I remember well the liberal Democrat echo chamber calling G W Bush “incompetent”. It was their mantra. Their rehearsed talking point. And the went on the weekend shows and in front of every camera they could find to repeat it. Over and over and over.
If Bush was incompetent, what in the world does that make Obama? This inept and incompetent White House just outed their own CIA station chief in Afghanistan in a picture of the Obama trip there over the Memorial Day weekend. A trip clearly designed to distract from the growing VA scandal goes south in a heartbeat because of … gross incompetence.
Anyone remember Valerie Plame? That pales in comparison to this idiocy. Pales? It doesn’t even get on the radar screen in comparision.
And don’t get me started about the VA.
But speaking of VA, it does indeed again make the point that the government - and especially under this particular administration – can’t run health care … period. And no, I’m not saying a more competent administration could. The VA has been plagued by problems for decades. The fact that they’ve gotten worse under this President doesn’t at all surprise me. But what may surprise you is this:
Since 9/11, the VA budget has increased by 235%, from FY2001′s $45 billion annual budget to FY2014′s $150.7 billion. On a percentage basis, the only Cabinet agencies that had larger budget increases over that arc have been State (271%) and Homeland Security (245%), the latter of which barely existed at the start of that period. In the Bush era, comparing the final budget with his signature (FY08) to the final Clinton budget (FY01), VA spending rose 88.3% to $84.7 billion. Defense spending rose 104% in the same period.
Barack Obama ran in 2007-8 on failures at the VA, promising more resources and better management. In comparison to that final Bush budget — don’t forget that Obama signed the FY2009 budget in March 2009 with the omnibus spending bill after a Democrat-controlled Congress refused to deal with Bush — VA spending has risen dramatically as well. The annual budget rose 78% in six budget cycles, with double-digit increases in four of the six years — while Defense spending was flat. No other Cabinet agency had a larger budget increase by percentage during Obama’s tenure. The closest was Agriculture (64%), followed by State (59%, which tends to discredit the canard about the Benghazi failure being caused by a lack of resources). Only HHS had a larger annual budget increase in terms of dollars spent, but it amounts to a 37% increase in spending from the FY2008 baseline. The amount of increase in the VA’s budget in the Obama era, $65.9 billion, exceeds the entire VA budget in the FY2004 budget.
So it wasn’t money. As usual it was leadership. How many freakin’ times do we have to hear this incompetent who is President say he learned about the latest scandal from television news? For 6 years it has been all his and he has no idea what is going on in his own executive departments. For that matter, neither do his secretaries. The Health and Human Services absolutely blew the launch of the health care website. Something that is done successfully everyday in the commercial world. And where did Mr. Obama learn about it? TV. He certainly had no idea that it was a bust before then.
Why? Because he didn’t bother to check. Didn’t bother to ask hard questions or require a demonstration. He didn’t lead. He had already waved his magic hand and told them to get it done. Words equal action in his world.
Same with the VA. After lambasting the former administration for its failures in reference to the VA, he, in 6 years and billions of dollars, hasn’t improved it on iota. And more grating than anything is he didn’t care enough to check. He didn’t KNOW! His secretary didn’t know! An pattern of failure repeated in this administration since the beginning. Instead the usual liberal panacea was applied: throw money at it and the problems will go away. Just check out public education to see how well that’s worked – or the “War on Poverty”, etc.
Nope, this was a culture problem and a leadship problem. The culture still survives and thrives and the leaders are nowhere to be found. Oh the guys who are supposed to be in charge are still kicking, but they’re sitting in front of their television sets to see if there have been any new developments. Meanwhile, this is going on and has been going on:
The VA department has been directly providing health care to millions of veterans for decades and evidence is growing that relying on the system can literally be a fatal decision. The Washington Examiner’s Mark Flatten reported May 12 that a Texas VA clinic implemented a cost-cutting measure in 2010 that required a patient to undergo three positive bloody stool screens before the government would approve a colonoscopy. Dr. Paul Krugman, who protested the policy while serving in the VA facility, told Flatten that “by the time that you do the colonoscopies on these patients, you went from a stage 1 to a stage 4 [colorectal cancer], which is basically inoperable.”
