Tag Archives: ACA

Family of four paid $900 per month for Obamacare health insurance last year…their monthly premium in the year ahead? Over $3000 per month.

Over the past several months, Democrats have jumped on every opportunity possible to blame the Trump administration for yet another year of staggering Obamacare premium increases.

Ironically, despite arguments from the Left that Trump’s defunding of Obamacare’s marketing budget would cause 2018 signups to plunge, as Politico recently noted, they’re actually up in 2018…which begs the question: was the Obama administration just wasting $100 million a year in taxpayer money for nothing?  Shocking thought, we know.

Meanwhile a fresh barrage of outcries from Democrats, most notably Nancy Pelosi, came after Trump’s decision to cut federal subsidies, an action which the CBO insisted could result in devastating premium increases of up to 20%.

Of course, if Trump is responsible for 20% of Obamacare’s premium hikes in 2018, then perhaps Nancy Pelosi should explain to the Dixon family in Charlottesville, VA precisely who is responsible for the other portion of the 235% premium hike they just received.

As the Washington Post pointed out, the Dixons, a family of 4 in Virginia, were shocked earlier this month to find that their Obamacare premiums were going to surge from roughly $900 per month in 2017 to over $3,000 per month in 2018.

 Ian Dixon, who left his full-time job in 2016 to pursue an app-development business, did so because the ACA guaranteed that he could still have quality coverage for his young family, he said.

But when the 38-year-old Charlottesville husband and father of a 3- and a 1-year-old went to re-enroll this month, his only choice for coverage would cost him more than $3,000 a month for his family of four, which amounted to an increase of more than 300 percent over the $900 he paid the year before. And this is for the second-cheapest option, with a deductible of $9,200.

“Helpless is definitely a good word for it,” Dixon said. “Rage is also a good word for it.”

Obamacare

Of course, Democrats and the MSM also applauded Obamacare’s ‘great success’ earlier this year when several counties that were previously feared to be left with no coverage options in 2018, suddenly picked up a carrier.  That said, perhaps Bloomberg, Reuters, NBC, etc. should reconsider just how meaningful these Obamacare monopolies are if the premiums charged are so high that no one can afford them anyway…

Earlier this year, Aetna and Anthem pulled out of the Albemarle market, citing too much unpredictability and risk. A smaller carrier, Optima, came in to fill the void. Consumers in the area went from having 19 plans offered in the options from Aetna and Anthem to only five coverage options with Optima.

Several factors led to Optima’s offering such high-priced plans, said Michael Dudley, the president of Optima.

First, small communities like Charlottesville tend to be pricier to cover because there is a small patient pool to balance out risks. So Optima took a cue from the carriers who had already ditched the market when actuaries predicted it was a place where the insurance companies might be paying out more to cover claims than it receives in premiums.

It is also a more expensive coverage area because the primary provider is University of Virginia Health System, an academic medical center that charges higher rates for its care than a community hospital. Optima will include UVA Health System in-network, unlike many carriers who have dropped the big medical centers as a cost-saving measure.

Perhaps local business owner Shawn Cossette can provide the Obamacare cheerleaders within the media some helpful insights…

Among them was Shawn Marie Cossette, 55, who runs her own event and floral design business in Charlottesville. Last year, she purchased an Anthem silver plan for $550 a month for herself. This year, under Optima, a silver plan would cost her $1,859 monthly.

“It’s a huge percentage of my income,” she said. “I really believed in the ACA. I really feel everyone deserves the right to health insurance, but who can afford those prices if you don’t qualify for subsidies?”

We in the US pay far more for healthcare than anyone else does by a very wide margin, and we desperately need to get healthcare costs down.  We also need to get health insurance premiums back to reasonable levels.

One way to do this would be to legalize the group buying plans that Rand Paul has been proposing. By allowing large groups of people (the NRA would be one example) to band together to buy health insurance, that would give average citizens much more negotiating (and buying) power with the health insurance companies.

Models such as direct primary care that cut health insurance companies out of the equation entirely are another option.

The US healthcare system is deeply broken and getting worse; we need to get back to a system that is centered primarily on doctors and patients.

 

[From an article published by ZERO HEDGE]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

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Repealing the Obamacare individual mandate would not only boost health freedom, it would save the government hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars

Healthcare rates still going thru the roof...

Two of the most important aspects of repealing Obamacare are regularly under-reported by the “mainstream” media and ignored by Democrats: Getting rid of the law’s individual mandate would not only dramatically enhance health freedom, it would also save our broke government hundreds of billions of dollars.

As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the Congressional Budget Office estimated last week that getting rid of the mandate — a requirement that all Americans be forced to buy overpriced, under-delivering insurance — would save $338 billion over the next decade.

