Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's Just Another New Year's Eve By Barry Manilow

From the 1991 video Barry Manilow: Because It's Christmas

Phillips Philes Cites Commercials Of 2013

Most Memorable Commercial - Geico Insurance - Hump Day Camel Commerical "Happier Than A Camel On Wednesday" With Chris Sullivan as the voice of the Camel - May 22, 2013

Best Demonstration Commercials - Swiffer - Morty and Lee Kaufman - July 1, 2013
Swiffer Sweeper - July 1, 2013
Swiffer WetJet - July 1, 2013

Best Good Example Commercials - Values.com Foundation For A Better Life - Pass It On

Best Comeback After A Natural Disaster Commercial - New Jersey: Stronger Than The Storm - May 16, 2013

Best Commercial With A Celebrity - Nutrisystem - Melissa Joan Hart: The Magic Of Nutrisystem - July 31, 2013

Best Return Commerical - Campbell Soup - Let It Snow

Best 'Damsel In Distress' Commercial - PC Matic: Back to Work - December 3, 2013

Sunday, December 15, 2013

JPMorgan Chase deal with DOJ may funnel money to liberal advocacy group By Trace Gallagher

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/12/09/jpmorgan-chase-deal-with-doj-may-funnel-money-to-liberal-advocacy-group/

New details in the settlement between the Justice Department and JPMorgan Chase have revealed the deal may lead to money being funneled toward a liberal advocacy group, Fox News’ Trace Gallagher reported Monday on “The Kelly File.”

The banking giant agreed to pay the DOJ a record $13 billion to settle state and federal civil lawsuits over faulty mortgage bonds last month. The settlement states that $9 billion of the funds will go toward the lawsuits and the other $4 billion will be allocated for consumer relief.

However, the deal also states that any remaining money from that $4 billion will go to NeighborWorks of America, a liberal group that provides affordable housing and helps fund community organizers.

Critics say some of the community organizers sponsored by NeighborWorks are in the same vein as ACORN, the community organizing group busted in 2010 in a voter fraud scandal.

Fox News’ senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano slammed the deal, saying the Obama administration is funneling the funds to liberal causes.

“This is an utter perversion of justice,” he said, “for the federal government to extort billions of dollars from the second-largest bank in the United States and give it away to the president’s political friends and favorite political causes.”

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Hello, Again!

Hi Everyone, It has been a while since I have posted here. I have been busy trying to get some personal things done, and not spending a lot of time blogging, going on Facebook, etc. It never goes as fast as you want, but I keep on trucking. In the meantime, I try to get what I can get done when I can. Working two jobs (although I only consider the "day job" a job), getting an average of five hours of sleep a day, and doing one job or the other every day of the week (four days doing both) makes it rough. With the state of the economy and most people having financial issues, I speak on behalf of many. Even though I am off from the "day job" until December 10, I am trying my best of not being so on-the-go. It is hard, but I will get adequate rest, at some point. Regardless of which holiday(s) you celebrate, I wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season. May 2014 be your best year yet. Take care! William N. Phillips, Jr. "Bill" Phillips Philes founder

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Advertisers...Don't Fire Santa Claus! By Erin Reilly

Ugh. My first post. The pressure to amuse and entertain is giving me hives. Not really, but if saying that gives you an unpleasant picture than I have succeeded. ;)

As I look around there are many, MANY things going on outside my window that cause me great frustration. Whether it'd be the neighbor not picking up their dogs' waste, drivers who take my Jedi skills for granted (please, no need to signal, of course I knew you were turning there), or that when I wake up Obama is still President. Even with those delights on the buffet table of daily annoyances, one thing that I can count on to really twist my under-roos is that TV ads are killing Santa. Let me digress...

As a child, before I put the emphasis of Christmas where my Irish Catholic guilt reminds me it need be, I was a soldier in Santa's army. Truth be told that during the months of January-November I may not have been the epitomy of a golden child, but I'd be damned if come December 1st my name crossed over to the naughty side of Santa's list. But now here I sit, a few decades later, with children of my own, gulping down my wine in fear that my spawn will put the connection together..."Mommy? Why is Target telling parents to shop there for Christmas toys? Why is Walmart telling you that the place to get all your Christmas gifts is with them? " And Toy R Us????? I have no comment.

Contrary to popular belief, not many things get past me; some days it's just easier to play possum. So yes, I understand capitalism. I understand what the holiday "spirit" does to the once almighty dollar. I get it. But with our children's innocence being stripped away on a day to day basis, can't we just try to set aside a schmidge of belief for good 'ole Saint Nick? I mean, think about Rudolph, think about Mrs. Claus and oh my Heavens THE ELVES, not to mention the parents damn it! We feed your need to make $$! Show some love and STOP KILLING SANTA CLAUS! Try to embrace your childhood memories of sitting on Santa's lap, and for those of the non Christian faith, think about the beauty of the season. Putting Santa in the unemployment line would take a great deal of that away (and your Christmas bonus).

Santa gets one gig a year, let the poor guy Ho Ho Ho and eat his cookies.

Monday, November 18, 2013

R.S.C.'s The American Health Care Reform Act: A Better Way

Source: http://rsc.scalise.house.gov/solutions/rsc-betterway.htm

Full List Of Cosponsors 
*Original Cosponsors 

*Rep. Roe (TN-01)
*Rep. Scalise (LA-01)   
*Rep. Price (GA-06)
*Rep. Fleming (LA-04)
*Rep. Gosar (AZ-04)
*Rep. Blackburn (TN-07)
*Rep. Ellmers (NC-02)
*Rep. Rokita (IN-04)
Rep.Amodei (NV-02)
Rep. Bachmann (MN-06)
Rep. Barletta (PA-11)
Rep. Barton (TX-06)
Rep. Bentivolio (MI-11)
Rep. Bilirakis (FL-12)
Rep. Black (TN-06)
Rep. Boustany (LA-03)
Rep. Bridenstine (OK-01)
Rep. Brooks (AL-05)
Rep. Bucshon (IN-08)
Rep. Capito (WV-2)
Rep. Chabot (OH-01)


Rep. Cole (OK-04)
Rep. Collins (NY-27)
Rep. Cook (CA-08)
Rep. Cotton (AR-04)
Rep. Culberson (TX-07)
Rep. Cramer (ND at large)
Rep. DesJarlais (TN-04)
Rep. Duffy (Wi-07)
Rep. Duncan (SC-03)
Rep. Fincher (TN-08)
Rep. Fleischmann (TN-03)
Rep. Flores (TX-17)
Rep. Fortenberry (NE-01)
Rep. Foxx (NC-05)
Rep. Franks (AZ-08)
Rep. Gardner (CO-04)
Rep. Gibbs (OH-07)
Rep. Gingrey (GA-11)
Rep. Goodlatte (VA-06)
Rep. Gowdy (SC-04)
Rep. Graves (GA-14)


