Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Obamacare's Effect on Families with Special Needs

The National Review Online has a sobering piece about the effects of Obamacare on the families of children with special needs. Despite claims to the contrary by the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress, Obamacare does have forms of "death panels", carries a price tag of over a trillion dollars, does not reduce the deficit, and uses taxpayer money to cover abortions. This NRO piece highlights an additional horrific component of Obamacare--its negative impact on special needs patients and families. The NRO piece references Americans for Tax Reform which notes that there is a "Special Needs Tax" in Obamacare:
TheSpecial Needs Kids Tax” takes effect Jan. 1, 2011: This provision of Obamacare imposes a cap on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) of $2500 (Currently, there is no federal government limit). There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. (Page 1999/Sec. 9005/$14 billion)
Flexible spending accounts allow families to set aside their own money, tax free, for specific purposes such as paying for education for children with special needs. So, in spite of the fact that the Obama administration is a proponent of using taxpayer dollars to fund abortions, it is not allowable for families to use more than $2,500 of their own money, tax free, for their own children's education. In realms of decency and justice, such policies would not be enacted. Unfortunately, the current administration does not act in such decent and just realms. Governor Palin warned of this nearly a year ago. The Obama administration is advised by people do not value all life equally, such as White House adviser and brother to Obama's chief of staff, Ezekiel Emanuel. As Governor Palin noted in her "death panel" Facebook post:
The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.

Rep. Michele Bachmann highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff, in a floor speech to the House of Representatives. I commend her for being a voice for the most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors.
Rather than standing for the dignity and preciousness of all life, Dr. Emanuel is a proponent of the "complete lives system". This system takes into consideration an individual's age, prognosis, and contributions to society to determine their receipt of health care. In an article published in the medical journal, Lancet, Dr. Emanuel writes:
The complete lives system also considers prognosis, since its aim is to achieve complete lives. A young person with a poor prognosis has had few life-years but lacks the potential to live a complete life. Considering prognosis forestalls the concern that disproportionately large amounts of resources will be directed to young people with poor prognoses.42 When the worst-off can benefit only slightly while better-off people could benefit greatly,allocating to the better-off is often justifiable. (emphasis mine)
Lacks the potential to live a complete life? Says who? Who has a right to determine the completeness of one's life? How can it be that third parties decide such allocations of health care resources? With such individuals advising the White House, policies that prove to be restrictive and punitive to families with children with special needs are no surprise, but they are nonetheless heart breaking. Unfortunately, this is not the only Obama administration official who looks at health care through a rationing lens. As Governor Palin tweeted a few weeks ago regarding an Obama appointee:
Press Corps-pls do your job as Obama sneaks in Berwick appt;pls cover his mission:socialized healthcare&rationing based on"quality of life"
Governor Palin was referring to Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama's appointee to head up Medicare and Medicaid. Berwick was appointed by President Obama using a recess appointment, but President Obama has since re-submitted his appointment to the Senate. However, things have been slow moving to get a confirmation hearing scheduled, even too slow for the Washington Post. Aside from that issue, Berwick has made some controversial statements in support for Britain's National Health System (NHS) and National Institute for Clinical Health Excellence (NICE):

In this clip, Berwick praises the British system, trashes the American system, and calls for a healthcare system that redistributes wealth. As Investor's Business Daily highlights, this National Health System that Berwick praises is undergoing some cuts:
* Restrictions on some of the most basic and common operations,including hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and orthodontic procedures.

* The closure of nursing homes for the elderly.

* A reduction in acute hospital beds, including those for the mentally ill, with targets to discourage GPs from sending patients to hospitals and reduce the number of people using accident and emergency departments.

* Tighter rationing of NHS funding for IVF treatment,and for surgery for obesity.
The IBD piece also notes, "[i]f that’s a portent of things to come in the U.S. under ObamaCare, then a lot of people are going to owe apologies to Sarah Palin." Governor Palin has been sounding the warning bell regarding the negative impacts that both Obama administration officials and Obama administration policies would have on the special needs community and the nation at large. Governor Palin realizes that the sanctity of life issue is not solely an abortion issue, it is one that extends to the sanctity of all life, no matter the age or circumstance.

(H/T Jimr3, Chicago's Conservative, Pat, and Mel)

Cross posted here and here.


  1. Reading this article breaks my heart, it is very scary to think in a few years time we could be refused care based on someone elses idea of what we need. My son has a seizure disorder, are they gonna cut his funding to help him have his medicine so the govt can kill more babies amongst other things? I just wrote an essay on the negative effects of the healthcare bill, I had no idea about this, I'm def planning on revising my essay, this needs to be heard.


  3. To the author of this post: where are you getting your facts? Not once do you bother to point to the section of the bill that outlines a "special needs kids tax." Did you actually read the bill yourself or is this just something you've "heard?"

    The only thing that I've found applies to a category of Medicare programs, merely retains the enrollment limits that already exist, and DOES NOT apply to children with learning disabilities. Before you go scaring people with more of this kind of talk, I think you need to back it up with REAL evidence...not what Palin "says."

  4. Mr. Buckman,
    The quote I use from the Americans for Tax Reform mentions the section of the bill with this "tax" at the end: page 1999, section 9005, which is clearly referenced. You can read the referenced section in the pdf below.