As many as 15,000 vets were subjected to this treatment. There is no way of knowing how many died because they spent their final days at home or in a private facility. Suffering and dying in obscurity due to a cost-cutting measure by a government-run health care system is the ultimate SNAFU, and nobody can guarantee it won’t be an commonplace under Obamacare.
Hell of a way to treat our veterans, isn’t it – but then when its all about bureaucrats and budgets, the focus isn’t on patients is it? That’s government run health care in a nutshell.
Silver lining? The VA, with a population of 9 million to serve, can’t get the job done competently and has, for the most part never been able to do so. THAT is the story of government run health care. And all you need to cement that fact firmly in your head is to read the open letter one of our veteran triple-amputees penned this past week:
I remember candidate Obama promising to overhaul the VA and reduce the backlog. You claimed that America’s support for its veterans is obvious by the way we treat our vets. You really nailed that one didn’t you?
Just like you were going to fix Detroit or fix foreign policy. Your high school like approach to solving complex issues can’t be fixed by tweeting hashtags with propaganda to people who want to kill us. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see you’re unfit to lead our nation, let alone act as our Commander In Chief. What our country needs now, more than ever is real leadership, someone who doesn’t wait for a crisis, but is able to foresee an issue and deal with it before it happens. Unfortunately for America, you’ve been too busy campaigning and don’t have time to deal with the health care crisis of our veterans. The only thing you seem to care about is your own radical agenda, and now our vets are paying for your negligence with their lives.
As I sit here typing this out I’m dealing with my own VA nightmare which involves the Phoenix VA. I have given 3 limbs for this country, but apparently that is not enough. A “clerical error” made by a VA employee has resulted in nearly a year of abuse and mismanagement of my case. In other words, the VA is stealing over $7000 from my disability compensation that I earned when I lost 3 of my limbs for our country.
On this Memorial Day, as I battle your incompetent bureaucrats my family would like to thank you for once again failing our veterans. We can’t help but wonder about the disastrous socialized medicine program that we will surely be dealing with if Obamacare is allowed to be fully implemented. If our incompetent VA cannot handle government healthcare for a fraction of our population, who would be foolish enough to believe a massive health care system designed to provide health care for all American’s would be any different? You can’t even find someone to build a competent website to work for your socialized medicine program when you had your name attached to it, so why would you care about our veterans when you could so easily push the blame off on someone else?
The Department of Veterans Affairs says it will let more veterans obtain health care at private hospitals, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced Saturday.
That’s right … just like Canada used US private hospitals to bail its government run system out when it came to wait times, the VA is planning the same thing. To anyone with an IQ above a donkey, that ought to tell you something.
Yes, that’s right … scientists. Here’s their opening. As you’ll see, they don’t mince words nor do they show much respect for the nonsense spouted in the NCA or those who produced it. And I don’t blame them:
The National Climate Assessment – 2014 (NCA) is a masterpiece of marketing that shows for the first time the full capabilities of the Obama Administration to spin a scientific topic as they see fit, without regard to the underlying facts. With hundreds of pages written by hundreds of captive scientists and marketing specialists, the administration presents their case for extreme climate alarm.
As independent scientists, we know that apparent evidence of “Climate Change,”however scary, is not proof of anything. Science derives its objectivity from robust logic and honest evidence repeatedly tested by all knowledgeable scientists, not just those paid to support the administration’s version of “Global Warming,” “Climate Change,” “Climate Disruption,” or whatever their marketing specialists call it today.
We are asked to believe that humans are drastically changing the earth’s climate by burning fossil fuels. The problem with their theory is very simple:
It is NOT true.
Here we address the administration’s basic thesis and the essential evidence that they claim support extreme concern. The theory of ‘Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming’ (CAGW) is based on a string of inferences that begins with the assumptions that carbon dioxide is a ‘greenhouse gas’ and that we are slowly driving up the atmospheric concentration by burning fossil fuels. It is therefore claimed as self-evident that the Global Average Surface Temperature (GAST) has already risen significantly and will continue to do so.
