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Tuesday
Apr152014

Brown For US Senate - MEMO: Jeanne Shaheen’s Obamacare Tax Hikes 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From: Colin Reed, Campaign Manager, Scott Brown For Senate

Re: Jeanne Shaheen’s Obamacare Tax Hikes

Date: Monday, April 14, 2014

With tomorrow's tax filing deadline looming, the burden of paying for bigger and bigger government becomes front and center on the minds of all Americans.  In 2013, New Hampshire taxpayers worked until April 15 to pay off their total tax bill for the year, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation. That means up to this point, every dollar earned by the people of New Hampshire has gone to pay for government. Only on April 16 do they start working for themselves.
 
How has Senator Jeanne Shaheen responded to this rising tax burden? She has voted to raise taxes even higher.
 
When Senator Shaheen cast the deciding vote for Obamacare, she not only imposed a flawed health care system on New Hampshire, she also imposed $500 billion in new or higher taxes that will affect individuals and businesses, hurting jobs and the economy.  Among the Obamacare tax hikes are higher Medicare and investment income taxes, a new medical device tax, and higher taxes on brand name drugs and premium health care plans. Jeanne Shaheen even voted to impose a new tax on tanning salons. 
 
Obamacare is not only bad for New Hampshire's health care system; its slew of tax hikes are also a major drag on the state's economy.  Among the barrage of tax increases Jeanne Shaheen supported as part of Obamacare are (courtesy of Americans For Tax Reform):


$123 Billion: Surtax on Investment Income: A new 3.8 percent surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single). This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income:

 

  Capital Gains Dividends Other
2012 15% 15% 35%
2013+ 23.8% 43.4% 43.4%

 
$86 Billion: Hike in Medicare Payroll Tax: Current law and changes:

 
  First $200,000
($250,000 Married)
Employer/Employee

 
All Remaining Wages
Employer/Employee

 
Current Law

1.45%/1.45%
2.9% self-employed

 


1.45%/1.45%
2.9% self-employed

 
Obamacare Tax Hike 1.45%/1.45%
2.9% self-employed
1.45%/2.35%
3.8% self-employed

 
 
$60.1 Billion: Tax on Health Insurers: Annual tax on the industry imposed relative to health insurance premiums collected that year.  Phases in gradually until 2018.  Fully-imposed on firms with $50 million in profits.

$32 Billion: Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans: Starting in 2018, new 40 percent excise tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans ($10,200 single/$27,500 family).  Higher threshold ($11,500 single/$29,450 family) for early retirees and high-risk professions.  CPI +1 percentage point indexed.
 
$23.6 Billion: “Black liquor” tax hike: This is a tax increase on a type of bio-fuel. 
 
$22.2 Billion: Tax on Innovator Drug Companies: $2.3 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to share of sales made that year. 
 
$20 Billion: Tax on Medical Device Manufacturers: Medical device manufacturers employ 360,000 people in 6,000 plants across the country. This law imposes a new 2.3% excise tax.  Exempts items retailing for <$100. 
 
$15.2 Billion: High Medical Bills Tax: Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction for medical expenses to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  The new provision imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. Waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only. 
 
$13.2 Billion: Flexible Spending Account Cap – aka “Special Needs Kids Tax”: Imposes cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited).  Indexed to inflation after 2013. There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education.  Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education

$5 Billion: Medicine Cabinet Tax: Americans no longer able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin). 
 
$4.5 Billion: Elimination of tax deduction for employer-provided retirement Rx drug coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D 

$4.5 Billion: Codification of the “economic substance doctrine”: This provision allows the IRS to disallow completely-legal tax deductions and other legal tax-minimizing plans just because the IRS deems that the action lacks “substance” and is merely intended to reduce taxes owed.
 
$2.7 Billion: Tax on Indoor Tanning Services: New 10 percent excise tax on Americans using indoor tanning salons. 
 
$1.4 Billion: HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike: Increases additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent. 
 
$0.6 Billion: $500,000 Annual Executive Compensation Limit for Health Insurance Executives        

Saturday
Apr122014

NHDP - Scott Brown Launches "One Word" Campaign With More of the Same Phony Attacks

“Scott Brown made it clear last night that his entire campaign is about tearing down New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen with phony attacks about Obamacare. Brown also made clear, once again, that he's in this race for himself, and his Big Oil, Wall Street buddies, not New Hampshire." 

