Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our Leader Speaketh with Forked Tongue

From the Wall Street Journal, Monday, September 14, 2009: "Fact-Checking the President on Health Insurance", by Scott Harrington. [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574409501904118682.html] The article describes a number of "facts" delivered by the president in one of his TV speeches that were, at best, exaggerations and, at worst, out and out lies.  But even a bigger problem is that apparently the president will demonize anyone and any company if it will expand the possibility for him to takeover the healthcare system in this country.  Go to and read the article, but if the president was interested in "reform" of healthcare, he'd dialogue with those who disagree.  They might have some good ideas, but no, he is not at all interested in anyone else's good ideas, only those that extend his power.  Our leader, I am afraid, speaketh with a forked tongue.

"OPINION SEPTEMBER 14, 2009, 9:51 A.M. ET Fact-Checking the President on Health Insurance

His tales of abuse don't stand scrutiny.

In his speech to Congress last week, President Barack Obama attempted to sell a reform agenda by demonizing the private health-insurance industry, which many people love to hate. He opened the attack by asserting: "More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won't pay the full cost of care. It happens every day."

Clearly, this should never happen to anyone who is in good standing with his insurance company and has abided by the terms of the policy. But the president's examples of people "dropped" by their insurance companies involve the rescission of policies based on misrepresentation or concealment of information in applications for coverage. Private health insurance cannot function if people buy insurance only after they become seriously ill, or if they knowingly conceal health conditions that might affect their policy.

Traditional practice, governed by decades of common law, statute and regulation is for insurers to rely in underwriting and pricing on the truthfulness of the information provided by applicants about their health, without conducting a costly investigation of each applicant's health history. Instead, companies engage in a certain degree of ex post auditing—conducting more detailed and costly reviews of a subset of applications following policy issue—including when expensive treatment is sought soon after a policy is issued.

This practice offers substantial cost savings and lower premiums compared to trying to verify every application before issuing a policy, or simply paying all claims, regardless of the accuracy and completeness of the applicant's disclosure. Some states restrict insurer rescission rights to instances where the misrepresented or concealed information is directly related to the illness that produced the claim. Most states do not.

To highlight abusive practices, Mr. Obama referred to an Illinois man who "lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found he hadn't reported gallstones that he didn't even know about." The president continued: "They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it."

Although the president has used this example previously, his conclusion is contradicted by the transcript of a June 16 hearing on industry practices before the Subcommittee of Oversight and Investigation of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The deceased's sister testified that the insurer reinstated her brother's coverage following intervention by the Illinois Attorney General's Office. She testified that her brother received a prescribed stem-cell transplant within the desired three- to four-week "window of opportunity" from "one of the most renowned doctors in the whole world on the specific routine," that the procedure "was extremely successful," and that "it extended his life nearly three and a half years."

The president's second example was a Texas woman "about to get a double mastectomy when her insurance company canceled her policy because she forgot to declare a case of acne." He said that "By the time she had her insurance reinstated, her breast cancer more than doubled in size."

The woman's testimony at the June 16 hearing confirms that her surgery was delayed several months. It also suggests that the dermatologist's chart may have described her skin condition as precancerous, that the insurer also took issue with an apparent failure to disclose an earlier problem with an irregular heartbeat, and that she knowingly underreported her weight on the application.

These two cases are presumably among the most egregious identified by Congressional staffers' analysis of 116,000 pages of documents from three large health insurers, which identified a total of about 20,000 rescissions from millions of policies issued by the insurers over a five-year period. Company representatives testified that less than one half of one percent of policies were rescinded (less than 0.1% for one of the companies).

If existing laws and litigation governing rescission are inadequate, there clearly are a variety of ways that the states or federal government could target abuses without adopting the president's agenda for federal control of health insurance, or the creation of a government health insurer.

Later in his speech, the president used Alabama to buttress his call for a government insurer to enhance competition in health insurance. He asserted that 90% of the Alabama health-insurance market is controlled by one insurer, and that high market concentration "makes it easier for insurance companies to treat their customers badly—by cherry-picking the healthiest individuals and trying to drop the sickest; by overcharging small businesses who have no leverage; and by jacking up rates."

In fact, the Birmingham News reported immediately following the speech that the state's largest health insurer, the nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, has about a 75% market share. A representative of the company indicated that its "profit" averaged only 0.6% of premiums the past decade, and that its administrative expense ratio is 7% of premiums, the fourth lowest among 39 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans nationwide.

Similarly, a Dec. 31, 2007, report by the Alabama Department of Insurance indicates that the insurer's ratio of medical-claim costs to premiums for the year was 92%, with an administrative expense ratio (including claims settlement expenses) of 7.5%. Its net income, including investment income, was equivalent to 2% of premiums in that year.