Higher GAST is then presumed to lead to all sorts of negative consequences, especially Extreme Weather. They promote their ‘Climate Models’ as a reliable way to predict the future climate. But these models dramatically fail basic verification tests. Nowhere do they admit to these well-known failures. Instead, we are led to believe that their climate models are close to perfection.
This document is structured around a “fact-check,” where we quote a number of the government’s key claims in the NCA and show each to be invalid. The first three claims involve their three crucial scientific arguments (Three Lines of Evidence or 3 LoE), which, if valid, would satisfy a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for making their case. But each is easily shown to be false; and because each is crucial, their entire theory collapses. That means that all of the overblown “Climate Disruption” evidence that they mention, whether true or not, cannot be tied back to man’s burning of fossil fuels. Hence, efforts to reduce or eliminate Extreme Weather by reducing the burning of fossil fuels are completely nonsensical.
They then present a point by point rebuttal of the “3 LoE”, pointing to evidence that shows them to be demonstrably false. And, as they point out, since those 3 LoE are the foundation of the CAGW theory, the theory collapses.
Tis the season of minimum wage hike demands and fast food protests again. Frankly I don’t have a problem with wage hikes … if they’re voluntary. I do have a problem with coerced wage hikes, however. And that’s precisely what any rise in the federal minimum wage amounts too. It is feel good legislation that uses the force of government to coerce businesses into paying employees more for jobs the businesses don’t deem worth the cost imposed. It is feel good legislation that religiously and studiously avoids the laws of economics.
For instance, what is one of the effects of raising the minimum wage? Job loss. How so? Well, here’s a real world example:
President Obama recently signed an executive order that will increase the minimum wage for employees of companies with new federal contracts beginning Jan. 1. At that time, the minimum wage for all federal contract workers — not just those working for fast food concessions — will increase to $10.10 from the current $7.25. It is not yet known how far-reaching the effects will be for contracts on military installations.
…new Labor Department rules issued last fall for fast food workers on federal contracts under the Service Contract Act require an increase in the minimum wage for such employees, varying by region. The rules also require payment of new, additional “health and welfare” fringe benefits at a rate of $3.81 per hour to those employees.
Four restaurants, including three McDonald’s outlets, will close within the next three weeks on Navy installations, according to Navy Exchange Service Command officials.
And two other contractors — a name-brand sandwich eatery and a name-brand pizza parlor — have asked to be released from their Army and Air Force Exchange Service contracts to operate fast food restaurants at two other installations, according to AAFES officials.
A source with knowledge of military on-base resale operations said the issue likely has to do with two new government regulations — one implemented, one pending — that will affect wages for contract workers in such on-base concessions.
Action/reaction. Who loses? Well what’s zero times the new minimum wage? That’s what the former workers of those restaurants can look forward too in the near future. Will other fast food outlets take their place? Possibly – but then as another law of economics points out, businesses do what they do for profit, consequently costs incurred are usually passed on to the consumer in the form of price increases for the product. So who will get screwed then. In this case sailors making about 23K a year. Probable result – business will be down because fewer of their customers will be able to afford their prices with the frequency they once did.
As usual Obama has done this by executive fiat. And, it appears the minimum wage hike may or may not have any life in Congress (even with dopy old Mitt Romney coming out for it). But the debate and the protests roll on. For instance we have today’s fast food protests which are alleged to be happening world wide (backed by about $15 million SEIU dollars here in the US).
Here’s an example of what they’re saying:
Naquasia LeGrand, 22, of Brooklyn, says this was her sixth protest since 2012. She has worked for three years as a cashier at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Park Slope, an affluent neighborhood in Brooklyn. She says makes $8 an hour and pays $1,300 a month for her apartment. “We live in New York City — a multibillion dollar city,” she says. “These corporations … are making all this money. It’s only right that we (workers) come together.”
The sense of entitlement is overwhelming.
So let’s break down what she does for her $8 an hour. She says “may I help you” to a customer, a customer gives her their order which she enters via a touchpad computer. The computer computes and totals the order. She enters the amount of cash tendered and it tells he how much change to give back. Or she swipes a credit card, waits for the receipt to print and hands both back to the customer. At some point after that, she hands the customer a tray with food on it or a bag containing it.
Guess what else can do most of that?
