Trent Franks, Other Arizona Conservatives Need to Keep Healthcare Promises

By Sam Stone

The Trump Administration may be less than two months old, but for conservatives, it may already be D-Day in Washington.

In less than 48 hours, the House of Representatives is set to vote on the curiously named “American Health Care Act” – the current GOP effort being pushed by Speaker Paul Ryan as a repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

This bill is the wrong idea at the wrong time and it does not deserve a “yes” vote. Right now, the count says that it’s too close to call. So every member of Congress counts.

Here’s our question: Will Trent keep his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare in a responsible way?

Let’s step back.

Trent Franks is no rookie when it comes to opposing Obamacare. Look at his record here. Lots of detail and votes against what he consistently calls: “Health care proposals that wrested control of the American health care industry from the hands of private organizations and turn it over to the federal government.”

Right when this year’s Congress began, Franks and Congressman Andy Biggs introduced the Protection from Obamacare Mandates and Congressional Equity Act.

Franks said it contained three bedrock principles:

  • First, it gives every American more coverage options.
  • Second, it would allow Americans to purchase their coverage across state lines, opening up more opportunities for competition that will, in turn, help to lower costs for consumers.
  • Third, our alternative protects the patient-doctor relationship.

Just a month ago, Rep. Franks said: “My concern is [a repeal-replace bill] will give some lackadaisical senator a reason to vote against it. My concern is the entire repeal is in mortal danger … There may be some people who will get weak-kneed.”

These are valid concerns, but they sound like reasons not to vote for the current plan, which has all sorts of problems.

The reliable conservative policy think tank Heritage Action makes the fundamental case that the AHCA falls short:

“Many Americans seeking health insurance on the individual market will notice no significant difference between the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) and the American Health Care Act.  That is bad politics and, more importantly, bad policy.

“Rather than accept the flawed premises of Obamacare, congressional Republicans should fully repeal the failed law and begin a genuine effort to deliver on longstanding campaign promises that create a free market health care system that empowers patients and doctors.”

Congressman Franks is a solid conservative leader. Currently, he is listed as “leaning no.” That’s why this is the ideal time to give him the support, encouragement and, well, cautionary warning he may need to stay true to his principles and his promises by not resting until Obamacare is gone – and in its place a true, principled alternative – instead of Obamacare-lite.

Surprise! (NOT!) Average Affordable Care premiums going up in 2015

Reprinted from YahooNews.com

WASHINGTON (AP) — Many people covered under President Barack Obama’s health care law will face higher premiums next year, the administration acknowledged Thursday. While the average increases are modest, it’s more fodder for the nation’s political battles over health care.

Officials stressed that millions of current HealthCare.gov customers can mitigate the financial hit if they’re willing to shop around for another plan in a more competitive online marketplace. Subsidies will also help cushion the impact.

It’s currently taking an average of 30 minutes for returning customers to update their coverage.

Premiums for the most popular type of plan are going up an average of 5 percent in 35 states where Washington is running the health insurance exchanges this year and will do so again in 2015, said a report from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Monthly premiums are one of the most important and politically sensitive yardsticks for Obama’s health care law, which offers subsidized private insurance to people who don’t have access to coverage through their jobs. Sharper premium hikes were common before it passed.

The modest average increases reported for 2015 mask bigger swings from state to state, and even within regions of a state. According to data released by the administration, some communities will still see double-digit hikes while others are seeing decreases. Most are somewhere in the middle.

“Prior to the Affordable Care Act taking place, we saw double-digit increases in health care costs in this country,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “Those were routine.”

Many people who go back to the website “will now find that their costs are limited to only 5 percent on average,” he said, “a much lower cost increase than was in place before the Affordable Care Act.”

Even after Thursday’s report, the bottom line remains blurry.

Last year’s report provided average premiums for three types of plans across 48 states — close to a national number. This year’s report has no comparable statistic.

With both chambers of Congress under Republican control next year, the health care law will face even closer scrutiny from opponents still pursuing its repeal.

Nonetheless, industry experts said the picture appears positive for consumers and the administration.

“Benchmark premiums going into year two of the health law are very stable nationally, driven largely by strong competition among insurers,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “How the law is playing out varies quite a bit across the country, with premiums increasing in some areas but actually going down in other places, which is almost unheard of.”

Administration officials said that on the whole, the market for individual insurance has gotten better for consumers.

