Judicial Watch • Obamacare

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In its ongoing effort to single out health disparities between ethnic minorities and Caucasians, the Obama Administration has published a new State Obesity Map that reveals blacks, the poor and uneducated are disproportionately obese compared to their more affluent and educated white counterparts.

The new tool, published on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, offers a state-by-state breakdown of obesity rates in the United States. More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese, according to the CDC, and blacks have the highest rates (49.5%) of obesity, the agency found. Mexicans are second with an obesity rate of over 40% and “non-Hispanic whites” come in at 34.3%.

Not surprisingly, the government determined that even within some minority communities, those with higher incomes are less likely to be obese than those who make less money. This is referred to as socioeconomic disparity. Likewise, those with college degrees are less likely to be obese compared with the less educated, according to the CDC’s findings.

This is critical for minorities because obesity-related conditions can be deadly and include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. In fact, medical costs associated with obesity are estimated by the CDC to run north of $146 billion in one year alone. That translates into an individual medical bill of $1,429 higher for obese people compared to “those of normal weight,” according to the agency.

That can only mean one thing; poor minorities are victims, at a disadvantage and Uncle Sam must step in and help out. When it comes to healthcare, this has been the Obama Administration’s consistent message. In fact, an Obamacare initiative to “reduce racial and ethnic health disparities” established half a dozen federal Offices of Minority Health as well as one for each state. Their mission is to reduce health disparities between minorities and whites.

The administration has also dedicated more than $100 million help lower chronic diseases—such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease—“disproportionately seen among poor and minority populations.” Part of that effort includes eliminating “food deserts” in urban areas. The term was coined by First Lady Michelle Obama to describe poor areas she claims don’t have access to affordable healthy fare such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk. American taxpayers are also financing the costly transformation of the inner city diet.

Additionally, a new federal task force was created earlier this year to “reduce racial and ethnic asthma disparities.” The president found this government expansion essential because asthma disproportionately affects minority children and kids living below the poverty level. Specifically, the asthma rates of African American and Puerto Rican children are more than double the rate of Caucasian children in the United States, according to the new President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children.

The administration even created, for the first time ever, a new section on socioeconomic status in the CDC’s annual comprehensive report on Americans’ health. Nearly two dozen pages are dedicated to the special socioeconomic status section, which includes charts and graphs comparing the difference in the healthcare received by whites, Hispanics, blacks and Asians. Practically all ailments are mentioned, including asthma, obesity, mental disorders and dental visits with a breakdown of disparities among ethnic minorities and the uneducated and poverty-stricken.

Everything from depression to edentulism (lack of natural teeth), obesity, cigarette smoking and cancer is more prevalent among the poor, according to the government’s assessment. Even childhood attention deficit disorder hits low-income minorities harder and practically every chronic disease known to man strikes them at much greater rates than educated whites. In short, people with higher education and income levels have lower rates of many chronic diseases compared to those with less education and lower income levels, the feds assert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In its quest to bring poor minorities the same quality of medical care as their wealthier, white counterparts the Obama Administration has launched a “coordinated federal action plan to reduce racial and ethnic asthma disparities.”

As the election nears, the new government task force will show Americans how the president is working to close the racial/ethnic gap on asthma, a disease it claims disproportionately affects minority children and kids living below the poverty level. In announcing the new multi-agency task force recently, the administration reveals that the asthma rates of African American and Puerto Rican children are more than double the rate of Caucasian children in the United States.

Furthermore, poor and minority children are more likely to have asthma and their health outcomes are worse. Black children are twice as likely to be hospitalized and four times as likely to die from asthma as white children, according to the new task force figures. Additionally, asthma is linked to academic performance because 10.5 million school days are missed annually due to asthma.

Thus the need for yet another taxpayer-funded program to help shave the gap. It’s not enough that, under Obamacare, dozens of new “health equity” offices have already been created to end the health disparities between poor minorities and whites. In fact, more than $100 million has already been dedicated to an initiative to help lower chronic diseases “disproportionately seen among poor and minority populations.”