Rep. Griffin (AR-02)
Rep. Guthrie (KY-2)
Rep. Harper (MS-03)
Rep. Harris (MD-01)
Rep. Hartzler (MO-04)
Rep. Hensarling (TX-5)
Rep. Holding (NC-13)
Rep. Hudson (NC-08)
Rep. Huelskamp (KS-01)
Rep. Huizenga (MI-02)
Rep. Hunter (CA-50)
Rep. Jenkins (KS-02)
Rep. Jordan (OH-04)
Rep. Kelly (PA-03)
Rep. Kingston (GA-01)
Rep. LaMalfa (CA-01)
Rep. Lamborn (CO-05)
Rep. Long (MO-07)
Rep. Luetkemeyer (MO-03)
Rep. Lummis (WY at large)
Rep. Marino (PA-10)
Rep. Meadows (NC-11)

   Rep. McCaul (TX-10)
Rep. McClintock (CA-04)
Rep. McHenry (NC-10)
Rep. McKinley (WV-01)
Rep. Marchant (TX-24)
Rep. Messer (IN-06)
Rep. Miller (FL-01)
Rep. Mullin (OK-02)
Rep. Mulvaney (SC-05)
Rep. Noem (SD at large)
Rep. Nunnelee (MS-01)
Rep. Olson (TX-22)
Rep. Palazzo (MS-04)
Rep. Pearce (NM-02)
 Rep. Perry (PA-04)
Rep. Pittenger (NC-09)
Rep. Radel (FL-19)
Rep. Ribble (WI-8)
Rep. Roskam (IL-06)
Rep. Ross (FL-15)
Rep. Rothfus (PA-12)
Rep. Salmon (AZ-05) 

   Rep. Scott (GA-8)
Rep. Sessions (TX-32)
Rep. Simpson (ID-02)
Rep. Smith (TX-21)
Rep. Southerland (FL-02)
Rep. Stewart (UT-02)
Rep. Stivers (OH-15)
Rep. Stockman (TX-36)
Rep. Stutzman (IN-03)
Rep. Thompson (PA-5) 
Rep. Thornberry (TX-13)
Rep. Wagner (MO-02)
Rep. Walberg (MI-07)
Rep. Weber (TX-14)
Rep. Wenstrup (OH-02)
Rep. Westmoreland (GA-03)
Rep. Williams (TX-25)
Rep. Wilson (SC-02)
Rep. Wittman (VA-01)
Rep. Woodall (GA-07)
Rep. Womack (AR-03) 
Rep. Yoder (KS-03)

The centuries-old oath taken by health care professionals reads, “Do no harm.”  It is time for Washington lawmakers to take a similar approach when working to fix the problems that exist in our broken health care system.  Simply repealing the President's health care law is not enough—it must be replaced.

Conservatives recognize that patient-centered reforms rooted in free markets are the best way to lower costs and solve problems in our health care system.  That is why the Republican Study Committee (RSC) is proud to bring forward a pragmatic, practical, and portable free-market alternative to the current health care system.  Simply put, our bill is a better way forward. Specifically, H.R. 3121, the RSC's American Health Care Reform Act:
  • Fully repeals President Obama's health care law, eliminating billions in taxes and thousands of pages of unworkable regulations and mandates that are driving up health care costs. 
  • Spurs competition to lower health care costs by allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines and enabling small businesses to pool together and get the same buying power as large corporations.
  • Reforms medical malpractice laws in a commonsense way that limits trial lawyer fees and non-economic damages while maintaining strong protections for patients.
  • Provides tax reform that allows families and individuals to deduct health care costs, just like companies, leveling the playing field and providing all Americans with a standard deduction for health insurance.
  • Expands access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), increasing the amount of pre-tax dollars individuals can deposit into portable savings accounts to be used for health care expenses.
  • Safeguards individuals with pre-existing conditions from being discriminated against purchasing health insurance by bolstering state-based high risk pools and extending HIPAA guaranteed availability protections.
  • Protects the unborn by ensuring no federal funding of abortions.

Repeal and Replace Obamacare: It's Time for Reform 

Obamacare is a train-wreck full of broken promises that is increasing health care costs and interfering with the doctor patient relationship. Obamacare must be stopped. We recently sat down with Americans from across the country to ask their opinions of Obamacare and how it is affecting them in the workplace. 

There is a better way to the one-size-fits-all approach of Obamacare. That is why the Republican Study Committee (RSC) isproud to bring forward a pragmatic, practical, and portable free-market alternative to the current health care system without the unworkable taxes and mandates forced on American families through the President’s health care law.  

 What They Are Saying About the American Health Care Reform Act 

 “I would urge all Congressmen to co-sponsor and vote for this pro-taxpayer bill.  This legislation is perfectly consistent with The Taxpayer Protection Pledge, and is a quantum leap forward for both health and tax policy.”
– Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
 "On balance, the RSC plan builds on what has made American health care unique and a step ahead of all the rest. It would reinvigorate competition based on value—that is, competition focused not only on reducing costs but also on increasing quality and benefit—and would encourage innovation. Those are the characteristics that, in the past, have led others around the world to look to America for the highest quality care." 

– Nina Owcharenko, Director, Center for Health Policy Studies: The Heritage Foundation 
 “Such a shift toward portability in coverage would better align tax policy with today’s dynamic workforce and help to expand insurance options by providing financial flexibility directly to individuals and families...I hope the tax and fiscal provisions of the American Health Care Reform Act are quickly adopted into law.  NTU applauds you for your dedication to repealing Obamacare and implementing those important reforms.” 

– Brandon Arnold, Vice President of Government Affairs, National Taxpayers Union
 “On behalf of Americans for Prosperity’s two million activists across this country, I applaud you for introducing the American Health Care Reform Act…Americans for Prosperity is encouraged by efforts to repeal ObamaCare and finally move towards a free-market health care system.”

Christine Hanson, Federal Affairs Manager, Americans for Prosperity
 "With Obamacare failing on virtually all fronts this is a truly well thought out legislative solution in an effort to fix what's broke, preserve what's right and enhance quality, access and affordability for millions of Americans, particularly the elderly. 60 Plus enthusiastically endorses your proposals."
- Jim Martin, Chairman, 60 Plus Association 
 "A constant trope of the left, repeated yet again by President Obama, is that the right doesn't have alternatives to Obamacare -- that they just care about cost, that they want to take healthcare away, that they don't care about helping people or providing real solutions to the problems that beset out health care system even before the Affordable Care Act passed. And if you ask if people who don't yet support repealing the ACA why not, even if they don't like it, it is because they see no other options. It is critical that opponents of this law -- which will do so much to harm medical care and the choices and innovation we used to take for granted -- put forth a range of reform bills that expand choice and personal control, reduce costs, ensure access, and maintain and enhance the quality of medical care in this country." 

