Free Markets, Free People

ObamaCare


Lying liars and the lying liars who support them

I’m not one to use the word “liar” much since I consider it’s definition to be very specific, i.e. telling something you know to be false.

However, in the case of the ObamaCare lie – and that’s what it was when President Obama said “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” – I call it what it is.  And there’s no question about it now.

What I hate worse than a liar is someone who tries to rationalize or explain away a lie.  Like Steny Hoyer:

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer conceded to reporters today that Democrats knew people would not be able to keep their current health care plans under Obamacare and expressed qualified contrition for President Obama’s repeated vows to the contrary.

“We knew that there would be some policies that would not qualify and therefore people would be required to get more extensive coverage,” Hoyer said in response to a question from National Review.

Asked by another reporter how repeated statements by Obama to the contrary weren’t “misleading,” Hoyer said “I don’t think the message was wrong. I think the message was accurate. It was not precise enough…[it] should have been caveated with – ‘assuming you have a policy that in fact does do what the bill is designed to do.’”

So it was a lie to begin with, no one spoke up and now the lying liars are trying to spin the result.  You weren’t just misled – you were LIED too.  Purposely.  And shamelessly.

Welcome to politics and government today.  Utter disgust doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about the whole institution.

~McQ


ObamaCare – it just keeps getting better and better

Or not:

16 million people are now receiving letters from their carriers saying they are losing their current coverage and must re-enroll in order to avoid a break in coverage and comply with the new health law’s benefit mandates––the vast majority by January 1.

And how many have managed to enroll?  Well it appears that number is in the thousands, and as we mentioned on the podcast last night, most of those are enrolling in Medicaid.

Meanwhile, the failed law continues to impact the lives of fellow citizens negatively.

New Jersey:

Hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans opened the mail last week to find their health insurance plan would no longer exist in 2014 because it does not cover all the essential benefits required by the Affordable Care Act. … The changes will impact more than 800,000 people in New Jersey who purchase insurance on the individual and small-employer markets, according to Ward Sanders, president of the New Jersey Association of Health Plans.

Florida:

Florida Blue is dropping 300,000 customers whose policies the health insurer says aren’t sufficiently comprehensive under the health care overhaul. The Jacksonville-based insurance company said Thursday that the 300,000 policyholders have plans that don’t include all of the 10 categories of benefits required under the Affordable Care Act.

California:

Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people – about half of its individual business in the state. … Blue Shield of California sent roughly 119,000 cancellation notices out in mid-September, about 60 percent of its individual business.

Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC:

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is being forced to cancel plans that currently cover 76,000 individuals in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., due to changes made by President Obama’s health care law, the company told the Washington Examiner today. That represents more than 40 percent of the 177,000 individuals covered by CareFirst in those states.

Pennsylvania and surrounding regions:

Independence Blue Cross is canceling coverage for 24,000 members in the Philadelphia region because their insurance plans don’t comply with new rules from the Affordable Care Act, Newsworks reported.

[...]

Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20 percent of its individual market customers, while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45 percent.

And these are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  16 million dumped after they were promised what?

“If you like your current plan, you will be able to keep it. Let me repeat that:  if you like your plan, you’ll be able to keep it.”

Because, you remember, that was a MAJOR FEATURE of ObamaCare:

“In fact, one of our core principles is that if you like the health care you have, you can keep it.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.8642, 8/3/09)

Ah yes, the lying liars that brought us the biggest lie of the 21st century to date.

“All we’ve been hearing the last three years is if you like your policy you can keep it… I’m infuriated because I was lied to.”

How’s it feel to have been “had” this badly?

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 27 Oct 13

This week, Bruce, Michael and Dale discuss Obamacare and the end of antibiotics.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.


ObamaCare’s technical failure only masks its worse failures

As a designed program it is a disaster. Why? Because it does few if any of the things it was supposed to do (remember: “if you like your insurance and want to keep it?”). Now the New York Times – a rah, rah supporter of the law – has found another “design flaw”:

As technical failures bedevil the rollout of President Obama’s health care law, evidence is emerging that one of the program’s loftiest goals — to encourage competition among insurers in an effort to keep costs low — is falling short for many rural Americans.