“In today’s marketplace, issuers are competing for business,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement. “Returning customers may find an even better deal if they shop and save.”

The administration says about two-thirds of current customers can still find coverage comparable to what they have now for $100 a month or less if they shop. That estimate takes into account the tax credits that most consumers receive, which cover about three-fourths of their premiums on average.

Also, 91 percent of customers will have a choice of three or more insurers this year, with each company usually offering a range of plans. That’s a notable improvement from last year, when 74 percent of customers had similar options.

The most popular coverage, known as the lowest cost silver plan, will go up 5 percent next year across the 35 states included in the administration’s analysis. The second-lowest cost silver plan — the benchmark the government uses to set subsidy levels — will go up an average of 2 percent.

Tax credits are based on a person’s income and the premium for the second-lowest cost silver plan in their community. The slow premium growth for the second-lowest cost silver plans is also good news for taxpayers who are subsidizing the program.

Open enrollment season for 2015 is now in its third week and runs through Feb. 15. The next big deadline for consumers is Dec. 15, the date by which new customers must sign up if they want their coverage to take effect on Jan. 1. For current customers, it’s the deadline to make changes and updates that would take effect Jan. 1.

Current customers who do nothing will be automatically renewed in the plan they have now on Jan. 1. But with all the changes in premiums for 2015, administration officials and consumer advocates are urging people to come back and shop.

“For the vast majority of people, if they stay in the same plan, I think they’ll see rate increases in the single digits to high single digits,” said Andy Slavitt, a top HHS official overseeing technology and management issues.

The administration has set a goal of 9.1 million people enrolled in 2015, including most of the current 6.7 million customers.

Obamacare Versus Physician’s Hippocratic Oath

By Joanne Moudy

John Ammon

Dr. John Ammon

When John R. Ammon, M.D. finished his rigorous training at Harvard and Stanford 36 years ago, he swore to uphold the all important Hippocratic Oath – which proclaims – “Do No Harm.” Looking forward to working as an anesthesiologist, he believed he would never have to compromise that solemn promise. Yet, for Dr. Ammon, as for so many hundreds of thousands of physicians, that oath is progressively more difficult to keep.

Dr. Ammon has spent a lifetime of serving and healing his patients. More than just participating in a practice, his personal belief systems made him keenly aware of – and sensitive to – his patient’s individual needs. As a former Director and President of the American Board of Anesthesiology, as well as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Arizona School of Medicine, and the founder and former President of the Arizona Chapter of Docs4PatientCare, he has a keen insight into the entire healthcare system in the United States. And he is deeply concerned.

During a recent event in Phoenix Dr. Ammon kindly sat down with me and shared his thoughts on Obamacare and why he believes it will ravage our country like a plague of the worst magnitude.

“The way I see it,” Dr. Ammon said, “is that today Obamacare is the greatest threat to our freedom America has ever faced. People are already upset about the insurance issues with the new law, but the truth is we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. The full force and effect of the horrifying legislation will impact and diminish the quality of American healthcare both now and into the distant future and severely restrict a doctor’s ability to help patients.

“Obamacare was advertised to the American people as a fix for two healthcare problems. The first was reining in the runaway cost of healthcare and the second was extending health insurance to the uninsured.

“But what the left failed to explain to the American public,” Dr. Ammon continued, “is that long before the law was written, physicians had already agreed that major reforms were necessary, especially in the realms of healthcare financing, taxation and insurance. Had those underlying areas been addressed, the law would have been unnecessary.

“Physicians already knew that the cost of healthcare had ballooned from coast to coast. The steady increase in costs made it harder for many to afford healthcare or insurance for their families. And that drove up the number of uninsured.

Obamacare“And what’s really amazing to most physicians is that Obamacare did not address any of these issues. It did not address the runaway costs nor did it extend insurance to the uninsured,” Dr. Ammon said. “Quite the contrary, the law has had the opposite effect.

“Take a look at the estimates from the experts at Harvard University and Dartmouth College,” he said. “They anticipate that healthcare costs will continue to grow faster than the economy for at least 20 years. And even more troubling is that the federal government estimates that 31 million Americans will still be uninsured by 2024. So in effect, Obamacare made things much worse.

“And instead of improving the situation, the president’s law has placed unprecedented regulatory and financial burdens on physicians and hospitals. Now, instead of focusing on patient healing and their well-being, practitioners in all specialties are increasingly focused on paperwork and checking statute-driven boxes. It’s exactly the opposite of what was needed.