 

– Julie McClain, NHDP Communications Director

 

 

THE TRUTH ABOUT SCOTT BROWN'S RHETORIC: 

 

FACT: BROWN HELPED WRITE ROMNEYCARE, THE ACA’S BLUEPRINT

 

Brown: “I Helped Write” The Massachusetts Health Care Reform Bill. During a debate in Springfield in January 2010, Brown said, "I worked on the health care bill. I helped write it. I played a role. It passed unanimous and in a bi-partisan manner including with Senator Kennedy.” [Springfield Debate, 1/8/10]

 

·         REPORT: Brown Was “prominent in working on the state’s landmark universal health coverage law.” [Milford Daily News2/11/07]

 

·         BROWN: The Senate Health Care Bill Is “really mirroring what we did a couple of years ago through Governor Romney’s leadership.” [Think Progress, 2/4/10]

 

FACT: BROWN CITED DEBUNKED, MISLEADING STUDY TO MAKE OUTRAGEOUSLY FALSE CLAIM ON NH INSURANCE PREMIUMS

NH Insurance Department Said Flawed Survey Showing 90% Increase In Individual Premiums Was False. Insurance Department Spokesman said Morgan Stanley survey was “inconsistent with our findings, which reflect single-digit increases per year over the past few years.” [New Hampshire Union Leader, 4/7/14]

 

·         PINDELL: 90% Claim Based “on one anonymous person’s opinions.” [WMUR, Political Scoop, 4/9/14]

 

FACT: BROWN’S ACA “DECIDING VOTE” CLAIM HAS BEEN RULED FALSE OVER & OVER AGAIN BY INDEPENDENT FACTCHECKERS

 

FactCheck.org Said Ads That Said Various Senators Were Deciding Vote For ACA “Push[ed] The Bounds Of Accuracy.” In June 2012, FactCheck.org wrote: “The 60 Plus ad against Nelson also claims that he ‘was a deciding vote for the health care law.’ That’s a stretch. We suppose any vote for the law could technically be called a ‘deciding’ one, but Bill Nelson wasn’t a pivotal vote any more than any other senator. It was another Nelson — Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska — who was one of the last senators tosign on to the bill and give Democrats enough votes to pass it, a fact that Bill Nelson highlighted on his Facebook page. Other ads, including several from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have claimed that other lawmakers — Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana — ‘cast a deciding vote’ for the law. We think it pushes the bounds of accuracy to say anyone who voted for it was ‘a deciding vote.’” [FactCheck.org, 6/10/12]

 

PolitiFact Reiterated That “The Charge That This Or That Democrat Cast The Deciding Vote For The Affordable Care Act” Has Repeatedly Been Rated “False.” “The charge that this or that Democrat cast the deciding vote for the Affordable Care Act has shown up before. In June, a conservative group leveled it at Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla, (PolitiFact Florida rated that Mostly False), and in 2012, a Republican challenger made the same claim about Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio (PolitiFact Ohio rated that False). The reality is that if any Democratic senator deserves the distinction of clearing the way for the health reform law, it is Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. As was widely reported at the time, Nelson delivered the 60th vote needed to send the bill to the floor for a vote.” [PolitiFact, 10/9/13]

 

·         PolitiFact: “The reality is that if any Democratic Senator deserves the distinction of clearing the way for the health reform law, it is Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.” [PolitiFact, 10/9/13]

 

·         NRSC Admitted That Sen. Nelson Was the 60th Vote for Healthcare Reform. "In reality, the last Democratic senator to commit to the health care bill was Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who’s likely to have an even tougher reelection race next year than Tester. (In fairness, the NRSC calls him the '60th vote' too.)" [Politico3/23/11]

 

FACT: NEARLY 22K GRANITE STATERS SIGNED UP FOR HEALTHCARE THROUGH THE ACA MARKETPLACE, 15% OVER THE STATE’S ENROLLMENT GOAL

NEARLY 22,000 Granite Staters Signed Up For Insurance Through The ACA Marketplace, About 15% Over The State’s Enrollment Goal. “The nearly 22,000 who had signed up through the federal marketplace exceeded the Obama administration's target of 19,000 for the six-month enrollment period that ended March 31.” [Associated Press, 4/10/14]

 

REPORT: ACA Enrollment In NH “Could Approach 30,000” After March Numbers Were Tallied. “The number of people in New Hampshire who have signed up for health care under the Affordable Care Act could approach 30,000, officials said. About 10,000 people in the state signed up during the last two months, the result of a highly organized outreach effort. […] Karen Hicks of Covering New Hampshire said an enrollment outreach campaign produced significant results. ‘We feel pretty good about our effort so far,’ Hicks said. ‘At the end of February, we had 21,500 or so people sign up and select a plan.’ The total could be around 30,000 after the March numbers are tallied up.” [WMUR, 4/2/14]

 

Saturday
Apr122014

NHDP - ICMYI: AFP Running Misleading Attacks Deemed FALSE

With the Americans for Prosperity Freedom Summit rolling into town this weekend, it’s important to remember that AFP has a history of using Koch Brothers Big Oil money to run misleading, and often false, negative and nasty attack ads.

