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Obamacare’s Best Allies: The Courts and the Republicans

By ruling for the government in the case of King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court once again tied itself into rhetorical and logical knots to defend Obamacare. In King, the court disregarded Obamacare’s clear language regarding eligibility for federal health care subsides, on the grounds that enforcing the statute as written would cause havoc in the marketplace. The court found that Congress could not have intended this result and that the court needed to uphold Congress’s mythical intention and ignore Obamacare’s actual language.

While Obamacare may be safe from court challenges, its future is far from assured. As Obamacare forces more Americans to pay higher insurance premiums while causing others to lose their insurance or lose access to the physicians of their choice, opposition to Obamacare will grow. Additional Americans will turn against Obamacare as their employers reduce their hours, along with their paychecks, because of Obamacare’s mandates.

As dissatisfaction with Obamacare grows, there will be renewed efforts to pass a single-payer health care system. Single-payer advocates will point to Obamacare’s corporatist features as being responsible for its failures and claim the only solution is to get the private sector completely out of health care.

Unfortunately, many Republicans will inadvertently aid the single-payer advocates by failing to acknowledge that Obamacare is not socialist but corporatist, and that that the pre-Obamacare health care system was hobbled by government intervention. In fact, popular support for Obamacare was rooted in the desire to address problems created by prior government interference in the health care marketplace.

Republicans also help the cause of socialized medicine by pretending that Obamacare can be fixed with minor reforms. These Republicans do not understand that replacing Obamacare with “Obamacare Lite” will still leave millions of Americans with inadequate access to quality health care, and could strengthen the movement for a single-payer system.

Republicans’ failure to advocate for a free-market health care system is not just rooted in intellectual error and political cowardice. The insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the other special interests that benefit from a large government role in health care are just as — or perhaps even more — influential in the Republican Party as in the Democratic Party. The influence of these interests is one reason why, despite their free-market rhetoric, Republicans have a long history of expanding the government’s role in health care.

Those who think a Republican president and Congress will enact free-market health care should consider that the last time Republicans controlled Congress and the White House their signature health care achievement was to expand federal health care spending and entitlements. Furthermore, Richard Nixon worked with Ted Kennedy to force all health care plans to offer a health maintenance organization (HMO). Even Obamacare’s individual mandate originated in a conservative think tank and was first signed into law by a Republican governor.

Instead of Obamacare Lite, Congress should support giving individuals direct control over their health care dollars through individual health care tax credits and expanded access to health savings accounts. Other reforms like long-term group insurance could ensure that those with “pre-existing conditions” have access to care. Another good reform is negative outcomes insurance that could help resolve the medical malpractice crisis.

America’s health care system is just as unsustainable as our foreign policy and our monetary system. At some point, the financial and human costs of Obamacare will prove overwhelming and Congress will be forced to replace this system. Hopefully, before this happens, a critical mass of people will convince Congress to replace Obamacare with a truly free-market health care system.

Read online: http://bit.ly/1HoYzls

I bailed out of insurance to better serve my patients, slash costs

David Tulis of Nooganomics.com provides an article by Dr. Homero Rivas II, a TN physician who has “opted-out” of the health-insurance-by-government-force Obamacare system:

“American medicine is being squeezed into an ever-tighter corner in its voluntary self-incarceration in the modern welfare-warfare state. Doctors are concocting a jail break. One way they are crowbarring their way back to professional liberty is to refuse to take third-party reimbursements either from insurance companies or government cartels such as Medicare or Medicaid.”

Dr. Rivas provides an easy-to-understand picture of the difficulties your health care provider (not insurer) faces and how your services are now being controlled by a for-profit third party whose business is now mandated by the federal government.

This same scenario exists for the public school system under Gates/Pearson/Commie Core. The solution for the local school to regain their liberty is also the same.

How Much Does Health Insurance Cost? The Average Premium for Individual Coverage in 2011 was $183 per month, eHealth Study Finds

These are 2011 numbers.  Also the deductibles are much higher than the county plan deductibles.

http://news.ehealthinsurance.com/news/how-much-does-health-insurance-218305

HR Director’s response to Chamber health benefits questions

Human Resources Director Morgan’s responses are in red.