- Heather Higgins, President and CEO, Independent Women's Voice
 “Chairman Scalise and Dr. Roe have developed, with their RSC colleagues, a package of key health reform initiatives that move us toward a system that would put doctors and patients, not remote bureaucracies, in charge of medical decisions.  Giving people more choices of portable health coverage would stimulate innovation in both insurance and medical care.  This competition would drive down costs and make coverage accessible to millions more Americans.  This is the right vision for health reform”

 - Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute (for identification purposes only)

Outside Support

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Americans for Tax Reform
Americans for Prosperity
National Taxpayers Union
60 Plus Association
Hispanic Leadership Fund
Independent Women's Voice 


Susan B. Anthony List 
Republican Governors Association
Louisiana State Medical Society 
Alliance of Health Care
Sharing Ministries
Christian Coalition of America 
Association of Mature
American Citizens
Indiana State Medical Association

The Conservative Coalition 
Christian Medical Association 
Council for Citizens Against
Government Waste 
Taxpayers Protection Alliance 
Patten and Associates 
In the News

Daily Caller: Conservative Republicans: Support for Obamacare alternative building momentum

Forbes: Obamacare Will Wreck U.S. Taxpayers, So Here's Another Plan 

The Foundry: RSC Health Care Reform: Another Step in the Right Direction 

Daily Caller:  REVEALED: The GOP’s NEW plan to repeal, replace Obamacare

The Hill:  Conservatives in House unveil ObamaCare replacement bill

AP:  House Conservatives Back 'Obamacare' Alternative

Free Beacon: Republicans Put Forward Obamacare Replacement 

National Review:  The Republican Replacement 

Bloomberg: A Serious Republican Health Care Plan 

Washington Times: House Republicans file, promote an alternative to Obamacare 

NewsMax: Rep. Scalise: GOP Option to Remove 'Perverse Incentives' 

Fox News: House conservatives submit bill to replace 'ObamaCare,' amid 'defund' fight

Slate: A Republican Explains Why Delaying Obamacare for a Year Would Give Everyone Clarity

The Advocate: GOP unveils 'Obamacare' alternative 

National Journal: Republican Alternative to Obamacare Relies on Repeal 

The Mercury: Rep. Joe Pitts: A Better Way than Obamacare. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mount Laurel author pens a book to show children the joy of giving By Barbara S. Rothschild

Source: http://www.burlingtoncountytimes.com/life-style/local-feature/mount-laurel-author-pens-a-book-to-show-children-the/article_a2fbc7c3-e2ce-59b7-9f15-b08c742854c9.html

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lynn Taylor Gordon is staring at the photo of a gobbler named Martha and deciding that this fowl, rescued from a live market before Thanksgiving 2012, is the one she wants to sponsor this year through an online “Adopt a Turkey” program providing sanctuary to animals who might otherwise become holiday dinner.

“Something about her is calling to me,” the Mount Laurel animal activist said. It’s just one manifestation of Gordon’s passion for saving the world a step at a time. It’s a message she is spreading this season with the publication of her first book, “Gracie’s Night: A Hanukkah Story,” centered around the Jewish holiday of miracles that begins on Thanksgiving eve this year.

“Gracie’s Night” began as a tale for Gordon’s own three children more than a decade ago and is now a whimsically illustrated children’s book with messages for adults, too.

“The star of the story is not Hanukkah — it’s compassion. The book is about love, caring and being a miracle for somebody,” Gordon said.

Set in the 1950s, “Gracie’s Night” has as its heroine a New York City teen who works at Macy’s so she can buy her widowed father gifts for each night of Hanukkah, the holiday that celebrates an ancient victory over oppressors and the miraculous burning of oil for eight nights when there was really only enough to last for one. But Gracie gives all the fine gifts away to a homeless man living in a cardboard box, without leaving a clue to who she is.

It’s a parable for the Jewish tenets of tzedakah and tikkunolam — giving to charity and repairing the world through social action. “There is no dialogue with the man in the box. Giving anonymously is the highest form of giving,” Gordon said.

The pescatarian, who is also a certified yoga instructor and stages homes for sale, started the story of Gracie for her youngsters, now in their 20s, when they were attending Mount Laurel public schools.

“We’d have a Gracie’s night during Hanukkah when we didn’t get presents ourselves, but we’d find someone in need — maybe by going to a school counselor who knew of somebody — and bring in gifts for them,” Gordon said. She would purchase the gifts and the counselors would distribute them anonymously, just as Gracie did.

Said middle child Brooke Gordon, 22, a graduate student studying speech pathology at LaSalle University, “ ‘Gracie’s Night’ showed me at a young age that there are people to think about other than yourself. Now that I know how easy it is, I find myself giving back more often than just one night a year.”

Gordon, 53, began practicing yoga for its physical and spiritual aspects. “It aligns with how I want to live my life, helping get in touch with the inner self and knowing generally what is more important and less important.”

That same philosophy also drew her to prepare homes for market by filling empty spaces with vibrant furnishings. “Yoga is solitary, and I wanted another aspect of creativity that gets me in touch with people,” she said.

Gordon, whose family attends Adath Emanu-El in Mount Laurel, recalled growing up in Northeast Philadelphia as culturally Jewish but not as observant as her husband, David, her best friend in high school before the couple began dating at Temple University.

She based Gracie’s story in part on her own childhood, which included sharing a home with her Yiddish-speaking maternal grandmother and jumping up and down when her father, a Philadelphia bus driver, returned from work in his Eisenhower-style jacket, cap and shield. Gracie’s papa drives a New York bus and wears the same kind of uniform.

Nothing is coincidental in the tale. Gordon even priced the book at $18 because the number 18 stands for chai, or life, in the Hebrew lexicon.

An advertising major at Temple, Gordon worked as a copywriter and freelanced while raising her children. She also began writing at her kitchen table, with “Gracie’s Night” one of several children’s stories she has penned. Unable to find a publisher and especially determined to spread Gracie’s message, she created her own publishing company, Cookie & Nudge Books, and sought out professional editors to mentor her.

She found an illustrator in Texas and a Macy’s historian to supply details about the famed department store where Gracie works. Illustrator Laura Brown isn’t Jewish but was receptive to Gordon’s descriptions. For example, the Hanukkah potato pancakes known as latkes needed to look fluffier, Gordon explained, and Brown obliged. From Rachelle Stern, Macy’s in-house historian, Gordon and Brown gleaned details such as how Macy’s shopping bags looked during the 1950s.

Macy’s has agreed to mount a display featuring her book at its flagship store at Manhattan’s Herald Square, Gordon said. She hopes Gracie becomes a mass-market ragdoll, based on one she had made to order by an Etsy crafter. Her publishing website is full of Gracie-centered children’s activities. And, she said, it’s possible there will be more Gracie books.