 

Politifact: Americans for Prosperity claims people are getting less at a higher cost under Obamacare
 
Americans for Prosperity has been active on the airwaves already this election cycle. The group, which opposes Obamacare, has run a handful of ads featuring people telling health care "horror stories" meant to tug on the heartstrings. We’ve looked at a couple andexplained how they can be misleading.  

But a pair of new ads take an entirely different tack to undercut support from Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Udall of Colorado. (It has also run against Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.)

In these ads, a woman on screen trashes political ads in her 30-second personal pitch.

"People don’t like political ads. I don’t like them either. But health care isn’t about politics," she says. "It’s about people. And millions of people have lost their health insurance, millions of people can’t see their own doctors, and millions are paying more and getting less."

We’ve tackled claims about lost insuranceand access to personal doctors before. But we haven’t heard someone say that the health care law is causing people to pay more for less, so we decided to check it out.

Paying more

There are a lot of factors in the health care law — and health insurance in general — that make it difficult to pin down whether people are paying more or less for coverage.

In general, insurance premiums were increasing every year well before Obamacare became law. In fact, rates have increased consistently during the last 15 years. But there are signs that the rate of the increase has declined since the law was passed.

Kaiser Family Foundation, for example, surveyed people who purchase insurance through their employer. Here are the average annual cost of premiums:

Year Single % increase Family % increase
1999 $2,196   $5,791  
2000 $2,471 12.52% $6,438 11.17%
2001 $2,689 8.82% $7,061 9.68%
2002 $3,083 14.65% $8,003 13.34%
2003 $3,383 9.73% $9,068 13.31%
2004 $3,695 9.22% $9,950 9.73%
2005 $4,024 8.90% $10,880 9.35%
2006 $4,242 5.42% $11,480 5.51%
2007 $4,479 5.59% $12,106 5.45%
2008 $4,704 5.02% $12,680 4.74%
2009 $4,824 2.55% $13,375 5.48%
2010 $5,049 4.66% $13,770 2.95%
2011 $5,429 7.53% $15,073 9.46%
2012 $5,615 3.43% $15,745 4.46%
2013 $5,884 4.79% $16,351 3.85%

 
Other than a sharp increase between 2010 to 2011, the Obama years have experienced the smallest rate increases of the last 14 years. Throughout much of the early 2000s, premium increases of 9 percent or more were the norm.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid also found a slowdown in the increase in health costs during the last four years, including a modest 4 percent increase from 2011 to 2012.

The government attributed the decrease in health costs to the economic downturn. Kaiser, too, said the recession accounted for much of the decline, though they said the health care law may have played a role, too.

Because of the law, people making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level are now eligible for subsidies to buy insurance, and for many of them, costs are going down. Those costs are capped at a percent of their income.

But some people may see rate increases on existing policies or as they transition to new plans.

Insurers can no longer deny individuals with pre-existing conditions, and there is now a much larger pool of people looking to purchase coverage. For younger, healthier people, this means they are now taking on some of the financial burden so older or sick people can buy insurance at a reasonable price. (This is especially true for young males, since young women were often charged more, and even more so if they don’t qualify for premium subsidies.)

There were also people who previously purchased very cheap plans. But those policies provided very little coverage or capped their benefits at low levels, which the new health care law bars. So they’re getting more coverage, albeit at a greater cost.

Getting less?

Which gets us to our next point.

We found it strange that the ad claimed that people are getting less under the Affordable Care Act. In fact, we’ve usually heard the opposite from critics of the law that people are now paying for types of coverage they don’t need.

The favorite example is single men who now will now have maternity coverage if they buy a plan on the individual market. In October 2013, Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., grilled Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius on this very point.

"An insurance policy has a series of benefits whether you use them or not," Sebelius said during her testimony on the Hill.

"And that is why the health care premiums are increasing this high," Ellmers said. "We’re forcing them to buy things that they will never need."

