ObamaCare to Increase State Medicaid Spending

April 26, 2010

New federal health care law poses new Medicaid expenses for Ohio: editorial

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer (4/24) editorializes:

State officials are poring over the Obama administration’s 961-page health care package to estimate its effect on Ohio’s perennial budget-buster, Medicaid costs. The math is understandably complex, and Ohio’s tab isn’t yet known.

But this is: The two-bill measure may add about 550,000 Medicaid clients to Ohio’s caseload over the next few years. Such an increase would blimp Ohio’s current Medicaid caseload, about 2.1 million people, by more than 25 percent. The congressional measures will make an estimated 275,000 more Ohioans eligible for Medicaid.

. . .

Because the federal health care legislation also will boost public awareness of Medicaid eligibility in general, Ohio analysts estimate that about 279,000 Ohioans — already eligible for Medicaid, but for whatever reason not currently participants — may sign up. For those already eligible Ohioans, however, the federal share of Medicaid costs will be the same as it is now — 63.4 percent. That means Ohio’s budget will have to muster 37 cents for every $1 spent in patient costs.

This is what I and other ObamaCare opponents have been saying this all along. As I wrote in a blogpost titled Adverse Selection on Steroids:

[ObamaCare] massively expands access to Medicaid, another bankrupt entitlement program largely responsible for the financial crises in many states. Think about this. While the government is cutting Medicare (which our parents and grandparents PAID FOR), it is expanding Medicaid. In other words, it’s taking away health benefits from seniors who paid for them while providing care for those who didn’t.

Needless to say, this predicted Medicaid expansion will force state governments to increase healthcare spending at a time when state budgets are about to implode thanks to European-style retirement benefits. I likened this massive increase in government spending during a severe recession to a person facing bankruptcy splurging on a brand new Rolls Royce.

However, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer editorial reaches a startlingly different conclusion:

An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure. That’s why it’s reasonable to believe that Medicaid expansion may, in the long run, make less steep the seemingly perpetual upward curve in Ohio’s Medicaid costs. Still, the expansion approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama presents yet another long-term challenge to an Ohio budget facing plenty of hurdles already.

Yes, and it’s equally reasonable to believe this Medicaid expansion will increase the state’s supply of rainbows and unicorns for Ohio’s children. Safe bet the Plain-Dealer editorial board writers are donkeys.


Obama Calculator

April 15, 2010

Believe it or not, this is an actual product and is only $14.95! You may need this if you want to calculate your share of healthcare “reform” “savings” (or just to do your taxes after hyper-inflation hits).

PROBLEM
Finding a calculator with enough digits to perform simple math on the spending and stimulus packages coming from the Obama administration.

Have you found yourself trying to visually quantify the amount of money being proposed and spent in Washington? The Obama administration takes no shame in using the term trillions where most Americans were shocked when the term billions were used in recent years.

Look around your home or office for a calculator with enough digits for a trillion dollars. You’ll find standard calculators from school or office supply stores with 8, 10, or 12 digits. A trillion dollars is $1,000,000,000,000 (12 zeros) and requires a 13 digit calculator.

SOLUTION
The Obama Spendulus Calculator has 14 digits; enough digits for $99,999,999,999,999. That’s one dollar short of 100 trillion dollars.

The Obama Spendulus Calculator is a full featured calculator with large keys and an easy to read display. With 14 digits, it can handle the spending and stimulus packages coming from Washington.


The Left’s War on Reality

April 12, 2010

In a piece provocatively titled Henry Waxman’s War on Accounting, Megan McArdle, business and economics editor for The Atlantic, examines Democrat Congressman Henry Waxman’s fulminations against AT&T, Verizon, Caterpiller, et al:

Accounting basics: when a company experiences what accountants call “a material adverse impact” on its expected future earnings, and those changes affect an item that is already on the balance sheet, the company is required to record the negative impact–”to take the charge against earnings”–as soon as it knows that the change is reasonably likely to occur.

This makes good accounting sense. The asset on the balance sheet is now less valuable, so you should record a charge. Otherwise, you’d be misleading investors.

The Democrats, however, seem to believe that Generally Accepted Accounting Principles are some sort of conspiracy against Obamacare, and all that is good and right in America.

Here’s the story: one of the provisions in the new health care law forces companies to treat the current subsidies for retiree health benefits as taxable income. This strikes me as dumb policy; there’s not much point in giving someone a subsidy, and then taxing it back, unless you just like doing extra paperwork. And since the total cost of the subsidy, and any implied tax subsidy, is still less than we pay for an average Medicare Part D beneficiary, we may simply be encouraging companies to dump their retiree benefits and put everyone into Part D, costing us taxpayers extra money.

But this is neither here nor there, because Congress already did it. And now a bunch of companies with generous retiree drug benefits have announced that they are taking large charges to reflect the cost of the change in the tax law.

Henry Waxman thinks that’s mean, and he’s summoning the heads of those companies to Washington to explain themselves. It’s not clear what they’re supposed to explain. What they did is required by GAAP. And I’ve watched congressional hearings. There’s no chance that four CEO’s are going to explain the accounting code to the fine folks in Congress; explaining how to boil water would challenge the format.

McArdle explains why Henry Waxman is livid:

Obviously, Waxman is incensed because this seems to put the lie to the promise that if you like your current plan, nothing will change. But this was never true. Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are basically going to see their generous benefits slashed, retiree drug benefits suddenly cost more and may now be discontinued, and ultimately, more than a few employers will almost certainly find it cheaper to shut down their plans. If Congress didn’t want those things to happen, it should have passed a different law.

To Waxman, it is irrelevant that these companies’ reporting the adverse impact of Obamacare to their operations is required by GAAP. Waxman is angry because these inconvenient reports contradict his preferred meta-narrative regarding Obamacare.

Waxman’s anger isn’t directed at GAAP accounting principles per se, but are part of a larger conflict: the Left’s war against anything and everything that threatens their continuing struggle to impose their utopian vision on the rest of us. Remember when dissent was considered “the highest form of patriotism.” That was self-evident when the EvilStupidBushChimpHitler™ was “Selected not elected™.” These days, dissent is considered the most invidious form of racist treason.

Since at least 2003, the Left’s view of the global War on Terror has ranged from a sinister Bush/Cheney conspiracy to subvert the Constitution to Much Ado About Nothing, in other words a big goof.


Episcopal Priestess Barbie?

April 12, 2010

From the Now We’ve Seen Everything Dept., here comes Episcopal Priestess Barbie:

Courtesy of Religion News Service:

(RNS) With her careers as veterinarian, astronaut and U.S. president behind her, Barbie has at last found her true calling: as a second-career Episcopal priest.

The 11.5-inch-tall fictional graduate of Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif., has donned a cassock and surplice and is rector at St. Barbara’s-by-the-Sea in (where else?) Malibu, Calif.

She arrived at the church fully accessorized, as is Barbie’s custom. Her impeccably tailored ecclesiastical vestments include various colored chasubles (the sleeveless vestments worn at Mass) for every liturgical season, black clergy shirt with white collar, neat skirt and heels, a laptop with prepared sermon and a miniature, genuine Bible.

Apparently a devotee of the “smells and bells” of High Church tradition, the Rev. Barbie even has a tiny thurible, a metal vessel used for sending clouds of incense wafting toward heaven.

No word yet on when there’ll be a Bishop Ken doll complete with Diocesan checkbook to write large checks to his disgruntled former gay lover.


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