While competition is intense in many populous regions, rural areas and small towns have far fewer carriers offering plans in the law’s online exchanges. Those places, many of them poor, are being asked to choose from some of the highest-priced plans in the 34 states where the federal government is running the health insurance marketplaces, a review by The New York Times has found.

You have to chuckle a bit at the abject ignorance the Times often displays as evidenced by the fact that they don’t seem to understand that price controls/setting isn’t going to foster much competition among anyone. And, when government decides what each policy must contain, they’re not going to be cheap. Oh they may seem relatively cheap, but then there are those damnable deductibles, aren’t there?

Of the roughly 2,500 counties served by the federal exchanges, more than half, or 58 percent, have plans offered by just one or two insurance carriers, according to an analysis by The Times of county-level data provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. In about 530 counties, only a single insurer is participating.

The analysis suggests that the ambitions of the Affordable Care Act to increase competition have unfolded unevenly, at least in the early going, and have not addressed many of the factors that contribute to high prices. Insurance companies are reluctant to enter challenging new markets, experts say, because medical costs are high, dominant insurers are difficult to unseat, and powerful hospital systems resist efforts to lower rates.

“There’s nothing in the structure of the Affordable Care Act which really deals with that problem,” said John Holahan, a fellow at the Urban Institute, who noted that many factors determine costs in a given market. “I think that all else being equal, premiums will clearly be higher when there’s not that competition.”

The Obama administration has said 95 percent of Americans live in areas where there are at least two insurers in the exchanges. But many experts say two might not be enough to create competition that would help lower prices.

What was that word again? Oh yeah, “incentive”. What “incentive” is there for an insurer to enter a market simply to lower prices so no one can survive? Yeah, probably not much. And in rural areas where population is thin in comparison to urban areas, the cost of doing business may preclude the entrance of a third carrier because there’s no positive incentive to do so. I.e. they don’t see profit being higher than the cost of doing business. Imagine that?

But hey, it’s the law and law is magic, you know. It declares something will be so and it must be so. Right?

Well, that’s the “thinking” behind this law, such that it is … the law of the underwear gnomes come to life.

~McQ


ObamaCare launch is debacle of the leadership’s own making

Everything I read about this debacle that is ObamaCare’s launch is summed up pretty well in this paragraph:

In an era where Google is making self-driving cars and Amazon offers next-day delivery for just about anything, the White House plunged ahead with a system it knew to be defective and is relying on the technology of the 19th century as the fall-back. Five days before the exchanges launched, the Health and Human Services Department increased the Virginia information technology company Serco’s $114 million contract by $87 million—to help process paper applications. Are contingency plans in place to sign up via telegraph?

Pitiful doesn’t begin to describe the effort. Incompetent is too tame to encompass the leadership. Inept would be a compliment if describing the launch.

And yet we think these people, the people who designed and put this monstrosity together and thought it good enough to launch, can be trusted with our health care.

Really?

It makes one wonder about the collective intelligence of the citizenry.

P.S.  Thought you’d like to know that in the new liberal conventional wisdom, “death panels” are now a “good thing”, especially if the state has final say.

Gee, never saw that coming.

BTW, can anyone guess the greatest lie of the 21st Century to date?

“If you like your insurance and want to keep it, you can.”

~McQ


ObamaCare rollout: When you’ve lost MSNBC …

How bad is it?  Well, here’s a clip of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC.  In it, the group isn’t even polite about it – they simply point out that the administration is now engaged in lying about it’s rollout and the numbers involved.  Even they can’t find it in themselves to prevaricate about what’s been going on.  It’s a disaster and even the left can see that:

Usually, when something is so bad that it can’t be denied, even the left will finally admit it.  Here’s that point.  Two years after it was passed, two years of being able to enlist the help of world class contractors and putting a state-of-the art system together, what have we got?

The Edsel of systems.  In fact, that’s not fair to Edsel.  It at least ran.