Under the law, Americans who fail to purchase health insurance as required are fined by the Internal Revenue Service. A recent report by the Taxpayer Advocate Service found that about 4 million Americans paid an average penalty of $708 this year, or $2.8 billion in all, the Free Beacon reported.

The site reported further: The budget office predicts that eliminating the mandate would reduce the deficit by $338 billion from 2018 to 2027 and would decrease the number of those with health insurance by 4 million in 2019 and by 13 million in 2027. Even with this loss, the report says that markets would remain stable in almost all areas of the United States over the next decade.

And there’s this: What Obamacare supporters and the Democrats who imposed it on the country won’t tell you is that the majority of those who “lose” insurance without the mandate will choose to voluntarily ditch their insurance coverage.

In other words, they will be exercising their full health freedom to make a conscious choice to go without coverage — a right that Obamacare took away from all of us.

And there would be a variety of reasons for ditching coverage. Younger Americans who are healthy may simply ditch pricey health insurance. Others who are wealthy enough to pay for their own coverage, even when they experience a catastrophic illness or injury, would also make that choice.

Other Americans who are generally healthy but want some coverage may buy a policy that only covers a catastrophe. And so on. But the point is, health freedom means the freedom to choose what kind of coverage you wantif you want any at all. (Related: The meltdown of the Obamacare mandate)

As for the financial aspects of ditching the mandate, supporters of repeal noted that it would dramatically reduce the government’s fiscal outlay.

“We’re seeing with the CBO report that repealing the mandate would reduce the deficit by nearly $340 billion over 10 years,” said Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute. “The report estimates that by 2027, about 13 million fewer Americans would enroll in ACA-compliant plans.”

She added: “What’s great news is that if the mandate were repealed, most markets would remain stable. That’s significant for the millions of Americans who would become free to purchase other health care plans that are better fits for both them and their families.”

In fact, other experts say that markets would not simply stabilize, but premiums would mostly likely fall because companies would be forced to compete once again for customers. Prices would fall and quality of products would go up, they argue.

During a tele-townhall last February, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, told about 7,500 constituents that as it stands the mandate gets rid of market requirements that insurers sell customers plans they really want. That, in turn, has reduced competitiveness due to a restriction in the kinds of plans that can be offered.

He said “repealing the mandate and changing the rules will mean more competition and lower premiums.”

“The individual mandate is certainly one of the most unpopular Obamacare regulations—and it’s largely been a failure,” Pipes said. “Not as many Americans are insured in the Obamacare insurance exchanges as originally projected, and premiums have skyrocketed since 2013.”

 

[From an article published by NATURAL NEWS]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

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US healthcare is often compared with the Canadian version. Here are the figures.

Canadian health care cost figures

 

According to the nonpartisan Fraser Institute, many Americans falsely believe that Canadians pay nothing for health care visits. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  A scathing new report just revealed how much Canadians actually pay for their “free” health coverage, and revealed deep problems with the system that Democrats want to force onto Americans.

“Canadians often misunderstand the true cost of our public health care system,” the institute found in a detailed report. “This occurs partly because Canadians do not incur direct expenses for their use of health care, and partly because Canadians cannot readily determine the value of their contribution to public health care insurance.”

In other words, the system seems almost designed to hide costs from the people who pay them. Canadians end up paying through a complex web of taxes at both the national and local level.

A “typical Canadian family of four will pay $12,057 for health care in 2017—an increase of nearly 70 percent over the last 20 years,” explained The Daily Caller, which dug into the Fraser report.  Over a $1,000 per month is hardly “free,” and the costs keep increasing. So do the wait times — and people often forget that having coverage on paper is not the same as receiving timely care.  Wait times for many medical procedures were approaching half a year.

“For all those tax dollars, there is still a long waiting list for a host of operations, both routine and urgent. Another Fraser Institute study recently revealed that 63,000 Canadians left the country in 2016 to seek medical assistance elsewhere — usually the U.S.,” explained the Caller.

According to the Fraser report: “Services are being rationed.  In our last report on wait times in Canada, we discovered that the average wait time from referral to treatment was 20 weeks. That was the longest wait time in the history of our survey.”

It turns out that the socialist model doesn’t work so great in real life. Who knew?

Almost everybody agrees that America’s health care system needs to be overhauled and simplified. Costs are high, the system is complex, and everything only became more confusing with the Affordable Care Act, which is proving itself to be anything but affordable.  Single payer systems are clearly not all they’re cracked up to be.

Canada is often seen as the ideal model… but it would be wise to take a closer look at its flaws.

