Saturday, September 21, 2013

Morning Bell: The Obamacare Scams Are Already Starting

Heritage warned that the new Obamacare insurance exchanges could threaten your privacy—and it’s already happening, before the exchanges are even open.
In a new report, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee presented these shocking findings:
there are already numerous reports of scam artists posing as Navigators and Assisters to take advantage of people’s confusion about ObamaCare. According to recent news reports, scam artists are calling individuals and asking for information to sign them up for their “ObamaCare card,” are asking seniors for their personal information to verify their Medicare and Social Security status and are going door-to-door threatening people with prison time if they do not sign up on the spot. The Administration is keenly aware of these reports and concerns, but has thus far failed to take appropriate measures.
Even when it’s not malicious, the new Obamacare system—employing “navigators” who aren’t run through background checks or adequately trained—opens up a host of opportunities for identity theft. Last week, an employee of Minnesota’s insurance exchange (MNsure) emailed out the names and Social Security numbers of 2,400 insurance agents. The insurance broker who received the email said, “If this is happening now, how can clients of MNsure be confident their data is safe?”

House Oversight Committee Finds “Fraud and Abuse Risks” Within Obamacare

Rick Scott/ The Shark TankFlorida Governor Rick Scott is doing the “I-told-you-so” dance after having his concerns about the Obamacare “Navigators” program validated by the findings from an investigation conducted by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. 

The House committee report found that “scam artists” are already trying to infiltrate the navigator program. The report also found that Health and Human Resource (HHS) officials “conceded” that there was “no way to identify authenticity of certified navigators.” 

Scott expressed his concern that these so-called “Navigators,” who will not have any insurance background, be collecting massive amounts of personal information for the federal government, such as tax information and Social Security numbers. 

Democrats like Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz have called Scott’s Obamacare concerns excuses because she believes ” he has been hell-bent on obstructing the smooth implementation of ObamaCare,” adding that he has also “done everything he can to block it and impede its implementation.”

 Here are the key points of the committee’s findings after looking into how HHS was going about implementing Obamacare. “In May 2013, top HHS officials… expressed concern about the ‘ability of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services staff to authenticate, register, and certify everyone who will be involved in the consumer assistance process.’” 

“One CMS whistleblower warned that because it may not be possible to track every computer and hard drive used by Navigators to gather applicants’ personally identifiable information (PII), the sensitive information is vulnerable. 

The CMS whistleblower also warned that the devices used to scan supporting documents may store and save the images containing sensitive PII.” “With an influx of Navigators, Assisters, and individuals employed by non-governmental organizations like Enroll America engaging in ObamaCare outreach, it will be very difficult for consumers to differentiate between a scam artist and a legitimate source of information.” 

Via: The Shark Tank

Jeb Bush's Latest Common Core Snit Fit by Michelle Malkin

This is priceless. Former Fla. GOP Gov. Jeb Bush, consummate politician and 2016 presidential aspirant, has now bitterly accused opponents of his federal education schemes of possessing "purely political" motives. Projection, anyone?
Having previously suggested that critics of the so-called Common Core standards program are crazy, ignorant and lying, Bush piled on at a National Press Club appearance this week. Jeb the Insult Comic Dog did not hold back. Not only is the growing anti-Fed Ed movement of parents, teachers, school board members, academics, privacy advocates and state legislators of all stripes "purely political," Bush sniped, but the Common Core backlash that's causing him conniption fits is also opposed to academic excellence.
Yep. If you question Jeb Bush and his Big Business/Big Government cronies, you stand foursquare against student achievement and intellectual rigor. Pay attention, all you informed moms and dads who have raised pointed, carefully researched questions about the costs, quality, validity, constitutionality and intrusiveness of Common Core. Bush thinks you are "purely political" beasts who are recklessly harming your own kids' scholastic advancement.
Via: Townhall
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17,679 Things the Federal Government Has Done Since Sequestration

Sequestration is back on the agenda and so is anti-austerity hysteria.
Over at Politico, they're quasi-blaming the Navy Yard shooting on cuts.
The president of MIT says sequestration is "choking the innovation economy."
The Center for American Progress frets that "austerity kills."
The Atlantic says cuts are "undermining what makes America great."
And President Barack Obama said in a speech this week that the sequester cuts "have cost jobs, harmed growth, are hurting our military readiness. And top independent economists say this has been a big drag on our recovery this year. Our economy is not growing as fast as it should and we're not creating as many jobs as we should, because the sequester is in place. That's not my opinion. That's the opinion of independent economists."
But has sequestration forced government to grind to a halt? To help answer that question, Reason offers this snapshot of what the feds have been up to over the last few months since the cuts kicked in.
Below is a listing of the 17,679 entries published in the Federal Register since sequestration took effect on March 1, 2013. The Federal Register doesn't capture everything the government has done, of course. But it gives an idea of what this austere, cut-to-the-bone budget has left intact. Click on the links for details about each announcement.
(You can also download the listing as an Excel file here).
Comment on your favorite entries here.