Meanwhile, Kathleen Sebelius continues to cash her paychecks.

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 20 Oct 13

This week, Michael and Dale discuss the government shutdown.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.


ObamaCare – let the race to the bottom begin

Doctors in New York aren’t particularly happy about ObamaCare:

New York doctors are feeling queasy about ObamaCare — and many won’t participate in the new national insurance program because they fear they’ll go broke, The Post has learned.

“ObamaCare is going to send me more patients to see and then cut the payments to provide the care — that’s what’s going to happen,” predicted Donald Moore, a primary-care doctor in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. “I will not accept it.”

Moore claims that President Obama made a big mistake by requiring uninsured residents to obtain medical coverage from for-profit insurers through the ObamaCare health exchanges instead of through public health programs like Medicaid.

Under tremendous pressure to keep costs down and profits up, Moore said he’s concerned that commercial insurers will pay doctors less for patient visits and services than either Medicaid or Medicare.

Many doctors, he argues, won’t be able to cover their costs with such skimpy fees.

Moore scoffed, “Who’s going to sustain the losses? The insurance companies? It’s basically going to be a race to the bottom.”

No kidding.  And that’s precisely what was predicted here long ago.  Just because you have insurance doesn’t mean a doctor is going to take you on as a patient.  Result?  The same solution – packed and overcrowded emergency rooms.  Hospitals going broke treating everyone who comes through the door on the pittance their insurer pays for the treatment.

And how do doctors feel about the beginning of ObamaCare?  Well they’re not sure at all how it works:

Despite a much publicized rollout, many other doctors said they haven’t decided whether to become ObamaCare providers, because they haven’t been notified by insurers or the state about ­reimbursement rates.

“I have not spoken with anyone who has made a decision to participate in the exchanges. We simply don’t have any information about which we can make a decision,” said Dr. Paul Orloff, president of the New York County Medical Society.

“We have no idea what the reimbursements will be or what the claims-form process will entail.”

Until they are, why would any sane medical practice take on new patients?

Finally:

The Medical Society of New York State is conducting a survey of doctor concerns about the program and asking whether they will accept patients who buy policies.

“There’s a real question about how many doctors will participate. Doctors are concerned about being left holding the bag,” said Sam Unterricht, an ophthalmologist and the president of the state medical society.

The clumsy launch of ObamaCare in New York and elsewhere — with computer glitches and sketchy information — worries the medical community, he said.

“It’s really shaky right now,” Unterricht said.

Spooked about the payments they’ll receive under ObamaCare, other doctors said they’ve stopped hiring staff for their medical practices.

“I’m apprehensive. I’m certainly not hiring anyone new,” said James Reilly, an obstetrician who has delivered 4,000 babies and heads the Richmond County Medical Society.

“We want to see the impact on the bottom line,” said Reilly, who has a 12-member staff and pays a hefty $200,000 annual medical-malpractice insurance premium.

Yes, the enthusiasm for the new system is, well, overwhelming, isn’t it?  Of course they want to see the impact on the bottom line – they’re small business owners.  Government is involved in price fixing and they’d like to see if they can live with the fixed price or not.  If any other entity was involved in doing what the government is involved in here, they’d have been arrested.

But hey, when government decides it can make legal for itself what is illegal for you (consider the lottery, for instance) then you know you’re on the fast road to total decline.  The sign posts are whipping by so fast, no one can even read them anymore.

~McQ


Blaming the victim

So, I got this email from the TEA Party Express people. It starts:

We are saddened to see today that the political establishment in Washington DC continues to do the only thing they seem to know – kick the proverbial can down the road. Instead of repealing, defunding or at least delaying the atrocious Obamacare, the political elites are content to let the "train wreck" happen at the expense of the American people.

Now, look, I’m really sympathetic to the goals of the TEA Party. If it was up to me, the executive departments of the Federal Government would consist of State, Defense, Treasury, Justice, and Interior. We’d have a balanced budget amendment. There would be no federal-level entitlements. Basically, the federal government’s primary responsibility would be sound money and talking to or killing foreigners as required.

