By Shelli Dawdy
PENDING ACTION PLANNED: We request that GiN site visitors share this article with other Nebraskans who are opposed to the imposition of the health care law in our state. We are requesting all Nebraskans who believe the health care law is unconstitutional, a disaster for the economy, a threat to the overall quality of health care, and an encroachment on individual liberty to engage in a particular action on Monday, October 25. Read on for particular details.
Would Implementing the Health Care Law Be Good For Nebraska?
Very likely it is unnecessary to spend much time here on the topic of why implementing health care would be a disastrous morass — the majority of Nebraskans oppose its implementation.
- Those who are opposed know about the worst potential impact of the law – the impact on quality and length of life. Government controls over time will stifle investments in research and innovations in treatments and new drugs. And there would very likely be rationing based on such macabre “ethics” as the “complete lives system“.
- While over six months later we’re still finding out the full extent of what’s included in the law, many of us have learned about the very burdensome 1099 form filing requirement imposed on businesses for every transaction of $600 or more and the draconian 10% additional tax for tanning salons.
- Prior the law’s passage, a number of research studies predicted big jumps in insurance premiums, insurers going out of business, and a high potential for employers to drop health care coverage. Since the law’s passage in March, one news story after the other is proving these studies to be true. (See bullet points, below for additional information on these developments.)
Huge increases in cost to the State of Nebraska’s Medicaid program:
- A study released in August by the Millman group projected increased Medicaid costs to the State estimated at $526 – $766 million over the next ten years.
Of course: Implementing the Health Care Law Would Be a Disaster For Nebraska
AND: Contrary to public perception, the State plays a significant role in the health care law’s implementation. States are our primary line of defense in seeing to it that this health care law gets consigned to the ash heap of history.
- The US Supreme Court has ruled consistently, as recently as 1997, and with a similar judicial disposition as sits currently, that the Federal government cannot impose a legislative scheme or regulatory program on States - States’ participation in programs is voluntary. Even the health care law includes two opt-out clauses. While there are problems with both, few people are aware they even exist.
- The health care law was written to be implemented over the course of the next several years through the States. States can stave off implementing the law by allocating no funds from the State budget, forgoing applications for federal funds, and pursuing all available options legally and legislatively to stand against it.
- Many early provisions of the law are optional. Participating only puts the state on the road to full implementation from which it will be difficult to extract itself AND which weakens its standing in the pending Attorneys General lawsuit.
- The Attorneys General lawsuit is NOT the only option Nebraska has to to fight the implementation of health care and it could take two to four years for the case to come to finality.
- In addition to what we’ve previously written regarding the realities of counting on a GOP sweep of Congress to result in a repeal of the health care law, information has begun to surface that some Republicans are beginning to talk compromise on this subject.
Or Is Implementing the Health Care Law Just Good For Jeremy Nordquist?
In the following recent articles on the GiN site, “Nebraska: We Have Our Very Own Community Organizer“, “Jeremy Nordquist Confused About What Sustainable Means“, and “DOA Or Resurrecting The Dead? Nordquist One World And LB 1110“, I laid out the background and some of the activities of Legislative District 7 Senator Jeremy Nordquist.
We have spent time focusing on Nordquist because he…
- Is clearly in favor of implementing the health care law in Nebraska
- Receives a good deal of media coverage and has access to resources
- Appears to have been successful to date in pressuring the Governor on health care
- Is currently capitalizing on both media coverage and resources to engage in a very clever PR campaign regarding the implementation of the health care law
- Has many real or apparent conflicts of interest directly associated with government involvement in and funding of health care.