And what can the employer know will never happen with this? Well, it won’t be out in 6 protests in 3 years and won’t have an attitude every day it cranks up and goes to work. And other than initial cost and maintenance costs, it will likely be more accurate than a human, faster than a human and cost less than a human in the long run. The technology is already here and as it proliferates it will get cheaper and cheaper. And it is proliferating. Guess who just bought 7,000 of them?
The point of course is when costs go up businesses have to consider their options, especially if they’re in a very competitive industry – like fast food. They know that they can only pass on a certain percentage of higher costs to their customers. So they have to look for alternatives to doing that. One of the fastest and easiest ways to increase the bottom line is to reduce headcount. Another is to automate low skill jobs. What Ms. LeGrand is doing is inviting her employer to consider one of those options if higher wages are forced on them. And there are few jobs requiring less skill at a fast food joint than cashier/order taker. See picture above for confirmation.
Every time the minimum wage goes up, it prices some jobs out of the marketplace. Anyone – who usually fills those jobs that get eliminated? Low skill workers. The one’s who need jobs, any job, the worst. Instead of letting the market have the ability to set the worth of work, the government imposes a wage floor and essentially outlaws any wage below that floor.
Of course that doesn’t change the worth of the work to the potential employer. A $6 an hour job is still worth $6. Only a fool is going to pay $10.10 or $15 or whatever above that an hour. So the work goes undone and a person willing to do the work for that price goes unhired. Instead, other options and substitutes are considered, like automation or contracting it out overseas where labor costs are cheaper. Why do you think so much is “made in China?”
The do-gooders are our own worst enemies when it comes to this. Its all about them feeling good about helping the “little people”. They never look beyond that to the real consequences of their do-goodism. There are a couple of reasons they don’t: A) it is apparently beyond their understanding and B) it’s all about them feeling good about themselves, not what happens afterward.
The “market” is stuck with the consequences. And when it all goes tango uniform and what people like me predicted comes true, we’re treated to claims that the cause was “market failure” (btw, read this great rant on “market failure”). That’s about the time you see people like Ms. LeGrand, the SEIU, Harry Reid and the usual suspects start talking about hiking the minimum wage again.
And the cycle repeats.
Or so says a new McKinsey survey of the numbers:
One of the principal flaws in the coverage of Obamacare’s exchange enrollment numbers to date has been that the press has not made distinctions between those who have “signed up” for Obamacare-based plans, and those who have actually paid for those plans and thereby achieved enrollment in health insurance. A new survey from McKinsey indicates that a large majority of people signing up are now paying for their coverage. This is progress for the health law. But the survey still indicates that three-fourths of enrollees were previously insured.
Of course we’ve seen the propaganda push from the White House that has claimed the numbers (8 million enrolled) mean that the law is working. As usual, the devil is in the details. If the law was designed to provide coverage to those who were uninsured, 25% of the total enrolled fitting that description is hardly indicative of that claim’s efficacy. And when you break down that 25% number, it’s even less indicative:
At most around 930,000 people have gained coverage from Obamacare’s under-26 “slacker mandate” (not 3 million, as is commonly suggested); another 3 million or so have gained coverage from the law’s expansion of Medicaid. Approximately 2.6 million previously uninsured individuals have obtained coverage through the ACA exchanges and the related off-exchange individual markets; however, the off-exchange purchases are mostly unsubsidized, and therefore can’t necessarily be credited to Obamacare.
Here’s a graphic that breaks the McKinsey survey’s results down into a more understandable form:
In reality, what the law has essentially done rearranged the burden of payment among those enrolled while really not doing much at all in terms of reaching those for whom it was supposedly designed to help:
What the exchanges appear to be doing is mainly helping people who were previously insured. If you’re 62 years old, say, and your income is $30,000, and you were paying for your own coverage before, you’re now eligible for plans that are much cheaper for you, thanks to taxpayer-funded subsidies and higher premiums for young people.
Of course that means that other people are paying more. “My old plan was canceled under Obamacare,” an exasperated Californian told me last week. “The new Obamacare plan costs twice as much, and the deductibles are higher. And yet Obama is counting me as one of his 8 million people!” But hey—at least he has maternity coverage.
