President Obama is in the Giving Mood

Commentary from Twila Brase, President CCHF


December 5, 2012



President Obama is in the giving mood. With just 20 days until Christmas, the White House has sent you seven gifts -- and it's not seven swans a-swimming. 

You may decide these shouldn't be called gifts. I agree. He's given us a stack of proposed Obamacare rules prepared well before the election and released to the public just two days before, and eight days after, Thanksgiving.

In a nutshell, here is what's inside these 871 pages of federal regulatory "gift-wrapping":

  • Health Insurance Market Rules (131 pp) - rules on ending health insurance (as we know it no pre-existing condition exclusions) and nationalizing coverage, leading to higher costs.
  • Wellness Program Incentives (81 pp) - rules on behavioral modifications, leading to higher premiums for the non-healthy and non-compliant.
  • Standards for "Essential Health Benefits" (119 pp) - rules on HHS-mandated coverage, leading to higher premiums and violated consciences.
  • "Qualified Health Plan" Certification Notice (3 pp) - federal control over health plan certification, leading to limited options and higher premiums.
  • Benefit and Payment Parameters (373 pp) - rules for user fees (new taxes), intrusive individualized risk scores, and redistribution of dollars.
  • Additional Medicare Tax (42 pp) - collection requirements for 0.9% tax on "high-earners."
  • Multi-State Federal Plans for Exchanges (122 pp) - rules that force exchanges to offer national health plans (single-payer foot in door).

And since a picture is worth a thousand are the rule in living color. Guess which proposed rule is at the bottom...

There are even more "gifts" to come. In 2013, there are six Obamacare tax increases:

  • Limits on Flexible Spending Account - the amount you can contribute to an FSA is limited to $2,500 per year, with an annual cost of living increase. (raises $13 billion)
  • Reduced Ability to Deduct Medical Expenses - threshold for deducting unreimbursed medical expenses raised from $7.5% to 10%. ($15.2 billion)
  • Medicare Payroll Tax Increase - If you earn > $200,000 (individual) or > $250,000 (couple), your payroll tax will be 0.9% higher. ($86.8 billion)
  • Investment Tax Assessment - A new 3.8% tax on unearned income for higher-income taxpayers. ($123 billion)
  • Employer Retiree Coverage Subsidy Eliminated - Medicare Part D retiree drug subsidy payments to employers are eliminated. ( $4.5 billion)
  • Tax on Medical Devices - A new 2.3% excise tax is imposed on the sale of any taxable medical device. ($20 billion)

I count 13 "gifts" in 41 days. The President started his "12 days of Christmas" too early, ends it too late, his count is off, and they aren't even gifts. Then again, perhaps his wooing days are over. Maybe that's why he waited until after the election and right before the holidays to spring them on the American people. 

NOTE: The 373-page rule allows only 30 days for public comments. The deadline is January 5, 2013. Happy New Year!

ACTION ITEM: Please go online here and send HHS a simple message: "The public comment period for the proposed rule for Benefit and Payment Parameters should be extended. Thirty days during the holiday is poor timing and not enough time to read or respond to 373 pages of information. Please extend the comment period to 90 days. Please inform me of the change."

Obamacare is a runaway entitlement train racing over an ever-increasing rack of rules -- more than 13,000 pages to date. Consider this chart from Avik Roy at Forbes:

Starting in 2014, Obamacare will rapidly build on an already dangerous "fiscal cliff" of entitlement. The time to cut Obamacare off at the pass is now.

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