulations, safety is not a high priority for Planned Parenthood).

Of course, nearly every "service" provided by Planned Parenthood, with the exception of its primary money winner — abortion — can be done at free clinics and can be paid for through Medicaid or Medicare. There is absolutely no reason that an organization that has faced accusations ranging from targeting African Americans for abortion to covering up sexual abuse of underage girls should be subsidized by taxpayers. But you knew that already.

In Virginia, we have successfully defunded Planned Parenthood by exposing the money that was being diverted to its clinics. But this reminder seems fitting during tax season: Our federal government continues to provide more than one third of this political organization's budget with your tax dollars.

In Virginia, Planned Parenthood continues to advocate for more money, freedom from minor regulations, and against every single attempt at helping women make a better choice for their unborn children. If a proposal is going to reduce the number of abortions in Virginia, it is sure to oppose it, including funding successful abstinence education programs.

The good news is that this year, we were able to defeat Planned Parenthood over and over again. From passing abortion center safety regulations to abstinence funding to protecting taxpayers from underwriting abortion in Virginia’s health insurance exchange, to defeating its legislative agenda, Planned Parenthood suffered overwhelming defeats this year.

Let's pray we can build on this momentum!

Governor McDonnell Gives Republican Response Today: Targets ObamaCare

Governor Bob McDonnell today gave the national Republican response to the weekly presidential radio/Internet address. After thanking our military personnel for its bravery in Libya and humanitarian assistance in Japan, as well as its ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, he went after Washington for its unsustainable spending and debt, and the increasing costs of Medicaid, which is rapidly accounting for as much as a fifth to a quarter of states' budgets. He then cited Virginia as an example of balancing budgets through spending reductions. He also keenly noted that while Washington liberals were in a tremendous hurry to push through ObamaCare (it became law one year ago this week), which will add more to the national debt and state obligations, it is dragging its feet in determining its legality by blocking, stalling and delaying the legal process, costing us yet more millions of tax dollars. Governor McDonnell concluded by enumerating proposals by Republican governors that actually would reform health care without the new mammoth and oppressive bureaucracy that is ObamaCare.

"It's also unconstitutional. ... But now, the very same administration that was in such a rush to pass the bill is in no hurry to find out if it's legal. ... Shockingly, the Obama administration opposes an expedited appeal to the Supreme Court."

Okay. Maybe not so shockingly.

The Left Is Nervous Post Health Care Vote

If the left is so pleased with its government takeover of the health care system, and if they are so confident the American people are falling all over themselves in unbridled joy over "free" health care, then why does President Obama feel the need to schedule a series of campaign style events around the country to drum up support for the new law? Who looks for support after the fact? Maybe because Caterpillar (Wall Street Journal) and John Deere (agrimoney.com) have said this law will cost them more than $100 and $150 million, respectively, and cause layoffs? Or maybe because Walgreens (FoxNews.com) said it will no longer accept new Medicaid customers? Unintended consequences? Not. Very much intended. Let the system go to pot, so the government will "need" to intervene yet more. Furthermore, if this law is sound constitutionally, why is there such a huff by the left — by lefty netroots types (blogs, Facebook, etc.) and by publicity seeking liberal pols (many who held a news conference at the capitol yesterday) — so upset at the legal challenges filed against the law by 14 attorneys general? (See the hysteria in the comments at the T-D article link.) If, as Delegate Jennifer McClellen (D-71, Richmond) says, that the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act (Richmond Times-Dispatch) is akin to Massive Resistance (New York Times); or, as Senator Donald McEachin (D-9, Henrico) says, not engaging in economic activity is actual commerce; or, as Delegate David Englin (D-45, Alexandria) says, the law suits are frivolous, then why all the angst, consternation and worry?

(Make no mistake: The opposition to the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act is a fringe minority — at least five Democrat senators voted for it, more after amendments; and 55 percent of House Democrats voted for it, including several in the Legislative Black Caucus.) 

Apparently, American leftists, from the president on down, are a little nervous. In reality, for good reason. They are not accustomed to principled people fighting with vigor for the constitution, as sworn to do. Their response is a frenzy of complaint and falsity. Their actions belie their recent in-your-face celebratory confidence and giddiness.