But on this Hanukkah, as Gordon helps save a turkey, she’ll be thankful to share Gracie with others and inspire them, in turn, to show compassion and make miracles happen during this most giving season.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

No, David Axelrod, The 'Vast Majority of People In This Country' Are Not Keeping Their Plan By Chris Conover

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/10/30/no-david-axelrod-the-vast-majority-of-people-in-this-country-are-not-keeping-their-plan/

Former senior advisor to President Obama, David Axelrod said earlier this week that “the vast majority of people in this country are keeping their plan.”  I suppose one could interpret this as a tacit admission that at least for those not in the vast majority, Obamacare violates President Obama’s June 15, 2009 promise that If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”  But the sad reality is that David Axelrod himself also is dead wrong: it’s more accurate to say that the president’s pledge will be shattered for a solid majority of Americans with private health insurance coverage.

More precisely, of the 189 million Americans with private health insurance coverage, I estimate that  if Obamacare is fully implemented, at least 129 million (68%) will not be able to keep their previous health care plan either because they already have or will lose that coverage by the end of 2014. This includes:

  • 9.2 to 15.4 million in the non-group market (my chart uses the lower of these figures)
  • 16.6 million in the small group market
  • 102.7 million in the large group market

Most of these are individuals involuntarily forced to purchase expensive add-ons to their existing plans. But included among these are the many millions now having their non-group policies cancelled along with 9 to 35 million who will lose their existing employer-provided plans entirely. Most admittedly will find other coverage, yet out of this group, 1.5 million will become uninsured, along with 2.3 million from the non-group market who likewise become uninsured because they simply cannot afford the expensive Obamacare upgrades. In short, the “vast majority” are not keeping their health plans. Statements to the contrary are flatly untrue.


Here’s how I reach those conclusions.


What Does it Mean to Keep Your Health Plan?

As reported by Bloomberg News:

“I keep playing that over and over in my head: that you can keep your health plan, period,” said Terri Flay, a Manassas, Virginia, woman whose policy is being canceled, referring to Obama’s pledge. “But it isn’t ‘period.’ They put a gun to my head saying that I have to pay more because I need the health-care insurance.”

I’m hoping all readers can agree that for people in Terri’s situation, even though a private insurance company executed the action, the president’s promise was flagrantly broken. It doesn’t mean that Terri will end up uninsured–we can all hope she won’t–but even though she (to all appearances) liked her old plan, Obamacare essentially has taken this away from her. Obamacare’s rules forced the insurer to literally cancel her plan pure, no ifs ands or buts. Even White House spokesman Jay Carney appears to finally have conceded this simple point this week.

Let me be clear that I am not predicting that 135.8 million Americans have or will have their policies cancelled due to Obamacare. But remember the president’s elaboration on his original promise made in a June 23 press conference in response to a question from Jake Tapper:

When I say if you have your plan and you like it, or you have a doctor and you like your doctor, that you don’t have to change plans, what I’m saying is the government is not going to make you change plans under health reform.”

Lest you think I am simply playing “gotcha” with an offhand remark, this was not an idle claim. The president repeated it with even more specificity in his speech to a joint session of Congress later that September (which was merely one of 24 instances in which he made this promise):

If you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.

No one can honestly look at the long list of mandates included under Obamacare and conclude that these do not require any changes in coverage–sometimes substantial–even for those with existing health plans.  And yet Jay Carney said just this week: “Eighty-plus percent of the American people already get insurance through their employer, through Medicare or through Medicaid. They don’t have to worry about or change anything.”  This is a flagrant falsehood.

To add insult to injury, Mr. Carney added “it is correct that substandard plans that don’t provide minimum services that have a lot of fine print that leaves consumers in the lurch often because of annual caps, or lifetime caps, or carve outs for some preexisting conditions, those are no longer allowed because the Affordable Care Act is built on the premise that health care is not a privilege, it is a right and there should be a minimum standard of plans available to Americans around the country.”

Here in a nutshell is the problem. The minimum actuarial value established by Obamacare was 60%: that is, plans must cover 60% of covered expenses for a typical plan member, leaving the rest to be paid out of pocket.  Yet in 2009, the average actuarial value for a typical employer-based HMO was 93%, while that for a typical employer-based PPO was 80-84%. In contrast, Medicare’s average actuarial value was 76%. The point being that without a shred of the micromanagement now being imposed under Obamacare, the typical employer plan voluntarily was well above the floor set by Obamacare and well above the benefits deemed adequate by the government itself for that single-payer plan known as Medicare. Consequently, it is unlikely that most employers (or their employees) ever viewed their coverage as “substandard.”  And candidate Obama certainly did not get elected on a platform of promising to upgrade the lousy health coverage provided by employers.

To take a more concrete example, Medicare prior to Obamacare covered a long list of preventive services, but these were subject to varying levels of cost sharing. A large number of employers did the very same. Who knew Uncle Sam–under the guise of solving the problems of high health costs and 50 million uninsured–would determine this was “substandard” coverage completely unworthy of protection by the president’s pledge? Does anyone recall candidate Obama running on a platform of free preventive health services (including contraception, sterilization and abortifacients) for all? You can rest assured he never would have been elected had he ever been so honest about what he planned to deliver to the American people under the banner of health reform.

In the context of employer-based plans that already were voluntarily providing an AV of 83%, I find it particularly pernicious that the ACA designers nevertheless felt compelled to impose further requirements—free preventive services, for example—essentially saying, “Look, we know your BMW is a very safe and reliable car but we think you need to add this auto-locking system that prevents you from driving your car if you haven’t changed the oil in 3,000 miles. It only adds 1.5% to the cost of your car (you can afford it!) and it will prevent you from getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere and possibly dying because your engine blew up.” In a free country, we shouldn’t have to be worrying about this type of micro-managing of our private lives and decisions. This manifestly is not the role for the federal government envisioned by our liberty-loving Framers (the men who risked their lives, their fortunes and sacred honor to defend their freedom). I feel certain that Patrick Henry did not risk death for the privilege of creating a federal government so powerful that it could force us all to chip in and pay for Sandra Fluke’s contraceptives.

A president who ran on a platform of pledging to fix what was broken and leave alone everyone else who was happy with their coverage surely had no political mandate for the kind of intrusive and expensive changes to health benefits that are now angering tens of millions of Americans. The health law passed with the tiniest of political margins. President Obama’s pledges and assurances were an integral part of securing enough political will to cross the goal line. For that reason, it is important to hold him and his spokesmen to account for the accuracy of their pledges and predictions.  Those willing to wallow in the weeds of wonkery that follow can judge for themselves whether I am being too harsh in my criticism of Mr. Axelrod or his former boss.