In addition to these consumer friendly numbers, a survey in Consumer Reports this month reported that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama ranked second nationally in customer satisfaction among 41 preferred provider organization health plans. The insurer's apparent efficiency may explain its dominance, as opposed to a lack of competition—especially since there are no obvious barriers to entry or expansion in Alabama faced by large national health insurers such as United Healthcare and Aetna.

Responsible reform requires careful analysis of the underlying causes of problems in health insurance and informed debate over the benefits and costs of targeted remedies. The president's continued demonization of private health insurance in pursuit of his broad agenda of government expansion is inconsistent with that objective.

Mr. Harrington is professor of health-care management and insurance and risk management at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "

The biggest lie of which President Obama and the Democrats must convince American voters is that business/commerce/companies are against and at odds with the people. This is a bold-faced lie. The people ARE business. Business creates wealth and jobs. The people and business are one, together, mutually supportive. Only those seeking to gain and retain power, raw power over others would attempt to differentiate and divide the two, people and business.

Obama's healthcare speech was filled with outright lies, half-truths, distortions. I will not go into detail, because this has been covered heavily by the, let's say, conservative media and blogesphere. In the NY Times, NBC and their ilk, nothing; it was all honest and a true attempt to be bipartisan. Notice that Fox News viewers are climbing and the rest are tumbling.

To speak with forked tongue is to make false promises or to speak in a way which is not honest. Or put another way, "forked tongue" (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia): A forked tongue is a tongue split into two distinct ends at the tip; this is a feature common to many species of reptiles. The image has given rise to the expression "to speak with a forked tongue", meaning to say one thing and mean another or, in more general terms, to act in a duplicitous manner.

These postings will in order of latest first, present examples of the President of the United States, Barack Obama, saying one thing and either meaning or doing another, "in a deceitful and duplicitous manner".

While this doesn't yet fall under the split infinitive, it will. Espouser of free trade, President Obama must choose free trade or support for his financiers, the unions, in this case the United Steelworkers. Union bosses want tariffs to cut the supply of affordable tires from China to the United States consumer. 55% added to low-cost tires' prices. Union bosses see this as saving union jobs; estimates are that it would cost Americans betwen $300,000,000 and $600,00,000 in higher prices, affecting lower-income people mostly. American companies don't even make those tires, so American companies need time to gear up to manufacture the tires it quit making. Also estimated is that for every union job "saved" would cost 12 - 25 jobs of people distributing, selling and installing tires not immediately available. Obama can sign a Section 421 complaint filed by United Steelworkers' bosses or not. Stay tuned to mid-September.

Can lying be any worse than lying to your spouse? President Obama promised his wife, Michelle, that if she would allow him to run for the presidency, ("allow him"?) he would, promise, promise to quit smoking. Mr. Obama lied to his wife. He still smokes.

And speaking of smoking. Obama promised he will never tax anyone making under $250,000 (or was it $200,000) a year. Since slightly more than half of today's smokers (53%) earn less than $36,000 per year and Obama just spiked the federal tax on cigarettes he lied to America. Period!

Change was Obama's mantra to get elected. Clean up Washington of lobbyists and money changers. Change from President Bush's "politicization". That was the get-elected fork in his tongue. The actual fork in his tongue, proven in practice is reward those who paid for his election. Lobbyists are climbing all over his administration and Congress as is usual. "Change" was a lie. And what did his campaign-funders buy? Well certainly GM and Chrysler, but also ambassadorships. No matter experience in foreign policy, the money they brought to his campaign bought them what they wanted. ("The Ugly Ambassador" replayed.) The following nominees brought in at least $500,000 and most personally contributed the maximim legally allowed by law to the Obama Campaign, many bundled the maximum $300,000 to pay for the inauguration/coronation: Charles Rivkin bought France; Nicole Avant bought The Bahamas; Howard Gutman bought Belgium; Don Beyer bought Switzerland; Mathhew Barzun bought Sweden; Willima Eacho III bought Austria; Bruce Oreck bought Finland; Donald Gips bought South Africa; John Roos bought Japan, and Louis Susman bought the United Kingdom. Now these money changers have not been confirmed, only nominated by President "Change" Obama.

Back in the "stimulus" bill production rush, President Obama promised to "save or create" 3 million jobs if the "stimulus" was passed, along with stopping unemployment at a maximum of 8%. In the dark of night without reading it, Congress passed it for Obama's signature. The "simulus" was born. And his promise came from forked tongue. Today's unemployment, 9.5% is heading for over 10%. And today's (this is July 2009) jobs have shed 2,600,000 since passage of the "stimulus". Was it as Vice Presdient Biden said, that the administration "misread" the economy, or did he simply pick a couple numbers out of his ass that would sell stupid Congresspeople, or did he simply lie to us Americans. No matter, he was wrong, cruelly wrong.