Text Of Lt. Governor Bolling's Letter To Senators Warner And Webb

Here is the text of the letter sent today by Lt. Governor Bill Bolling to Virginia's two United States Senators, Mark Warner (contact) and Jim Webb (contact), concerning their votes in favor of the Senate health care bill last night. In the letter, Lt. Governor Bolling outlines his opposition to the legislation and why it is bad for Virginians, and asks the two senators to vote against its final passage. A news release from Lt. Governor Bolling is posted here.

December 21, 2009

The Honorable Mark Warner

The Honorable Jim Webb

RE: Federal Healthcare Reform Legislation

Dear Senators Warner and Webb:

I have been following with great interest the important debate currently taking place in Washington with respect to the proposed reform of our nation’s healthcare system.

While I certainly agree that we face serious problems with respect to the affordability and availability of healthcare for many Americans, it is important that any reform legislation address these issues without creating other problems for American consumers and businesses or jeopardizing the quality of our healthcare delivery system, which is currently the best in the world.

For many reasons, I strongly oppose the healthcare reform legislation that is currently pending before the United States Senate and I encourage you to vote against this legislation and any procedural votes that would allow this legislation to come to a final vote.

In my judgment, the legislation currently pending in the Senate will ultimately increase the cost of healthcare and result in higher health insurance premiums and higher taxes for the vast majority of the American people.

In addition, I believe that this legislation will jeopardize the quality of healthcare that is currently available in our country and take important healthcare decisions out of the hands of consumers and turn these decisions over to government bureaucrats.

Perhaps most importantly, I am concerned that the cost of this legislation will be much higher than currently estimated, and it will inevitably add significantly to the cost of our federal deficit, which is, quite frankly, out of control and threatens the long term financial viability of our nation.

If these concerns were not reason enough to vote against this misguided legislation, I am writing to you today to let you know that I am outraged by reports that surfaced this weekend regarding concessions that were made to Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to secure his vote in support of this legislation.

As you know, one of our major concerns with this legislation is the potential impact it could have on the cost of Medicaid for Virginia’s state government. Many reports have suggested that this legislation could result in much higher Medicaid costs for state governments across the nation, costs that state governments simply cannot bear.

Against this background, I was amazed to hear that the Senate’s Democratic leadership had made concessions to Senator Nelson that would hold his home state of Nebraska harmless as to any additional Medicaid costs that might come about as a result of the enrollment of new Medicaid recipients after 2017.

I find these reports particularly troubling since they come on the heels of similar concessions that were given to Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to secure her vote in support of this legislation just a few weeks ago.

In addition to the “pay offs” that were offered to Senators Nelson and Landrieu, unconfirmed media reports over the weekend have revealed that other Senators may have negotiated similar special treatment deals for their states. If these reports are accurate, this type of quid pro quo is unacceptable, and you and your colleagues should object strongly to the practice, which I have no doubt the American people will find offensive as well.

If the Senate’s leadership is so desperate to obtain votes to secure the passage of this legislation that they would make these types of concessions to these Senators, I would ask that you demand that the same concessions be extended to Virginia, and for that matter, to every other state in the nation.

Allowing key provisions in this legislation to be used to essentially buy votes from Senators Landrieu and Nelson at the expense of other states such as Virginia should be as offensive to you as it is to me, and it should give you all the reason you need to oppose this misguided legislation.

Thank you for your service to the people of Virginia and for considering my views on this important issue.

Very Truly Yours,

William T. Bolling

Lieutenant Governor

Commonwealth of Virginia

Lt. Governor Bolling Writes Senators Webb, Warner Concerning Their Votes On Health Care Bill

Below is the text of a news release issued today from the office of Lt. Governor Bill Bolling concerning the votes by Senators Warner (contact here) and Webb (contact here) in favor of a procedural motion that will allow the Senate health care bill to proceed to a final up or down vote, where it is all but assured of passing. The text of the letter referenced in the news release is posted here.