And I’m sure our Californian is eternally grateful for big brother deciding for him that maternity care was an absolute necessity for which he must pay. But the point is the 8 million number remains very shaky (and that’s being kind) and it really doesn’t at all reflect what the White House would have you believe it reflects – that the law is working.
So a day or so ago, I talk about how regulation and government intrusion is helping to kill entrepreneurship and, as a result, small businesses. The same problem, as we all know, is also exacerbating the unemployment picture. A prime example? That odious law known as ObamaCare.
The US Chamber of Commerce blog has this chart for us to peruse. It is all about the recently implemented “Health Insurance Tax”, aka “HIT”: As this awful law continues to be implemented when it is politically convenient for the Democrats, we see even more disaster lurking for those who are employed and actually “like their insurance and like their doctor”. But HIT is already taking a toll.
The National Federation of Independent Business’ Research Foundation estimates that the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) will result in a reduction in private sector employment of 152,000 to 286,000 jobs by 2023, with 57 percent of the job losses coming from small businesses. This will amount to a reduction of U.S. real output (sales) by between $20 billion to $33 billion during the same time frame.
Just what we need – another “hit” to employment and a “hit” to GDP. But it is clear the Democrats don’t really care about that. As one of our low information commenters is want to say “a few eggs must be broken” to make an omelet … or something. Any inanity will do when it is clear that a law is a bust and a failure. As the Chamber of Commerce blog notes:
The HIT, which went into effect on January 1, 2014, levies a tax on health plans sold on the fully-insured market. Eighty-eight percent of it is made up of small businesses. Revenue from the tax will rise by 41% in 2015 and reach $14.3 billion in 2018.
“Small businesses are crucial to rebuilding an economy that allows all Americans to prosper,” Katie Mahoney, Executive Director of Health Policy at the U.S. Chamber said. “We need to work to find ways to ensure small businesses and their employees have the tools to build on their current success, not hinder future growth.”
You’d think what she says would be fairly common knowledge, but apparently the deluded administration that runs this country thinks we’re coming out of the economic malaise it has worked so hard to keep in place, and thus its time for another little shot to the head of small business.
With the HIT – mission accomplished.
You all know the nursery story about the Golden Goose. Well, as we head into “Recovery Summer V” with no real recovery in sight, subject to false unemployment numbers and pitiful quarterly GDP earnings, it might be useful to look at something else that is likely a factor in all of this:
Business dynamism is the process by which firms continually are born, fail, expand, and contract, as some jobs are created, others are destroyed, and others still are turned over. Research has firmly established that this dynamic process is vital to productivity and sustained economic growth. Entrepreneurs play a critical role in this process, and in net job creation.
And all of that is a function of what?
That evil thing called “capitalism”. Yup, evil capitalism encourages entrepreneurship and through that cycle, we see the market at work – creating profit, which creates jobs, which expands businesses and creates more of them and more jobs and more wealth and … etc., etc., etc. It is that repeating cycle that has, at least till recently, gotten us where we are in terms of wealth and power as a nation.
Not government. Government is a net leech. It sucks the blood out of productivity in the form of taxes. But government also plays another role – as a regulator. Most look at that as a necessary evil. But most governments always go overboard with their regulatory regimes and end up making it harder and harder for entrepreneurs to do what they do best. The Brookings institute has taken a look at this and found that over the past few decades, the entreprenurerial role has declined and, as a result, we have, for the first time, seen more businesses exiting the economy than entering it:
Now Brookings tries to stay claim this can be reversed, even though it is such a widespread trend it should alarm us all.
In fact, we show that dynamism has declined in all fifty states and in all but a handful of the more than three hundred and sixty U.S. metropolitan areas during the last three decades. Moreover, the performance of business dynamism across the states and metros has become increasingly similar over time. In other words, the national decline in business dynamism has been a widely shared experience.
While the reasons explaining this decline are still unknown, if it persists, it implies a continuation of slow growth for the indefinite future, unless for equally unknown reasons or by virtue of entrepreneurship enhancing policies (such as liberalized entry of high-skilled immigrants), these trends are reversed.