- He receives a lot of coverage from Nebraska’s two largest newspapers[1. The two newspapers I refer to here are the Lincoln Journal Star and the Omaha World Herald. The majority of our focus is on the Lincoln Journal Star since it is the paper of record in the Capital. When Nordquist's influence on the health care issue first came to our attention, we saw similar articles on the Omaha World Herald website and were forwarded several others by people who live in the Omaha area. ] - In researching the most pressing issues facing our state[2. We believe the most pressing issues are those affecting Nebraska's sovereignty. The primary concern in that regard is the 40% of the state budget that is received from the Federal government. That makes the State budget of primary concern. The two top expenditures by the state are on education and health care. Nordquist's name mostly appears in LJS articles about the budget and health care. ] Nordquist’s name just keeps coming up. Lincoln Journal Star in particular seems to have the fellow “on speed dial”. (A simple search on the Journal Star‘s website for Jeremy Nordquist’s name as of this writing seems to reveal a higher number of items than average – 85 – for a Senator not from the Lincoln area who took office in January 2009. See footnote [3. This list includes State Senators' names, followed by year taking office, followed by count of items produced by a search of the name. Greg Adams, 2007, 94 hits; Scott Lautenbaugh, 2007, 133 hits; Amanda McGill, 2007, 235; Dave Pankonin, 2007, 126; Beau McCoy, 2009, 53. UPDATE note as of April 2012: When this article was originally written, I provided a link to a search on the LJS website. Unfortunately, as of April 2012, LJS has made changes to the site that render a link to a search unusable.])
- Nordquist apparently has significant resources available. Whether the resources are monetary or organized assistance, he has been able to launch several websites in the past couple of years that would have required significant technical expertise or funds to produce. Nordquist’s official legislator website, for instance, is comparable both in visual design and technical features to those of many US Congressmen. This is not typical of State legislators, many of whom do not even have a website.
Using his media contacts and technical resources, Nordquist has already engaged in one high profile effort to influence an important Nebraska issue and is currently engaging in another.
- In 2009, Nordquist launched a website to take public input on the Nebraska budget shortfall, www.NebraskaBudget.com. I cannot provide a link to the site as it has been taken down and the domain name redirected to Nordquist’s current site.
- Lincoln Journal Star ran at least six stories about Nordquist’s budget input site and the results of the input received. The bottom line: if Jeremy Nordquist puts up a website to take public input, it will get press coverage and its results will become part of the policy debate.
Senator Nordquist launched a website at the end of September for the stated purpose of taking public input on “implementing [the health care law] in the way that is best for Nebraskans.“
It’s called “Your Health Care Priorities“
Although the rhetoric on the site is crafted to appear neutral, the site owner’s many statements, involvements, and educational pursuits are those of an energetic supporter of the health care reform law.
- This site has a high potential to mislead and / or confuse people – it looks “quasi-official” with its prominent logo directly connected to the federal government website, healthcare.gov, and a picture of the State Capitol in the background. But what it says is even more potentially misleading than the visuals; the site seems to be “speaking for” all Nebraska legislators and the Governor’s office. Some visitors may believe it is officially connected to the State of Nebraska even though, in the fine print at the bottom of the page, he discloses that the site is paid for out of his campaign funds.
- Our opposition to Nordquist’s action does not result from concerns that he will not follow through on the stated pledge to pass the information along to other legislators and the Governor. When he conducted a similar effort associated with the budget shortfall, he held a press conference and received extensive media coverage. Considering Nordquist’s established bias regarding implementation and his many conflicts of interest, we do question the accuracy of the results that may be reported.
- WE ARE CHALLENGING SENATOR NORDQUIST TO DISCLOSE THE FULL, RAW DATA HE COLLECTS, NOT JUST A SUMMARY REPORT.
- While the site and Norquist himself says the reason for gathering information from Nebraskans is to get citizens’ input, that is illogical. If Nordquist were interested in what Nebraskans thought about the health care law, he wouldn’t be pushing for its implementation at all, considering the level of opposition in the State.
- We have questions about whether or not Nordquist’s use of campaign funds in this manner is in compliance with Nebraska’s campaign finance laws.
- Nordquist’s motivations and potential use of the material he collects require scrutiny considering his biases and conflicts of interest associated with health care. (See below)
- Absent violation of the campaign finance laws, Jeremy Nordquist has a right to free speech, etc. We are not questioning that. Just because someone has a right to do something, however, does not exempt the action from scrutiny, or make it proper.