6/17/2009: The Obama administration is declining to release documents that would identify visitors to the White House, embracing a legal position the Bush administration also took, according to a watchdog group (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) that filed a federal lawsuit over access to the records.
The group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed its lawsuit after being denied access to Secret Service records. Obama's refusal to release the records and his "pledge of transparency" indicate he speaketh with a forked tongue. [Newsmax.com: http://www.newsmax.com/insidecover/us_white_house_secrecy/2009/06/17/225751.html?s=al&promo_code=81B4-1]

June 15 or so, 2009: In drawing a curtain over "transparency" President Obama is protecting a friend and supporter of his, Kevin Johnson, a Democrat and mayor of Sacramento, CA, who plays basketball with our president. Obama did not follow Congress' own rules in firing Inspector General official Gerald Walpin. Walpin investigated, reported and was fired personally by Obama: Johnson used to run a nonprofit academy St. Hope which improperly used AmeriCorps recruits to recruit students to his academy, for politicking, to run and perform personal duties for Johnson, such as washing his car and driving him around, and doing bookkeeping for St. Hope. Johnson apparently settled for a small amount to run for mayor. And another is the Teaching Fellows Program, run by the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. Walpin's audit[www.cncsig.gov/AuditReports.html] uncovered myriad violations including duplicate awards of $16 million and costs of over $750,000. Walpin's directives were stonewalled by AmeriCorps' parent organization, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which is now chaired by, as a payoff to, Democratic Alan Solomont for political fund raising. AmeriCorps now is $6 billion in a bill signed by Obama in April. Obama is a political animal, Mr. Walpin is unemployed for being a "government-employed whistle-blower" and blowing the whistle on Obama's cronies.

(In an irony, the First Lady Obama ran the AmeriCorps-funded nonprofit Public Allies in Chicago from 1993-1996 and served on its national board. It, too, was investigated by the Inspector General's office and violated basic rules including a lack of internal controls over education grants and living allowances given to people not being legal citizens or permanent residents.)

June Eleventh: President Obama announces that he thinks taxpayers are stupid. He proposes to give the Congressional oxymoron, "PayGo" or "Pay-as-you-go" legal bindingness. This means other expenses need to be cut or taxes raised to pay for Congressional spending...well, except for roughly everything Congress spends. PayGo was promised and broken by Nancy Pelosi in 2006, 2007 and most egregiously in 2008 and this year. And as for Obama's current "promise" - PayGo doesn't include his $787,000,000,000 "stimulus" (Aka Relect Democrats) bill; or fiscal 2009's $3,500,000,000,000 budget with its record non-wartime deficit (13% of GNP); not Medicare (growing at 9.2% a year and being broke within less than a decade); how about discretionary spending? (Discretionary spending...isn't that, like, discretionary?) This 40% of the budget -- $1,400,00,00,00 -- doesn't count; a $2,000,000,000 subsidy to "poor people" -- aka hopefully Democratic voters -- for heating is not counted; the annual "fix" on the Democratic-passed Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) $576,000,000,00...not counted; the final insult to American tax-payers is that ObamaCare's $1,200,00,00,000 to $1,500,00,000,00 price tag isn't includable until AFTER the 2012 election. Mr. Obama still has the left-leaning media slurping at his every word and his "personal" approval is still high, because of his silver forked tongue!

(6/9/09) President Obama pushed on Congress his "Stimulus" bill, that I call the "Reelect Democrats in 2010 and Forever Bill" that would get America out of this recession. (Congress passed, but did not read, the bill.) The other side of his tongue admitted that only 5% or so of the dough would blow out in 2009 -- thus not helping much of anything except Democrats. But wait! Polls say a majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of federal spending. And since unemployment is growing, people aren't happy. (The bill was only $787,00,000,000.) And he promised he'd "create or save" 600,000 jobs his second magic hundred days in office vs. 150,000 "created or saved" the first 100. No matter that those numbers are uncountable. With those polls, he'll start writing the checks himself.

"What we are not doing, what I have no interest in doing, is running GM", President Obama said while he was taking control of GM.

During his presidental campaign, Mr. Obama vehemently opposed a healthcare mandate on individuals; and he savaged Sen. McCain for discussing taxing healthcare benefits derived from employers. Now is now and President Obama extends his "just joking" scenario to now being open to 1) "I am open to shared responsibilities" - mandates, but, of course with a
hardship waiver" however he will define that. And also on the table is taxing healthcare benefits derived from employers, but maybe only those which are "Cadillac plans" [since taken off the table it was put on, because most union-negotiated plans are, if nothing, Cadillacs.] Or maybe just the plans of "rich people".

In Cairo June 4, 2009, President Obama stated his commitment to "governments that reflect the will of the people". And "freedom to live as you choose", ummm democracy. But he's slashing Bush's support for democracy promotion. $30 million - 60% - in one program, $11 million in another. Several slots in his administration for "senior directorship for democracy" and "Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy..." among others won't be filled. And his man Robert Gates (Defense Secretary) stated that "if we set for ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla [democratic countries] over there, we will lose." In other words, Obama continues his rhetoric instead of acts. Forked.

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