This latest effort focuses strictly on asthma, which may leave some wondering if the administration plans to create task forces for other individual diseases as well. There would be plenty to choose from, according to the U.S. government’s annual comprehensive report on Americans’ health. This year’s edition features an unprecedented section on socioeconomic status that says practically all ailments—from depression to edentulism (lack of natural teeth) to cancer and childhood attention deficit disorder—are more prevalent among poor minorities.

Getting back to the new minority asthma task force, several federal agencies have teamed up with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to form it. They include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Health and Human Services (HHS) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A key factor in the asthma disparity is the “unacceptable burden of pollution” that “low-income and minority communities often face,” the chair of Obama’s White House CEQ said in a statement announcing the task force.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan says it’s essential that the government ensures all children have a healthy place to call home. “The numbers don’t lie. Asthma disproportionately impacts low-income minority families,” Donovan said, adding that the new task force will help the federal government support the development of “innovative new approaches to improve and control asthma.”

That can only mean one thing; doling out more taxpayer dollars for yet another one of the president’s “innovative new approaches” to assist low-income minorities. This includes a $4.5 billion law—pushed through by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010—that focuses on conquering childhood obesity among poor minorities who live in “food deserts” that don’t have healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.

As if Obamacare wasn’t bad enough, a separate “complement” law that will focus on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities is being pushed through Congress by a coalition of influential minority lawmakers.The measure (Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011 or HEAA) will save the government trillions of dollars because it will bring “health equity to all corners of our nation,” according to the California congresswoman (Barbara Lee) who chairs the Asian, black and Hispanic healthcare taskforce that introduced the law. It will accomplish this by “building on the historic provisions” of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Lee asserts.If enacted, the equity law will close the gap in care by ensuring “workforce diversity” in all health fields, making “cultural and linguistically appropriate” healthcare services available to people of color and improving the treatment of “high impact minority diseases” like AIDS, diabetes and hepatitis. The measure will also create a new Office of Minority Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs.Passing HEAA is essential because many communities will remain vulnerable even after Obamacare is fully implemented, according the nation’s most powerful open borders group, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).  HEAA will eliminate “access barriers” for immigrants who want to get government health and nutrition programs and will create “community-based strategies that address social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to health disparities,” the NCLR proudly announced this week.Currently people from communities “of color” are nearly twice as likely as whites to suffer from a serious health condition, says one of the NCLR’s health policy experts touting HEAA this week. Yet, they encounter an “inequitable” system with lower quality care. This is partly due to an “increase in racially segregated living spaces” that leave minority neighborhoods with “less infrastructure that encourages good health,” the NCLR expert claims.As a side note, this seems to go hand in hand with the administration’s $4.5 billion effort to bring healthy cuisine to inner-city areas with “limited access to affordable and nutritious foods.” Under that plan, U.S. taxpayers are providing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk in neighborhoods determined by the government to be “food deserts.” The idea is to promote good health by revolutionizing the inner city diet which consists largely of greasy, fried foods.Back to the minority health issue at hand; Lee, who represents the San Francisco Bay area and claims to be dedicated to “social and economic justice,” is capitalizing on the ethnic health matter. This week she also called on the government to allocate $610 million to a minority HIV/AIDS initiative after calling the sexually transmitted disease the “greatest humanitarian crisis of our time,” especially for African Americans.