Note the oblique way Brookings points to government, but nevertheless identifies the problem. The phrase is “entrepreneurship enhancing policies”. And what would that look like? Well Brookings thinks liberalizing entry of high-skilled immigrants might to the trick. I, on the other hand, think a thorough review of the regulatory regime and revocation of all unnecessary regulations along with those found to punish or hinder entrepreneurship would have a much speedier and positive effect than the Brookings suggestion.
Certainly, we know why there was a precipitous drop in 2008, but again, what has the government, in terms of policy, done to ease the situation? Nada. Nothing. Except play a little crony capitalism (i.e. pick winners and losers) in the green energy game. And, of course, most of their “winners” have gone belly up.
As a consequence of this refusal to consider steps concerning rolling back regulations (and, instead heaping even more on the books), we see the trend get worse on both the entry and exit levels.
Entrepreneurship IS the “Golden Goose” of capitalism. One of the big reasons our economy continues to lag badly can be found in the chart above. And what has this administration done in 5 plus years to address this problem? Well, to be honest, it’s done more to exacerbate it that help it. Thus the Golden Goose on life support.
All hands prepare for “Recovery Summer VI”. And VII. And VIII …
Apparently tomorrow, President Obama will “showcase” his climate change agenda. According to the Washington Post:
After years of putting other policy priorities first — and dismaying many liberal allies in the process — Obama is now getting into the weeds on climate change and considers it one of the key components of his legacy, according to aides and advisers. He is regularly briefed on scientific reports on the issue, including a national climate assessment that he will help showcase Tuesday. He is using his executive authority to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other sources, and is moving ahead with stricter fuel-efficiency standards for the heaviest trucks. And while he routinely brings up climate change in closed-door meetings with world leaders, according to his aides, he also discusses it in his private life, talking about global warming’s implications with his teenage daughters.
As usual, he intends to proceed by using executive power, whether or not the people or their representatives agree. And also without any consideration of the cost to the consumer. All in the face of mounting evidence that the supposed crisis of CO2 is a non-crisis. According to the WaPo, this intention to address “climate change” was spurred by Obama viewing satellite pictures of the California mountain snow pack:
Of course, most of us know that’s likely a local weather phenomenon, not a result of “global warming” or we’d be unlikely to be seeing things like this:
Antarctic sea ice continues to set new records, with extent in April at the highest since measurements began in 1979.
Remember, Antarctic and Arctic sea ice melts were to be the harbingers of doom. In fact, the Arctic was supposed to be ice free last year according to the perpetually wrong alarmists. Instead we saw record sea ice there as well. Factor in the fact that there has been no global warming for over 17 years and one has to ask why this, in the face of a badly performing economy and over 92 million Americans being out of work, is suddenly to become a priority for the White House? As one editorialist puts it:
The problem is, it’s just so hard to be an alarmist these days. Temperatures aren’t rising, U.S. CO2 emissions are down, and now it turns out that peak oil won’t peak. What’s a scare-monger to do?
The answer is keep on trying to gin up the alarm to satisfy the true-believers who are an important political constituency of the Democrats. And it is becoming clearer every day that the Democrats are going to need all of their constituencies to even have a ghost of a chance in the November mid-terms. To this point, the left environmental movement hasn’t been to happy with the Obama administration and it certainly wants more drastic action to be taken to curb the use of fossil fuel. So its time to shore up their support:
Environmentalists such as Democratic donor and billionaire Tom Steyer want him to veto the Keystone pipeline and wean the nation from natural gas. Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke said of the administration: “We have to increasingly get them to acknowledge that there has to be a major transformation away from fossil fuels.”
That desire the Natural Resources Defense Council voices has resulted in such things as the “war on coal” and the reduction in production of oil on federal lands and off our coasts. It has also meant slow walking the permit process as well as holding the Keystone Pipeline hostage to presidential politics. So why now? Why is this the time to do this? Because he can:
A White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the plans are not final, said Obama has made it clear that he considers climate change a priority and is less politically constrained now that he no longer faces reelection.