Congress's Fiscal Fiasco Forces Americans to Wear Badge of Shame

As readers of my past columns know, I was not exactly optimistic as we approached crunch time over the debt limit in 2011. But I am far more pessimistic now. At a dinner I attended Monday night with a host of those individuals deeply involved in fiscal matters, it became clear that there are no talks going on now—neither formal nor back channel—to avoid a series of crises over spending and the debt ceiling. The House majority is in profound disarray, unable to muster majorities for anything on the spending front as the new fiscal year approaches.
In a misguided attempt to mollify his radicals and avoid a government shutdown over the demand to abort Obamacare, House Speaker John Boehner has instead turned the focus to the debt ceiling. His earlier assurance that he and his party would not play games with the nation's full faith and credit turned into a pledge weeks ago into to invoke the "Boehner Rule," insisting that the debt limit be raised only by an amount equal to additional new spending cuts—meaning trillions of additional dollars piled on to the $2.5 trillion in cuts already made (but of course with no specifics about what he would want to cut). And it is clear that a slew of Republicans inside Congress, bolstered by forces outside like Heritage Action, will push their crusade to crush Obamacare by holding the debt-ceiling hostage.
In 2011, when the intensive negotiations between Boehner and President Obama broke down, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stepped in at the eleventh hour to fill the vacuum and avert a default. When Boehner declared that he would not participate in any negotiations over the fiscal cliff, McConnell stepped in with Vice President Joe Biden to fill the vacuum. This time? There will be no McConnell; the minority leader is so cowed by the challenge to his renomination from the right that he will not be a party to any "compromise." And the informal negotiations between Obama, his Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and a group of Republican senators led by Bob Corker have broken down, at least for now.
At this point, I will be surprised if we do not have at least one partial government shutdown within the next month or two, and I fear there is a high chance of a real breach in the debt ceiling, one that may not last for a long time, assuming that the markets react violently to something they still believe will not really happen, and that voters react to the notion that the U.S. will pay its creditors in China before it pays its troops in Afghanistan. But a default this time will have devastating consequences, meaning a downgrade in our credit by all ratings agencies and a spectacle to the world of spectacular, self-destructive dysfunction.

Personal Protection Does Indeed Stop Shootings

Remember this as Democrats keep banging that gun control drum to the point of deafness. Realize these are just the ones that are prominent and are in the form of what is considered ‘mass’ shootings and not personal protection of the home. Click on the link below for a great reminder.

Sex, Drugs and Obamacare

Thanks to new regulations that are part of the federal Affordable Care Act, patients will be asked to disclose more personal information to their doctors — including how often they have sex and how with how many sexual partners.
And once they do, it won’t really be personal information any more.
One provision of the new Obamacare law will have doctors asking their patients about their sex lives and history of drug use, even if such information is completely unrelated to why the patient is seeking medical treatment, according to a report in Monday’s New York Post,
Christina Sandefur, a lawyer for the Goldwater Institute, an Arizona-based conservative think tank challenging the Affordable Care Act in federal court, said the arrangement is a violation of patients’ privacy rights.
“Once you’ve shared your information with a private third party, the Supreme Court has ruled that is fair game for the government,” she told, noting the recent disclosures of data sharing between the National Security Agency andGoogleFacebook and other online services.
Doctors and hospitals who refuse to participate could be cut-off from some federal funds, and individuals who decline to share sensitive information may have to pay the fines — taxes, according to the Supreme Court — outlined in the federal health care law.
“This is nasty business,” New York cardiologist Dr. Adam Budzikowski told the Post.
Budzikowski called the sex questions “insensitive, stupid and very intrusive.”
The president’s “reforms” aim to turn doctors into government agents, pressuring them financially to ask questions they consider inappropriate and unnecessary, and to violate their Hippocratic Oath to keep patients’ records confidential, the Post reported.
Thanks to laws that protect the confidentiality of doctor-patient conversations — in the same way conversations with your lawyer or your priest are considered off-the-record and — people generally are more open with their doctors than with friends and family.
That’s a good thing for both doctors and patients.  Privileged communication means patients will give honest answers and doctors can get vital information.


