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Archive → January 21st, 2016

Find Out How Much Obamacare Rates Increased in Your State

“We need to get government regulations out of the way,” Freedom Partners official Nathan Nascimento said. (Photo: Pete Souza/Zuma Press/Newscom)

Premiums under the Affordable Care Act will rise in nearly every state this year, spiking health insurance costs for nearly all Americans, according to a new report.

All states, with the exception of Mississippi, saw the cost of health insurance premiums increase for 2016. And in most states, Americans using Obamacare’s individual marketplace to purchase insurance saw premium costs rise by double digits.

Freedom Partners, a nonprofit organization advocating free markets and limited government, reported that four states—Minnesota, Alaska, Tennessee, and Hawaii—will be hit with average premium increases of 30 percent or more. Another 17 states will see spikes of at least 20 percent.

Nathan Nascimento, the group’s senior policy adviser, said a “sicker risk pool” coupled with Obamacare’s “onerous and crushing mandates” caused the across-the-board hikes.

“In many states, insurers are finding increased costs and burdensome mandates under the law to be unsustainable, and are exiting the marketplace altogether,” Nascimento told The Daily Signal, adding:

Others are facing a variety of harmful side effects of Obamacare, with young, healthy people opting out of coverage or finding their plans unaffordable and dropping out before the end of the year.

This state-by-state chart summarizes the group’s findings:

Graphic: Freedom Partners. Used with permission from Rebecca Coffman.

Graphic: Freedom Partners. Used with permission.

Americans living in Minnesota will be hurt the most, with premium costs expected to skyrocket nearly 48 percent, Freedom Partners’ “2016 Obamacare Premium Increase Tracker” found.

Alaska faces increases around 39 percent, Tennessee around 35 percent, and Hawaii around 30 percent.

The only state where premiums are expected to fall is Mississippi. Those who reside in the Magnolia State can expect a 0.2-percent drop.

Drew Gonshorowski, a senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation who tracks premium increases under Obamacare, said costs also may be rising because insurance companies initially priced their plans too low.

“Every year, historically, premiums have gone up a decent amount,”Gonshorowski told The Daily Signal. “But in these cases, a lot of this has to do with some insurers coming into the market a little lower than what they had thought was reasonable and now they’re trying to recoup losses.”

He also attributed the premium increases to individuals who enrolled in the insurance exchanges while less healthy than insurers predicted.

“There is some evidence that utilization is up from this population, and if people use their health insurance more, or use their health providers more, it costs the insurers more,” Gonshorowski said.

It also causes insurance companies to pay out more than anticipated, he said, so they have to raise premiums to compensate for the losses.

The biggest issue with the Affordable Care Act, he said, is that the law puts restrictions on how insurers can price plans in the market.

“A repeal of the ACA would take away these restrictions,” Gonshorowski said. “They would allow insurers to price more flexibly and actually price to the cost of their enrollees. The evidence shows that that would bring premiums down.”

Nascimento said that although repealing the health care law would “eliminate the excessive mandates and regulations” spurring premium increases, a repeal alone would not be enough to fix the health care system:

We need to see further free-market reforms to truly lower costs for all Americans. Broadly, we need to get government regulations out of the way and truly reform how health care is delivered by eliminating barriers to care and unshackling providers.

But it isn’t just premiums that are increasing. Gonshorowski said that based on his own research with Heritage, the cost of deductibles also is rising.

He said the best thing Americans who are facing more expensive health care costs can do is shop around on the marketplace to look for cheaper options.

“It really does seem like the plans that captured market share are interested in increasing prices for people,” the Heritage policy analyst said.

Source: Will County News

Republicans Battle to Roll Back Washington’s New Transgender Bathroom Rules

“There is broad based support to repeal this rule and it transcends political ideology, makeup, identification,” Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen said. (Photo: iStock Photo)

OLYMPIA, Wash.—Pressure is mounting at the state capitol for lawmakers to undo a divisive new rule that allows transgender individuals to use bathrooms, locker rooms, and other gender-segregated facilities of the sex the individuals identify as being.

“People don’t understand the magnitude of the rules that they’re making,” Jill Wade, a mother of two from Spanaway, Wash., told The Daily Signal. “Nobody had any idea that any public meetings were going on because they weren’t on their site.”

Wade is part of a group of conservative Christians working to inform the public about the new rules and pressure lawmakers to scale them back. If more people knew about the rules, Wade believes, more people would be fighting against them.

