President: Rae Chornenky
Editor: Maria Jeffrey

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday to discuss the opening of the ObamaCare exchanges on October 1
Congressional Budget Negotiations to Begin


        Budget negotiations will soon begin on Capitol Hill with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) leading the effort. The first official meeting of the 29-member House-Senate negotiating team is scheduled for Wednesday of this week.

         Representative Ryan has said that, "if we focus on some big, grand bargain then we're going to focus on our differences," so the chances of a grand bargain on the nation's budget are highly unlikely in this very partisan era of divided government.  Lawmakers and their aides have cautioned that long-standing, entrenched differences over taxes and entitlement cuts make a large-scale budget virtually impossible.               
         Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told radio viewers on Thursday that until Republicans move off of their position against tax increases, there is no likelihood of "a grand bargain." The Associated Press reports that Republicans will not agree to further tax increases on top of the 10-year, $600 billion-plus tax increase on upper-income earners that was agreed upon in January of this year.  Without higher taxes, Democrats say they will not agree to cuts in benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. 


         For those reasons, Ryan says he is seeking a smaller, more achievable objective.  He is focused on alleviating another round of automatic spending cuts involved in sequestration and replacing them with smarter, longer-term cuts. Upcoming sequestration cuts will carve $18 billion out discretionary spending next year--cutting the day-to-day budgets of the Pentagon and domestic agencies in 2014 from $109 billion to $91 billion. The Pentagon will absorb more than 60 percent of the cuts.


          Both parties are reported to want to mitigate the sequester's impact. Ryan has noted that President Obama has proposed changes to "entitlements" which include the Medicare and Social Security programs for the elderly, Medicaid healthcare for the poor, and certain farm subsidy programs. Senate Budget Chairwoman Murray (D-WA) also has proposed ways in which to reduce healthcare costs by $275 billion over ten years through new inefficiencies. 


         Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), another member of the budget panel, has stated that Democrats would not agree to significant cuts in social programs without increasing revenues by eliminating some tax cuts.  Ryan, however, has made clear his long-standing opposition to further tax revenue increases, saying the major tax hike for the wealthiest Americans in January is already hurting the economy. 

ObamaCare:  Americans Are Having Their Insurance Canceled

                 reports today that "millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under ObamaCare ... and the administration has known that for at least three years."


         Fifty to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their health insurance individually can expect to receive a cancellation letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don't meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. Robert Laszewski of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consultant who works for health industry firms, estimates that 80 percent of those in the individual market will not be able to keep their current policies and will have to purchase a richer package of benefits under new mandates.   


         Buried in ObamaCare regulations written by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in July 2010 is an estimate that "40 to 67 percent" of insurance purchasers will not be able to keep their policy.  That means that as far back as July 2010 the administration knew that a high percentage of Americans in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans. So when Obama repeatedly assured Americans after the Affordable Care Act became law that people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it, he knew full well that millions of Americans would not be able to keep their health insurance.


          This means that when the administration made this promise they knew half the people in the market could not keep what they had.  DHHS regulations were then written so that others would not be able to be grandfathered in either.    


          Forbes reports that more Americans in three States have had their private insurance policies canceled by their providers than have applied for coverage in all fifty States under ObamaCare.  Just over 500,000 individuals have seen their policies canceled in just three States. Florida Blue, for example, is terminating approximately 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies within the State; Kaiser Permanente in California is terminating approximately half of its individual business in the State; insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping approximately 20 percent of its individual market customers while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping 45 percent of its customers. Those figures do not include the recent reports in North Carolina of Blue Cross planning to cancel a sizable portion of their plans or carriers doing the same in Illinois and Nebraska.  
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