Tuesday, July 30, 2019



July 29, 2019

Kamala Harris offers debt forgiveness — to people who don't have debts

Kamala Harris would like you to know that she is smart.  She wears her business suits with heels and pearls, after all, and makes her staff do likewise. Her book about her life as a prosecutor is called 'Smart on Crime.' 
Here's what Democratic Party–linked ActBlue fundraising outfit has to say about her:
Kamala Harris is a great progressive. Please donate to help Kamala and the Democrats defeat Trump in 2020.
Kamala Harris clearly won the Democratic presidential primary debate. She slayed, repeatedly, and came across as incredibly serious, smart, tough and presidential. Here is one such moment:
"I will ensure that this microphone, that the president of the United States holds in HER hand, is used in a way that is about reflecting the values of our country."
The press coverage she gets reflects all those claims to smartness.
So now Harris is a face in the Democratic clown car, doing what the rest of them are doing, trying to offer more free stuff than the next guy in order to stand out.  Here's her tweet:

Yesterday I announced that, as president, I’ll establish a student loan debt forgiveness program for Pell Grant recipients who start a business that operates for three years in disadvantaged communities. https://kamalaharris.org/opportunity-gap/ 

Well, who is going to be able to start a business if they're overloaded with student loan debt? And then you're asking people who already have a lot of debt to take on even more debt.
And there's a bigger problem. Pell Grants don't need to be repaid, they're grants, not loans.
Why doesn't she know that?
So I guess everyone who's overloaded with student debt can rely on the old trust fund to start the business, is that it?  Sounds like some real grounding in the real world from Willie Brown's former squeeze.
And more to the point, Pell Grants, as the name says, are grants, not loans.  Nobody turns up with debt on that program.  Offering debt forgiveness of zero is...zero.  Smart on debt?  Maybe only to her.
Sound like a great smart proposal?
No, sounds as if Harris doesn't know what she's talking about.  What's worse, doesn't know that she doesn't know.  She's trying to sound targeted and clever, no doubt in a bid to whip up interest in her novel plans, but she doesn't know a thing about Pell Grants except that they go to poor people, and for the poor, offering more free stuff (instead of J-O-B-S) is all she needs to do.  Even if it's not exactly debt forgiveness, given that there's no debt.
This is one stupid woman who's less smart and thinks the rest of us are stupid.  She doesn't do her homework, not even on things she's saying herself.  She's holding out loan forgiveness to people who don't have loans.  This isn't staff work she can blame for faulty research given that it was her own tweet, this is actually she.
Not exactly the person you'd want to see in the White House, makin' it up as she goes along, pandering, offering bee ess goodies that aren't goodies — and then telling us she's smart.  Ugh.

