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Obamacare Starts the Squeeze June 27, 2012

Posted by geoff in News.

Time for another edition of “OMG, Obamacare!!” Today we look at one of the panels that will start defining what our health plans do and do not cover. It is, of course, a disaster from start to finish:

…a federal health advisory panel on Monday recommended that all obese adults receive intensive counseling in an effort to rein in a growing health crisis in America.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force urged doctors to identify patients with a body mass index of 30 or more — currently 1 in 3 Americans — and either provide counseling themselves or refer the patient to a program designed to promote weight loss and improve health prospects.

Kind of totalitarian on the weight thing, and now they’re telling doctors what to do and interfering with the doctor-patient relationship.

But it gets worse:

Under the current healthcare law, Medicare and most private insurers would be required to cover the entire cost of weight-loss services that meet or exceed the task force’s standards.

Yup, you’re paying for it, one way or another.

But it gets worse:

The panel acknowledged that one problem with its recommendation was that no studies have shown such intensive programs provide long-term health benefits.

Yeah, they want to add all this cost with no indication that it will do any good.

But it gets worse:

On the same day that the panel made its poorly considered decision, these two articles appeared:

Belly fat not so bad after all

Low carb diets for lasting weight loss. A new study has found diets that reduce the surge in blood sugar after a meal–either low-glycemic index or very-low carbohydrate-may be preferable to a low-fat diet for those trying to achieve lasting weight loss.

The bottom line being, we don’t really understand human physiology that well – the news is full of conflicting data and the disproving of decades-old wisdom. The government shouldn’t be trying to mandate a country-wide treatment regimen, and it certainly shouldn’t be doing it from our current position of ignorance.

And they shouldn’t make me pay for their silliness.


1. lauraw - June 27, 2012

OT Charts for you: http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/06/case-closed-the-reagan-recovery-vs-the-obama-recovery-in-two-charts/

Also, see this thing? http://www.my-weight-loss-advisor.com/images/usda_food_pyramid439x342.gif

That’s been the USDA recommended diet guideline for years and years. That advice will get you nice and fluffy in no time at all.

Also, the BMI is bullshit. It doesn’t distinguish between fat people and people who are built ‘sturdy.’

Egads, the government has to get out of this business entirely. This is terrifying.

2. geoff - June 27, 2012

Yeah, it’s one thing to be wrong. It’s another to legislate your wrongness so that nobody can escape.

3. Mark in NJ - June 27, 2012

Geoff – I get your larger pt about govt involvement in this area but I’m not sure it’s fair to link this one to Obamacare — that Task Force has been around a lot longer than Obama’s been president.

For those confused by conflicting dietary advice, try this: eat less, move more.

4. geoff - June 27, 2012

that Task Force has been around a lot longer than Obama’s been president.

Before it was advisory. Obamacare made it regulatory.

5. daveintexas - June 27, 2012

We’re not confused, the government experts are the ones puttin out contradictory and or wrong info.

Civil service. Can’t get me enough of that.

Tomorrow’s going to be interesting.

6. lauraw - June 27, 2012

When I switched to Primal eating I told my GF what I was doing and she kept saying, “but you’re still getting your whole grains, right?” and I was like, “Nope, I don’t feel good when I eat that, and I found out why, so I’m not eating that anymore” and she was like, “You have to, you HAVE to eat whole grains to be healthy!” and I was like, “LOL GTFOOH no.”

This is what happens when misinformation becomes dogma. Now imagine if a misinformed gov’t entity could control your eating habits through onerous taxation or rationing.

Making guinea pigs out of all of us as it discovers, painfully slowly the way that bureaucracy does, that they are wrong.

Or perhaps, never discovering their wrongness, because no one questions policy. Or, discovering it, but never disseminating the truth because it is at odds with policy. Sound familiar?

It’s notoriously hard if not impossible to get rid of government alphabet agencies once established. Now imagine if there was one that made sure people ate enough wheat, and promoted wheat-eating in the general population. Celiacs, at odds with massive bureaucracy, would just fucking have to die, or pay much more for highly taxed ‘bad’ foods (that are actually good).

The government needs to be smaller and get its nose out of these affairs.

7. geoff - June 27, 2012

For those confused by conflicting dietary advice, try this: eat less, move more.

Try this: that’s an obvious approach, but your doctor is forced by the feds to recommend you for a low-fat diet program, which your insurance is forced to pay for. You take it because they start making noises about your insurance coverage. Now you’re on this plan you don’t want, that costs a lot, that doesn’t work.