Dear H.R. Director Morgan,

There are names of people on these health care benefits lists who may not have been eligible to receive County health care benefits. The 2008 list includes 16 people (cells 252-267) listed as being employed by the Blount County Chamber. The 2007 list includes 14 people (cells 1798-1811) listed who are most of the same people in the 2008 file.

Based on the research that Rhonda Pitts and I have done, we have been unable to verify that the Commission approved giving health care benefits to the Chamber employees. Director of Budgets and Finance, Randy Vineyard, stated that he didn’t know if the Commission had ever approved paying for Chamber employees’ health care benefits. There has been no response to my email sent to Bryan Daniels, the President/CEO of Blount Partnership, on this matter. Additionally I have spoken with three former commissioners, one who served on the HR Committee. Neither recalled the Commission ever approving health care benefits for Chamber employees.

Given the serious problem with the current benefits plan being unsustainable, it is incumbent upon Blount County government to ensure that no one who was/is ineligible received or continues to receive health care benefits that they are not entitled to receive. Thus, I am asking that you fully research this matter to determine if there were ineligible people receiving health care benefits and whether they continue to receive health care benefits, what the costs to the taxpayers was/is and report your findings to me.

Along with your findings, please answer the following questions.

1. Did the County Commission ever authorize giving health care benefits to employees of the Blount County Chamber of Commerce? If so, when? Any questions regarding commission actions can be addressed by the commission office as they are the official custodian of commission actions and minutes.

2. If the Commission did not authorize Chamber employees to receive health care benefits, who did and when? I was not here at the time and do not have an answer to this question.

3. If Chamber employees did receive health care benefits, are they still receiving benefits? No

4. If not, when did Chamber employees stop receiving health care benefits? 12/31/2009

5. If Chamber employees did receive health care benefits, how many participated in the County health care plans? 14 Chamber employees in 2007; 16 Chamber employees in 2008; 17 Chamber employees in 2009

6. If Chamber employees did receive health care benefits, how many years did Chamber employees participate in the County health care plans and what were those years? 3 years – 2007, 2008, 2009

7. If Chamber employees did receive health care benefits, who received these benefits? Deborah Buckner, Bryan Daniels, Kathleen Delozier, Brenda Farner, Tammi Ford, Fred Forster, Herb Handly, Frank Hanson, Jean Hilten, Mary Hunt, Julia Kyle, Linda Lambert, Amy Lawson, Bonny Millard, Deborah Nye, Anna Watson, Mary Webb, Loretta White

8. If Chamber employees did receive health care benefits, what was the total cost each year? We do not have these records in our office. The carrier we had at the time is no longer in existence. This is a very labor intensive request and will take additional time to research to see if this information is available.

9. If the Chamber employees never received health care benefits, why are their names included in these lists of people enrolled in County health care benefits plans? Chamber employees received health care benefits in 2007, 2008 & 2009.

Sincerely,

Tona Monroe
Blount County Commissioner
District 7 Seat B

LTE of the year: The Blount County Gravy Train

Normally letters to the editor are published on The Daily Times’ website but the gravy train letter wasn’t.  The Daily Times said that they changed to a new system last week and that is likely why the letters aren’t online.

This letter, written by Tom Robinson, should be letter to the editor of the year and would be a good candidate for letter to the editor of the decade.

Another letter to the editor worth reading, by Troy Ball, is about Blount County government secrecy.

GravyTrain

Update: The Gravy Train letter is now online.

Did/Do Chamber employees receive county provided health care benefits?

Dear H.R. Director Morgan,

There are names of people on these health care benefits lists who may not have been eligible to receive County health care benefits. The 2008 list includes 16 people (cells 252-267) listed as being employed by the Blount County Chamber. The 2007 list includes 14 people (cells 1798-1811) listed who are most of the same people in the 2008 file.

Based on the research that Rhonda Pitts and I have done, we have been unable to verify that the Commission approved giving health care benefits to the Chamber employees.  Director of Budgets and Finance, Randy Vineyard, stated that he didn’t know if the Commission had ever approved paying for Chamber employees’ health care benefits.  There has been no response to my email sent to Bryan Daniels, the President/CEO of Blount Partnership, on this matter.  Additionally I have spoken with three former commissioners, one who served on the HR Committee.  Neither recalled the Commission ever approving health care benefits for Chamber employees.