    The rest of the post is simply highlighting the words of members of the Obama administration themselves and what those might mean.

    the following quoted from :


    Another excise tax. This one is assessed on the health insurance industry in the amount of $6.7 billion per annum and is also based on market share. How can the imposition of $11 billion in excise taxes (section 9008, 9009 and 9010) on the health care industry reduce costs to consumers? Does anyone else suspect these companies will have to pass these costs over to consumers?

    My whole view on this Health care fiasco is: REVENUE ENHANCEMENT for US government

  6. I already spend over $10,000 per year on my disabled son here in mass. excluding the cost of medical insurance or fuel to go see specialists. Now because of budget cuts at a hospital that he frequents the team that we used to visit in one room once a week got separated. Now we have to see 5 specialists individually are there respected offices across western mass. I guess that to 10k will go up :-(

  7. Repeal the whole bill, or defund the whole bill whichever they can do the fastest. This is a socialistic, communistic, slap in the face of the American people, It is a slap in the face for a Republic to have, had this even come up for a vote in the first place. Redistribution of wealth is dictatorial, those who work should not have to pay for those who will not work.

  8. You mischaraterized Berwick's comments (of course the clip didn't show the full speech so we really don't know what he said before the clip started).

    Our system was run by corporations that only cared about profits not your health - was that working for you? Now they will have to forgo some profit to cover nearly every American regardless of their health condition.

    And the distribution of wealth - if you were paying attention - poor people get sick more often and use the health care system more - therefore a distribution of wealth from those who pay into the system and don't use it to those who may or may not pay into the system and use it more.

  9. I recall a story on NPR discussing this move to cap FSA plans through employers to $2500. The interviewer points out that while this provision will limit the amount of money people can avoid in payroll taxes in order to pay for health care expenses, the overall bill is suppose to reduce those same health care expenses. The negatives effects of this provision are offset by positive aspects elsewhere in the bill.

    When you focus in on just this one provision, it does look bad. In the context of the whole bill, this was put in place because the people who take advantage of FSAs will draw benefits from other cost saving measures.


  10. Thanks for the comments. I will attempt to respond to them as I can. I appreciate you all stopping by. My site has received a ton of traffic in the last day. I noticed a lot of people have been coming from Facebook. Can someone tell me where they saw this posted? Thanks!

  11. Yes Whitney, Tea Party Patriots http://blogontheprairie.blogspot.com/2010/07/obamacares-effect-on-families-with.html
    Little Blog on the Prairie: Obamacare's Effect on Families with it was on a Tea Party post

  12. yes, from the Tea Party pratiots - we love ya there!

  13. James - the article you linked does not go into detail about how these new changes to the FSA will be negated by "other cost saving measures" - and that is the problem. Even the so called expert that was interviewed could not cite what measures within the bill would save the patient money overall.

    And to Bob - I understand that poor people get sick, however, I work with alot of people who are not considered poor and certainly not considered rick - but are people with families and responsibilities who are already hard pressed to afford extra bills. It would be great if they and everyone else would still have the ability to "afford" to be sick.

  14. Ms. Pitcher,

    To reiterate what others have cited, I too came across this on the Tea Party Patriots page.

    I noticed several others have already pointed out that several items have been taken out of context and/or only one side of the coin is being shown. To expand upon that, since I've now seen the ATR quote on more than 1/2 a dozen other websites, I feel it prudent to point out that while it's true that there is no current Federal cap on FSA's, companies/employers impose caps on their own - often times at a rate lower than the Federal cap being called for. True, some employers have a higher cap, but then aren't those families with special needs kids at the mercy of being lucky enough to be with an employer who has a higher cap? Just an FYI, the highest cap I've found was $5000, so taking the ATR scenario of a special needs education costing around/above $14k, a truly fortunate family with a $5k cap would be subject to being taxed on an additional $2500, not the $11,500 one is led to believe by just reading that little snippet. In no way, shape, or form do I think that those families should be the ones bearing the brunt of anything, but I do think it's horribly inaccurate and deceiving to portray this as some type of attack on families with developmentally challenged children.

    I did a little snooping as to the number of families using FSA's and while it seems that only about 20% of those eligible actually use them, there was no conclusive number as to how many of those people had children with special needs. Further cause for me to question the legitimacy of it being labeled as a "Special Needs Kids Tax."

    What I would hope we can all come away with from this is to note that the health care system in this country is trying to be altered because it clearly was not functioning for the benefit of society as a whole. The changes in this bill are not perfect (as nothing ever is) and things such as this cap may very well need to be altered further, but that's the beauty of our system, it can be. The idea that it's meant to punish anyone or that it's a slap in the face and should be repealed or driven into the ground by a lack of funding, as Darlene suggested, indicates miscommunication to say the least.

    One final comment regarding costs: I recently saw a committee hearing with the director of the CBO who explained the costs of the health bill in great detail. Essentially, what I came away with is what might be said of any bill affecting the economy - the right claims that it costs, while the left claims that it saves. The TRUTH is somewhere in between. The CBO projects that health care costs to the govt will continue to rise, and will initially rise faster than if this bill had not been passed, but then they project the costs to level out some and, though they will still rise, they will rise at a slower rate than if the bill had not been passed. He projected that in the long run, this bill was a step in the right fiscal direction but that it would not be the ultimate fix for our system.

    For future reference, we should all try to be aware of the full context of these things and not simply take the 5 words that support a party agenda.