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Morning Action: Saying Goodbye to Your Doctor in 2014

LOSING DOCTORS.  Contrary to the promise made by President Obama and other liberals that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, Americans are finding they are unable to do so under Obamacare:

just 60 percent of the doctors and 75 of the hospitals that participate in the Blue Shield of California’s group plans will be included in individual plans purchased through Covered California, the state’s new insurance exchange. And among the providers who declined to accept the lower rates were some of the state’s most prestigious — and expensive — hospitals, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and hospitals affiliated with the University of California.

As millions of new ACA health plans begin 2014 coverage on Wednesday, consumers in some parts of the country, including California, will find that the plans offered under Obamacare give them access to fewer providers than their previous plans or those offered to Americans with job-based health insurance. Narrowing networks — promising select providers higher patient volume in exchange for lower reimbursement rates — is nothing new, but as insurers compete on price in Obamacare’s new exchanges, avoiding expensive hospitals and doctors has new appeal, especially since insurers can no longer exclude sick people or charge them more. “Our goal was to provide affordable options for California consumers and there are few levers we have to get to an affordable price point,” says Steve Shivinsky, a spokesman for Blue Shield of California. “One of them is to ask the providers to contract with us at new rates and that led to smaller networks.”

TAXES AND FEES.  The Heritage Foundation explains we will be paying for Obamacare in 2014 through a series of new taxes and fees:

Obamacare contains 18 specific tax hikes, mandates, or penalties that cost Americans money, and three new ones take effect in 2014. This is only the beginning—watch how two of these taxes get worse in the years to come.

1. Individual Mandate Tax. The individual mandate is designed to strong-arm individuals into purchasing government-approved health insurance or facing a tax penalty. In 2014, the penalty for not purchasing insurance will be either $95 or 1 percent of annual income (whichever is greater). Very few, if any, people will end up paying just $95, because individuals with an annual income of only $9,500 or less would likely qualify for Medicaid or a hardship exemption from the mandate. The mandate increases drastically in coming years, rising to $325 or 2 percent of income in 2015, and $695 or 2.5 percent of income in 2016—whichever is greater.

Read more here.

GLITCHES.  West Virginians are experiencing glitches in the insurance marketplace as they try to sign up for Obamacare:

A state official says a glitch in the federal health insurance marketplace has affected about 18,000 West Virginians trying to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Jeremiah Samples of the state Department of Health and Human Resources told the Associated Press that the federal exchange is having problems transferring account information to and from West Virginia’s system. He says some other states are having the same problem.

About 10,000 residents whose accounts should have been transferred because they’re eligible for Medicaid will have to sign up again, this time with the state. And about 8,000 residents who tried to sign up for Medicaid but were found to be ineligible now must go to the federal exchange if they want insurance because their information also was not transferred.

AMNESTY.  There will be a push for comprehensive immigration reform in 2014, and it will almost certainly include amnesty:

When it comes to the push for comprehensive immigration reform, proponents are backed by teams of lobbyists representing labor unions, Silicon Valley, and big business. The debate has focused almost exclusively on the question of whether to give illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, while largely ignoring the arguably more consequential provision of the Gang of Eight bill that would actually increase the number of low-skilled and temporary immigrants legally admitted to the country. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Gang’s plan would admit nearly twice as many legal immigrants (38 million) over the next ten years as the number projected under current law (22 million).

Despite the still-high unemployment rate, businesses are eager to get their hands on cheap labor; in the words of an aide to Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), the native workforce is rife with individuals who simply “can’t cut it.” Unions, meanwhile, are prepared to accept a decline in workers’ wages over the next decade, as projected by the CBO’s scoring of the Gang of Eight bill, in exchange for the millions of potential dues-paying members who would be brought into the country.

Millions of dollars have already been spent on lobbying for comprehensive reform, and as Representative John Yarmuth (D., Ky.) observed in October: “There is no money on the other side of the issue.” Heritage Action is the only heavyweight conservative group actively opposing comprehensive reform; others, such as FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, remain on the sidelines. Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) has been one of the few lawmakers to frame the debate in terms of the interests of American workers versus the “corporate titans who believe the immigration policy for our entire country should be modeled to pad their bottom line.”

DISTRUST GOVERNMENT.  According to a new poll, Americans have little faith in government:

Americans enter 2014 with a profoundly negative view of their government, expressing little hope that elected officials can or will solve the nation’s biggest problems, a new poll finds.

Half say America’s system of democracy needs either “a lot of changes” or a complete overhaul, according to the poll conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just 1 in 20 says it works well and needs no changes.

Americans, who have a reputation for optimism, have a sharply pessimistic take on their government after years of disappointment in Washington.

The percentage of Americans saying the nation is heading in the right direction hasn’t topped 50 in about a decade. In the new poll, 70 percent lack confidence in the government’s ability “to make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.”

Conservatives want elected officials to vote in such a way that upholds conservative principles; they should keep the promises they made on the campaign trail.

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