Given the serious problem with the current benefits plan being unsustainable, it is incumbent upon Blount County government to ensure that no one who was/is ineligible received or continues to receive health care benefits that they are not entitled to receive. Thus, I am asking that you fully research this matter to determine if there were ineligible people receiving health care benefits and whether they continue to receive health care benefits, what the costs to the taxpayers was/is and report your findings to me.

Along with your findings, please answer the following questions.

  1. Did the County Commission ever authorize giving health care benefits to employees of the Blount County Chamber of Commerce? If so, when?
  2. If the Commission did not authorize Chamber employees to receive health care benefits, who did and when?
  3. If Chamber employees did receive health care benefits, are they still receiving benefits?
  4. If not, when did Chamber employees stop receiving health care benefits?
  5. If Chamber employees did receive health care benefits, how many participated in the County health care plans?
  6. If Chamber employees did receive health care benefits, how many years did Chamber employees participate in the County health care plans and what were those years?
  7. If Chamber employees did receive health care benefits, who received these benefits?
  8. If Chamber employees did receive health care benefits, what was the total cost each year?
  9. If the Chamber employees never received health care benefits, why are their names included in these lists of people enrolled in County health care benefits plans?

Sincerely,

Tona Monroe
Blount County Commissioner
District 7 Seat B

 

—–Original Message—–
From: “Jenny Morgan” <jmorgan@blounttn.org>
Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 4:42pm
To: tona@breezeair.net Cc: open.records@cot.tn.gov, “Ed Mitchell” <emitchell@blounttn.org>, “Randy Vineyard” <rvineyard@blounttn.org> Subject: Requested Information

Commissioner Monroe,

Attached are 2 files containing the requested information regarding the list of people on our benefits in 2007 & 2008.  I apologize for the delay in getting this information to you.  Once we located the information, we needed to convert the data to an excel file so some information could be redacted.  This took quite a bit of time for our IT Director to complete as he had to use several different programs to complete the task.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of further assistance to you.

Thank you,

Jenny Morgan
Human Resources Director
Blount County Government

Republicans Will Never Cut Spending

From Reason.com:

” …the GOP-led Congress is now funding Obamacare just as much as the divided Congress did before, and now debt-ceiling deadlines are occasions not for the meaningful possibility of restraining Leviathan, but for quick rubber stamps. It will be fascinating to see what kind of federal budget the party plops on President Barack Obama’s desk.”

More here

HasbamaCare – It’s Uncontrifuted!

photo credit: midsouthsentinel.com

photo credit: midsouthsentinel.com

by: Eric Holcombe

Video is linked below to the lecture Doug Overbey gave to the Senate Health & Welfare Committee as he played the Establishment “administration” role of selling Insure TN as anything-but-ObamaCare.

Doug Overbey insults the Health & Welfare Committee – and then goes down in flames. Of course, this is the final vote after a good amount of behind the scenes vote counting in the House so it was all over but the crying. Give Doug a listen as he:
1) Questions the Senators’ motivation for serving in their office – that somehow listening to their constituents is not representing them or making their communities better. He sets this up with the straw man that he knows that is why the majority of them would say they initially sought public office.
2) States that the current system is “broken” and the Senators are “doing nothing” by not voting for HasbamaCare. By the way, “NO” is the default vote. Our representatives should only ever vote “YES” if they are sure the legislation is: constitutional, actually desired by their constituents (not just the ones that own the liquor stores in Pigeon Forge), there is a sound funding mechanism, etc.
3) Whines that he has served on Health & Welfare committees for 14 years in the House and Senate (but of course is somehow not responsible for the current “broken” system and “doing nothing” for 14 years as he calls it) but now is having to present the Establishment’s bill to make the sale.
4) Reminds them that Gov. Haslam has his finger on the pulse of Tennesseans and points to his re-election as evidence of same. Live by the vote-for-me-instead-of-Obama sword, die by the vote-for-me-instead-of-Obama sword.
5) Tells the Senators they are supposed to ignore you and instead vote on whether HasbamaCare is good “policy” (after he just said Gov. Haslam is so “in touch” with all the constituents).
6) Creates new word: “uncontrifuted”.
Senator Overbey has consistently demonstrated that he believes the legislators are above the people rather than public servants. I remind you of his “we have the legislative authority” statement lobbying for the continued unconstitutional (and therefore illegal) selection of judges back when the Republicans wouldn’t simply “do nothing” and let the illegal Tennessee Plan sunset when they first won majority. This attitude of we-know-better-than-the-peasants, so let’s force “policy” isn’t representing the constituents. It’s tyranny – and that’s “uncontrifuted”….