Your comment reminds me of the old Doonesbury cartoon where Jane Fonda is having a press conference. She says that after years of searching, she’s finally found the secret to weight loss: “Eat less, exercise more.” A reporter shouts out, “Seems very simple, why’d it take so long to find the secret?” And Ms. Fonda says, “Male doctors hid the truth from me.”

Seemed a lot less snarky when she said it.

8. daveintexas - June 27, 2012

It’s not just bureaucrats, doctors have fussed on this for years two. When I dropped almost 50 pounds doing South Beach my GP (have had him for 21 years) asked me what kind of steaks I ate, and when I got to ribeyes he started in on me with “too much fat”! I just laughed at him and said “perhaps the accepted wisdom from the medical community should rethink this whole ‘fat’ thing”.

9. Michael - June 27, 2012

What’s good for you is a toasted cheese bagel with butter and a schmear of Philadelphia cream cheese.

Ima gonna go make one right now.

10. Tushar - June 27, 2012

>>Also, the BMI is bullshit. It doesn’t distinguish between fat people and people who are built ‘sturdy.’

I am built mostly from quite sturdy layers of fat.

11. lauraw - June 27, 2012

I gained some weight from quitting smoking. Nicotine is quite the prod to the metabolism. But cutting carbs has helped.

How are you doing with controlling your carbs, Tushar?

12. sandy burger - June 28, 2012

I think the Atkins folks are a bit crazy, too, in the opposite direction.

I love that they’re challenging the orthodox view of nutrition, which is not very science-based. But I’m not sure I’m buying what they’re selling, either. At this point, I think the best answer is: we don’t really know.

It’s funny that “Fat Free” has pretty much become a warning label. When I’m shopping and I see a product labelled “Fat Free”, I interpret it to mean: this food is probably loaded with high fructose corn syrup.

13. daveintexas - June 28, 2012

Fat is flavor.

14. Tushar - June 28, 2012


I try to eat almost no carbs. A quarter cup milk in my tea, and a few spoonfuls in my coffee. Maybe one tiny Indian roti a day. I practically eat nothing except chicken, fish and eggs. Still not losing weight. Guess my body has just given up. I am pre diabetic. Wondering if I should start taking Metformin.

15. daveintexas - June 28, 2012

If something is fat-free, it is flavor-free.

16. lauraw - June 28, 2012

Have you been taking cinnamon capsules, Tush?

17. Mitchell - June 28, 2012

IT lives. Roberts betrays us all. There is no functional limit on the Federal government’s power anymore.

18. geoff - June 28, 2012

That sucks. Now the government has enough “taxing” power to make me do anything they want. Even if ObamaCare is overturned, they still have that court precedent.

Just think what would happen if Pelosi & Reid had another “100 days.”

19. Tushar - June 28, 2012

No cinnamon capsules. Should I?

20. OBF - June 28, 2012

I’m depressed. The unending power of the commerce clause has now been suplanted by the government’s power to taxe what I do, where I go, what I eat and now even what I don’t do. I’m starting to think we’re really screwed.

21. lauraw - June 28, 2012

Yes! Works great to lower and moderate your blood sugar and keep you off meds. If I recall correctly, MCPO says it worked well for him. Wiserbud swears by it too.

I’ve told a couple of my store customers about it and both called me days afterward to thank me. 🙂

22. lauraw - June 28, 2012

OBF, we have to primary our RINOs and whip Dem ass, that’s all there is to it.

Best way to do that is to educate as many people as possible about what is in this terrible law.

23. Tushar - June 28, 2012

I will start right away.

24. OBF - June 28, 2012

Utah just voted 93% for Romney (Last Tuesday). It doesn’t mean much because we have so few delegates. Time to get out the check book.

Just for yucks…has the federal government figured out yet how to tax doing a #1 or #2 in the bathroom? Makes sense since we can get taxed for not doing something. Maybe I’ll just save 10% of my droppings and send to the white house.

25. lauraw - June 28, 2012

One thing Tushar: Don’t ever try to just swallow a 1/2 teaspoon of loose powdered cinnamon spice. It is the exact same culinary herb that is in the capsules, but it is impossible to eat straight in such a bulk.

You will choke on it. My UPS driver- also diabetic- was eating it mixed in his breakfast for the healthful effects every morning. Then he tried this shortcut one day. *slaps forehead*

26. Mitchell - June 28, 2012


Completely ignore Lauraw on that last point. It’s TOTALLY ok to slorp down a big spoonful of powdered cinnamon. Do it in front of a camera and post it on youtube to prove how wrong she is.

27. lauraw - June 28, 2012

*stuffs Mitchell into a shoebox and blasts it with a shotgun that shoots live wolverines and scorpions*

28. sandy burger - June 28, 2012

The Supreme Court ruling was sad, but not surprising. It’s been the same thing since FDR. This really is not a major change. We’re not substantially less free than we were yesterday, because we weren’t all that free yesterday. We’re more of a democracy than a republic, unfortunately. Mob rule, baby.

