Consumer Power Report #236

Published August 30, 2010

Welcome to the Consumer Power Report – Greg Scandlen is off this week.

“Historic” is the mainstream media’s adjective of choice when addressing President Barack Obama’s new health care law. But can a law that has taken health coverage away from college students and forced three million seniors to change prescription drug plans be considered historic? It’s clearly more accurate to describe it as “historically bad.”

Back in June, I wrote in the Washington Times that the health care reform debate was more about control than providing low-cost, quality care, and that federal lawmakers fear patient empowerment and choice, which would allow individuals to establish the real value of health care in their lives. The real-world applications of reform bolster that sentiment by contradicting the core promise President Obama made to all Americans: If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.

We still have more than three years of learning what’s in the law before it is fully implemented in 2014. But this is the sort of thing that happens when the primary authors of an almost 3,000-page bill decide it’s a waste of time to read the text before passing it into law. Perhaps if they had taken the time to read the bill they would have realized that passing something is NOT better than passing nothing.

Recently, Politico reported that AARP, SEIU, and the AFL-CIO participated in a conference call with Families USA aimed at redirecting their health care messaging. Their agenda was to alter the health care reform talking points that Americans have heard ad nauseam. Specifically, the strategists on the call urged supporters to avoid claiming the law would reduce health care costs and the overall deficit. Wasn’t that the whole point of health care reform? Didn’t President Obama say at a press conference in June 2009 that he could not support a bill that didn’t control costs? Remarkable.

This messaging u-turn shouldn’t come as a surprise since public opinion on this issue has gone consistently against Democrats. A Rasmussen poll last week finds 56 percent of the country favors repealing the new health care law and 54 percent think it is bad for the country. This odd admission of guilt by Democrat spin doctors works in favor of those who support individual choice and patient empowerment. Most importantly, it gives the “repeal and replace” crowd in Congress an intellectual leg to stand on if they take back the majority in November. We can only hope.

– Peter Fotos, director of government relations, The Heartland Institute


  • Small Businesses Skip Out
  • Obamacare’s Tax on Taxes
  • The First Victims
  • U.S. Chamber Lodges Complaints


One of the biggest selling points used by Democrats during the health care debate was relief for small businesses who provide health insurance to their employees. But small businesses are declining the benefit because it is covering only a small fraction of their health care costs and is phased out over time. So, if a tax credit is essentially worthless to many small businesses, does it still count as a benefit for Obamacare? The bottom line remains, even in reform: Small businesses will struggle to provide quality health care to their employees, and mounting government mandates will only make it more difficult to do so.

SOURCE: BusinessWeek


No matter how you cut it, a mandate will always be a tax. But Congress is doing everything it can to squeeze every last dollar out of health insurers with the new accounting mandates dealing with the medical loss ratio, or MLR. The Wall Street Journal cites Jim Capretta, who explains that, under the new law, taxes paid by for-profit health insurers cannot count towards the MLR, meaning the tax is added on the back end. The result is a tax on a tax.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal


We have already heard about our friends at nHealth in Richmond, Virginia having to close their doors at the end of the year due to the new fiscal obligations that Obamacare forces on small insurance brokers. Now, Time is giving coverage to brokers in similar situations as the “first victims” of an ill-conceived law. President Obama spent so much time railing against insurance companies that he forgot about the small brokers who sell individual policies. Some insurance brokers are small business owners, not multi-million-dollar corporations, but the Democrats’ rhetoric had no room for such distinctions.



The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is calling out the Obama Administration for not making good on its promise to allow Americans to keep their current coverage if they want it. Specifically, there has been considerable confusion on what qualifies as a “grandfathered plan.” As the Chamber sees it, very few plans can be considered grandfathered under overly stringent rules that will make it impossible for individuals to keep their existing coverage.

SOURCE: The Hill