Jeremy Nordquist’s political agenda, biases, and conflicts of interests:
Nordquist has worked to increase government expenditures on health care programs including, for example, his advocacy for health care clinics in Nebraska schools:
- In 2010, he introduced and successfully advocated for the passage of a bill to put health care clinics in Nebraska public schools.
- In testifying about his health care clinics bill, Nordquist proved he not only has no regard for Nebraska’s Sovereignty, he must believe federal funding falls out of the sky or grows on a tree. He said, “With this rule change now, we’ll see a significant increase of federal funds brought to the state which will more than offset the cost of the school-based health center. The bill, as drafted, according to the fiscal note, will reduce state general funds by over $900,000…or sorry, I wish it was…$90,000 each fiscal year, $94,000 to be exact and would bring in over $770,000 worth of federal funds.”
We believe Nordquist has a number of conflicts of interest, specifically associated with health care and government’s involvement in it.
- Nordquist serves on the board of Omaha-based One World Clinic, which receives significant funding from the State of Nebraska’s Medicaid program. When the LB 1110 controversy occurred during the 2010 session of the Unicameral, for instance, One World lost $500,000 in Medicaid reimbursements for prenatal care services.
- Legislation that increases Medicaid funding to clinics such as One World obviously benefits that entity.
- We believe there was at the very least an appearance of impropriety regarding a bill Nordquist introduced in 2009, LB 601, which had the purpose of increasing Medicaid funding for community health clinics that provide mental health care services. Parts of LB 601 were integrated into LB 603, which was passed and became law. One World Clinic provides mental health services.
- Nordquist’s career ambitions rely on government involvement in health care. According to his website, Nordquist is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis on health care. We believe this constitutes a conflict of interest in and of itself. Nordquist has a personal vested interest.
- Nordquist inappropriately cites an extra-Constitutional entity, the NCSL, as if it has authority to push for the implementation of the health care law. (NCSL = National Conference of State Legislatures) In addition to characterizing a resolution passed by an entity that has no legal or Constitutional authority in the State of Nebraska as authoritative, Nordquist has attempted to convey the idea that the resolution supporting health care reform was passed with the non-partisan support of Democrats and Republicans alike, when a detailed account of events that includes quotes from others presents a completely different scenario. Further, in his own report of the events surrounding the NCSL’s passage of the resolution, Nordquist failed to mention the inclusion of a statement urging Congress to include a public option in the health care reform law.
- Nordquist has a vested interested in successfully pushing for health care’s implementation in Nebraska in relation to his involvement with the NCSL; he is its Health Care Committee Chair, and the overall organization is decidedly in favor of implementing the law. Should Nordquist fail to see the law implemented in his own state, this would arguably be failure and embarrassment.
While conducting research on the status of health care law implementation in Nebraska, we discovered the existence of an entity that requires much additional scrutiny, the National Conference of State Legislatures. More to come on this subject and Nordquist’s activities associated with it.
So, the implementation of the health care, it seems, would be VERY GOOD for Jeremy Nordquist. But Nebraskans aren’t here to fulfill the goals and ambitions of one State Senator.
Jeremy Nordquist needs to be informed very firmly what Nebraskans think of his efforts.
1. Visit Nordquist’s “Your Health Care Priorities” website and fill out the form he has provided, letting him know very firmly, but politely, what your “priorities for health care are”. (We have provided a brief list of bullet points for reference, below, if would like some additional information.)
When: Monday, October 25 between 6pm – 9pm
Important!If you cannot visit the site during those hours, please visit anytime after within the next few days.
Even if you are reading this post several days after its publication date, STILL GO to site and fill out the survey.
*PLEASE* In your comments, include a challenge to Senator Nordquist to disclose the full, raw data he receives, not just a summary report.