How Many People Have Private Health Insurance?

Medicaid. The president’s original promise only makes sense in the context of private health insurance. Nobody was worried that this progressive president would take away Medicaid benefits from the 43 million who had such coverage in 2010 or the nearly identical number who had Medicare benefits [1].  Indeed, under the plan finally signed into law by President Obama, fully half the newly covered were expected to obtain that coverage through a massive expansion of Medicaid.

Medicare. Those on Medicare weren’t so lucky; the law also imposed cutbacks on Medicare Advantage plans so severe that the “the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary (OACT), and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) projected that Medicare Advantage enrollment would sharply decline, resulting in fewer Medicare Advantage enrollees nationwide than CBO previously projected in 2009, and as many as 7 million fewer Medicare Advantage enrollees in 2019.” Those 7 million were expected to be disproportionately low-income seniors [2]. Fortunately, for a variety of reasons not fully understood, Medicare Advantage enrollments have not declined, but then again we have not seen the full impact of the Obamacare payment cuts to such plans either. So for purposes of determining the accuracy of David Axelrod’s claim, it’s best to leave those with public plans off table.

Private Insurance. There are 189 million Americans with private health coverage, including 18.1 million non-elderly with individual (non-group) coverage plus 170.9 million with employer-sponsored insurance (ESI).[3]  This is the appropriate denominator to use when assessing the accuracy of either the president’s original promise or Obamacare defenders such as David Axelrod. For simplicity, it’s best to think about 3 broad market segments: non-group, small group (firms with under 50 employees) and large group (firms with 50 or more employees, including health plans for federal, state and local government workers).

Individual Market (18.1 million)

In the individual market, anywhere from 9.2 to 15.4 million will lose coverage out of the 18.1 million non-elderly covered.

  • A 2012 Health Affairs study showed that 51% of plans in the non-group market did not meet the 60% floor on actuarial value imposed under Obamacare.  This implies that eventually, a minimum of 9.2 (=51% x 19.4) million non-group policymakers will be forced to upgrade their coverage to remain compliant.
  • According to a study at HealthPocket.com, “less than 2 percent of the existing health plans in the individual market today provide all the Essential Health Benefits required under the Affordable Care Act.” This is the basis for my concluding that virtually all small group plans eventually will be forced to upgrade in some fashion once they have lost grandfather status.
  • Thus, anywhere from 51 to 98% of non-group plans will have to be modified to meet the more expensive Obamacare standards, unless they are grandfathered. But insurance expert Bob Lazewski has reported that when all the high hurdles to retain grandfather status are taken into account, 85% of the 18.1 million are in plans that do not qualify for grandfathering and therefore must become ACA-compliant by Jan. 1, 2014.  This implies that for 2014, we should expect 15.4 million to have to change plans.[4]


Small Group Market (31.3 million)

The 170.9 million with ESI  includes workers and dependents. According to this year’s authoritative Kaiser Family Foundation/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey, only 18.3% of covered workers work in firms not subject to the employer mandate (under 50 workers).[5]  Virtually all of the 31.3 million covered by these small firm plans will be forced to change their benefits since the essential health benefits (EHB) standards include some very atypical benefits (pediatric dental/vision, habilitative care). For example, one government study showed that for some essential health benefits, such as preventive dental services for children, only 5% of small group plans met the EHB standards.  According to the American Action Forum, “premium increases associated with coverage of the essential health benefits have ranged from 0.13 percent in Rhode Island to 33 percent in Maine, with most states expecting single-digit increases.”

As well, only a few employers offered preventive health services without any cost sharing (a mandate separate and apart from EHBs), especially when the list of such services has been unaccountably broadened to include contraception, sterilization and abortifacients. An Aon Hewitt survey of major health insurance carriers estimates this will add up to 2% to premiums in the small group market (Fig. 11).

As in the non-group market, the only exception is if these plans remain grandfathered. But as of 2013, only 52% of covered workers were in grandfathered plans meaning that 48% already had to upgrade their coverage to meet ACA standards. In 2011, 63% were in grandfathered plans[6]. Eventually all grandfathered plans will lose that status, though it may be years before that fully plays out.[7] So in addition to the 15 million who already have lost the coverage they once had, it’s reasonable to expect based on the KFF/HRET survey trends that each year another 1.6 million will fall into this group, leading to a net total by the end of 2014 of 16.6 million.


Large Group Market (139.6 million)

Obamacare Standards Applicable to All Large Group Plans. In the employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) market, there are mandates that apply to all ESI regardless of grandfather status:

  • Mandatory coverage of adult children up to age 26. 77% of large firms (200 or more employees) in 2010 stopped dependent coverage at age 23 [Exhibit 3.11] although for such dependents who were full-time students this percentage dropped to only 25% [Exhibit 3.12]. An Aon Hewitt survey of major health insurers reports the average premium impact from this provision would be 0%; in the large group market the average premium increase ranged from -0.5% to +1%; in the small group market it went from -0.5% to +2%; the projected change was about -0.8% to +3.5% in the non-group market (Fig. 11).
  • No waiting periods over 90 days. 7% of covered workers in large firms (200 or more employees) in 2010 were in plans with waiting periods exceeding this threshold [Exhibit 3.8].
  • No policy cancellations except for fraud.[8]
  • No caps on lifetime benefits.  An Aon Hewitt survey of major health insurers reports the average premium increase associated with removing annual and lifetime caps on benefits would range from 0% to just under 1% in the large group market, about 0-0.8% in the small group market and about 0-2.2% in the non-group market (Fig. 11). However, some carriers reported premium increases as high as 5%. It was not reported how much of this could be attributed to removing the caps on lifetime benefits alone.
  • Medical loss ratio restrictions. Self-insured plans are excluded from this requirement. 83% of covered workers in large firms (200 or more) were in self-funded plans in 2010 [Exhibit 10.3]

It’s not obvious how these various restrictions intersect. Presumably, many of the firms that fail the first standard might fail to meet the second standard as well. Thus, all we can say with certainty is that 77% of plans had to change their eligibility criteria to accommodate dependent adults. Strictly speaking, this does not change any employee’s coverage per se, although it would have a slight impact on premiums.  Similarly, the medical loss ratio provisions would affect 17% of large firm workers, but this again would only potentially increase  premiums rather than affect their terms of coverage. But of course by this standard, none of the listed mandates are applicable since they all relate either to eligiblity or other matters. The lone exception is the prohibition on lifetime benefits.