 

[From an article published by the CONSERVATIVE TRIBUNE]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

 

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Congressional Budget Office shows it’s just as good at creating fake news as any media outlet

The latest analysis of the CBO’s scoring of the GOP’s repeal efforts is shocking, but it really shouldn’t be. The media is constantly telling us that the Congressional Budget Office is an unbiased, and nonpartisan entity that does their very best to accurately score the legislation coming out of Congress. Here’s the problem with that statement… it’s wrong. The CBO has proven time and again to be biased towards big government initiatives, and hardly ever “accurate” on its estimates. Now, one of the foremost healthcare and economic experts, Avik Roy, is unmasking the CBO for what they truly are – a hack organization that doesn’t care at all about accuracy or truth.

Roy is a right-leaning economist and thinker but he recently decided to dig into the CBO projections because he noticed something startling about the projections of every GOP healthcare plan – they all showed expectations of more than 20 million people “losing” their healthcare. It didn’t matter how conservative or how moderate the plan, no matter what the GOP suggested, the CBO kept saying that more than 20 million people would lose their healthcare. Roy wondered how this was possible give the wildly different plans being suggested by various legislators. So, Roy dug into the numbers and realized almost immediately that the CBO was playing a corrupt and very misleading game with their projections:

In the national debate over the GOP health reform proposals, one data point has stood out above all others: the estimate, from the Congressional Budget Office, that more than 20 million people would “lose” coverage as a result. And there’s been an odd consistency to the CBO’s projections. Do you want to repeal every word of Obamacare and replace it with nothing? The CBO says 22 million fewer people would have health insurance. Do you prefer replacing Obamacare with a system of flat tax credits, in which you get the same amount of assistance regardless of your financial need? The CBO says 23 million fewer people would have health insurance. Do you prefer replacing Obamacare with means-tested tax credits, like the Senate bill does, in which the majority of the assistance is directed to those near or below the poverty line? The CBO says 22 million fewer people would have health insurance. 22 million, 23 million, 22 million — these numbers are remarkably similar even though the three policies described above are significantly different. Why is that?

A congressional staffer kindly leaked the CBO’s scoring process to Roy, and what he learned was that nearly 75% of the difference in coverage between Obamacare and any of the GOP bills has to do with the repeal of the “individual mandate.” Yes, almost all of the difference is just because the GOP would stop forcing people to buy healthcare, and the people would CHOOSE to stop getting healthcare insurance.

Repeal Obamacare

It gets worse.  Almost all of the rest of the difference between the GOP’s suggested bills and Obamacare only exists because the CBO is using faulty numbers.

Based on those estimates, of the 22 million fewer people who will have health insurance in 2026 under the Senate bill, 16 million will voluntarily drop out of the market because they will no longer face a financial penalty for doing so: 73 percent of the total.  Two factors — repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate and the CBO’s outdated March 2016 baseline — explain nearly all of the CBO-scored coverage difference between GOP bills and Obamacare.

The GOP keeps suggesting new plans with hopes that the CBO will give them a better score, but as Roy’s explanation proves, there is no plan that the GOP could propose that would give them a fair scoring. The CBO score has been the primary reason that GOP moderates have given to explain why they continue to fight against repeal, but again, Roy’s breakdown proves that their excuse is spurious. The moderates have to choose: Will they continue to be cowed by the fake numbers from the CBO, will they continue to break the very promises they made to get elected, or will they finally stand up and do what they promised to do, which is repeal Obamacare?

In a follow up piece over at Forbes, Roy suggests a simple solution for the GOP to prove that the CBO’s projections are all washed up:

There’s a simple way for Republicans to highlight the CBO’s mandate mania: have CBO score one version of the bill with an individual mandate, and one version without. It’ll make as plain as day what those of us who follow this stuff see up close: that the mandate is the secret sauce driving the CBO’s faulty coverage predictions.

By the way, the media continues to report that repeal is unpopular, but you shouldn’t believe that lie either. The most recent CNN poll revealed that most Americans want Obamacare repealed.

 

[From an article published by CONSTITUTION.COM]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

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Nineteenth Obamacare co-op folds, leaving only four operating

Minuteman Health of Massachusetts and New Hampshire announced it is withdrawing from the Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2018, leaving only four co-ops in operation. The co-op will stop writing business on January 1 and organize a new company, Minuteman Insurance Company, instead.

The company cited issues with Obamacare’s risk-adjustment program, which is the program that shifts money away from those with healthier customers to those with sicker enrollees. Minuteman Health said that the negative impact of this program had been “substantial.”

“Unfortunately, the program has not worked as intended,” the company said. “It has been difficult for insurers to predict their risk-adjustment obligations, which has led some to withdraw from the ACA market.”