The rules, which were quietly adopted by the state’s Human Rights Commission on Dec. 26, apply to schools and businesses—both public and private—with eight or more employees.

 

The Human Rights Commission, which is tasked with handling discrimination complaints in the state, branded the rules as an update or clarification to Washington’s 2006 anti-discrimination law. While intended to protect transgender individuals from discrimination, some feel that the updates came at the expense of others’ personal privacy and comfort.

Already, two Republican state legislators, Sen. Doug Ericksen and Rep. Graham Hunt, are working to reverse the regulations through legislative action.

On Wednesday at the state capitol, they explained how they plan to do so.

Correcting a ‘Grave Oversight’

Ericksen, a Republican senator from Bellingham, Wash., told The Daily Signal that he plans to introduce a “simple” one-paragraph proposal that would immediately repeal the rules drawn up by the Human Rights Commission. His proposal would also ban the agency from “initiating” any further rules regarding transgender individuals’ use of sex-segregated facilities.

With his bill, Ericksen aims to leave sensitive decisions about the use of sex-segregated facilities by transgender individuals to local businesses, schools, and communities.

“Isn’t that a unique thought, that individual businesses, individual school districts can make the choices that are best for them?” Ericksen sarcastically asked.

State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, chair of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. (Photo: Kelsey Harkness/Daily Signal)

State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, chair of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. (Photo: Kelsey Harkness/Daily Signal)

His policy is “not an issue of being scared,” Ericksen said, but rather, a way of adhering to “societal expectations.”

“I believe that when I drop my kids off at school, or when I take them to a private gym, I have a right to expect that the men will use the men’s locker room and the women will use the women’s locker room,” he said. “I shouldn’t have to worry about my young daughters having to come face to face with things that they should not have to be exposed to at their age.”

Ericksen has hopes to pass his one-paragraph bill through the Republican-controlled Senate before Washington’s legislative session ends on March 10—with at least some bipartisan support.

“There is broad based support to repeal this rule and it transcends political ideology, makeup, identification,” Ericksen said. “People can read it in 30 seconds, and we can correct a grave overstep by a government agency.”

‘Preventing This From Happening Again’

Rep. Graham Hunt, a conservative from Orting, Wash., wants to go even farther in correcting what he also considers a “grave overstep by a government agency.”

“Repealing is great because it undoes what happened,” Hunt told The Daily Signal minutes before dropping his own bill addressing the updated rules. “But I don’t think it preserves or protects to prevent this from happening again in another way.”

On Wednesday at the state capitol, Hunt introduced a bill that bans transgender individuals from using bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, or saunas if such individuals are “preoperative, nonoperative, or otherwise [have] genitalia of a different gender from that for which the facility is segregated.”

“I’ve tried to make this about the genitalia,” Hunt said bluntly. “If you don’t have the parts…if you don’t have the plumbing, then you don’t go in.”

The legislation includes exceptions for parents and caretakers of minors or persons with disabilities, and enforcement, he said, “would be complaint driven.”

Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting, is a small business owner, veteran and a state representative. (Photo: Kelsey Harkness/Daily Signal)

Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting, is a small business owner, veteran and a state representative. (Photo: Kelsey Harkness/Daily Signal)

In a Democrat-controlled House, Hunt admits he faces an uphill battle.

On Wednesday, Hunt introduced the legislation with the support of 34 members “and counting”—but none of them was a Democrat.

Specifically, he said, one is standing in the way.

Standstill

In order for his bill to reach the House floor, Hunt must first pass the measure through the Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by state Rep. Laurie Jinkins.

According to Hunt, Jinkins, an openly gay Democrat from Tacoma, Wash., is blocking the measure from coming to a committee vote, refusing to even hold a public hearing on the bill.

“At this point, we just frankly don’t agree,” Hunt said. “She believes my bill is offensive to the transgender community, and I said that I think the [Washington Administrative Code] is offensive to the non-transgender community.”

Jinkins declined to speak with The Daily Signal about this story.

According to Hunt, Jinkins fears that allowing a hearing on the issue would be overtly “political.”

Hunt took issue with that notion, arguing there’s no better place to take up the issue than in “the people’s house.”

“How can you say the legislature—the people’s house—is not the place to have an open discussion? How can you say that?” Hunt asked. “What else are we here to do—make decisions for the people without their input? That’s not a representative form of government.”