Meanwhile the public views the issue as a low priority if a priority at all, given jobs and economic problems. Yet Obama persists. Elections are in the offing. And if there is one thing he has at least a semblance of competence in, it’s getting elected (or helping others do so). So all the high flying rhetoric aside, this is about votes, this is about elections and this is about trying to preserve at least one Democratic house in Congress for the last two years of his presidency. It is one of many such moves he’ll be attempting in the coming months. But make no mistake – this isn’t about the environment or his legacy, it’s about politics. ~McQ
The demographic that was key to holding down health care costs apparently came in well below the level necessary to ensure that:
Just more than a quarter of the eight million people who signed up for health plans under the Affordable Care Act are in the prized demographic of 18 to 34 years old, falling short of the figure considered ideal to keep down policy prices.
The data, released Thursday by the Obama administration, painted a more complete picture of enrollment in the plans. They show that about 28% of people picking plans on the state and federal insurance exchanges by April 19—after most states’ enrollment deadlines passed—were 18 to 34 years old, a generally healthy group. The proportion is higher than previous counts. But it is significantly below the 40% level that some analysts consider important for holding down rates by balancing the greater medical spending generated by older enrollees.
Insurers right now are setting rates for 2015, and the age data will be a key factor in their decisions. Some insurers say that despite seeing a late surge in younger enrollees, their sign-ups still skewed older overall than they had expected.
Because the “healthy” demographic sign-up fell well below expectations, the rates for 2015 are expected to be at a higher rate. And, of course, there’s the further problem that “enrollment” doesn’t necessarily mean that the enrollee has paid for coverage. As noted in earlier:
Data provided to the committee by every insurance provider in the health care law’s Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) shows that, as of April 15, 2014, only 67 percent of individuals and families that had selected a health plan in the federally facilitated marketplace had paid their first month’s premium and therefore completed the enrollment process. Nationwide, only 25 percent of paid enrollees are ages 18 to 34…
And finally, the assumption is that the 18 to 34 demographic will be a “healthy demographic” relatively speaking and will carry the cost for the more sickly among us. That too may be an erroneous assumption:
While the 18-34-year-old cohort has been dubbed the “young and healthy,” a more accurate moniker might be “young and somewhat healthy.” 68 percent of 18-34-year-olds on the federal exchanges chose a silver plan. As I’ve written previously:
Why does this matter for the death spiral? Because so many enrollees choosing silver plans suggests that the risk pool may be sicker than is optimal. For enrollees at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level, silver plans tend to offer the most coverage for the lowest price. For persons under 250 percent FPL, ObamaCare offers help with copays and deductibles, but only if the consumer chooses a silver plan. The actuarial value for a silver plan is 70 percent (that is, a silver plan must, on average, cover 70 percent of a policyholder’s medical claims), but when the subsidies for cost-sharing are included, the actuarial value rises to between 73 and 94 percent. As one writer notes, “Why would someone opt for a silver-level plan over a cheaper bronze or catastrophic-level plan? The most plausible explanation is that the enrollee anticipates incurring significant medical expenses over the coming year, which is to say that he’s not healthy.”
Since income tends to be lower the younger one is, a lot of those 18-34-year-olds are probably in that <250 percent FPL range. The inordinate number of 18-34-year-olds choosing silver plans suggests that the exchanges have attracted young and healthy people that are not that healthy.
Not only may they not be young and healthy, but they’ll most likely be receiving high subsidies which again sort of defeats the whole purpose of signing up that demographic, doesn’t it? And it certainly calls into further question whether or not even the 28% that signed up will have any significant effect in helping to lower costs.
Bottom line? Well, to quote a well-known conservative talk show host, we’ve again been treated to a heaping helping of “bovine scatology”. Not that anyone at all familiar with this president and his administration should at all be surprised.
Peter Morici gives a little ground truth to the hyperbole of the left who’ve decided the best defense of ObamaCare is … to lie about it.
With 8 million Americans enrolled in health insurance through federal and state exchanges, President Obama has declared the Affordable Care Act a success. That’s disingenuous and big changes are needed to make the law work well.
Overall, the ACA’s goals were to provide reasonably priced medical care to the 45 to 50 million uninsured and slow health care cost increases. It is hardly clear those goals will be accomplished.