 

Seven Reasons to Vote for the Libertarian Party

From Reason:

1. The Libertarian Party supports all of your freedoms, all of the time
2. The Libertarian Party is consistent and principled
3. Voting for old party politicians tells them that you want to keep government big
4. Voting Libertarian is the only clear message you can send
5. Voting Libertarian forces the old parties to take the libertarian positions
6. Because the old parties don’t want you to
7. Voting Libertarian helps your favorite “libertarian-leaning old party politician


For great explanations to each of these reasons, click the link above or here.

 

Why Partyism Is Wrong

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/28/opinion/david-brooks-why-partyism-is-wrong.html?_r=0

I don’t agree with every statement in this op-ed, but it raises a good point.  There’s too much emphasis on party politics.  This may be a consequence of big government.  A couple of years ago I read an article about political views being more important in the success of a marriage than religion.  Society needs to take a hard look at classifying people based on party labels, because not everyone fits in the right-left paradigm.

Commission approves a contract without knowing cost

Last night the Commission approved a contract with Blount Memorial Hospital to provide health care to employees without knowing how much it would cost.  No amount was stated in the resolution.  That didn’t matter though, because it passed 15-2 with only Commissioners Burchfield and Folts voting against it.  Commissioners Lambert, Lewis, Melton and Murrell were absent.

Commissioner Wright brought to light that the copier contract isn’t a flat cost like the Commission has always been lead to believe.  There is a 5 cent per click cost for color copies.  Wright works in the industry and said he could negotiate a better rate.  The Commission chose not to pursue a better rate since some were afraid that Departments would be without copiers for a brief time if the final contract wasn’t approved prior to the old one expiring on June 30th.  Theresa Johnson sounded more like a cheer leader for Canon Solutions American Inc., than the purchasing agent for Blount County.  The length of the contract, 5 years, puts the matter out of reach for the incoming Commission where 6 incumbents will be gone.

Budget Modifications a new term

Old Agendas would specify budget increases and decreases.  Now, thanks to Randy Vineyard the Finance Director, these transactions are listed as Budget Modifications.  It sounds nicer than calling these for what they are, increases in spending your money.

The Commission also approved a Blount County employee dental plan without having much information.  Currently the employees pay nothing and taxpayers pay $23.51 per month for each employee.  Employees have the option of purchasing a family plan for $49.24 a month.  The family plan costs $72.75 and the County pays the $23.51 it would pay if they just had the employee plan.  Dental coverage was previously self insured by the County, but the current plans are offered through Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Bob Ramsey’s responses to jokes and real issues are often the same

Last week I wrote Bob Ramsey about radioactive polonium in hydrofluorosilicic acid.  Here’s the response that I received.

“After reading the article, I am forwarding it to our health staff for evaluation. Thanks”

________________________________
From: Tona
Sent: Monday, February 10, 2014 7:18 PM
Subject: Radiation poisoning from hydrofluorosilicic acid

Hello Rep. Bob Ramsey D.D.S.,
Do you still support poisoning us against our will when the crap (hydrofluorsilic acid) being dumped in our water is contaminated with radioactive polonium?

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/10/radioactive-fertilizer.aspx

Seriously, what else would it take being found in this industrial waste for you to say the benefit of possibly preventing some tooth decay (which actually makes it harder to see tooth decay on x-rays) is out weighed by all the harmful CRAP that comes with it?  Would people have to turn neon green first and grow a 3rd physical eye before you no longer claim your saving their teeth by poisoning them?

Let freedom ring!

Last year, I wrote a satirical email to Rep. Bob Ramsey regarding chocolate being more effective than chemicals containing fluoride in protecting teeth.  I received the following response:

“We are looking for the same results, less decay. This may be a good avenue to that end, and I have sent the suggestion to our staff as well as the TDA administration. Thanks”

Sent from my iPad

As you can see, he forwards it to others, not taking a position either time.

Here’s the response that Richard Hutchens received from Ramsey regarding UT’s Sex Week last year.