“The program also unfairly penalizes issuers like MHI that are small, low cost, and experience high growth,” the company said. “The significant relative impact from risk adjustment has been the principal driver of a reduction in MHI’s surplus and capital over 2 [sic] time.”

The co-op was able to grow to 37,000 members since it began in 2014 but said that being subject to certain co-op rules made it hard to adjust its business model to mitigate issues with the risk-adjustment program. The co-op was awarded $156.4 million in taxpayer-funded loans in 2012 and 2013.

The new company, Minuteman Insurance Company, will not be subject to these rules.

“Offering our members a quality, more affordable coverage option has been Minuteman’s mission from day one,” said Tom Policelli, CEO of the co-op. “We want to continue that mission in 2018 and beyond through the new company we are currently working to organize. Forming Minuteman Insurance Company will allow us to address numerous federal restrictions and work to make our coverage available to more people.”

There are only four co-ops of the 23 originally created through Obamacare that will still be offering health care plans next year.

 

[From an article by Ali Meyer, published by WASHINGTON FREE BEACON]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

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Federal judge blocks Obamacare’s abortion and sex change mandates

A federal judge blocked the Obama administration’s attempt to force doctors and healthcare providers to perform sex change operations and abortions under the Affordable Care Act.

Federal judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, issued a preliminary injunction against the Department of Health and Human Services after it expanded Obamacare’s anti-sex discrimination language to include “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy.”

The agency’s interpretation would have forced “nearly every healthcare provider in the country” to provide abortions and sex change operations. The court determined that the agency exceeded its authority in drafting the rule and blocked the rule on Dec. 31—just hours before it was to take effect.

 “The regulation violates the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) by contradicting existing law and exceeding statutory authority, and the regulation likely violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) as applied to Private Plaintiffs,” the injunction says.

An HHS spokeswoman told the Washington Free Beacon that the agency will continue to enforce non-discrimination statutes  “to the full extent consistent with the court’s order.”

The agency proposed its new interpretation of Title IX in September 2015 as Obamacare was being implemented. The agency contended in its May 2016 announcement of the new rules that the expansion of sex discrimination to include abortion and gender identity “clarifies and codifies existing nondiscrimination requirements” in federal law.

However, the court found that such rule-making crossed the bounds of the law as it is written.

“The meaning of sex in Title IX unambiguously refers to ‘the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth,’” the court found. “Congress clearly addressed the question at issue by incorporating Title IX’s existing legal structure, and HHS had no authority to interpret such a significant policy decision.”

Franciscan Alliance, Inc., an Indiana-based network of Catholic hospitals, sued the agency, claiming that the statute violated its religious liberty since it would be forced to participate in abortion or sex change operations contrary to the Church’s teaching. Franciscan argued that the agency ignored religious and abortion exemptions that were included in Title IX and said that the agency’s interpretation would force doctors to perform medically unnecessary gender transitions for fear of being accused of discrimination.

The court found that the hospitals’ and doctors’ fear of enforcement action by the federal government “is reasonable.”

“HHS stressed that some procedures ‘related to gender transition’ may be required even if not ‘strictly identified as medically necessary or appropriate,’” the court said in its order. “Private Plaintiffs will be forced to either violate their religious beliefs or maintain their current policies which seem to be in direct conflict with the Rule and risk the severe consequences of enforcement.”

Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arizona also joined the suit, arguing that the federal government overstepped the rights of states to regulate healthcare services provided in public hospitals. Each of those states has laws barring the use of taxpayer dollars for abortion—laws that would have been superseded by the agency’s rules if they were to take effect.

“The Court finds [State] Plaintiffs have demonstrated that they face a substantial threat of irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction,” according to the injunction.

The Franciscan suit is not the only one launched to block the Obama administration’s mandates over abortion and transgender treatment.

The Catholic Benefits Association, which provides insurance coverage to 90,000 people and is administered by Catholic clergy, sued the HHS in December to block the rule in a North Dakota federal court. That suit goes one step further than Franciscan’s in that it asks the court to protect religious employers, as well as religious healthcare institutions and states. CBA general counsel Martin Nussbaum told the Free Beacon that the preliminary injunction bolsters its case against the mandate.

“We framed the CBA lawsuit to address problems under both the 1557 Rule and Title VII and to protect both Catholic medical providers and other Catholic ministries and employers,” he said in an email. “The Franciscan Alliance precedent will be very helpful to us in the CBA litigation. … The reasoning is thorough and quite good on almost every issue.”