Obamacare Standards Applicable to All Non-grandfathered ESI Plans. There’s a different set of mandates on all ESI except grandfathered plans:

  • No caps on annual benefits. (12% of covered workers were in plans with annual caps on benefits in 2010 [Exhibit 13.11]. See the previous discussion of removing caps on lifetime benefits for potential premium impacts related to this provision.
  • Preventive services without any cost-sharing. Although specifics were not written into the law, we now know that the regulations were written so broadly to include contraception, sterilization and abortifacients. On average DHHS estimates this will increase premiums by 1.5%, which the agency expects plans to pass along to its members. The Aon Hewitt survey cited earlier reports the average premium increase would range from 0-1% in the large group market, 0-2% in the small group market and 0-3.5% in the non-group market (Fig. 11); some carriers reported expected premium increases as high as 15% just for this provision alone.
  • Out-of-pocket maximums.
  • Minimum actuarial value of 60%.
  • Patient protections (plans prohibited from requiring referral to see OB-GYN or requiring pre-authorization or higher cost-sharing for out-of-network emergency services).

However, only 30% of large firm workers are in grandfathered plans in 2013 (compared to 53% in 2011 [9]), so this reinforces my point that eventually all plans will lose grandfather status. But it means that 70% of large group plans already have had to upgrade their benefits in some fashion, with attendant premium increases.

When all is said and done, over 100 million in the large group market will, due to Obamacare, no longer have the health plans they used to have.[10]


How Many Will Literally Lose Their Entire Previous Plan?
Most of the individuals counted in the foregoing estimates will be forced to purchase expensive add-ons to their existing plans. But included among these are the many millions now having their non-group policies cancelled along with 9 to 35 million who will lose their existing plans entirely due to employers electing to drop their employer-based coverage or make it unaffordable.

The RAND Corporation estimates that 28% of these will end up on Medicaid [see Exhibits 2.4 and 2.7]. Medicaid, as has been explained repeatedly by my fellow blogger Avik Roy, is a far inferior substitute for private coverage.  Those who don’t believe this can do the following mental experiment: would Congress ever pass a law giving themselves (free!) Medicaid coverage in lieu of their Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan coverage?

Another 46% will end up on the Exchanges [see the same RAND exhibits]. You might say “no big deal” since they got alternative coverage. But the National Journal’s independent assessment concluded that even after taking into account subsidies available on the exchanges, 66 percent of workers with single coverage and 57 percent of workers with family coverage will face higher premiums on the exchange compared to what they would pay for employer-sponsored coverage.

Moreover, the RAND study showed that 26% (1.5 million) who lose their employer-based coverage will become uninsured [Exhibit 2.7], along with other 2.3 million from the non-group market [see same exhibit] who likewise become uninsured because they simply cannot afford the expensive Obamacare upgrades. For such individuals, the president’s promise was badly broken indeed.

The Bottom Line: It’s Not Complicated
As AT+T spokesman says “It’s not complicated.”  Virtually all health plans that existed prior to the law will be subject to some changes in eligibility or benefits that will increase premiums for the vast  majority of subscribers. The only people who will be allowed to keep their pre-March 23, 2010 plans mostly intact are those in grandfathered plans.

But the restrictions on such plans are so tight that only 49% of those covered in the small group market and 30% in the large group market currently remain in grandfathered plans. And this is no unexpected outcome. When Obamacare regulators wrote the rules for grandfathered plans back in June 2010, they explicitly projected that by 2013, only 20-51% of small group plans would retain grandfather status, along with 36-66% of large group plans [Table 3]. So experts have known for years that the president’s promise was destined to be eviscerated by this time.

I hope readers now can see why I believe Mr. Axelrod’s statement is egregiously inaccurate. I recognize he is not a health policy expert, so perhaps we can chalk it up to ignorance. It is not my place to decide whether he is lying (which is despicable) or merely uninformed (in which case spouting off untruths on national TV is lamentable and irresponsible). But until the administration and Obamacare’s defenders are willing to come clean[11] about the pyramid of unintended consequences now piling up before our very eyes, it is hard to see how we can have a candid and productive discussion about how to replace this terribly misguided piece of legislation.

Update #1: October 30
At 11:00 am, I fixed the graphic to replace an older version that erroneously showed 28% rather than 32% who will retain their private health plans. The number of persons listed in this slice of the pie was correct in both versions and text has always correctly reported the right percentage in this group. My apologies for not spotting this earlier.

Update #2: October 30

Stanley Kurtz at NRO states “In 2009, conservative critics took the White House admission in the AP story as the beginning of a walk-back, and therefore as the end of Obama’s false promise. In fact, although the White House clearly knew from the start that this was a promise that could never be fulfilled, the president repeated it for years.

Update #3: October 31, 2013

Numerous commentators have now concluded that the president flat-out lied in 2009 when he made his pledge (as opposed to making an inadvertently erroneous prognostication). These include Charles Krauthammer (a “flat-out lie”), Jonah Goldberg (“the biggest lie about domestic policy ever uttered by a U.S. president”), Joe Scarborough (“a flagrant lie”) and Rush Limbaugh (“there are people who voted for this man and his ideas and his plans based on fraud, fraudulent promises, that they knew were fraudulent promises when they made them”). Even the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker, Glenn Kessler, awarded the president Four Pinocchios for his ridiculous pledge.

Of course, there are some such as Bill O’Reilly who have argued that the president didn’t “intentionally lie;” he was “simply uninformed.”  Even liberal columnist Clarence Page thinks the president “probably lied” but dismisses it as a “political lie.”  Politifact.com”rates as Half True the president’s 2012 claim that “If you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.” Surprisingly, they rated David Axelrod’s claim as Mostly True while conceding that Valerie Jarrett’s recently howler (“”FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans.”) had to be rated False.

Some might accuse these pundits of Monday morning quarterbacking, but in light of all the furor that the president’s past statements have ignited, what are we to make of yesterday’s statement that “for the vast majority of people who have health insurance that works, you can keep it”?  Those who accept my estimates as being approximately accurate will recognize this as yet another grossly inaccurate claim. And it underscores my central point: until and unless the administration is prepared to acknowledge the truth of what is actually going on for tens of millions of Americans, it is hard to see how we can have a candid and productive discussion about how to move forward.


[1] When the president made his promise, the most recently conducted Current Population Survey estimates of coverage (from March 2009) showed 42.8 million with Medicaid coverage and 43.0 million with Medicare (Table C-3).

[2] As a Health Affairs Health Policy Brief put it: “Medicare Advantage supporters also emphasize the importance of the plans to low-income beneficiaries. These enrollees often can’t afford private “Medigap” plans that supplement Medicare by covering additional benefits and offering cost-sharing protection. They note that disruptions to the Medicare Advantage program disproportionately affect minority beneficiaries, since Hispanic and African American beneficiaries make up a larger share of Medicare Advantage enrollees.