BOLLING CALLS ON WARNER AND WEBB TO VOTE AGAINST FEDERAL HEALTHCARE LEGISLATION

RICHMOND – Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling today sent a strongly worded letter to Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner expressing outrage over special concessions given to certain states to obtain support for federal healthcare legislation from their Senators and asking them to oppose this legislation, which Bolling called "misguided."

"As you know, one of our major concerns with this legislation is the potential impact it could have on the cost of Medicaid for Virginia’s state government," wrote Bolling. "Many reports have suggested that this legislation could result in much higher Medicaid costs for state governments across the nation, costs that state governments simply cannot bear."

In his letter, Bolling cited reports from this past weekend that the Senate’s Democratic leadership had made concessions to Senator Ben Nelson that would hold his home state of Nebraska harmless for any additional Medicaid costs that might come about as a result of the enrollment of new Medicaid recipients after 2017, while all 49 other states would be required to pay a portion of the increased costs. This reportedly would save Nebraska $45M per year, while passing these costs on to other states.

Additionally, similar "sweet heart deals" were reportedly made to Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and other Senators to obtain their support for the healthcare bill, while the citizens of Virginia and other states were not afford the same benefits.

"I am outraged by reports that surfaced this weekend regarding concessions that were made to Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to secure his vote in support of this legislation," stated Bolling. "If these reports are accurate, this type of quid pro quo is unacceptable, and you and your colleagues should object strongly to the practice, which I have no doubt the American people will find offensive as well."

"If the Senate’s leadership is so desperate to obtain votes to secure the passage of this legislation that they would make these types of concessions to these Senators, I would ask that you demand that the same concessions be extended to Virginia, and for that matter, to every other state in the nation," continued Bolling.

In addition to the outrageous "pay off" tactics employed by Senate Democratic Leadership, Bolling encouraged Senators Webb and Warner to vote against the substance of the legislation, citing concerns that it will result in increased healthcare costs, increased insurance premiums, increased taxes on family and businesses and fewer options for individual patients.

Follow The Smart Money: Falling Obama Popularity And Political Rebuff Reflected In Stock Market Rise?

Kent Engelke is the chief economic strategist and managing director at Virginia-based Capitol Securities Management, and is one of the most quoted market experts in the country. His forecasts largely get it right. I get his daily Early Morning Commentary and today's had some compelling statistics that should alarm everyone. People, take heed. Using the stock market as the predictor it is, he asks why equities have experienced a rally of late. He posits a theory that investors think socialized medicine will not occur. He cites President Obama's own economic team's warnings of financial disaster if the deficit is not reduced substantially. (Of course, they always say that and spend and tax and print money anyway.)

But take this with more than a grain of salt:

The 2009 fiscal deficit was an astounding $1.4 trillion as spending increased from $3 trillion to $3.5 trillion while tax revenue fell from $2.5 trillion to $2.1 trillion. The debt is now at $12 trillion and is expected to grow by another $9 trillion over the next decade. [Dow Jones]

CBO is estimating spending on Medicaid and Medicare will grow over $700 billion over the next 10 years while health care legislation is conservatively estimated to add another $900 billion to the deficit. [Dow Jones]

But most alarming is this:

Incidentally and as per the Organization of Economic Corporation and Development today 42% of U.S. GDP is comprised of federal, state and local spending. Wow! We all know the efficiency of the government.

Mr. Engelke doesn't pontificate political often in his writings, so a letter devoted almost exclusively to our current situation is remarkable. He also notes that since the Obama administration, by general agreement (and even Saturday Night Live) "is steep in hype but low in accomplishments" and asks rhetorically whether the stock  market rally suggests "a backlash in government spending, perhaps even a reduction, because the President’s approval ratings are plummeting?"

According to the Rasmussen Report:

40% strongly disapprove of the president’s job performance. 27% strongly approve. Overall 47% approve of his actions while 53% disapprove, the second lowest ratings for this President. Fifty four percent oppose health care legislation while 42% approve it.

When a normally non-plussed and widely respected market strategist and economist goes to this length, something is up. The stock market often is an indicator of things not only financial, but societal, technological and political, among other trends. Looking at it strictly from a personal stock-holdings point of view doesn't paint the entire picture. You know what they say: Follow the money. Especially if it's smart money. Expect political changes shortly.