Many of the 8 million enrolled to replace individual and small business policies, canceled thanks to ACA rules, or to obtain federal subsidies only available through the exchanges.
So if the goal was to proved care to the ’45 or 50 million’ uninsured, how does enrolling 8 million, many of whom had lost their insurance due to the ACA, constitute success?
Well in the real world it doesn’t. Only in Oz or Fantasyland do the rules of reality not apply (even if they really do and what those living there do is deny it) and allow them to make these claims with a straight face.
It’s election prep. We’ve seen it countless times before. It is an attempt to make lemonaide out of the lemons this abomination of a law has handed its creators.
This is just another version of the Big Lie that this particular administration has raised to an art form. And with a compliant media to help them along (a media that seems without curiosity at the most important times) the Big Lie gets plenty of press.
Of course now that the press has helped spread the lie, the Dems will point to those media stories as “the truth” and use them to assure the usual left leaning low information voters that a) they need to turn out because ObamaCare is a “good thing” and b) if they don’t those mean old Republicans will take it away.
You can just see it coming.
Meanwhile, for most of America, the really bad stuff is being unilaterally put on hold until after the election – the most blatant display of partisan politics I’ve seen in some time:
The ACA requires health insurance policies to pay for a wider and more expensive scope of services than many individual and small business policies covered prior to the law.
In many counties, only a few insurers chose to offer policies on exchanges. Absent competition, insurers lacked incentives to bargain as hard as before with hospitals and other providers, further raising premiums and out of pocket costs.
The bronze, silver and gold policies offered by exchanges mostly vary in their deductibles. Folks selecting bronze and silver plans with high deductibles are now paying the full cost of doctor visits that only set them back a $20 or $30 dollar co-pay prior to the ACA.
Simply, for many families the ACA raises the combined cost of premium and out-of-pocket expenses.
About 50 percent of Americans are eligible for premium subsidies, but taxpayers are footing the bill and the burden of health care on the economy — already 50 percent higher than in Germany and Japan — is making it tougher for American businesses to compete and destroying jobs — something the Congressional Budget Office doesn’t bother to calculate.
But then, this was all predicted prior to passage and only a few bothered to listen.
Now we get to live with the “success”.
I’ve been watching the media circus surrounding the resignation of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. If a more inept bureaucrat ever lived, the best they could do is hope to tie with her for last place. Yet we have so-called “jounalists”, or at least those who would like to be thought of as journalists, so engaged in spin it is almost unseemly. Well it is unseemly. In fact, it’s nauseating.
And who would I designate as “head clown?” None other than Ezra Klein. As James Taranto points out, Klein is shameless in his attempt to paint over the rot that is ObamaCare:
Meanwhile, Ezra Klein hails the success of the Five Year Plan: “Obamacare has won. And that’s why Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius can resign.” If Sebelius had quit during what Klein calls the “catastrophic launch”–see what we mean?–it would have been a sign of White House “panic” and “made it harder to save the law,” Klein argues.
It’s surely true that the immediate political risk of Sebelius’s resignation is considerably less now than it would have been then. In October it might have emboldened vulnerable Senate Democrats to abandon ObamaCare or at least press for serious legislative fixes. It’s late for that now. By maintaining party unity this long, Obama probably bought enough time to assure that Congress won’t threaten what is invariably called his “signature legislative achievement” this year.
“In other words,” Klein writes, “the law has won its survival.”
Has it? Has it really? There’s nothing to this point that assures the “law has won its survival”, and, as we’ve been warned constantly, the worst is yet to come – that is when the President quits arbitrarily delaying the “worst”.
I mean, Klein’s nonsense is reminiscent of Baghdad Bob’s assurances that the Iraqis were winning, for heaven sake.
We discussed it on the podcast this week and we’ve mentioned it over and over again … we are terribly ill served by our “journalists” and the “news” media in general. Where once upon a time they actually inspected what government did and helped ensure that it didn’t get outside the lines, it now aids and abets it straying beyond those boundries. We now, literally it seems, have a class of “journalists” who think it is their job to hide the truth in order to advance their political agenda.
Ezra Klein is one of those. Anyone who ever takes anything the man says seriously again, is a fool.