[3] I am using Census figures from the Current Population Survey, but recognize there are other estimates of the size of the non-group market. The American Community Survey shows 23.975 million non-elderly with non-group coverage in 2011, whereas the CPS shows only 18.968. However, once the overlap with employer-provided coverage is taken into account, the 2 surveys show nearly identical figures for 2011: 17,260 (CPS) vs. 17.479 (ACS). For simplicity, I have used the most recent CPS figures from March 2013 and ignored 1.3 million non-elderly who have overlapping employer-based and non-group coverage. Table C-3 shows 30.6 million with non-group coverage, but of these, 11.2 million are age 65 and older, consisting predominantly of elderly Medicare recipients who have purchased Medi-gap policies. Medi-gap policies need to be excluded both because we have already taken Medicare off the table and since the ACA standards do not affect such plans. Of the remaining 19.4 million non-elderly with non-group coverage, 1.3 million also have employer-based coverage, leaving 18.1 million.

[4] As reported by Anna Gorman and Julie Appleby at Kaiser Health NewsThousands get health insurance cancellation notices: “Florida Blue, for example, is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the state. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people – about half of its individual business in the state. Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20 percent of its individual market customers, while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45 percent.” These figures are consistent with Lasewski’s claim that a large fraction of non-group plans are ineligible for grandfathering.

[5] See Exhibit M.2.

[6] See Exhibit 13.3.

[7] In Landmark: The Inside Story of America’s New Health Care Law and What It Means for Us All David Hilzenrath of the Washington Post writes: “Because employers are likely to change their plans sooner or later–benefits seldom stay frozen for long–it is probably just a matter of time before many employer-based plans must conform to something approaching the full set of new rules.”

[8] As I explained in a previous post, these are known as “rescissions.” Wharton School insurance professor Scott Harrington has exposed the rather flagrant truth-twisting President Obama engaged in when describing this practice in his speech before a joint session of Congress.  Rescissions are far less common than the public has been led to believe–less than 1/2% of the millions of private health insurance policies sold every year.

[9] The KFF/HRET summary tabulations [Exhibit 3.13] report grandfather status for large firms (200 or more employees) and small firms (under 200). But they also report grandfather status for 6 firm size categories ranging from 3-49 to 1,000 or more. I have combined these with their reported estimates of the distribution of employer-provided coverage in those same size categories to recover the grandfather status of small firms (under 50) and large firms (50 and over). In 2011, 62.8% of covered workers in small firms were in grandfathered plans versus 48.9% in 2013. In large firms, the share of covered employees in grandfathered plans dropped from 52.9% to 29.8% over the same time period. For all covered workers, those in grandfathered plans fell from 56% in 2011 to 36% in 2013. Thus, Mr. Axelrod arguably would have been technically correct had he made his statement in 2011 when he was still a White House senior advisor. But given that only those in grandfathered plans are permitted to keep them, the identical statement in 2013 is manifestly false.

[10] This includes 16.8 million in plans having to remove their cap on annual benefits (with attendant premium increase) plus the 70% in plans that are no longer grandfathered and hence subject to a variety of benefit “enhancements” (again, with attendant premium increases).  I have eliminated the overlap between these 2 groups by subtracting 70% of the 16.8 million, i.e., 16.8m. + (139.6m. x 70%) – (70% x 12% x 139.6m.) = 102.7 million. 

[11]  As the president himself once said, “the only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.” And yet we’re learning this week that the White House has pressured insurance companies to keep quiet about problems with the rollout, including the reasons many insurers are forced to drop coverage in such large numbers.

Obituary - Weintraub


A. Barry Weintraub, an accountant for the City of Phila., died November 1, 2013. He resided in Northeast Phila. Husband of the late Constance G. Weintraub, father of Dr. Ari Y. Weintraub (Diane), Dr. Aliza S. Braverman (Jason) and Etan E. Weintraub, brother of Deanne Horowitz (David) and Shirley Brenner (the late Marvin), also survived by 5 grandchildren. Contributions in his memory may be made to a charity of the donor's choice.


Source: http://www.jewishexponent.com/a-barry-weintraub Monday, November 4, 2013

A. BARRY, Nov. 1, 2013. Devoted husband of the late Constance G. Weintraub. Dear father of Dr. Ari Y. Weintraub (Diane), Dr. Aliza S. Braverman (Jason), and Etan E. Weintraub, beloved brother of Dena Horowitz (David) and Shirley Brenner (the late Marvin), and also survived by 5 grandchildren. Relatives and friends are invited to funeral services Sunday 11 A.M. at GOLDSTEINS' ROSENBERG'S RAPHAEL SACKS, SUBURBAN NORTH, 310 2nd Street Pike, Southampton, PA. Int. King David Mem. Park. Shiva will be observed at the late residence. Contributions in his memory may be made to the charity of the donor's choice.

Published in Philadelphia Inquirer & Philadelphia Daily News on Nov. 3, 2013

Source: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/philly/obituary.aspx?n=a-barry-weintraub&pid=167854766


CONSTANCE G. WEINTRAUB, age 65, died on May 3, 2013.  She was a behavioral health supervisor who resided in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Devoted wife of A. BARRY WEINTRAUB; dear mother of DR. ARI Y. (DIANE) WEINTRAUB, DR. ALIZA S. (JASON) BRAVERMAN, and ETAN E. WEINTRAUB; sister of ANTHONY S. (ILANA) GLICKMAN; and also survived by 5 grandchildren.

Contributions in her memory may be made to a charity of the donor's choice.


Source: http://www.jewishexponent.com/weintraub-0 Friday, May 3, 2013

CONSTANCE G. (nee Glickman) on May 3, 2013. Devoted wife of A. Barry Weintraub, dear mother of Dr. Ari Y. Weintraub (Diane), Dr. Aliza S. Braverman (Jason), and Etan E. Weintraub; sister of Anthony S. Glickman (Ilana); also survived by 5 grandchildren. Relatives and friends are invited to Funeral Services Sun. 1 P.M. precisely GOLDSTEINS' ROSENBERG'S RAPHAEL SACKS SUBURBAN NORTH, 310 Second St. Pike, Southampton. Int. King David Memorial Park. Shiva will be observed at her late residence. Contributions in her memory may be mae to a charity of the donor's choice.

Published in Philadelphia Inquirer & Philadelphia Daily News on May 5, 2013

Source: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/philly/obituary.aspx?pid=164620448

Friday, November 01, 2013

Obamacare laid bare By Charles Krauthammer

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-obamacare-laid-bare/2013/10/31/d229515a-4254-11e3-a624-41d661b0bb78_story.html

Oct 31, 2013

Every disaster has its moment of clarity. Physicist Richard Feynman dunks an O-ring into ice water and everyone understands instantly why the shuttle Challenger exploded. This week, the Obamacare O-ring froze for all the world to see: Hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters went out to people who had been assured a dozen times by the president that “If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan. Period.”