“But aside from all this, a major problem with Obamacare is the Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs,” Dr. Ammon continues. “Most people aren’t even aware of the term ACO. Yet, it will be the downfall of our healthcare system as we know it today.

“Here’s how it works. ACOs collectivize hospitals and many physicians together into single units. These units are then paid by the federal government for the specific services and treatments they provide under federal guidelines, in a one-size-fits-all regimen.

“Although this currently applies only to Medicare patients, the model is already being adopted for all patients. One of Obamacare’s main architects was Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who brags that the law’s main goal all along was to shift the focus of healthcare from individual patients – to society as a whole, i.e., a European socialized medicine model.

“ACOs are not about the doctor-patient relationship at all,” Dr. Ammon said, “because ultimately the federal government will dictate all treatments, procedures, and payment schedules. And the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), made up of 15 people appointed by the president, will determine which medical services will or will not be reimbursed – and for how much.

“No matter how obfuscated the truth is, this is truly ‘rationing’ and it should terrify all Americans. According to Obamacare, providers must stay within the mandated guidelines or – at a minimum – Washington will refuse to reimburse them, and at a maximum, providers can face criminal liability.

“Thus, instead of physicians caring for each individual patient and working to achieve the best healthcare outcomes, doctors become professional assembly-line workers. The federal bureaucracy increasingly sits in the middle of the examination room, like Big Brother overseeing our every move and dictating our behavior.

“This is a dagger aimed at the heart of physician’s commitment to the Hippocratic Oath,” Dr. Ammon said. “In too many cases, doctors will have to choose between what is medically appropriate for their patients versus what they are ordered to do (or not do) as mandated by the feds. There is no question that this represent a moral crisis for physicians – follow the Hippocratic ethic or the Obamacare regulations.”

As we ended our conversation, Dr. Ammon had these rather haunting, parting words.

“When I ask pre-med and medical students why they want to become doctors, they invariably say they want to help people. Although I praise and encourage that sentiment, today I have to couch my comments with warnings that they won’t be able to achieve their altruistic goals without the freedom of an unwavering commitment to each individual patient, which will be more and more difficult to attain under the Obamacare.

“Nothing threatens our American way of life or the ability of a physician to care for individuals more than Obamacare. It is an abomination which must be entirely repealed and replaced with real reform, less physicians be forced into an untenable moral crisis.”

Maybe, Just Maybe . . . Obamacare is Unconstitutional

By Joanne Moudy

There is no doubt in any sane mind that Obamacare is a travesty on the U.S. Constitution and a terrible fraud perpetrated on America citizens. Yet it seems as though we’re all stuck with it . . . or are we?

On Friday Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ 8th Dist.), led the charge in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, in the case of Steven Hotze, M.D. v. Kathleen Sebelius, ramping up efforts to prove, once and for all, that the entire basis for the ACA bill was bogus in the first place.

Mr. Franks, along with 42 of his colleagues, including Rep(s) Michele Bachmann R-MN D-6), Matt Salmon (R-AZ D-5), David Schweikert (R-AZ D-6), and Steve King (R-IA D-4), banded together in a show of support to overturn Obamacare for violating the Origination Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

According to Mr. Franks’ office, the case began in a Texas federal court and raises the issue of whether or not Obamacare violated the Origination Clause because the entire language of the bill actually originated in the Senate, instead of the House as required for all bills raising revenue.

The question stems from October 2009, when the House passed H.R. 3590, titled at the time as “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009.” H.R. 3590 was supposed to make certain changes to the IRS code, specifically to extend or waive the recapture of a first-time homebuyer credit for certain members of the armed forces.

The obvious question any intelligent person should be asking themselves right now is, ‘What exactly does this bill have to do with health care?’ You’re right – absolutely nothing.

The fairly innocuous bill passed the House and was sent to the Senate. Upon receipt, the Senate promptly stripped everything from the bill – except the all important # 3590, then inserted the language of the Affordable Care Act and subsequently passed it on December 24, 2009. The entirely new H.R. 3590 then went back to the House for final approval.

Yet absolutely nothing remained of the original bill and Rep. Pelosi knew it. As the then Speaker of the House, she rammed H.R. 3590 through on March 21, 2010 as amended by the Senate. Concurrently, the House passed H.R. 4872, entitled the “Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010,” which made certain amendments to the ACA. President Obama signed H.R. 3590 into law on March 23, 2010 and H.R. 4872 on March 30, 2010.