If history was any indicator, Thursday night’s on-air exchange between radio show host Bill Cunningham and Fox News analyst Tamara Holder was destined to devolve into utter chaos.
Facing off once again on Fox News’ “Hannity,” the conversation was supposed to be about the debt ceiling, but ended up erupting in finger-pointing, shouting, a comparison to actress Farrah Fawcett and the doling out of “Hannity happy candy.”
While the host opened with a question about the nation’s finances, Holder re-routed, having brought some goodies along with her in what Mediaite assumed was a peace offering. But it didn’t take long before some negative quips led the on-air duo toward another bombastic clash.
“I feel like conservatives are so angry,” Holder said, going on to reference their fight earlier this summer. “I think this is a proper opportunity for you to apologize, not to me, but to the viewers for taking your attack personally.”
“Really?” Cunningham responded.
Radio Show Host Bill Cunningham and Fox News Analyst Tamara Holder Battle on Hannity | Debt Ceiling
(Photo Credit: Fox News)
Holder offered up her “Hannity happy candies” and said that guests owe it to the viewers to focus on the issues and to not be so angry.
And that’s when the floodgates really opened.
When Hannity finally refocused the guests on the debt ceiling, Holder noted that President George W. Bush raised the limit eight times during his presidency.
In issuing the factoid, she was attempting to highlight the disparity between the compliant reaction among many during those times and the angry responses coming now from some conservatives.
“This woman has lost her mind. There’s no question about that. Let me help you with math,” Cunningham said, going on to say that the national debt has increased monumentally from almost $10 trillion to nearly $20 trillion under Obama. “Is 20 greater than 10, Tamera? Earth to Tamera. Is 20 greater than 10.”


Federal health regulators will begin tracking millions of medical devices, from pacemakers to hip replacements, using a new electronic system designed to protect patients by catching problematic implants earlier.

The Food and Drug Administration published new rules Friday that require most medical devices sold in the U.S. to carry a unique code, identifying its make, manufacture date and lot number. The codes will be stored in a publicly accessible database to help regulators, doctors and companies monitor safety issues with devices.

The tracking system has been promoted by doctors and public safety advocates for years. Other industries, from food processors to automakers, have used unique identification codes to track their products through the supply chain for decades.

"The rule that came out today is a victory for patients, hospitals and clinicians," said Josh Rising, director of Pew Charitable Trusts' medical device initiative. "Up until now medical devices were among the only products on the market that could not be uniquely identified. This is going to be a tremendous victory for all of those interested in improving the performance of devices."

Rising says doctors, hospitals and insurers will be able to add the codes to patients' medical records, helping them to quickly identify people who have received problematic implants and devices.

The FDA tracking system follows years of highly-publicized recalls involving defibrillators, artificial hips and drug pumps, which have been plagued by design and manufacturing flaws.

Via: Breitbart

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This Isnt a Democracy: Sharpton Spars With GOP Rep. Over Whether U.S. is a Democracy or a RepublicRep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Al Sharpton clashed on MSNBC Thursday night while debating Republican-led efforts to defund Obamacare. While much of the conversation was characterized by the typical partisan bickering on the health care front, one point of contention in the back-and-forth stands out.
At one point, Sharpton asked how defunding efforts square with democratic ideals. The congressman responded by attempting to correct the “Politics Nation” host — he said the U.S. government is actually a republic.
“What people don’t understand, congressman, is how we pass laws the Supreme Court upholds and you guys come in and say, ‘We’re not going to fund it and even worse, if money goes there, we’ll shut the whole government down,’” Sharpton said. “We thought we lived in a democracy. … Come on, congressman. That’s not what the country is supposed to be about.”
So, who’s correct?
Let’s take a brief look at how Encyclopedia Brittanica defines democracy: “literally, rule by the people. The term is derived from the Greek dēmokratiā, which was coined from dēmos (“people”) and kratos (“rule”) in the middle of the 5th century bc to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens.”
And defines it as “a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.”
A republic, in contrast, is defined by Brittanica as follows:
form of government in which a state is ruled by representatives of the citizen body. Modern republics are founded on the idea that sovereignty rests with the people, though who is included and excluded from the category of the people has varied across history. Because citizens do not govern the state themselves but through representatives, republics may also be distinguished from direct democracy, though modern representative democracies are by and large republics.