Kamala Harris’s Socialist Ties

Part 1: Red diaper baby

Democratic presidential primary front-runner Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) recently told reporters at a campaign stop in New Hampshire that she is “not a democratic socialist.”
The next question should have been obvious: “Well, then, what kind of socialist are you?”
Harris has been surrounded by socialists and communists her entire life—beginning with her staunchly Marxist father. Harris is the older child of two 1960s Berkeley radicals: Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer researcher from the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, and Donald J. Harris, an economist from Jamaica.
Gopalan and Donald Harris were very active during the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests of the era, often taking baby Kamala to protests in a stroller, according to a recent article in San Jose daily newspaper The Mercury News on the Harris family.
The couple separated after Donald Harris took a professorship at the University of Madison–Wisconsin. Gopalan filed for divorce in 1971 and won custody of her two daughters in 1973.
Kamala and her younger sister, Maya—now her presidential campaign chair—regularly visited their father during school holidays.
In 1972, Donald Harris left the University of Madison–Wisconsin to begin a visiting professorship of economics at Stanford University.
On Nov. 3, 1976, an article published in the Stanford Daily newspaper claimed that more than 250 students were clamoring for more Marxist perspectives.
Shortly thereafter, a letter was published in the Stanford Daily on Nov. 12, 1976, signed by the Stanford branch of the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE), with signatures from members Bill Dittenhofer, Ari Cohen, Eric Berg, David O’Connor, Arthur Slepian, Sandy Thompson, and Tracy Mott:
“The program in Marxian economics would be much weaker than it is today if had it not been for massive student efforts in the form of petitions, open meetings …
“[It] was only after a divisive one and a one-half year struggle that the opposing elements in the department gave into student pressure and conceded to ‘the appointment of Prof. Donald Harris. Thus the presence of Marxian economists here simply indicates the success of the student struggle. … The recent addition of course offerings in Marxian economics is again a direct result of student pressure, not departmental benevolence.”
After an 18-month campaign by the union, Harris was offered and accepted a permanent professorship.
The URPE (which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary) began in 1968 as a spinoff of the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). URPE has overlapped considerably with America’s largest Marxist organization, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), since its founding in 1982. One of professor Donald Harris’s Stanford supporters and URPE letter signatories, Mott, is now a professor at the University of Denver, where he works with local DSA activists.
During the summer and fall of 2006, the DSA’s Political Action Committee helped DSA activists around the country host house parties to raise funds that helped Bernie Sanders become the “sole socialist in the U.S. Senate.”
According to DSA magazine Democratic Left: “Boulder, Colorado, guests braved a downpour to attend the party at the home of Leslie Lomas and hear a talk about giving money by economics professor and socialist Tracy Mott.”
According to The Mercury News: “Several of his former students said it wasn’t accurate to describe him [Donald Harris] as Marxist, although ‘he might have been a lot more sympathetic to Marx than a lot of other economists were at the time,’ said Tracy Mott.”
Mott was being disingenuous. Several Stanford Daily articles at the time described Donald Harris as “Marxist,” and Mott and his friends made it very clear that Harris was hired specifically for his radical ideology.
Donald Harris wrote papers such as “The Black Ghetto as Colony: A Theoretical Critique” ‎(1972) and “Capitalist Exploitation and Black Labor: Some Conceptual Issues” (1978).
Harris’s Marxism was never questioned or denied at any stage of his career.
URPE also was very close to the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), once the largest and most influential of the far-left think tanks in Washington. Since its founding in 1963, the IPS has consistently followed a pro-Marxist line on foreign policy, defense, and economic issues.
To put its policy recommendations into action, the IPS “built networks of contacts among congressional legislators and their staffs, academics, government officials, and the national media,” according to the book “The War Called Peace: The Soviet Peace Offensive.”
The IPS also was on very close terms with representatives of communist Cuba and the former Soviet Union.
In 1978, in an article in National Review, Brian Crozier, director of the London-based Institute for the Study of Conflict, described IPS as the “perfect intellectual front for Soviet activities which would be resisted if they were to originate openly from the KGB.”
In the 1988 book “Winning America: Ideas and Leadership for the 1990s,” edited by IPS leaders Marcus Raskin and Chester Hartman, the IPS and DSA affiliate Sean Gervasi recommended a slate of radical colleagues as potential appointees in a hoped-for new Democratic administration after the 1988 election.
Gervasi’s wish list including the following:
• Barry Bluestone—SDS founder, DSA affiliate, URPE member. Served as a member of the senior policy staff of former Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.).
• Gar Alperovitz—IPS, DSA, Brookings Institute.
• Robert Browne—SDS, IPS.
• Jeff Faux—DSA affiliate. Faux has worked as an economist with the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity and the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, and Labor.
• Carol O’Cleireacain—DSA member, Brookings Institute. In 2014, she became Detroit deputy mayor for economic policy, planning, and strategy.
• Howard Wachtel—IPS, URPE member.
• Art MacEwan—URPE member, DSA affiliate.
And, of course, Donald Harris, Marxist professor and Kamala Harris’s father.
Republican George H.W. Bush won the 1988 election, so professor Harris stayed on at Stanford until his retirement.
Ironically, Kamala Harris’s most formidable opponent in the Democratic primary so far is Bernie Sanders, a favorite of professor Harris’s old URPE and DSA colleagues.
When Sanders drops out of a very crowded Democratic primary, will his supporters cross over to support Kamala Harris?
I believe they will. In fact, I believe it has already been decided.
Trevor Loudon is an author, filmmaker, and public speaker from New Zealand. For more than 30 years, he has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements and their covert influence on mainstream politics.

