Tennessee: Where it pays to go to prison?

Tennessee: Where it pays to go to prison?

The first video in our Pork Report video series chronicles unemployment benefits that wrongfully went to government workers, felons, and dead people in Tennessee.

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July 23rd, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Tennessee Stories

Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My! Medicaid Expansion Scare Tactics Exposed

Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My! Medicaid Expansion Scare Tactics Exposed

When all else fails (you know, when common sense and principled solutions are incongruent with your collectivist message) the political strategy of the Left defaults to scare tactics and misinformation. Lately, we’ve seen this amplified by pundits and progressives who are eager to connect hospital closings across the country to the failure of those states to expand Medicaid.

Unfortunately for them, the facts are clear: with or without Medicaid expansion dollars, hospitals have largely been, and continue to be, rent-seeking, poorly managed, and unaccountable entities that are the root of their own demise. Yet, as Gov. Haslam remains resolved to deflect federal pressures to outright expand Medicaid and instead seek alternative solutions, a recent Metro Pulse article seizes on the opportunity to misconstrue the facts and lead Tennesseans to believe that Medicaid expansion is the only saving grace for troubled hospitals.

Among the many errant claims made by the Metro Pulse contributor is the entirely false suggestion that Tennessee’s failure to accept federal Medicaid expansion funds means other states are getting “our free federal dollars.” As Politifact’s earlier investigation reported, “Each state that opts in gets federal money based on the number of new Medicaid enrollees it signs up, regardless of what happens in other states.”

While it’s admittedly troubling to see hospitals struggle or shut their doors, it’s not the responsibility of taxpayers to come to their rescue. Rather, these hospitals should first look at their internal expenditures before asking Tennesseans for help to pay their bills. Often, hospitals misappropriate funds on high-salaried lobbyists and third-party associations, rather than spending revenue on patient-driven services.

For example, a recent analysis by Virginia’s Watchdog.org revealed the following pesky little facts: 

  • The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association paid its president, Laurens Sartoris, $553,082 in 2011. The industry lobbying group’s top three executives earned more than $1 million combined that year, the latest year for which data is available.
  • A recent study found that up to 39 percent of health-care spending could be eliminated without harming consumers or reducing quality of care at hospitals.

The Left’s arguments sounds remarkably similar to some other misguided assertions we were fed not long ago. Does “too big to fail” ring a bell? The same scare tactics employed to justify the bailouts of Fanny and Freddy are eerily similar to the ones being employed in debate over Medicaid expansion—their “bailout” solution for mismanaged hospitals. Let’s not go there again.

-Lindsay Boyd

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July 23rd, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News

Rapid Response: Is Obamacare a Sinking Ship?

Rapid Response: Is Obamacare a Sinking Ship?

When Congress was scrambling to pass Obamacare back in 2010, they certainly made some missteps in the nearly 1,000 pages of text. One such misstep was to limit subsidies that Americans can receive for purchasing health insurance to plans purchased “through an exchange established by the state.” A smug president and Congress assumed that all states would set up their own exchanges—local Healthcare.gov type sites—so there would be no cause for concern.

But now there is. Numerous states, including our own, accurately concluded that setting up a state exchange would be too costly and the strings attached by the federal government not worth the headache. So they left the Obama administration to set up its own exchanges in the states, where some 4.5 million Americans have now purchased health insurance.

Back to that phrase about “exchange established by the state.” According to the plain language of the law, those purchasing insurance through a federal exchange do not qualify for subsidies, because the federal government is not at all a “state.” Despite the clear wording, the Obama administration realized the mistake and quickly acted to “correct” it via a unilateral rule passed by the IRS.

In today’s decision, the D.C. Court of Appeals sided with common sense and the letter of the law, ruling that no subsidies can flow through federally-created exchanges like the one in Tennessee, and repudiating the executive branch’s attempts to just re-write laws duly passed by Congress.

This means that without the subsidies, many of those purchasing insurance through Healthcare.gov cannot afford coverage, and may drop their plan altogether and pay the fine instead. The ability of the Obama administration to hook millions of Americans onto Obamacare relies considerably on the carrot represented by these subsidies. Without that carrot, enrollees simply get the stick.

This isn’t the end of the road, but it’s a severe blow for Obamacare, and it has far greater implications for the future of the law than even the Hobby Lobby case a few weeks ago. The appellate court’s full panel can review the case and possibly overturn the ruling, but the decision definitely increases the probability that this issue will wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. If the high court does its job, it will uphold the plain language of the statute, striking down the IRS rule. Let’s hope “what we meant to say was…” is not accepted as a viable excuse for one branch unilaterally changing the law passed by another. If it is, we have even bigger problems on our hands than Obamacare.

-Justin Owen 


July 22nd, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News

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