Betrayed Again! Four Takeaways From the Supreme Court’s King v Burwell Decision

Betrayed Again! Four Takeaways From the Supreme Court’s King v Burwell Decision

Betrayed again! And by an even larger number than the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision in June 2012. There are several conclusions we can draw from this decision, and like most dark clouds it has a few silver linings. It’s time to quite referring to Chief Justice Roberts as a conservative. I can’t tell you how many times I hear commentators refer to Chief Justice John Roberts as one of the conservative members of the Court. This decision should put an end to that mischaracterization. He has gone out of his way, twice, to save an unconstitutional law that never should have passed in the first place. King would have been a perfect opportunity to address President Obama’s penchant for ignoring the rule of law, which real conservatives have complained about for the past six years. And yet Roberts et al said it is perfectly all right to ignore what a law says. This decision empowers Obama to continue doing whatever the heck he wants. You expect that kind of action from the Court’s liberals, but not conservatives—which is, again, why Roberts shouldn’t be grouped with them. This is the activist Court liberals claimed they didn’t want. Remember when, in the months leading up to the June 2012 Court decision, liberals claimed that only activist judges would deny the country what Congress passed—albeit with only Democratic votes. And, they said, conservatives were supposed to be against activist judges. Well, this decision was an activist decision. There is a longstanding process for how Congress fixes problems in the legislation it passes: it’s called a “technical corrections bill.” Members simply pass the needed language to...
Will A Decision For King Bring Health Care Stocks Crashing Down?

Will A Decision For King Bring Health Care Stocks Crashing Down?

Health care stocks have been one of the best performing sectors over the past several years, and the passage of the Affordable Care Act appears to be one important factor—because it’s pouring billions of federal dollars into health care.  But if the U.S. Supreme Court decides for the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell this month, the federal handouts could stop—at least temporarily.  Would that decision send health care stocks into a tailspin? The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) initially projected that the 10-year cost of Obamacare would be about $1 trillion—though many thought that estimate was low.  And the latest CBO 10-year projection (2016-25) estimates a federal cost at $1.2 trillion—even with the gradual slowing of some health care spending. Although federal Obamacare expenditures were relatively low between 2010 and 2014, when the health insurance subsidies kicked in, nevertheless the feds shelled out billions of dollars (1) trying to impose electronic health records on doctors and hospitals, (2) encouraging the creation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which are supposed to drive higher quality care at lower costs, and (3) funding the Department of Health and Human Services so it could hire people, create an federal infrastructure, coordinate efforts, and develop the healthcare.gov website that turned out to be a disaster when registration started in October 2013. And now billions of dollars are flowing to health insurers, which send part of that money to hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies, among others. So while Obamacare has been funneling billions of dollars to the health care industry, much more will come in the future—and the stock market often makes its current valuations based on future...
Patients and Doctors, not the FDA, Should Choose Right Medicine

Patients and Doctors, not the FDA, Should Choose Right Medicine

Good ideas in Congress rarely have a chance. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is sponsoring legislation to speed drug approvals, but his initial plan was largely gutted before he introduced it last month. Drug discovery is an uncertain process. Companies consider between 5,000 and 10,000 substances for every one that ends up in the pharmacy. Of those, only one-fifth actually makes money—and must pay for everything. As a result, the average per drug cost exceeds $1 billion, most often thought to be between $1.2 and $1.5 billion. Some estimates run more. Naturally, the Food and Drug Administration insists that its expensive regulations are worth it. Unfortunately, while the agency undoubtedly prevents some bad pharmaceuticals from getting to market, it delays or blocks far more good products. The average delay in winning approval of a new drug rose from seven months in 1962, when the FDA’s power was dramatically increased, to 30 months in 1967. Approval time now is estimated to run as much as 20 years. Economist Sam Peltzman found no evidence that changing the law reduced the introduction of ineffective or unsafe pharmaceuticals. After all, companies don’t make money selling medicines that don’t work. And putting out something dangerous is a fiscal disaster. Observed Peltzman:  the “penalties imposed by the marketplace on sellers of ineffective drugs prior to 1962 seem to have been enough of a deterrent to have left little room for improvement by a regulatory agency.” Alas, the FDA increases the cost of all medicines, delays the introduction of most pharmaceuticals, and prevents some from reaching the market. That means patients suffer and even die needlessly. Congress...
There’s ‘No Sugarcoating’ Health Insurance Exchange Failures

There’s ‘No Sugarcoating’ Health Insurance Exchange Failures

If you’ve been desperately seeking a President Obama statement that’s true, try this one from Oct. 21, 2013, just after the healthcare.gov rollout: “But the problem has been that the website that’s supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody. And there’s no sugarcoating it.” Actually, the president has sugarcoated virtually everything having to do with Obamacare. While Obama was referring specifically to the federal website, many of the states faced even worse problems—and still do. Oregon probably wins the prize for the worst exchange. It never managed to sign up one person—after spending $248 million. It was so bad that Oregon defaulted to the federal health insurance exchange. Two months ago, the new governor, Kate Brown—the former governor, John Kitzhaber, resigned in disgrace—signed Senate Bill 1, which mercifully ended the Cover Oregon website. Maryland’s exchange was also a disaster and has only recently started to improve, after a Republican took over the state and the exchange’s board decided to drop its software company and spend $41 million more, after already spending millions of taxpayer dollars, on new software. Oh, a federal audit in March found thestate improperly billed the feds for $28 million it shouldn’t have. And while there were other major state failures, that’s not the topic of most of the latest news stories. It’s that several of the state exchanges can’t afford to stay in business. For example, Hawaii state legislators have refused to pour millions of dollars into Hawaii’s exchange, which means it could close by Sept. 30. And let’s not forget...