Via: The Blaze
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In blow to immigration reform, House `gang of seven’ bill looks dead

In a blow to the hopes of passing immigration reform anytime soon, the bipartisan House “gang of seven” plan is probably dead, and almost certainly won’t be introduced this fall as promised, a top Democrat on the “gang” acknowledges.
“It doesn’t appear that we’re going to move forward with the group of seven,” Dem Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a key player on immigration as a member of the gang, said in an interview with me. “The process is stalled. I don’t believe we’re going to produce a bill anytime soon.”
This undermines the already dwindling prospects for reform, because the House “gang of seven” plan — which would provide a path to citizenship but is significantly to the right of the Senate bill — was seen as a comprehensive plan Republicans who genuinely want to solve the immigration problem just might coalesce around. (The gang of seven plan would reportedly provide for a probationary period for the 11 million, in which they’d admit wrongdoing, and onerous conditions for the path to citizenship, which would be 15 years long.)
But Gutierrez tells me that House Republicans on the gang of seven — who have been trying to negotiate comprehensive reform that members of both parties can support for a long time — are just not prepared to embrace a final plan. He says he believes this is because House GOP leaders are not providing Republicans on the gang with support.
In a blow to the hopes of passing immigration reform anytime soon, the bipartisan House “gang of seven” plan is probably dead, and almost certainly won’t be introduced this fall as promised, a top Democrat on the “gang” acknowledges.
“It doesn’t appear that we’re going to move forward with the group of seven,” Dem Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a key player on immigration as a member of the gang, said in an interview with me. “The process is stalled. I don’t believe we’re going to produce a bill anytime soon.”
This undermines the already dwindling prospects for reform, because the House “gang of seven” plan — which would provide a path to citizenship but is significantly to the right of the Senate bill — was seen as a comprehensive plan Republicans who genuinely want to solve the immigration problem just might coalesce around. (The gang of seven plan would reportedly provide for a probationary period for the 11 million, in which they’d admit wrongdoing, and onerous conditions for the path to citizenship, which would be 15 years long.)
But Gutierrez tells me that House Republicans on the gang of seven — who have been trying to negotiate comprehensive reform that members of both parties can support for a long time — are just not prepared to embrace a final plan. He says he believes this is because House GOP leaders are not providing Republicans on the gang with support.

Oh, by the way: With 10 days to go before launch, ObamaCare websites still can’t calculate insurance subsidies correctly

Via Avik Roy. I know what you’re thinking. “Doesn’t this mean ObamaCare’s insurance subsidies are bound to be plagued by fraud and waste?” Why, yes — but the good news is, HHS decided weeks ago to suspend the program’s anti-fraud measures. You’ll be punished if they catch you cheating, but they’re telling you in advance that they won’t try too hard. So if a website glitch means you end up with twice the amount of subsidies you’re supposed to get based on your income, hey. They promised you life would improve with universal health care, didn’t they? (Sidenote: “Universal health care” isn’t remotely universal.)
Good enough for government work?
Less than two weeks before the launch of insurance marketplaces created by the federal health overhaul, the government’s software can’t reliably determine how much people need to pay for coverage, according to insurance executives and people familiar with the program…
A failure by consumers to sign up online in the hotly anticipated early days of the “exchanges” is worrisome to insurers, which are counting on enrollees for growth, and to the Obama administration, which made the exchanges a centerpiece of its sweeping health-care legislation…
Four people familiar with the development of the software that determines how much people would pay for subsidized coverage on the federally run exchanges said it was still miscalculating prices. Tests on the calculator initially scheduled to begin months ago only started this week at some insurers, according to insurance executives and two people familiar with development efforts.
“There’s a blanket acknowledgment that rates are being calculated incorrectly,” said one senior health-insurance executive who asked not to be named. “Our tech and operations people are very concerned about the problems they’re seeing and the potential of them to stick around.”
People have until March to sign up but the more word gets around that the websites don’t work correctly, the less inclined would-be enrollees may be to try again later after an initial failure. And of course, early glitches are a looming PR disaster for the White House as they try to convince a skeptical public that Republicans are cuh-ray-zee to think the law should be delayed for a year. The GOP may end up having some unlikely allies in that effort, though: Per Roy, the head of Connecticut’s own ObamaCare exchange says he’d welcome a year’s delay in the name of working out the kinks before the system goes live. “Sometimes it feels like we’re driving a car and then changing the tire at the same time,” he said. There’s a nifty line for Boehner’s first press conference after he finally gives up the “defund” strategy and embraces delay.
Via: Hot Air
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Republicans ‘trying to mess with me,’ Obama tells crowd at Missouri auto plant