In the latest scandal to rock Obamacare, a new federal probe reveals the administration withheld crucial information from Congress about a costly healthcare entitlement program that it knew was fiscally unsustainable.It marks the latest exposé of the secrecy that has prevailed throughout the president’s hostile takeover of the nation’s healthcare system. Last year Judicial Watch obtained alarming documents regarding closed-door healthcare meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Obamacare Czar Nancy-Ann Min DeParle and union officials.Just a few days ago JW made public thousands of pages of additional documents involving the administration’s secretive process in granting waivers exempting companies and unions from inconvenient provisions of Obamacare. As of July 2011, 1,472 one-year waivers and 106 three-year waivers were granted, covering some 3.4 million enrollees, more than half of which belong to unions. Yet, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, union members account for only about 12% of the total workforce.This week’s Obamacare scandal du jour comes from a congressional panel that concludes the administration lied to push a costly long-term care program known as Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS). Internal documents obtained by lawmakers from a committee of House and Senate Republicans reveal officials in Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were acutely aware that the program was unsustainable and suppressed the information from Congress and the public.The bicameral committee lists its findings in a scathing report that says HHS knew CLASS was likely to collapse as it pushed hard to pass it. While senior HHS officials publicly confirmed that CLASS was solvent, they privately called it “a recipe for disaster” in internal communications obtained as part of the probe. In fact, they had been warned by federal healthcare experts that the entitlement program would likely require a federal bailout or another insurance mandate.CLASS is supposed to provide long-term care insurance, including nursing home payments and in-home nursing care. Benefits are supposed to be funded with contributors’ premiums and not taxpayer money. However, under the current structure, it would need more enrollees (234 million) than the entire American workforce. Internal communications released this week indicate CLASS would essentially require federal subsidies or a mandate forcing all workers to pay into the government’s new program.

The director of the new agency created to oversee the government takeover of the nation’s healthcare system was the Chairman and Executive Officer of a Maryland company that cheated taxpayers out of more than $74 million in Medicaid overpayments.One can only imagine what he will do in his new role as Obamacare’s top dog in charge of regulating and controlling the lucrative, private insurance market. At the president’s new Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), Steve Larsen will have an incredible amount of power and influence in a number of areas with no oversight.As head of the agency, Larsen, the one-time CEO of Amerigroup Maryland and the state’s former insurance commissioner, will oversee four divisions with widespread power; the Office of Oversight, the Office of Insurance Programs, the Office of Consumer Support, and the Office of Health Insurance Exchanges. The divisions are responsible for everything from “crafting and enforcing new insurance regulations” in the private market to overseeing state-based insurance exchanges for individuals and businesses.When Larsen ran Amerigroup Maryland, the company was embroiled in a huge corruption scandal for billing Uncle Sam for medical services that about 90,000 low-income residents never received in the District of Columbia. Amerigroup was one of three healthcare contractors involved in the $100 million scheme, which was exposed in 2007 by D.C.’s Office of the Inspector General.Larsen’s Deputy Director at the CCIIO is Liz Fowler, the former vice president of health benefits giant WellPoint, which serves around 33 million people. As a top staffer for the U.S. Senator (Max Baucus) who drafted and helped pass Obamacare, Fowler played a key role in crafting the bill’s language.What better way to reward her than to put her in charge of consumer issues and oversight of the nation’s entire healthcare system?The CCIIO also has four deputy directors that each runs a main office, but no one is really sure who they are or their qualifications. The agency’s organizational chart only lists Larsen and a Timothy Hill, who evidently has left because the position is currently vacant, according to the CCIIO’s website.The entire process surrounding the Obama Administration’s hostile takeover of the nation’s healthcare system has been veiled in secrecy. Judicial Watch has sued the administration to make the information public. Last year JW obtained documents from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding closed-door healthcare meetings between union officials and Vice President Joe Biden, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and then-Obamacare Czar Nancy-Ann Min DeParle.This week JW obtained thousands of pages of additional documents involving the administration’s secretive process in granting waivers exempting companies and unions from inconvenient provisions of Obamacare. As of July 2011, 1,472 one-year waivers and 106 three-year waivers were granted, covering some 3.4 million enrollees, more than half of which belong to unions. Yet, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, union members account for only about 12% of the total workforce.