But this is just a bit tendentious. It’s not “political elites” that gave us Obamacare, or who are preventing it from being overturned. It’s Democrats. The problem isn’t that Republicans have some secret admiration for Obamacare that prevents them from getting rid of it. The problem is that Republicans control 1/2 of 1/3 of the government. They have no political way to force the repeal of the ACA. They don’t control the senate—or even have a majority in it—and they don’t control the White House. Since we don’t have government by magical pixie dust, but by actual votes in actual legislative bodies and approval by the president, what possible path to ACA repeal was on the table?

The Tea Party and conservatives got short end of the stick on today’s announced budget "compromise."   Enough Republicans in the Senate and the House are ready to give the Democrats everything they wanted and rendered the principled stand led by Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and others a futile effort.

No. It was a futile effort before it began. The principled stands of some Republicans were irrelevant, because they had no power whatsoever to translate their stands into concrete action. Nor, apparently, were the Democrats in the Senate or White House particularly worried enough about negative public opinion to yield. SO, where was this going to go? Partially shutting down the government forever? Stopping Social Security and Medicare payments? I mean, what, precisely, was the end game that got to Obamacre repeal with the current senate and president? Hey, while we’re on the subject, what was the plan that the Republicans had—or that Ted Cruz had—prior to shutting down the government? I mean, other than, you know, hope.

To put it plain and simple: we don’t have enough conservatives in Congress to stop the irresponsible spending in Washington.

Yes. Exactly. Which everyone else knew early in November of 2012, just as they knew the next chance to repeal the ACA, barring its spectacular failure, would be after 2014 at the earliest.

We have seen 5 years of the Obama Administration and no successful negotiations have taken place except the sequester, which was Obama’s idea because he never thought it would actually happen!

So, by what sophistry of reason did anyone assume Obama would negotiate over Obamacare?

This is simply unacceptable.  The Republicans have had 5 years to try and make some progress in remedying the financial ills that plague our nation’s future, and have made little to no progress.

I guess that makes you wish you’d had a massive GOTV effort in 2012, huh? But that didn’t happen, and millions of Republican voters stayed home. So we got a Democrat-controlled Senate, and Barack Obama went back to the White House.

The predictable result was that Obamacare was not—and with Democrats controlling the Senate and White House, will not—be repealed in the foreseeable future.

Are there some Republicans who could be described as insufficiently conservative? Yeah. Sure. So what? They aren’t the fundamental problem here. They aren’t the ones who voted for it in the first place, either.

If you want the ACA repealed there’s a simple way to do it: Win elections. Like Cory Booker just did in New Jersey, which sent another Democrat to the Senate.


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ObamaCare: Patience is not an American virtue

Experts tell you that you have about 2 seconds to have your webpage download (or at least begin to download) or the person who clicked the link is likely to move on.  We Americans are not a patient people.

So how has that impacted the ObamaCare debacle?  Well, since the disastrous launch of the exchanges, there’s been a huge drop off in attempts:

The number of visitors to the federal government’s HealthCare.gov Web site plummeted 88 percent between Oct. 1 and Oct. 13, according to a new analysis of America’s online use, while less than half of 1 percent of the site’s visitors successfully enrolled for health insurance the first week. …

Based on a sample of two million users — or 1 percent of all online users in the U.S. — which Millward Brown Digital has permission to track, it suggests that the rush of traffic administration officials cited as the cause of the site’s problems trailed off within a matter of days.

Of the 9.4 million unique visitors to the site during the launch’s first week, according to the analysis, roughly a third attempted to register, and a third of that number — 1.01 million — completed registration. Ultimately, roughly 36,000 Americans signed up for an insurance plan online, the report said.

Not that I’m upset, but 36,000 out of 9.4 million is just incomprehensible incompetence at work.

Yet Kathleen Sebelius still has the “full confidence” of the other incompetent in office – one Barack Obama.  No surprise there.  No accountability either.

Meanwhile for those that do manage to get through, sticker shock is sure to await them.

~McQ