 

[From an article published by The Washington Free Beacon]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

 

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Newest Obamacare failure is a huge one: Penalties of $36,500 per worker

Newest Obamacare failure is a huge one...

Hey, employers, don’t even think about reimbursing your workers’ health-insurance premiums.

Beginning this month, the IRS can levy fines amounting to $100 per worker per day or $36,500 per worker per year, with a maximum of $500,000 per firm.

This Internal Revenue Service penalty is not written into the Obamacare law. The amount is over 12 times the statutory amount in the Affordable Care Act of $3,000 per worker per year. That is what an employer is charged when one of its employees gets subsidized care on one of the health-care exchanges. It’s 18 times the $2,000 penalty for not offering adequate health insurance.

The $100 fine is applicable not only to large firms, but also those with fewer than 50 workers that are exempt from the $2,000 and $3,000 employer penalties. Firms with one worker are exempt. The penalty for S-corporations will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. The new rule is broad, sweeping and overly punitive.

This new IRS penalty does not assist in the ACA’s stated goal of expanding health insurance in the United States. Rather, it does the opposite. It discourages people from finding and purchasing the insurance that suits them. It also discourages companies from hiring. Consider that 14% of businesses that do not offer group health insurance have some sort of arrangement to reimburse their employees for insurance costs, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

The administration should be encouraging employers to take on more labor, because many capable people are sitting on the sidelines. On the day after the IRS rule took effect, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its Employment Situation Report for June 2015. The report showed that U.S. labor-force participation had declined to a new low, 62.6%, equivalent to levels in October 1977. The drop included prime-age workers, those between 25 and 55, who are normally in the labor market because they generally have finished school and have not yet retired.

Rep. Charles Boustany, a Republican from Louisiana, has introduced the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act of 2015, and Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, has a companion bill in the Senate (S.1697). The bills would allow small businesses to use pre-tax dollars to assist employees purchasing insurance in the individual market.

Why has the IRS taken this extreme view? If the employer reimburses an employee for health-insurance premiums, this arrangement is described as an employer-payment plan. The employer-payment plan is considered by the IRS to be a group health plan that has to meet the conditions of Affordable Care Act insurance, including the prohibition on annual limits for essential health benefits and the requirement to provide certain preventive care without cost sharing.

MarketWatch columnist Bill Bischoff explains the new rule as follows. “Employer-payment arrangements have long been a popular way for small employers to help workers obtain health coverage without the hassle and expense of furnishing a full-fledged company health-insurance plan. Under an employer-payment arrangement, the employer reimburses participating employees for premiums paid for their individual health-insurance policies or pays the premiums directly on behalf of participating employees.”

Small employers with a workforce of between 50 and 100 employees are required to offer the more expensive “essential health benefits,” including hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental-health and substance-use disorder services, and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.

In contrast, large employers, those with more than 100 workers, do not have to meet all the generous standards for health-insurance plans offered on the state exchanges, but can offer lesser health insurance and still avoid penalties. The “minimum essential coverage” that large employers have to offer to comply with the law turns out to be substantially less generous than the “essential health benefits” required for plans sold to individuals and small businesses by insurance companies.

Of course, not all employers will choose low-benefit plans. In order to retain workers, many large employers are likely to offer generous plans, and offset the cost by paying a lower cash wage. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that benefits account for 32% of compensation packages, with cash wages responsible for the remainder. However, low-benefit plans are likely to be attractive to employers with low-skill workforces in the restaurant, retail, and leisure and hospitality industries.

Although large employers can legally offer low-benefit plants, small employers are not allowed to do so. This leads to an extraordinary discrepancy in potential tax payments between small and large employers. Hence, they face both higher costs for insurance and higher tax penalties if they fail to offer such insurance.

The Boustany-Grassley bill is focused on small businesses, but it makes sense to allow individuals in large companies to choose less expensive options. Health-insurance premiums are rising substantially. Oregon’s health-insurance commissioner has just approved raises of 25% to 33% for Moda Health Plan and Lifewise, affecting over 220,000 people. Other health-insurance companies nationwide are asking for increases in the same range, and insurance commissioners are deciding whether to approve them.

Even the least expensive plans on the health exchanges, termed bronze plans, feature deductibles that are prohibitive for many. The average deductible on a bronze plan is $5,000 for a single person and $11,000 for a family, according to HealthPocket, a research firm.

Businesses need to take a stand against this new IRS power grab. As Americans search for low-cost ways to stay insured, it makes sense for the government to give employers more options, rather than fewer.

 

[by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, writing for MARKETWATCH]

 

NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  Mr. O strikes again! Isn’t it wonderful, having a guy in the White House who continues to find new and exciting ways to harm his fellow citizens and the US economy?

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

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