Richard Hutchens recently wrote Representative Ramsey on a couple of issues.  Ramsey’s response and Hutchens’ initial email are included fyi.

Tona,

It is totally worthless sending a well written, well thought out e-mail to Bob.
He doesn’t read them
From: rep.bob.ramsey@capitol.tn.gov
To: Richard Hutchens
Subject: Re: Please Co-Sponsor End of Forced Annexation in TN Act
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2014 03:21:27 +0000
Thanks
Sent from my iPad
On Feb 13, 2014, at 6:06 AM, “Richard Hutchens”  wrote:
Rep. Ramsey and Senator Overby
Three Fundamental Principles of our Constitutional form of Govt. are:
1.   Sovereignty resides with the citizens
2.  Governments are instituted among men to secure their unalienable rights…
3.  Legitimate Governments derive their just Powers from Consent of the Governed.
As my Representatives, Please protect your Constituents God Given and Constitutional Protected Rights to these above principles by Co-Sponsoring HB 2371 and  vote for the End of Forced Annexation in TN Act (EFATA).

 

The recent political edition of why did the chicken cross the road joke, in which I added my own response, was posted on Stacey Campfield’s blog.  You can see Bob’s thoughtful response.

“Thanks”

Last year when Richard Hutchens sent Bob Ramsey concerning the problems with the Blount County Republican Party, he received the same response.

“Thanks”

Perhaps you see a pattern in these responses.

http://www.bcpublicrecord.com/?p=4728

http://www.bcpublicrecord.com/?p=3873

http://lastcar.blogspot.com/2014/02/joke-of-week_9.html

 

Response regarding UT Sex Week

This is the response that I received from Rep. Bob Ramsey.  My follow-up is on top of the response, so you may wish to work your way up, rather than down.  No UT official’s name was provided, which I assume was redacted by Bob.

Thanks Bob.

What exactly are student speaker fees?  Who pays these fees?  Are students, who don’t support this, required to pay fees which ultimately contribute to funding this filth?

Are members of the public, free to use the University of Tennessee campus to promote any filth they desire, so long as the filth isn’t illegal activities?

Let freedom ring!

 

—–Original Message—–
From: “Bob Ramsey” <rep.bob.ramsey@capitol.tn.gov> Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 6:26pm
To: Tona
Subject: RE: University of Tennessee – Public university Sex Week to teach masturbation, when orgasms are a ‘political act’

It seems the University of Tennessee shares the concerns of citizens and members of this legislative body with regards to how sex week has been portrayed and marketed to the public as an event funded by tax dollars.
I have taken the liberty of attaching the correspondence sent to me by The University of Tennessee regarding Sex Week at UT Knoxville. I hope this satisfies any questions you may have.
Representative Ramsey:
Thank you for your message concerning your constituent’s questions regarding Sex Week at UTK – an event organized and hosted by students at our Knoxville Campus.  After reviewing some of the information referred to by your constituent, I share the same feeling and concern about the appropriateness of some of the marketing materials and promotions.
I have verified that no state appropriations, tuition monies, or tax dollars have been committed or will be used in any aspect of the event.  All funds will be derived from grants to promote personal responsibility and awareness, student speaker fees, and private funds, some of which will be raised by the student organizations sponsoring the event.
As you know, the First Amendment restricts the ability of the University administration to direct or influence the spending of student speaker fee monies.  Additionally, the University cannot prevent registered student organizations from using university facilities for these events.  However, I can assure you that the University has done all that the First Amendment allows it to do in this circumstance.
Again, I understand and appreciate you and your constituent’s concerns and likewise appreciate your continued support of The University of Tennessee.
Rep. Matlock has brought legislation HB2450 Education, Higher – As introduced, prohibits use of institutional revenues, including student activity fees, to engage visiting or guest speakers for events at public institutions of higher education. – Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 7; Title 49, Chapter 8 and Title 49, Chapter 9.
Thanks

Food stamps cut in crony Agriculture bill

1% cut?  Oh my gosh… the sky will now fall.

http://www.mail.com/news/politics/2626770-obama-signs-farm-bill-that-trims-food-stamps.html#.23140-stage-hero1-2

Meanwhile, the corporate hacks in Congress made sure to keep us poisoned and pacified with plenty of fluoride.

http://www.anh-usa.org/farm-bill-wins-but-one-dangerous-amendment/