Former president Barack Obama speaks at a rally in Detroit, Michigan, on Oct. 26, 2018. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Barack Obama: A Lifelong Story of Russian Collusion

Several U.S. presidents have genuinely colluded with Russia or the former Soviet Union, but none more so the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. It’s no exaggeration to say that Obama owes his entire career to Russian collusion.
In March 2012, President Obama made his famous “off mic” remarks to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.” Medvedev replied, “I understand. I transmit this information to Vladimir.”
Was this some innocent remark, or was it just as it seems: a friend passing a message to a friend?
Obama has surrounded himself with pro-Moscow “friends” all his life. Why should he desert his friends just because he was president of the United States?
Just after Obama’s election to the presidency on Nov. 15, 2008, Sam Webb, then-chairman of the still pro-Moscow Communist Party USA, told his party comrades: “The left can and should advance its own views and disagree with the Obama administration without being disagreeable. Its tone should be respectful. We are speaking to a friend.”
A lifelong friend.

Frank Marshall Davis

The young Obama, when he was 10 or 11 years old, was introduced to the Hawaii-based poet Frank Marshall Davis by his maternal grandfather. Obama maintained a relationship with the septuagenarian Davis until he left Hawaii for Occidental College in Los Angeles at the age of 18.
Davis had joined the Communist Party USA in Chicago by 1943, at the latest. He was militantly pro-Soviet, writing poems in praise of both Stalin and the Red Army.
In 1948, Davis and his communist wife moved to Hawaii. According to Davis’s autobiography, he was recommended to the Hawaiian comrades by secret Communist Party USA members Paul Robeson and Harry Bridges of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union.
Before going underground in 1950, the Hawaiian Communist Party was one of the most dynamic in the United States at the time. The mainland put huge resources into the Hawaiian Communist Party because the Soviets wanted the U.S. military presence on the islands shut down. The Hawaiian communists were charged with agitating against the U.S. military bases at every opportunity.
FBI documents refer to information that Davis “was observed photographing large sections of the [Hawaii] coastline with a camera containing a telescopic lens.” The FBI information states: “Informant stated that DAVIS spent much of his time in this activity. He said this was the third different occasion DAVIS had been observed photographing shorelines and beachfronts. Informant advised that it did not appear he was photographing any particular objects.”
The FBI clearly suspected military espionage. Davis was placed on the “Security Index,” which meant he was marked for immediate arrest should war break out between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Alice Palmer

Long-serving Illinois state Sen. Alice Palmer provided Obama’s entrĂ©e into electoral politics. Obama was Palmer’s chief of staff when she ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1994, then he took over her state Senate seat in 1996.
Palmer was a pro-Soviet propagandist.
In 1983, Palmer traveled to Czechoslovakia to the Soviet-controlled World Peace Council’s Prague Assembly. At the time, she served on the executive board of the Communist Party USA-dominated U.S. Peace Council.
In 1985, Palmer was part of a delegation of 16 African-American journalists to the Soviet Union, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia. Palmer represented her own Chicago-based “Black Press Institute,” which was essentially a vehicle for disseminating Soviet propaganda to America’s black population.
The trip was organized by Don Rojas, then executive of the International Organization of Journalists (IOJ), in conjunction with the Black Press Institute, the National Alliance of Black Journalists, and the National Newspaper Publishers Association—the United States’ largest organization of owners of black newspapers.
American-educated Rojas was the former press secretary to Grenada’s late communist leader, Maurice Bishop.
Palmer told the Communist Party USA’s People’s Daily World:
“The trip was extraordinary because we were able to sit down with our counterparts and with the seats of power in three major capitals—Prague, Berlin and Moscow. We visited with foreign ministers, we talked with the editors of the major newspapers in these three cities. …
“It was a very unusual trip because we were given access. … Every effort was made to give us as much as we asked for. … We came back feeling that we could speak very well about the interest of the socialist countries in promoting peace.”
In March 1986, Palmer covered the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) Congress in Moscow for the Black Press Institute.
In June 1986, the People’s Daily World published a Black Press Institute article by Palmer on the CPSU conference, entitled “An Afro-American Journalist in the USSR.” The article praised Soviet “central planning” and included such statements as:
“We Americans can be misled by the major media. We’re being told the Soviets are striving to achieve a comparatively low standard of living compared with ours, but actually they have reached a basic stability in meeting their needs and are now planning to double their production.”
Palmer was elected IOJ vice president for North America at the organization’s 10th Congress, held from Oct. 20–23, 1986, in Prague. She also traveled to the Soviet Union and Bulgaria during the same trip. Palmer’s duties were to include coordinating the activities of IOJ chapters in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
The IOJ was a Soviet front operation based in Prague, until its expulsion by the Czech government in 1995.