More than $100 million in Obamacare grants to “reduce health disparities” between minorities and whites will also go to projects that help meet the First Lady’s goal of bringing healthy foods to the inner city.In fact, the agency that’s dishing out the cash, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is encouraging groups that can help eliminate “food deserts” in urban areas to apply for the recently announced “community transformation grants.” The goal is to reduce chronic diseases—such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease—disproportionately seen among poor and minority populations.The administration has already dedicated another federal agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to revolutionize the inner city diet by providing affordable healthy fare such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk in neighborhoods determined to be “food deserts” or poor census tracts with “low access” to a large grocery store. The agency even created an internet mapping tool (Food Desert Locator) that identifies areas with “limited access to affordable and nutritious foods.”Created by Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the new healthcare grants “will empower communities with resources, information and flexibility to help make their residents healthier,” according to Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. As a result the government will save millions in healthcare costs because chronic diseases are mostly caused by tobacco use, obesity, poor diet and lack of physical activity, according to the Health Department.This is why the administration is dedicating more than $100 million to help “population groups experiencing the greatest burden of chronic disease” (poor minorities) become tobacco free, more physically active and better nourished.As an example of a qualifying grant recipient the Health Department specifically lists “eliminating food deserts” and bringing healthier food to “corner markets in urban areas.”

Among the more clever provisions of President Obama’s healthcare overhaul is a billion-dollar initiative the administration guarantees will “save lives” by putting an end to “millions of preventable injuries and complications in patient care.” This, in turn, will improve care and lower costs.How exactly will this be accomplished? The administration isn’t offering those sorts of details, but this week it proudly announced that it has allocated the first half—$500 million—of the funding for the innovative project (Partnership for Patients) that will end up saving $50 billion in healthcare costs, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.The taxpayer dollars will be distributed through the Community Based Care Transitions Program (CCTP), a quasi agency created to help execute Obama’s hostile takeover of the nation’s healthcare system. The other $500 million will go directly to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center. Both chunks of cash will be used to accomplish the same goals, according to Obama’s Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.“Americans go the hospital to get well, but millions of patients are injured because of preventable complications and accidents,” Sebelius said in a press release announcing Partnership for Patients this week. “Working closely with hospitals, doctors, nurses, patients, families and employers, we will support efforts to help keep patients safe, improve care, and reduce costs. Working together, we can help eliminate preventable harm to patients.”Around 60,000 lives will be saved by stopping millions of preventable injuries and complications in patient care, she said. The money will keep hospital patients from getting “injured or sicker” and help patients heal “without complication.” Already more than 500 hospitals as well as doctors and nurses groups and even employers and consumer groups have pledged their commitment to the new initiative, the Health Department points out.After reading the government’s lengthy announcement, it’s still quite difficult to grasp what exactly this costly program will do and how it will accomplish its rather vague goals. What is crystal clear from reading the Health Department’s information packet is that it will cost U.S.taxpayers a huge chunk of change, $1 billion.

As if government wasn’t bloated enough, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will hire more than 1,000 new employees to monitor the implementation of Obamacare and the agency will spend an extra $93 million just to promote compliance in the first year.That’s because Obama’s hostile takeover of the nation’s healthcare system has created a “major challenge” for the IRS and the “largest set of tax law changes in more than 20 years.” At least that’s how the agency is justifying the costly additions in its 2012 budget request to Congress.The healthcare law will require additional resources to, among other things, build new information technology systems, modify existing tax processing systems and provide taxpayer outreach and assistance, according to the IRS budget request. There will also be other expenses for things such as resolving taxpayer “issues” in a timely and accurate manner and conducting “focused examinations to encourage compliance.”If this seems a bit murky, the detailed budget request provides some examples of what some of these things mean. For instance, the agency needs $34.4 million to hire 100 full-time staffers that will perform “new health coverage information reporting” and $22.2 million so that 150 employees can assist taxpayers in understanding the new provisions. It seems that these new divisions fall under taxpayer outreach or perhaps the innovative issue resolution department.A staff of around 84 will be hired at a cost of $9.9 million to “strengthen oversight of exempt hospitals” and $11.5 million will help create a tanning salon taskforce with 81 employees. Under Obamacare indoor tanning businesses must pay a 10% excise tax and the new division will assure that 25,000 facilities around the nation are complying. These appear to fall under “focused examinations to encourage compliance,” though it’s hard to say.The IRS also needs to hire more than 200 new agents to handle other tax law changes related to Obama’s catastrophic $787 billion stimulus, according to its budget request. As for Obamacare compliance requests, they can expect to grow since the law won’t even be fully implemented for several more years.

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