LIBERTY, Mo. — With Washington facing a potential government shutdown, President Obama traveled to the heartland Friday and delivered a combative rebuke of congressional Republicans for “trying to mess with me” instead of governing responsibly.
Obama railed at length against Republican lawmakers, whom he accused of “holding the economy hostage” by threatening not to fund the government and not to raise the government’s debt limit.
“Unfortunately right now, the debate going on in Congress is not meeting the test of helping middle class families,” Obama said. “They’re not focused on you. They’re focused on politics. They’re focused on trying to mess with me. They’re not focused on you.”
Obama’s rousing speech at a growing Ford manufacturing plant here on the outskirts of Kansas City amounted to an opening salvo against House Republicans heading into another intense skirmish over federal spending.
Obama spoke a couple of hours after the House passed a short-term budget bill that would pay for government operations through mid-December but withhold funding for Obama’s signature health-care law.
Obama at times sought to belittle GOP lawmakers. “The most basic constitutional duty Congress has is to pass a budget,” said the president, a former constitutional law lecturer. “That’s Congress 101.”

[CARTOON] A Drag On The Economy

What a drag
Something is dragging down the U.S. economy, but don’t worry… raising the debt ceiling doesn’t mean more debt. Get some more info here.

Via Red State

Never Surrender!! Obamacare Is Toast, Question Is What Comes Next

ObamaSince January 2011, Republicans have tried to repeal Obamacare, in whole or in part, more than 40 times. That number is recited with a predictable sneer by congressional Democrats and the Washington press corps each time a new vote is held. The mockery is meant to obscure the fact that Obamacare is a dysfunctional and unpopular law. It’s supposed to make you forget that Republican efforts have actually succeeded in repealing parts of the law, such as the boondoggle known as the CLASS Act. The sneers are supposed to convince Republicans and the majority of Americans who oppose Obamacare that their efforts are futile.
Republicans shouldn’t give up the fight. With the weight of Obamacare set to crash down on the country in the coming year, now is a perfect time for members of Congress to try again to protect the American people from all or some the law’s harmful effects. Republicans may lack control of the Senate and the White House, but they should continue to fight for whatever they might be able to achieve, such as attaching anti-fraud measures to Obamacare or delaying the individual mandate so long as the business mandate is delayed.
Some in the GOP have unfortunately embraced a fatalistic view of Obamacare this summer. “The surrender caucus” is what Senator Ted Cruz calls his colleagues who oppose a plan to defund Obamacare by threatening to force a government shutdown. But in reality, skeptics of the defund-or-shutdown plan didn’t spend the past two months raising the white flag in the battle against Obamacare. The freshman senator from Texas did. 
“If this goes into effect on January 1, we will never, ever, ever get rid of it,” Cruz told the audience of the Laura Ingraham radio show. “We either do it now or we surrender entirely,” he warned on Sean Hannity’s program.

Filibuster the House CR? Cruz, Other Conservatives Say ‘Yes’ (Updated)

Filibuster the House CR? Cruz, Others Say 'Yes'Updated 1:20 p.m. | Sen. Ted Cruz said Friday that Republican senators should, in effect, filibuster the House-passed continuing resolution in the Senate.
The Texas Republican is calling on his colleagues to oppose limiting debate on it, warning against what he calls procedural trickery.
“Step two is the Senate, where all accounts suggest Harry Reid plans to use procedural gimmicks to try to add funding back in for Obamacare,” Cruz said. “If Reid pursues this plan — if he insists on using a 50-vote threshold to fund Obamacare with a partisan vote of only Democrats — then I hope that every Senate Republican will stand together and oppose cloture on the bill in order to keep the House bill intact and not let Harry Reid add Obamacare funding back in.”
“Now is a time for party unity; Senate Republicans should stand side-by-side with courageous House Republicans,” Cruz said.
The statement underscores the unwinnable procedural hand faced by conservative senators, however. They know that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will move to strike out the Obamacare defunding language after getting the 60 votes needed to limit debate, but they can’t stop him without effectively endorsing a government shutdown.
The Nevada Democrat’s move is completely in keeping with long-standing Senate rules. Pending germane amendments and motions, such as a motion to strike, are allowed simple-majority votes after debate’s been limited.
“Republicans are simply postponing for a few days the inevitable choice they must face: pass a clean bill to fund the government, or force a shutdown. I have said it before but it seems to bear repeating: The Senate will not pass any bill that defunds or delays Obamacare,” Reid said in a Friday statement.
Cruz’s latest move appeared to be a reaction to criticism from House Republicans for seeming to admit defeat before they had even sent the Senate the CR.
Cruz’s statement also came shortly after the head of the Senate Conservatives Fund said likewise.

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