David Axelrod

A longtime friend of Obama, David Axelrod, led Obama’s 2008 and 2012 election campaigns and served as a senior adviser to the president.
In the 1940s, Axelrod’s mother, Myril Axelrod, wrote for the left-leaning New York magazine “PM.” Though not officially a communist publication, several Communist Party USA members worked on the paper.
PM’s Washington correspondent, I.F. Stone, was later identified as a Communist Party USA member and a Soviet intelligence agent.
One of PM’s writers, Earl Conrad, also wrote for the leftist magazine Negro Story, as did Obama’s mentor, Frank Marshall Davis.
While studying in Chicago, Axelrod was mentored by longtime Chicago journalist and activist David Canter.
Canter spent his childhood in the Soviet Union where his father, Harry Canter, former secretary of the Boston Communist Party, translated Lenin’s works from Russian into English. This work earned Harry Canter an audience with Stalin in 1932. After World War II, Harry Canter settled his family in Chicago, where he took over a radical paper called the Chicago Star—for sale because its owner, Frank Marshall Davis, was moving to Hawaii.
David Canter joined the Communist Party USA and would later become an associate of Obama.
By 1960, David Canter had teamed up with well-known Chicago Communist Party USA member LeRoy Wolins. The duo owned a company called Translation World Publishers, which specialized in publications from and about the Soviet Union. The company soon attracted the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which suspected Canter and Wolins of being conduits for Soviet propaganda.
In a report prepared by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in May and July 1962, entitled “Communist Outlets for the Distribution of Soviet Propaganda in the United States,” David Canter was heavily quizzed about payments his company received from the Soviet Union.
After the U.S. government demanded that Translation World Publishers register as the agent of a foreign power, Canter de-registered the company.
The committee went on to find that:
“Translation World Publishers was an outlet for the distribution of Soviet propaganda … this publishing house was subsidized by Soviet funds and was created by known Communists to serve the propaganda interests of the U.S.S.R.”
In 1963/64, the Soviet Union actively tried to undermine Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, in favor of Democrat Lyndon Johnson.
In their 1989 book, “The KGB Against the Main Enemy—How the Soviet Intelligence Service Operates Against the United States,” the United States’ premier communist researcher, Herbert Romerstein, and former KGB officer Stanislav Levchenko examined Soviet attempts to blacken Goldwater’s name and other Soviet campaigns of the time:
“The false charge that Goldwater was a racist was only one of the smear campaigns used against his candidacy by the Soviets and their surrogates. The American Communists covertly assisted in this ‘active measures’ campaign.
“A 1963 booklet claimed that Goldwater was conspiring with the John Birch Society to organize a ‘putsch,’ or violent insurrection, to take over the United States in 1964. The booklet, ‘Birch Putsch Plans for 1964,’ contained no address for the publisher, Domino Publications. The author used the not-very imaginative pseudonym, ‘John Smith, as told to Stanhope T. McReady.’ There was nothing to tie this publication to the communists until an ad for the book appeared in the pro-communist National Guardian for April 25, 1963, listing the publisher as ‘Domino Publications, Suite 900, 22 West Madison Street, Chicago, Illinois.’
“This was in fact the address of Translation World Publishers, which was registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as an agent of the Soviet Union. The co-owners, LeRoy Wolins and David S. Canter, were identified by the House Committee on Un-American Activities as members of the Communist Party USA.”
Axelrod’s mentor was a Soviet-funded professional “black propagandist.” Axelrod used similar smear tactics to help Obama win a U.S. Senate seat in 2006 and the presidency in 2008 and 2012.