On the bright side, our ideas have something really important going for them: they work. With the rise of new media, I feel really optimistic about our long-term prospects. In the short term, though, we have to suffer the hassles and fines of the bossy fools who rule over us.

29. daveintexas - June 28, 2012

dude, seriously, you should do three lines of cinnamon a day

30. Sobek - June 29, 2012

I had this theory, earlier in the day, that maybe Roberts knows what he’s doing, and this isn’t really a betrayal. That theory could be summed up in this one sentence: “today, John Roberts got Mitt Romney elected.” Considering that Romney has raised over $3.2 million in less than 24 hours, it’s not impossible.

I’ve seen conservative commenters taking other angles, specifically claiming that Roberts just gutted the liberal take on the Interstate Commerce Clause, so he’s a stealth ninja like John Marshall, smacking down Thomas Jefferson in Marbury v. Madison.

But I can’t convince myself to celebrate on either of those arguments, and here’s why. First, if Roberts was gambling that he’d get Romney elected, screw him for gambling with those kinds of stakes. You don’t risk destroying America like that. Maybe it will work, and if it does, there’s a huge upside: Romney gets elected, repeals O-care on day 1, and then he has four years to nominate SCOTUS replacements, including Kennedy and Ginsburg in all likelihood. Not only does O-care end up on the dustbin of history, but the Supreme Court gets profoundly reshaped for generations.

But no one can guarantee an election. I doubt Romney’s going to get caught with a dead girl or a live boy, but I can’t guarantee he won’t. There’s simply no way to predict all the factors that influence elections. Heck, election turnout can be influenced by the freakin rain, for crying out loud. And even if Romney wins, there’s no way to know whether he’ll get a conservative Senate, and without one, the entire “reshape the Supreme Court for generations” idea goes out the window. Every nomination is a risk — just ask George HW Bush about David Souter. Far worse with a hostile minority party with the fear of permanent minority status — just ask Ronald Reagan about Bork Ginsberg Anthony Kennedy. In other words, Roberts is betting the farm here when there are too many variables that could result in disaster. Again, you don’t gamble with the future fiscal welfare of the country you took an oath to protect and defend.

Second, I have a hard time believing Roberts is naive or incompetent enough to really bank everything on the Interstate Commerce Clause, for three reasons. First, even if his ruling had that effect, Congress was just reminded they can do anything they want at all as long as they call it a tax. Second, he could have achieved the exact same effect by voting to kill the bill. None of the liberal justices signed on to the opinion with respect to the Commerce Clause, so it’s not like he fooled anyone. He still got five votes for and four against the ICC justification.

Lastly, and most importantly, cases have an unfortunate tendency to take on a life of their own after being written. Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation, right? Everyone knows that. Except that’s not really true. It was narrowly written to apply only to schools. And yet it is true, regardless of what the language of the opinion actually says. Half a century later, Brown means no segregation, full stop. And there is absolutely no way anyone, ten of fifteen years from now, will remember the O-Care case as anything other than “that’s the case that let Congress take over health care.” Because who cares how they did it?

31. Sobek - June 29, 2012

Old but still a classic:

Oh, it turns out it was a $1.7 trillion tax hike. Huh.

It’s just like opening presents on Christmas morning!

32. Sobek - June 29, 2012

Phil Hare has something in common with John Roberts:

33. geoff - June 29, 2012

I’m envisioning a future where every taxpayer is handed a list of items/tasks/lifestyle changes, each of which they must check off or pay a tax. It just seems fundamentally different to say, ” I’m going to add taxes to something I don’t want you to buy,” vs. “I’m going to tax you for not buying something.”

Roberts’ analogy to Congress mandating that you buy energy-efficient windows seems like an extension of power to me. Normally if Congress wanted to encourage that sort of purchase, they would either: 1) raise taxes on energy; 2) raise taxes on competing, less-efficient products; or 3) outlaw less-efficient products. I don’t think they should be sticking their noses into those issues, but at least they’re giving me a choice as to whether to engage in a transaction at all. They wouldn’t say “every American must purchase energy-efficient windows.” That would be totalitarian.

34. geoff - June 29, 2012

And the liberal argument that, “health care is different, because everybody will need it at some point in their life,” is specious. First, the term “health care” is vague – 50 years ago the type of health care we’re talking about today didn’t even exist. Then, of course, there are the Christian Scientists who don’t use doctors, Jehovah’s Witnesses who outlawed certain procedures, and a huge number of people who prefer alternative medicine.