Absent an influx of calls into Jinkins’ office from people concerned about the regulations, Hunt said his bill won’t stand a shot in this legislative session. In the long term, however, he has more hope.

At the end of a meeting on Wednesday, Hunt said he and Jinkins were able to reach an agreement to find “middle ground” in the coming months.

“What she has agreed to is having some sessions during the interim to try to find middle ground,” Hunt said. “I’m happy that she said some middle ground could be found, it’s just not going to be during the 60-day session.”

If that falls through, then Hunt said it’s up to Washington “to make a change with our vote.”

“If there’s not a hearing and they’re not allowed the opportunity to be a part of the conservation, then we make the change with our vote. And if you don’t vote, you’re not going to have a change. That’s what representatives are ultimately accountable to…the vote.”

Source: Will County News

Planned Parenthood Abuses the Law to Stop Dissent

Planned Parenthood Abuses the Law to Stop Dissent

(Photo: Andrew Kelly/Reuters/Newscom)

Last year, a number of academics penned a letter to the Obama administration demanding a criminal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation into those who disagree with man-made global warming, following the lead of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.

As we wrote at the time, this would be an abuse of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law—a law designed to go after organized crime, such as drug cartels and the Mafia.

Well, as the late, great New York Yankee Yogi Berra once quipped, “it’s déjà vu all over again.”

This time, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates (the nation’s largest abortion provider, which is government-subsidized) are now trying to use RICO to sue various individuals and organizations who helped expose the attempted sale of fetal body parts for cash by various Planned Parenthood employees. Planned Parenthood has denied any wrongdoing.

In case you haven’t seen the video, take a look. What is on that video hasspurred Congress to investigate Planned Parenthood and given rise to fresh calls to defund the abortion provider.

But rather than handle what’s actually on the video, Planned Parenthood is suing, claiming, among other things, that the undercover videographers violated RICO and federal wiretapping laws. This is an attempt to divert attention from the horrific and potentially illegal acts of Planned Parenthood.

As in the global warming case, this attempted use of RICO also raises serious First Amendment concerns—all the more so because this use of RICO is specifically targeting media activity.

This use of RICO could backfire, for multiple reasons.

First, this case brings to mind the RICO case of National Organization of Women v. Scheidler. There were multiple legal issues in that case, but it involved similar plaintiffs (a pro-abortion group, NOW) and defendants (anti-abortion protesters), and a similar set of facts (the use of RICO to intimidate pro-lifers engaged in fundamental First Amendment activity). After a 28-year legal saga and three trips to the Supreme Court, the pro-life group won over $60,000 from the pro-abortion group, NOW.

Planned Parenthood’s tactic and misuse of the RICO law could also backfire because its legal theory of RICO is incredibly broad and could harm all sorts of advocacy groups in the future.

The theory is that the videographers who caught Planned Parenthood red-handed violated RICO because they intended to harm Planned Parenthood’s business and because their video caused Planned Parenthood to have to spend money on security and other things. But if this legal theory were correct, RICO could apply to routine corporate intelligence and marketing decisions, or the undercover work done by reporters all over the country. CBS’ “60 Minutes” made its reputation with such work.

Often, private businesses choose where to locate a new store based on a desire to harm competitors. One restaurant chain might choose to park next door to a competitor not only to capture the consumers, but also to force the competitor to spend time and money responding to the new business threat. This is not to say that such harm to a business can’t count under RICO if there is other evidence of “racketeering activity,” and certainly, there is a point at which such behavior could might raise questions under the antitrust laws.

But simply causing economic harm to a business by doing something otherwise legal, such as exposing illegal action, cannot qualify under RICO. If it did, everyone from Fox News to MSNBC and other news outlets would be on the hook. PETA would be on the hook. So would a host of other advocacy groups.

It cannot possibly be that Planned Parenthood hopes to actually win the lawsuit. More likely, they hope to harass the whistleblowers, making this a perfect case for California’s anti-SLAPP law, at least with respect to the California state law claims.

Anti-SLAPP laws are intended to stop vexatious lawsuits of this type whose only intent is to shut up the other side. Another reason for Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit strategy may to be give friendly media outlets an ability to stop having to justify the unjustifiable conduct exposed in the videos and go on the offensive—”let’s not talk about the videos; let’s talk about how they obtained the footage!”

Hopefully the lawsuit will be quickly dismissed, and not drag on for 28 years!

Source: Will County News