Valerie Jarrett

The “other half of Obama’s brain,” Valerie Jarrett was a longtime Obama family friend and the president’s closest adviser through his entire eight years in the White House.
FBI documents show that Jarrett’s maternal grandfather, Chicago businessman and Housing Authority Chairman Robert Taylor, was “in contact” with alleged Soviet spy Alfred Stern “on a number of occasions.” At one point, the pair were actually in business together. Under investigation by the FBI, Stern fled the country in the late 1950s through Mexico to the Soviet Union before settling in Czechoslovakia.
Jarrett’s father, James Bowman, was also accused of associating with Stern.
FBI files also reveal, “Bowman was also a member of a Communist-sympathizing group called the Association of Internes and Medical Students,” according to Judicial Watch.
Another document in the files was a note from J. Edgar Hoover to FBI officials in Denver instructing them to investigate “James Edward Bowman” for his connections to other suspects.
The Judicial Watch report explained, “According to Bowman’s government file, the Association of Internes and Medical Students is an organization that ‘has long been a faithful follower of the Communist Party line’ and engages in un-American activities. Bowman was born in Washington, D.C., and had deep ties to Chicago, where he often collaborated with fellow Communists.”
Jarrett’s father-in-law, prominent Chicago journalist Vernon Jarrett, was a leader of the Communist Party USA youth wing, American Youth for Democracy, in 1946.
In early 1948, the communist-controlled Packinghouse Workers went on strike in Chicago. Vernon Jarrett served on the publicity committee of the communist-run “Citizens’ Committee to Aid Packing-House Workers,” alongside none other than fellow journalist and comrade Frank Marshall Davis.
Vernon Jarrett was also a fan of Obama. He watched his career from its early stages and became an influential supporter.
In 1992, Obama worked for the ACORN offshoot Project Vote to register black voters in aid of the Senate campaign of Carol Moseley Braun, who also had strong Communist Party USA ties.
Obama helped Moseley Braun win her Senate seat, then took it over himself in 2004, backed by the same communist/socialist alliance that had backed Moseley Braun.
Commenting on the 1992 race, Vernon Jarrett wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times on Aug. 11, 1992:
“Good news! Good news! Project Vote, a collectivity of 10 church-based community organizations dedicated to black voter registration, is off and running. Project Vote is increasing its rolls at a 7,000-per-week clip. … If Project Vote is to reach its goal of registering 150,000 out of an estimated 400,000 unregistered blacks statewide, ‘it must average 10,000 rather than 7,000 every week,’ says Barack Obama, the program’s executive director.”