Even if you needed some sort of health care “at some point,” does that mean that you should be forced to carry health insurance for your entire adult life? Where’s the option where you get to decide whether you want to be treated based on your personal cost vs. health tradeoff?

35. geoff - June 29, 2012

But the GOP really needs to start pitching its own health care proposals, and among those needs to be a patient’s/insuree’s bill of rights. My wife had a colonoscopy a month before I did – same doctor, same insurance. Hers was completely covered, but 4 months later I get a mysterious $432 anesthesiology bill.

That’s ridiculous. I should know, especially for a routine procedure like that, exactly who is paying for what before I ever put on that dorky gown.

36. geoff - June 29, 2012

Back to my comment at #33, I just read this snippet at Legal Insurrection.

The idea has gained currency that the Taxing Clause in the Constitution gives Congress the power to do anything, or almost anything, that would be funded by taxation.

Since almost everything the national government does is funded through taxation, that understanding would lead to a conception of congressional power that is effectively unlimited, and the Taxing Clause would trump almost all other grants of congressional power in Article I, section 8.

Which is why I’m stunned that Roberts felt the need to reign in the Commerce Clause, but gave Congress’s taxing powers a big boost.

37. Michael - June 29, 2012

I think it’s a win.

Taxing is not politically popular.

Unfunded Commerce Clause power like Medicare mandates, which will be funded by debt, are hugely tempting to Congress and the President (Bush was guilty of this with the prescription drug benefit). This threatens the viability of the dollar as the global reserve currency.

Roberts used the left wing of SCOTUS to put Congress in a political box. The issue is not health care regulation, the donut hole, etc. The real issue is debt.

38. Michael - June 29, 2012

Keep in mind that when Denmark buys natural gas from Russia, they do it in dollars. All those dollars circulating out there are a debt owed by us. They need to keep circulating. If the dollar fails, the shit is going to hit the fan for our economy.

It happened to the U.K. after WWII, when the pound sterling lost it’s status as a reserve currency while the dollar took over. England was impoverished.

39. sandy burger - June 29, 2012

Taxing is not politically popular.

Well, taxing the general public is not popular.

But taxing disfavored minorities? Very popular, especially if it’s sold as class warfare.

40. Michael - June 29, 2012

But we’re not talking about a disfavored minority, like rich people.

Health care “taxes” will fall largely on impecunious healthy young people, who don’t want coverage or think they need the coverage. These kids are the ones who were expected to fund the plan. Or their parents’ (i.e., the parents’ employers), who now are expected to cover them until they are 26. Effectively, that means lower wages and fewer jobs for the parents.


Jeebers. You are otherwise legally considered an adult at 18 who can sign contracts, join the military, or consent to sex. Or 21 to buy beer.

41. sandy burger - June 29, 2012

But we’re not talking about a disfavored minority, like rich people.

I was thinking ahead to the future. This sets a precedent that will stay with us after ObamaCare has been repealed.

The Supreme Court has declared that punitive taxation is a permissible means for the federal government to coerce citizens’ behavior. I assume the government will make use of this power.

Of course, as a practical matter, the government already had that power. This just formalizes the tyranny of the majority.

42. sandy burger - June 29, 2012

These kids are the ones who were expected to fund the plan.

Most of ’em haven’t figured that out yet. They will, and it will be funny.

43. Michael - June 29, 2012

BTW, I’ve read scientific stuff which says that adolescence does not really end until the mid-20s, when the prefrontal cortex of the brain is fully developed and the kid is capable of rational decisions.

That’s pretty consistent with my own experience as a father of two kids, who are now older than 26.

If we have to pay for their health care, maybe we should also just keep them in leg chains and handcuffs until they are 26.

44. Michael - June 29, 2012

Loose handcuffs, so they can continue to flip burgers and wipe my car down at the car wash.

45. Sobek - June 29, 2012

Unborn children are disfavored. Let’s tax the hell out of them.

46. daveintexas - June 29, 2012

Oh fuck that. I ain’t keepin em around here until 26. They’re off living their lives and taking care of themselves now. I’m good with that.

A phone call wouldn’t hurt, every now and then

47. wintersetruss - June 29, 2012

The thought of John Roberts playing “three dimensional chess” with this decision does NOT fill me with hope.

He’s a judge. A judge’s job is to assess laws using the “Is this permitted & is it consistent with existing laws and precedent?” standard. He shouldn’t be worried about how this shakes out in the real world, or trying to motivate congress into doing the right thing against their wishes. All that stuff falls under the banner of “judicial activism”, and that’s wrong whether it comes from the right or the left.

Freakin’ lawyers.

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