The Origination Clause in the U.S. Constitution provides that “….all Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representative; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”

Since Obamacare contains 17 separate tax provisions raising approximately $500 billion in taxes, it is most assuredly a tax bill, which most assuredly did not originate in the House. Furthermore, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the individual mandate to purchase health insurance could only be constitutional, if at all, under Congress’s power to tax.

“If the Senate can introduce the largest tax increase in American history,” Mr. Franks said, “by simply peeling off the House number from a six-page unrelated bill, which does not even raise taxes, and pasting it on the ‘Senate Health Care Bill,’ and then claim with a straight face that the resulting bill originated in the House, then the American ‘rule of law’ has become no rule at all.”

In addition to pressing his case in the courts, Congressman Franks is the sponsor of House Resolution 153, with 56 co-sponsors, expressing the sense of the House of Representative that Obamacare violated the Origination Clause. Just last week, Mr. Franks also held a contentious hearing on the topic before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.

The saddest thing is that none of the Arizona congressional leaders with a “D” behind their names supported this amicus brief, presumably because of their support of this illegal method of taxation. Offices of Rep(s) Ron Barber and Kyrsten Sinema were contacted, yet neither had a single comment. Maybe it’s time for a significant change.

Wendy Rogers, the retired U.S. Air Force Pilot who’s running against Sinema in AZ D-9 feels strongly the Obamacare has been an unmitigated disaster. “Most disingenuous of all, is Rep. Sinema,” Rogers said. “She actually helped to write the original tenets of Obamacare before she went to Congress and has consistently been President Obama’s cheerleader for it in Arizona.”

Rogers went on to explain, “In order for Sinema to save face in her district, she voted with Republicans to delay the individual mandate and extend the workweek to 39 hours. She purposely voted this way, knowing it would never pass the Senate or a presidential veto. Sinema isn’t about caring for sick people at affordable prices, she’s about hijacking the Constitution to control one-sixth of the nation’s GDP. Sinema is what’s wrong with Congress.”

Chuck Wooten, who’s running against Barber in AZ D-2 said, “I roundly applaud Congressman Franks and his co-sponsors for forcing the will of the people, through Constitutionality and precedent, to undo the ACA which has been aptly named, “the greatest fraud perpetrated on the American people.”

According to Wooten, it’s no secret the Obama administration and Democrat lawmakers intentionally deceived the citizenry – purely for ideological gain. “The American people, led by Congressman Franks and his co-sponsors have busted those responsible for the fraud and I’m confident justice will prevail and this train wreck will be once and for all vaporized into a bad memory,” Wooten said.

Too bad Rogers and Wooten aren’t already in Congress . . . just think how nice it’d be to have these two names on this amicus brief.

For those of us hoping against hope for a way out of the Obamacare nightmare, this seems like the all important light at the end of the tunnel. Hats off to the elected men and women taking a stand against fraudulent, tyrannical government and lets make sure the right folks make it to Washington in November.

Joanne Moudy is the author of “The Tenth,” a supernatural thriller exploring the very real trauma of abortion in a fictional realm. She proudly served as an officer in the military for nine years, before specializing in emergency nursing until retirement. She’s currently an Ambassador for Alliance Defending Freedom, a member of ASU’s Advisory Board for the Center for Political Thought and Leadership, and regularly speaks about the impact of abortion, liberalism, and secularism on all of humanity. You can follow her on Twitter @composedof1

Dinner at Monti’s? It may require reservations now thanks to Obamacare

Reservations at Tempe’s dining landmark Monti’s?

That’s right, because it may be a little harder now.

Monti’s, the famed Tempe restaurant, is now cutting hours for employees because of ObamaCare.

Kyrsten Sinema ObamacareThe same law that Kyrsten Sinema helped craftcampaigned for, and voted to keep is hurting workers in her own district.

But this isn’t the first time that the law’s regulations have hit home for Sinema. Just a few weeks ago, ObamaCare caused her coworkers at ASU to see their hours cut.

When she supports laws that actively hurt those in the 9th district, Kyrsten Sinema proves that she’s just too big a risk for Arizona families.

According to Matt Gorman, spokesman for the NRCC, “The disastrous law that Kyrsten Sinema helped craft and campaign for is hurting workers right in her district. How can workers and families trust her to dismantle ObamaCare when she was its biggest cheerleader in the first place?”

Just another example of the unintended consequences of a devastatingly bad public policy.