Council for a Livable World

Established in 1962 by former Hungarian communist sympathizer and alleged Soviet spy Leo Szilard, the Washington-based Council for a Livable World (CLW) has done huge damage to the U.S. military—all to the benefit of Moscow.
The CLW’s modus operandi is to fund leftist senators and congressmembers, then lobby them hard for defense cuts and disadvantageous arms reduction treaties with the Soviet Union/Russia.
The CLW claims to have had an early influence on both Obama and his vice president, Joe Biden.
“Council for a Liveable World has a history of helping to elect new candidates who can make a difference in the Senate, such as a little-known state senator from Illinois named Barack Obama and a 29-year-old Joe Biden in his first statewide contest,” the CLW wrote in 2012.
The CLW helped fund Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate race. Obama has also been pictured (circa mid-1990s) alongside longtime CLW leader Massachusetts-based socialist Jerome Grossman.
CLW Executive Director John Isaacs wrote in Grossman’s eulogy: “Now, as an aside, we have a dictum at Council for a Livable World. If we support a candidate in his or her first major political contest, he or she will always remember who was with them at the beginning. That has been true with such political figures—(he says modestly)—as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden.”
In October 2007, the CLW praised Sen. Obama “for his pledge to pursue a world without nuclear weapons and to improve U.S.–Russian relations.”
At a speech at DePaul University, Obama stated: “Here’s what I’ll say as president: America seeks a world in which there are no nuclear weapons. … We’ll work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert, and to dramatically reduce the stockpiles of our nuclear weapons and material.”
As the Soviet Union/Russia has cheated on every single arms-reduction treaty with the United States, Obama was effectively proposing unilateral U.S. disarmament.
Former Sen. Gary Hart, then chairman of the CLW, applauded Obama’s pledge.
“By placing the issue of the elimination of nuclear arsenals at the center of his foreign policy, Sen. Barack Obama has performed a great public service and deserves attention and respect from all those who see this issue as crucial to our times and who have been watching and waiting for strong leadership and courage,” Hart said in a statement.
In June 2013, President Obama used a speech in Berlin to outline plans for further reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal “if Russia agrees to pare back its weapons at the same time.”
According to the New York Times:
“Resuming a drive toward disarmament that he had largely shunted aside over the past two years, Mr. Obama will propose trimming the number of strategic warheads that each of the two big nuclear powers still maintains by up to a third, taking them below the 1,550 permitted in the treaty he signed with Russia in his first term, a senior administration official said. That would leave each country with just over 1,000 weapons.
“Mr. Obama will also declare that he will work with NATO allies to develop proposals for major cuts in tactical nuclear weapons, which are not covered by the existing treaty. Russia, which has far more tactical nuclear weapons deployed than the United States and Europe do, has firmly resisted such cuts. There are fears that its tactical weapons are in parts of Russia where they risk being seized by terrorist groups.
“Mr. Obama will also announce that he will host a final nuclear security summit meeting in the United States just before he leaves office. …
“’The most important thing he could do is lay out the broad agenda for the next three and a half years,’ said John Isaacs, executive director of the Council for a Livable World, an advocacy group.
“In addition to further reductions, Mr. Isaacs said, there are several policy changes Mr. Obama could take that would move the country further away from cold war-style national security. He said the president could take nuclear weapons off high alert and change nuclear doctrine to say that the only purpose of such weapons would be as a deterrent.”
Under the Obama administration, while America disarmed, Moscow pulled well ahead of the United States in virtually every realm of nuclear and conventional weaponry.
The situation has gotten so bad that President Donald Trump had to unilaterally withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (which Russia has continually cheated on) in order to give the U.S. military some chance of catching up to Moscow.

How Many Russian Agents Do You Know?

Most Americans don’t personally know any Russian agents. Most Americans aren’t surrounded by friends and advisers who know Russian agents.
Obama has been surrounded by pro-Moscow communists and probable Soviet agents his entire life. Several of his political enablers also have Soviet/Russian connections.
How unlucky can one guy get?
Obama’s economic, social, and military policies damaged the United States in a myriad of ways. Many of his military and foreign policies also directly or indirectly benefited Moscow.
Despite a lifetime of radical associations, Obama never had to undergo any form of a security background check to serve in the Illinois State Senate, U.S. Senate, or the White House. It’s highly unlikely he could have passed a security check to drive a school bus, let alone serve as the leader of the Free World.
Imagine what a two-year, multimillion-dollar, taxpayer-funded investigation into Obama’s Russian ties might uncover.
If Obama was a fully recruited agent of Moscow, tasked with giving Russia a significant military advantage over the United States, and economically weakening and socially dividing the nation, how would he have conducted his presidency (or his post-presidency) any differently?
Trevor Loudon is an author, filmmaker, and public speaker from New Zealand. For more than 30 years, he has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements and their covert influence on mainstream politics.

Can Socialists Save Us from Surprise Medical Bills?