The cancellations lay bare three pillars of Obamacare: (a) mendacity, (b) paternalism and (c) subterfuge.

(a) Those letters are irrefutable evidence that President Obama’s repeated you-keep-your-coverage claim was false. Why were they sent out? Because Obamacare renders illegal (with exceedingly narrow “grandfathered” exceptions) the continuation of any insurance plan deemed by Washington regulators not to meet their arbitrary standards for adequacy. Example: No maternity care? You are terminated.

So a law designed to cover the uninsured is now throwing far more people off their insurance than it can possibly be signing up on the nonfunctioning insurance exchanges. Indeed, most of the 19 million people with individual insurance will have to find new and likely more expensive coverage. And that doesn’t even include the additional millions who are sure to lose their employer-provided coverage. That’s a lot of people. That’s a pretty big lie.

But perhaps Obama didn’t know. Maybe the bystander president was as surprised by this as he claims to have been by the IRS scandal, the Associated Press and James Rosen phone logs, the failure of the Obamacare Web site, the premeditation of the Benghazi attacks, the tapping of Angela Merkel’s phone — i.e., the workings of the federal government of which he is the nominal head.

I’m skeptical. It’s not as if the Obamacare plan-dropping is an obscure regulation. It’s at the heart of Obama’s idea of federally regulated and standardized national health insurance.

Still, how could he imagine getting away with a claim sure to be exposed as factually false?

The same way he maintained for two weeks that false narrative about Benghazi. He figured he’d get away with it.

And he did. Simple formula: Delay, stonewall and wait for a supine and protective press to turn spectacularly incurious.

Look at how the New York Times covered his “keep your plan” whopper — buried on page 17 with a headline calling the cancellations a “prime target.” As if this is a partisan issue and not a brazen falsehood clear to any outside observer — say, The Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler, who gave the president’s claim four Pinocchios. Noses don’t come any longer.

(b) Beyond mendacity, there is liberal paternalism, of which these forced cancellations are a classic case. We canceled your plan, explained presidential spokesman Jay Carney, because it was substandard. We have a better idea.

Translation: Sure, you freely chose the policy, paid for the policy, renewed the policy, liked the policy. But you’re too primitive to know what you need. We do. Your policy is hereby canceled.

Because what you really need is what our experts have determined must be in every plan. So a couple in their 60s must buy maternity care. A teetotaler must buy substance abuse treatment. And a healthy 28-year-old with perfectly appropriate catastrophic insurance must pay for bells and whistles for which he has no use.

It’s Halloween. There is a knock at your door. You hear: “We’re the government and we’re here to help.”

You hide.

(c) As for subterfuge, these required bells and whistles aren’t just there to festoon the health-care Christmas tree with voter-pleasing freebies. The planners knew all along that if you force insurance buyers to overpay for stuff they don’t need, that money can subsidize other people.

Obamacare is the largest transfer of wealth in recent American history. But you can’t say that openly lest you lose elections. So you do it by subterfuge: hidden taxes, penalties, mandates and coverage requirements that yield a surplus of overpayments.

So that your president can promise to cover 30 million uninsured without costing the government a dime. Which from the beginning was the biggest falsehood of them all. And yet the free lunch is the essence of modern liberalism. Free mammograms, free preventative care, free contraceptives for Sandra Fluke. Come and get it.

And then when you find your policy canceled, your premium raised and your deductible outrageously increased, you’ve learned the real meaning of “free” in the liberal lexicon: something paid for by your neighbor — best, by subterfuge.

Read more from Charles Krauthammer’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A family uses its strength to help others By Sally Friedman

Source: http://www.phillyburbs.com/00redesign/life-style/a-family-uses-its-strength-to-help-others/article_c8a03e12-5c64-5b61-8f0b-bbfa0219bbe8.html

October 13, 2013

Her favorite Barbies live in a pink world, and Noa David clearly loves the color. It’s even the color of a temporary cast on her arm after a recent fall.

As she gives her attention to the dolls, their accessories, and to a new toy camera that has stolen her heart, the 6-year-old with huge brown eyes and long brown hair also readily shows a visitor another touch of pink in her life: her hearing aids. Of course, they’re pink, too.

For Noa, these hearing aids are hardly just an accessory. Diagnosed wirh moderate hearing loss in both ears at birth, she wears them in order to better communicate with the world. Her parents, Rabbi Ben David, spiritual leader of Adath Emanu-El in Mount Laurel, and Lisa David, recently shared how they first learned of their firstborn’s condition.

“We were, of course, very excited when we became parents, and our heads were kind of spinning when we learned that Noa’s newborn hearing test showed some problem,” said the rabbi. “There were more tests, and by the time our daughter was 6 weeks old, we had the diagnosis of moderate hearing loss.”

From the start, these new parents made a deep and abiding commitment to do everything they needed to for their daughter, and that most of all, they would be sure that she grew up with a strong sense of confidence and pride in herself.

Lisa David, whose pregnancy was perfectly normal, recalls Noa’s early introduction to hearing aids. “She would pull them out, and just getting her to sit still so we could get them on her was a struggle. But very soon, Noa herself realized that with her hearing aids, she could connect with the world. As she got older, she’d remind us to put them back on after her bath.”

These days, Noa holds her own in the household, with two younger brothers, who have no hearing issues, as her playmates. She attends kindergarten at Springville Elementary School, where two of her classmates also are hearing impaired.

Her speech is perfect, but she gets supplemental speech therapy, which is geared to social issues such as eye contact and initiating dialogue, which tend to be more challenging for children with hearing issues.

“We’re determined to teach Noa that she can thrive and succeed, and we really believe that we’re blessed to have a little girl who is so intelligent, so alive and so spirited,” said Ben David, who admittedly finds himself even more aware of those in his congregation, and in the wider world, with challenges. “We want our gift to Noa to learn to advocate for herself, and have a strong sense of her potential.”

The other gift that the Davids have given their daughter is their own activism. Lisa, who has a demanding career as a director of camping for a national Jewish organization, and the rabbi, are deeply involved in the Hearing Loss Association of America’s Garden State-NJ Walk4Hearing event on Oct. 20 in West Windsor.

“Noa has benefited tremendously from the support of numerous therapists, teachers, audiologists and advocates,” said Ben David.

The event, the largest walk of its kind, is taking place in various cities across the country.

“The goal is to raise funds for programs and services, and also to raise public awareness about hearing loss,” he said, noting that another overall mission is to eradicate the stigma that sometimes is associated with hearing loss.

Congregants of Adath Emanu-El will be among the walkers, and the Davids are hoping that other local residents may join “Noa’s Team.”

Noa is well-versed in the event, and is proud to explain that it’s all about her hearing aids, and others who share her condition.

“I’m going!” she said, eyes dancing. “And I’m walking fast!”

No doubt that she will.