"Individual policies cover families. Men often do need maternity coverage for their spouses and for their families," Sebelius responded.

"To the best of your knowledge, has a man ever delivered a baby?" Elmers asked. The discussion ended there.

So are you getting less coverage, or getting more than you need? We asked Americans for Prosperity to clarify their position.

"Getting less speaks to a multitude of data points that has been America's Obamacare experience so far: botched website, shrinking provider networks, a string of broken promises, missed deadlines, and unilateral rule changes that have kept the entire country in limbo ever since this debacle rolled out," said spokesman Levi Russell.

That’s a pretty ambiguous definition of "less." We think most people would assume "less" is referring to the amount of coverage or benefits under the law.

Americans are getting more benefits under the law in a number of ways -- including, in some cases, being able to buy affordable insurance for the first time.

In addition, insurance purchased in the individual and small group marketplace must meet 10 essential health benefits. This includes coverage for emergency services and hospitalization, prescription drugs, free preventative coverage for things ranging from basic immunizations to HIV screening, and maternity care.

The law also caps out-of-pocket costs, providing greater protection from exorbitant hospital bills. The most a person could pay for health care in a year is $6,300; the most a family can pay is $12,600.

Before the law passed, some insurers capped annual or lifetime benefits, forcing people who thought they were covered to pay large hospital bills once they passed the threshold.

People with pre-existing conditions are also seeing a lot more benefits, since they previously couldn’t buy a policy at all.

So it’s a tough sell to say millions are getting less. And for many, they aren’t paying more, either.

Our ruling

Americans for Prosperity said "millions are paying more and getting less" under Obamacare. We found their explanation of "less" rather dubious. Most people on the individual market are getting more benefits under the law. At worst, they’re paying more to get more, though in many cases they’re actually paying less.

We rate this claim False.

Saturday
Apr122014

NH GOP - ICYMI: Live Free or Obamacare 

In New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen scrambles to fix her law.

 

April 10, 2014 6:25 p.m. ET

 

The political left favors "single payer" health care, but that concept has new meaning in New Hampshire this year as just one insurer was willing to participate in ObamaCare. Thus the spectacle of Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen beseeching the feds to save her re-election from her own law.

 

The Granite State Senator rode the 2008 Obama wave to become the deciding 60th vote for the law's passage, but now Ms. Shaheen must defend the mess it has made of her state's insurance markets. She's cashing in all her government chits amid a statewide uproar as patient access to hospitals and other providers has declined.

 

The only exchange option afforded to consumers comes from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, a unit of WellPoint. The insurer built a narrow network that lowered premiums by 25% or 30% while still complying with ObamaCare's other mandates. Limiting choice can generate volume discounts on rates and sometimes better medical performance.

 

But Anthem's network rollback also illustrates the downsides, all the more so because ObamaCare imposed an artificial monopoly on what had been a functional individual market. Of the 26 in-state acute care hospitals, 10 were booted from Anthem's network (not counting emergency services). Even the state capital of Concord was shut out, and the coverage gaps are wider because so many primary care and specialist practices are now owned by health systems.

 

The Granite State didn't lack for insurers before. Anthem dominated with 40.7% of all private policies, but strong rivals included Harvard Pilgrim (20.4%), Cigna CI -3.05%(18.7%) and Aetna AET -2.88% (7.8%). Anthem did have a 76% share of the individual market, but aren't the exchanges supposed to increase competition?

 

Nor is Anthem filling some urgent health-care need. According to a 2013 University of Massachusetts Medical School analysis, 19 of 20 individuals who paid with their own dollars chose preferred provider organization (PPO) plans that cost more than restrictive HMOs but connect patients to a larger variety of doctors and hospitals.

 

In a January letter to the Health and Human Services Department, Ms. Shaheen let it be known that "I have heard from consumers who have been left without access to the provider with whom they had built a long-standing relationship," and demanded that HHS do something. The feds are obliging and promise a rule by year's end that could outlaw or undermine narrow networks.

 

The problem is that HHS already polices the "network adequacy" of ObamaCare to supposedly ensure provider diversity and prevent treatment delays. HHS signed off on the Anthem plan, as did state regulators.

 

Cracking down would limit innovation and abuse discretion-private business would be forced into contacts with other businesses. The far easier and better solution would be to permit many configurations of benefits, networks and price points, so consumers could balance cost versus access.