"Surprise billing" is the latest health care crisis, and it has prompted the usual response: big government to the rescue.
Balance billing — or a surprise medical bill — happens when you get a bill from a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider who isn't part of your health plan's network of physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers.  Your health plan is your health insurance.
Surprise billing occurs because insurance plans can't create coverage for all the providers you might see in their promises to insured, and insureds don't get a proper warning about the impact of bills from out-of-network doctors and hospitals that aren't under agreements for fees with the insurance plan.  Most insurance/network plans don't get the high-dollar and high-expertise providers to agree to their fees, which are pretty modest (often chintzy), so most insurance plans with "networks" sell a shabby product to the public without warning that they are not comprehensive and leave a lot of gaps that are filled by specialists and other providers who don't agree to the insurance plan "network" fee schedules.
For example, a patient goes to an in-network hospital for emergency care and is treated by an out-of-network emergency physician or an out-of-network consultant called in.  The doctors and the hospital each bill $1,000 for their services, and the health plan pays them each $400 based on the network health plan fee schedule. The in-network hospital accepts the $400, but the doctors may bill for the balance of the bill, $600 that the health plan insurance didn't pay.  That begins the patient insured's anxiety and frustration, maybe even referral to collections and compromise of credit status as a deadbeat.  Nowhere in the mix is the original insurance company trying to settle up with the out of network providers — it's the patient, or the responsible party, on his own.
Senator Lamar Alexander, who has never seen a government intervention he didn't like, proudly announced recently that the Senate is coming to the rescue to fix a problem with health insurance coverage on surprise billing with a new law— last month, the Senate's health committee passed the "Lower Health Care Costs Act," by a vote of 20-3...and the grateful citizens breathe a sigh of relief?  States like Ohio and Texas have also passed laws to force "out of network" physicians and hospitals to accept "negotiated" fees based on market averages or medians or some other imposed standard for charges that is often determined by or heavily influenced by the insurance industry.  
The Obamacare disaster that created insurance plans that depend on "networks" populated by institutions and medical providers that agreed to contract prices for patients they cared for in the network obviously could not prevent the out of network problem.  The Senate, according to Senator Alexander's explanation, would arrange that out-of-network providers be paid the median amount paid in each local market — set by the market.  This approach is an alternative to negotiation on payments between the out-of-network providers and the insurance companies.  It is not clear how the median will be decided and what a "market" is. 
In a letter to President Trump, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) asserts the obvious: that "surprise billing" generates a lot of heat, but the proposed solutions are about protecting insurance companies from the problem that they don't write policies that are clear about coverage in out-of-network situations, and they don't administrate claims to reduce the impact of out-of-network balance billings.  Politicians should not create an artifice to allow insurers to protect themselves from paying a fair market price for services their insureds need.
The reason patients get unexpected bills from out-of-network physicians is that insurers have increasingly become narrow "on the cheap" networks with unattractive payment schedules, and when presented with bills from out-of-network providers, they punt.  Hospitals in the "network" created by the insurance company can't fill their "on call" schedule with in-network physicians, and the network does not include physicians who refuse their fee schedules or provide costly and exotic services the insurer would like to ignore.  The "networks" ignore even such expected services as neurology and surgical services and are devoid of high-end services such as cancer care (oncology).  High-end specialists are just not willing to be treated with a take-it-or-leave-it, "managed care fees is all you get" contract.
Some physicians find the fee schedules punitive and unreasonable, so they don't sign up because the fees paid do not cover overhead costs, paperwork, and administrative burdens that are costly and onerous, or because the plan imposes constraints that prevent physicians from offering the appropriate levels of diagnosis and treatment. 
The Obamacare promoted program of managed care organizations, corporate medical practice systems, price controls and rationing projects is bound to result in restrictions to good patient care so it is a deception and a distraction to create this "Surprise Billing" political issue that allows bureaucrats and insurance people to blame the fundamental foundations of the health care system — the providers — as predators.  The providers are caring for the patients; the predators are the insurance companies and government bureaucrats.
The AAPS in its letter states a truism: "Price controls always cause shortages.  Just as rent control causes a shortage of apartments, prohibiting free market billing for medical care causes physicians to refuse to join punitive network arrangements, retire early, work fewer hours, [Dunn: refuse to accept low payer patients] or provide less charity care.  This leaves patients worse off."
On the matter of hospital bills that result in "billing surprises," the most outrageous bills are from hospitals billing patients at "charge master" rates, which are nothing more than a fake high-end bill that no hospital expects to collect, but the amounts are used to make the financial losses for the hospital more impressive and allow for better claims to tax exemptions or charity care.  The charge master bills are phony, but they scare the hell out of people with little experience with the health care system who have limited resources and have been abandoned by their insurers.  Besides — what working-class family wants to be put into collections for thousands of dollars for some inflated bill?
The answer to inflated prices is price transparency and free-market competition, not more price controls that protect the profitability of managed-care insurance and institutional cartels.
John Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D. is president-elect of the Texas chapter of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization of physicians in all specialties committed to free markets and opposed to socialism.  AAPS was founded in 1943.  He is an emergency and corrections physician and inactive attorney in Brownwood, Texas.

No comments: