Tuesday, July 31, 2012
The federal healthcare law carves out a money-saving (and possibly life-saving) exemption to its mandates for members of religious health sharing ministries, but under Kentucky law such membership is a felony. As ObamaCare's 2014 implementation draws closer, a lot more Kentuckians will be looking for a way out. Encouraging state lawmakers to expand the Religious Publications Exemption by striking KRS 304.1-120(7)(d)(e)(f) eliminates the worst of this threat.
It's a guilt-free, low sodium solution to a problem we don't need to have. Please spread the word right away. And if you like getting heads up like this on issues no one else reports on, please consider contributing to the effort by clicking here and making your most generous contribution. No amount is too small, and anything you can do is greatly appreciated.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Kentucky's Insurance Code, KRS 304, defines insurance to include activities of not only health sharing groups like Medi-Share, but also their members.
In a March 1, 2011 permanent injunction ruling, a Franklin Circuit Judge prohibited Medi-Share and its members from operating their health sharing program in the Commonwealth, specifically mentioning KRS 304.11-030(2), which prohibits the health sharing activities of both the company Medi-Share and its members.
KRS 304.47-020(2)(b) provides for punishment of imprisonment between one and five years and fines of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Judge Thomas Wingate says he can't rule on a year-old contempt of court motion against Medi-Share and it's members until the state's Department of Insurance and Medi-Share agree on a hearing date. Despite either weeks or months of negotiating on a date, none has been scheduled as of Monday afternoon. While the judge, the state and Medi-Share play hot potato, innocent Kentuckians are put at risk. There is a simple fix for this, though it would surely be more satisfying at this point to run the whole bunch of them out of the state and force them to talk their way back in.
Sen. Perry Clark made headlines earlier this month when he admitted to recent marijuana use, a very poorly kept secret in Frankfort. His Republican opponent, Louisville businessman Chris Thieneman, condemns Sen. Clark for smoking on the job but said he supports changing state law to allow Kentuckians who gain relief from physical problems by smoking marijuana to do so.
A year ago, nervous state politicians called industrial hemp, a natural product with multiple uses and no hallucinogenic effects, a gateway drug to harder substance abuse until Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a Republican, won election statewide on a platform including advocacy for industrial hemp cultivation.
It will be interesting to see how quickly other politicians' views toward medical marijuana evolve now that Thieneman has stepped up on this issue. President Barack Obama admitted smoking marijuana on many occasions and campaigned on leaving medical marijuana users alone. In office, he has instead aggressively prosecuted medical marijuana use, to the consternation of former supporters.
In October, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. will hear oral arguments in a case against the Department of Drug Enforcement's efforts against marijuana use.
Solidarity HealthShare, a new health-sharing organization, will help Catholics avoid ObamaCare health insurance mandates.
The Catholic Church has been outspoken in its opposition to government mandates for insurance coverage of abortion and this effort is clearly motivated by that. As more people of faith see the wisdom in fighting back against federal or state regulation of health insurance, we grow closer to gaining true health freedom for everyone.
With Catholics on board, health freedom gains a powerful new ally.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Winning the battle for health freedom has to be the top tea party issue until candidates in any party are terrified to run on any platform that does not include health freedom as one of its key planks.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
"Christian health sharing ministries are largely unregulated, except by themselves. This means members cannot go to an insurance commissioner with a complaint, rates aren't reviewed by an independent regulator, and there is no way to ensure they are following anti-discrimination laws."
Just as some states are fighting back against ObamaCare from the right, others are pulling it faster to the left. One of their approaches is to effectively shut down Christian health sharing ministries' exemption in the federal law and Kentucky is way ahead of the curve on this.
It's simple: we fight back or we lose. I will be speaking in Louisville tonight about how we can fight back to win our health freedom in Kentucky. Join us at 6pm ET at Ernesto's, 10105 Dixie Highway if you can.
If you would like to help get the message out, please consider donating whatever you can here. Thanks for all you do.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Kentucky is gaining increased national attention for its long-standing hostility toward Christian health sharers. While we pursue a legislative correction to that misguided animosity, federal representatives should also implement a small change to the ObamaCare law to improve the efficiency of health coverage alternatives not regulated by public employee bureaucrats.
ObamaCare bill H.R. 3590 exempts health sharing from federal mandates but also limits the market to religious organizations in operation since 1999. Simply eliminating this arbitrary limitation allows for new competitors in the market just as the rest of the federal law reduces choices in the government-controlled market.
The change involves striking out this part of the law:
I'm thinking a health care sharing ministry for the Church of the Left-Handed Bicycle Riders might come in handy at some point.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
That's not likely.
Medi-Share was found to be an unregistered health insurance company in 2010 by the Kentucky Supreme Court. The Court ruled the company failed to meet all requirements of the Religious Publications Exemption in KRS 304.1-120 (7), specifically the one requiring health sharing members to pay each other's medical bills "directly from one (1) subscriber to another."
Whether that requirement is met under current operations is somewhat open to interpretation. Medi-Share members now send monthly funds to a credit union account the member and Medi-Share control jointly. The Kentucky Department of Insurance and the Supreme Court claim such an arrangement does not constitute direct subscriber-to-subscriber payment.
But even if the Department and the Court change their minds and decide that this method is direct enough, there is at least one more problem for Medi-Share. Gaining the exemption also requires that there can be "no assumption of risk or promise to pay either among the subscribers or between the subscribers and (Medi-Share)."
All this is suggestive of a "promise to pay," but the fact that is going to get them is that members who don't pay their monthly fees for two months will be dropped from the program and will not have outstanding medical needs presented for payment. That sounds obvious, but the fact of a requirement to pay in order to benefit is the legal definition of a "promise," which is prohibited under the law.
The ridiculous hoops we require these people to jump through to enjoy some measure of health freedom need to be eliminated. But they can't be wished away or shouted away. We need to change the law.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Religious health sharing organizations in continuous operation since 1999 and their members are exempt from dictates of the Affordable Care Act. Kentucky's hostility toward this simple alternative to health insurance, however, predates federal health insurance reform.
The state's 2002 lawsuit against Christian Care Medi-Share is still not resolved, mainly due to Department of Insurance inaction. Failure to even begin addressing legal issues facing members and prospective members of the only two other federally exempt organizations -- Samaritan Ministries and Christian HealthCare Ministries -- until forced to do so six weeks ago, very poorly serves Kentucky's insurance consumers.
Hundreds of thousands of Kentucky Christians are overpaying for health coverage because of this legal mess, which could be cleared up easily.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
A Department spokesperson said a meeting may take place in August.
The state's newly found interest in openness on the issue of religious health sharing organizations and their superiority to government-regulated health insurance doesn't immediately address the organizations' real legal problems, but the response to tea party pressure is a welcome one.
Health freedom can be won in Kentucky and then spread to the other states. Stay tuned for updates.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Haynes just appeared this morning on Bill Bryant's WKYT Newmakers program in Lexington touting the coming bureaucracy.
She also stated the 2014 roll out of the expensive program will be "heavily advertised."
Wasting money on advertising to promote this waste of money should be against the law, right? Looking for a way to do that in the 2013 General Assembly could be both fun and productive for the cause of Liberty.
The first place in statute that comes to mind as a vehicle for prohibiting government from spending our money to advertise the expansion of itself is KRS 121, campaign finance law.
I'm a little nervous about opening up campaign finance with the current legislature given than Senate Republicans have been at least as bad as House Democrats on the issue. Proposed legislation to prohibit the state from using any state resources to promote any element of the Affordable Care Act, though, could be worth the risk. A pre-filed bill with this objective this summer could be used as a campaign tool against House Democrats stuck between their party's damaging policies and their desire to win re-election in November.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Beshear flatly stated the ObamaCare health insurance exchange won't cost the state anything, that the exchange will pay for itself. This is absolutely false. Increased fees or taxes will be necessary to fund the new bureaucracy after federal funds run out at the end of 2014.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
From the release: "Governor Steve Beshear today issued an executive order establishing the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, a requirement of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA)."
The ObamaCare exchanges are optional. Further, refusing to play along is the only way Kentucky could hope to survive the rapid tax, penalty and fee increases for Kentuckians in the federal law.
Federal funding for the Kentucky exchange will dry up at the end of 2014. At that point, Beshear claims the "Exchange will be wholly funded with revenues it generates."
That means either a new tax or some kind of fee increase on health insurance will be necessary. Governor Beshear should be made to explain exactly how much he anticipates the state will spend on the exchange annually and where precisely that money will come from.
Monday, July 16, 2012
At issue is an apparent unwillingness to accept reality of Kentucky's arbitrarily applied prohibition of an otherwise very viable Christian health insurance alternative called health sharing. This failure is preventing them from doing much good on a key front in the fight against ObamaCare.
The reality is that health sharing is against Kentucky law and it is no matter how much anyone repeats that it is not.
In 2007, the Family Foundation touted a court ruling they thought might put to rest the controversy over health sharing in Kentucky. It did not.
The problems health sharing organizations face in Kentucky will persist at least until the Religious Publications Exemption in the state's Insurance Code is greatly expanded.
The legislative fix is easy. We need to amend KRS 304.1-120(7) like this:
This change would allow all the Christian health sharing organizations currently exempt from ObamaCare to function in Kentucky without fear for themselves or their members of being shut down and possibly charged as unauthorized insurers and jailed as felons.
This should be a simple discussion and not an embarrassing mess full of personal attacks and missing the point. Failure to resolve this quickly and amicably only benefits those who want the government to control all of our health care.
Friday, July 13, 2012
And that means clarifying the value of a free economy for the Christian Right and Left to bring their powerful voices into the fight.
Lots of work to do, but if you look carefully for subtle progress here and here, you just might see where I'm going with this.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
According to the company, Altrua was formed in 2000, which means it can't help you under federal law. The Affordable Care Act doesn't specify penalties for operating as an illegal insurer under that statute, but under Kentucky law, the company and even its members could be charged as felons.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
From the Affordable Care Act on page 128, we find the following passage:
What we need more than anything is more alternative forms of protection for Americans, rather than fewer or a fixed number. President Obama and congressional Democrats had to like this passage or they wouldn't have it in their bill, right? Surely they wouldn't mind making it better.
Limiting the exclusion to religious organization who started their health sharing activities on or before December 31, 1999 is discriminatory and arbitrary. If a group of gay left-handed communists want to set up a church and start their own health sharing organization, they should be allowed to under federal law. It is only fair.
Please encourage your member of Congress to amend the Affordable Care Act to strike both references to December 31, 1999 in the Health Care Sharing Ministry section of the bill so that they may do so.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Of the seven states surrounding Kentucky, only Illinois and West Virginia seem likely to go for the budget-busting entitlement expansion mandated by ObamaCare but made optional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Beshear's delay on Medicaid expansion is odd for someone who has supposedly been "studying" these issues for a long time.
Monday, July 09, 2012
Sunday, July 08, 2012
The report, issued by Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, saw immediate statewide distribution primarily through public news sites (here and here) and business publications (here and here) and at least one newspaper (here).
Only one tiny problem with that: the report was dated May 2010. These numbers are ridiculously outdated and and the ranking is meaningless, released now as a clumsy attempt to score political points. The fact Kentucky media outlets seem to have swallowed this whole should be incredibly embarrassing for them.
The truth is the massive Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act would very likely result in significant numbers of privately insured low-income people dropping coverage and signing up for Medicaid, according to another old report.
Hope this changes the conversation in Frankfort this week as Beshear weighs whether or not to drive the state to insolvency faster with this easily avoidable government expansion.
Thursday, July 05, 2012
A video released by Kentucky House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover shows the first real sign of life from Frankfort's GOP leadership in support of health freedom in the Commonwealth.
The striking lack of any mention of health insurance exchanges in the video was cured by House Republican Director of Communications Michael Goins, who pointed to a press release mentioning the need to opt out of the exchange at the end of its last sentence.
The effort fits in the "better late than never" category, but not by much. Most Republican legislators voted to give Beshear $50 million to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare. Forcing Beshear and the Democrats to fight on the record for ObamaCare during budget negotiations would have been campaign gold this fall, at the very least.
We need to hear more from Rep. Hoover and other GOP legislators about specific steps to get out from under ObamaCare. A very easy move with a big payoff for consumers would be to expand the Religious Publications Exemption in the Kentucky Insurance Code so Kentuckians could be more confident in the option provided by religious-based health sharing organizations, which are exempted from federal mandates under ObamaCare.
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
They aren't likely to meet soon.
The Beshear administration has the people of Kentucky in an ObamaCare headlock and intends to keep us there. Governor Beshear and his minions in the legislature don't want a public discussion about this, so they are pulling all the strings to keep it quiet.
Will we let them succeed?
Monday, July 02, 2012
All kidding aside, it will take a huge effort to rein in the Kentucky Department of Insurance and help create an environment for free market health care in Kentucky. And the federal effort for real reform won't mean anything if we don't get it right in Frankfort.
But if we can make headway in Kentucky, we can help the rest of the nation get out from under government control of healthcare. Kentucky is unique in its constitutional protection of citizens from absolute and arbitrary government. (See Section 2 of the Kentucky Bill of Rights.)
Insurance regulation in the states is almost universally arbitrary in that the laws are too broad and then are applied haphazardly. This chaotic regime is much like having a crazy despot who lets his friends get away with murder but attacks his enemies on a whim. That's no way to regulate anything, much less an industry which such an important impact on the lives of all citizens.
If we can overturn insurance regulation in Kentucky, we can show what a waste of resources government regulation of insurance is. That's because prices will do down and quality of service will go up. When Kentucky does this, people in other states will want to follow suit.
This effort can snowball quickly, but it will take a lot of people spreading the word. Will you help?
Sunday, July 01, 2012
The article described a program through which the federal government provided $58 million to fund a scheme created by the "Affordable Care Act" to create a new health insurance co-op in Kentucky.
With supposedly independent programs like this, who needs government run insurance or the so-called public option?
But when the Courier Journal had time last week to talk to anyone with a point of view on this very controversial approach, it seems they could only manage to reach ObamaCare cheerleader John Yarmuth.
Needless to say, he is in favor of it.
In other news, certainly unrelated to bad, unbalanced journalism, the Courier Journal on Sunday pulled down their pay wall that had been telling readers to subscribe or face being shut off from their quality news source.