- Based on Nordquist’s past actions and media access, it is assured that the results of the input he receives will get coverage. Unless those opposed to health care let him know loud and clear that they do not want the law implemented, the results reported will likely appear pro-implementation.
- If there are not enough opposing voices heard, Nordquist will use the information he obtains to further pressure the Governor into engaging in preliminary implementation programs.
2. Forward this article to as many people as you can who you know are opposed to the implementation of the health care law in Nebraska and request they take part in the action.
When Nordquist conducted a similar action regarding the State Budget in 2009, it was reported that he received 3,000 responses.
3. PLEASE let us know that you have filled out the survey in one of two ways:
A) Leave a comment at the bottom of this article.
B) Use the contact form located HERE.
AND, if you are comfortable, share the written comment portion of your survey. If you let us know by contact form, please tell us if it all right to post your comment here on the site.
If it should happen that Nordquist reports receiving a majority of input that is in favor of implementing the health care law and we’ve heard from a significant number who are opposed, it will be easier to combat misinformation.
Bullet Points You May Find Helpful:
- Nebraskans’ number one priority regarding health care is that they have FREEDOM TO CHOOSE for themselves whether or not they purchase health insurance.
- Nebraska Senators are obligated to represent the people in Nebraska and the interests of the state, not their own personal interests, or the interests of the Federal government.
- Rather than engage in a PR campaign to convince Nebraskans that health care will be implemented regardless of their will, whether they like it or not, State Senators should be working together and with Nebraska’s governor to enact nullifying legislation.
Emerging information over the course of the last six months is proving out that the many concerns about the health care law were valid.
- Health care reform advocates consistently touted federal deficit reduction as a key benefit, but the Congressional Budget Office has already released information that predicts the law will cost $115 billion more than predicted, bringing the cost to nearly $1 trillion.
- Research studies conducted prior to the passage of the health care law predicted insurance premiums would rise sharply. Just after the law passed, it was quickly reported that premiums for young adults were predicted to rise 17%.
- Certain provisions of the law went into effect in September. Common sense dictates the expenses associated with the coverage requirements would increase costs for insurers. Individual policy holders (generally not those part of a group plan) began receiving notification of steep rate increases.
- The conduct of Federal officials such as that of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has been blatantly threatening insurance companies is very disturbing.
- As predicted, insurers are dropping out of providing health insurance and employers are talking about dropping large numbers of employees from their plans.
- As is far too often the case when government is involved, winners and losers are being selected; some employers, like McDonald’s are now being given special waivers so they don’t have to comply with the law, while the average Nebraskan has no hope for a waiver.
- Large insurer United Health Care announced a “pilot program” for cancer patients that seems suspiciously similar to rationing in anticipation of ballooning costs.[4. On Thursday's Your World, Neil Cavuto had a guest on his show who is a second time breast cancer patient. She was recently notified about the pilot program. While the woman is currently pleased with her care and coverage, she expressed concerns about the program which apparently will result in a reduction of options for her treatment.]
- Senator Nordquist has no need to take public input on the implementation of the health care law in Nebraska — many polls have shown Nebraskans are clearly opposed. A number of polls specific to Nebraskans conducted during December 2009 and January 2010 showed 60-67% of Nebraskans were opposed to the law. Many polls conducted nationally have shown persistent resistance across the board to the health care law with a majority of Americans in October 2010 stating they want the law repealed. Further, health care ranks among the top issues about which Americans are currently concerned, and most believe politicians who voted for health care and other interventionist legislation should not be re-elected. A recent poll of Nebraskans showed a higher number of people than found in other states who identify with the tea party movement and have a lower opinion of President Obama’s agenda.
- Further government intervention in the health care industry will not solve its problems. While there are many reasons why health care costs have continued to rise, primary among them are government’s massive interference since 1965. (See CATO study about third party providers.)
- Nebraska’s budget has been in trouble since 2008 and there is a projected shortfall of $750 million for the next biennial budget years and the costs of the health care law are already starting, as reported by the Omaha World Herald on October 18, “Cost of health care law adding up“.