 

But for HHS, Occam's razor is only good for suicide. Rather than deregulate, HHS has bribed another insurer to enter the Granite State in 2015. Late last year after intense lobbying by the Democratic New Hampshire delegation, the Massachusetts-based nonprofit co-op Minuteman Health was awarded $66,944,915 contingent on expanding up north. Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter did the honors of publicly announcing the no- to low-interest loan, not HHS.

 

Minuteman belongs to a troubled ObamaCare insurance start-up program, which was marked for death in the recent fiscal cliff negotiations. HHS slipped the money through the door one last time before Congress took the lending facility away.

 

In a February interview with WKXL radio, Ms. Shaheen denied responsibility for the New Hampshire turmoil: "I would have designed it differently had I been designing it. I wasn't the person who was writing the law. Hindsight is 20/20." The truth is that critics predicted exactly what has happened, and she was the one writing the law because without her vote it wouldn't have passed.

 

Real contrition wouldn't involve clutching the HHS apron strings for special rescue. If Ms. Shaheen means it, she and the 11 other 60th-vote Senate Democrats facing a voter reckoning this fall would join with Republicans to compel the White House to accept major ObamaCare changes.

 

Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown formally declared his campaign to unseat Ms. Shaheen on Thursday, and health care is once again emerging as one of his defining themes. New Hampshire's eccentric politics have trended Democratic. But the state retains antitax and libertarian sympathies, and Mr. Brown has defied political expectations before.

 

If Democrats had heeded the voters the first time Mr. Brown won in 2010, and slowed down their rush to passage and written a better bill, Ms. Shaheen wouldn't now be having to deceive voters about her decisive role in creating the debacle she now disavows.

 

This article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Friday
Apr112014

NRSC - Obama's Medicare Cut Announcement a Cynical Ploy to Fool New Hampshire Seniors, Protect Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Democrats in the Senate voted to slash Medicare Advantage to pay for ObamaCare.  At the time, she promised Granite Staters dependent on Medicare that ObamaCare wouldn't cut Medicare and would in fact strengthen the program. That promise was false, causing Democrats facing voters in 2014 to plead with the Obama Administration to stop the Medicare cuts.

It’s no secret that ObamaCare will negatively impact Medicare meaning that Jeanne Shaheen and other vulnerable Democrats were desperate for political cover from the Obama Administration. That is why the White House unilaterally delayed proposed cuts to Medicare (intended to pay for ObamaCare). Once the midterm elections are over, it is a matter of time until Democrats reinstate these cuts to Medicare.  

"Jeanne Shaheen cut $200 billion from ObamaCare to pay for Medicare and has repeatedly deceived New Hampshire voters with one false promise after another about the unpopular law," said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen. "Unfortunately Democrats are more interested in protecting their vulnerable Senators than New Hampshire seniors and will most certainly reinstitute these Medicare cuts after the elections. Seniors should not be used as pawns by Democratic Senators like Jeanne Shaheen desperate to hold onto power."

BACKGROUND

In 2010 Jeanne Shaheen Voted To Slash Medicare Advantage To Pay For ObamaCare. (H.R. 4872, CQ Vote #72: Motion agreed to 56-42: R 0-40; D 54-2; I 2-0, 3/24/10, Shaheen Voted Yea)

Facing Rocky Midterm Elections, The Obama Administration Is Delaying Proposed Cuts To Medicare. The federal agency that runs Medicare has reversed at least some proposed cuts to private Medicare Advantage plans—the second time in two years that insurers have persuaded the agency to abandon cuts.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Monday it would turn a roughly 2 percent cut first proposed in February into a 0.4 percent payment increase for Medicare Advantage plans.  Insurers, however, have said the proposed cut was much bigger—closer to 6 percent. They argued that payment reductions would cause plans to either cut benefits or raise premiums.  (Sam Baker, “Administration Backs Down On Medicare Cuts,” National Journal, 04/07/14)

According To The Nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO): ObamaCare Cuts $716 Billion From Medicare. (Congressional Budget Office, Letter To Speaker John Boehner, 7/24/12)

Democrats Paid For ObamaCare In Part “By An Estimated $206 Billion” In Medicare Advantage Cuts. “Consumers who choose Advantage plans are opting for managed care with benefits including lower out-of-pocket costs over the traditional government-run Medicare program for the elderly and disabled. Government payments have been under pressure since 2010, when the U.S. health expansion was financed in part by reducing spending on Advantage plans by an estimated $206 billion over a decade.” (Alex Wayne and Caroline Chen, “Humana, UnitedHealth Face About 3.6% Advantage Rate Cuts,” Bloomberg, 2/21/14)