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Free Markets, Free People

As predictable as the sun rising in the east, Obamacare is failing

Forget the Supreme Court ruling that may gut it, the program is failing all on its own as it is unable to keep or deliver on any of its promises.  Include with that the financial disaster it has become and you have the perfect vehicle for defining “a failure”:

ObamaCare’s supporters would like everyone to believe that with Healthcare.gov now functioning, everything is just fine and dandy. Contrary to what the conservative press (which I guess would include me) has been saying about the many problems of ObamaCare, Vox‘s Ezra Klein declared last September that “in the real world, it’s working.” In February, his fellow Voxland inhabitant Sarah Kliff rattled off eight ways in which the law had proved its critics wrong.

But has it? Not really.

For starters, the exchanges have enrolled about 3 million fewer people than the Congressional Budget Office projected in 2010. And far fewer of the enrollees are from the ranks of the uninsured than hoped. Medicaid enrollment is lower too, for the simple reason that states refused to expand the program.

Ezra Klein hasn’t visited the “real world” in years (Dale and I asked him once if he’d visited a VA hospital after he waxed enthusiastic about how good the VA was. Of course, he hadn’t).  And, as expected, the government’s predictions, which were used to justify Obamacare, were woefully wrong.  No surprise to some of us.

Two:

The core of President Obama’s sales pitch to America was that the program, which he called the Affordable Care Act, would “bend the health care cost curve” and save an average family $2,500 on their premiums each year. How would it accomplish this feat? Essentially, he said, by forcing uninsured “free loaders” who show up in the emergency room to obtain free care to either buy (subsidized) coverage on the insurance exchange or sign up for the expanded Medicaid program. The point was that if they had coverage, they’d get cheaper care sooner in a doctor’s office rather than more expensive care later in a hospital emergency room.

Things don’t seem to be working out that way. ObamaCare is indeed bending the cost curve — but up, not down.

In fact ER visits are up under Obamacare, not down (another supposed justification for the law).  As for rates?  They continue to go through the roof:

Every year, companies selling coverage through ObamaCare’s exchanges have to ask state regulators to approve their premiums for the following year — a practice more appropriate for the Soviet Union than an allegedly free-market economy. And this year, according to several news reports, some are requesting increases of over 50 percent.

In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6 percent in premiums for 2016. The biggest insurer in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3 percent increase. In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4 percent across its products. Moda Health, the largest insurer on the Oregon health exchange, seeks an average boost of around 25 percent.

Some states are even higher.

The reason is called “economics”.  It is a fairly simple concept to grasp.  When you subsidize millions who don’t pay full price or any at all with the money those who do pay full price pay, the cost curve for those paying has nowhere to go but up.  Surprise, that’s precisely what is happening, despite promises to the contrary (which we here knew were full of hot air when they were first uttered).

And there are more hikes on the horizon:

What’s more, these hikes are likely just a prelude to far bigger ones in future years. Why? Because two programs — risk corridor and reinsurance — that were meant to “stabilize” rates in ObamaCare’s first few years so that insurers could obtain the right mix of enrollees are set to expire next year. (The risk corridor program slaps a fee on insurance companies that have lower-than-expected medical losses, and compensates those that have more. The reinsurance program imposes a fee on insurance policies and funnels it to insurers with high-risk individuals.) With these programs gone, the challenge of maintaining a balanced risk pool will become even harder.

The expanded Medicaid program is no picture of robust health, either. It has produced no cost-saving decline in emergency room visits, nor has it contributed to hospital profitability, as was hoped.

What a freakin’ mess.  So?

So, to recap: ObamaCare has fallen short of its enrollment target, hiked insurance premiums, failed to cut down on ER visits, and flopped in its attempt to improve hospitals’ bottom line.

But its real problem is the lawsuit? Maybe treatment for delusions is covered under ObamaCare!

Hey, like I said, some people think the VA system is the cat’s meow.  There is no hope for them.

~McQ

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Slouching our way to oppression

Again we are inundated with the usual and unusual via the internet.  Let’s take a look at a few.

It’s called “projection” Mr. Carter:

In a new interview, former Democrat President Jimmy Carter slammed America as a “racist” nation that refuses to let “old wounds” heal.

Carter spoke to the liberal AARP retirement group in an interview that was released late this week. At one point, Carter said that dreams of a color-blind society are still unrealized in the U.S.

“The recent publicity about mistreatment of black people in the judicial and police realm has been a reminder that the dreams of the civil rights movement have not been realized,” Carter said.

Carter continued insisting that “Americans still have racist tendencies or feelings of superiority to people of color.”

Unless he’s speaking for himself, he damn sure isn’t speaking for me.  I’m not sure where he gets off with trying to tag all Americans with “racist tendencies” or “feelings of superiority to people of color”.  And one must remember the party he’s affiliated with and it’s history in the region of the country from which he hails

Would someone inform this idiot that her 15 minutes of fame are over?

Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia graduate famous across the country as “Mattress Girl” after she hauled a mattress around campus for a year to protest the school’s handling of her alleged rape, has apparently released a sex tape recreating her alleged rape.

Like the Rolling Stone “rape” story out of UVa, she is a fraud.  Now Sulkowicz inflicts this nasty little piece of work on the internet?  Shuffle off to  … wherever, lady.  You’ve overstayed your welcome and our tolerance.

Lord they must think we’re dumb (“Wizard’s first rule).  NOAA has suddenly discovered “adjustments” in temperature data that conveniently wipes out the 15 year hiatus on warming:

To increase the rate in warming, NOAA scientists put more weight on certain ocean buoy arrays, adjusted ship-based temperature readings upward, and slightly raised land-based temperatures as well. Scientists said adjusted ship-based temperature data “had the largest impact on trends for the 2000-2014 time period, accounting for 0.030°C of the 0.064°C trend difference.” They added that the “buoy offset correction contributed 0.014°C… to the difference, and the additional weight given to the buoys because of their greater accuracy contributed 0.012°C.”

This, my friends, is not science.  This is adjusting the data to get the result one wants.  And we all know what that is.

Fraud.

Incompetence, as usual:

The federal government is notifying up to 4 million current and former employees that their personal financial data may have been breached by a hack attack from China, the Obama administration said Thursday.

Credit card data, banking records, and other forms of financial information could have been stolen in the attack, affecting people across the spectrum of the federal government, officials said.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because it is an ongoing investigation, said hackers working with China are the main suspects.

Hey, I know, let’s trust them with our medical records, shall we?

Opacity, as usual:

New testimony reveals that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) used “hundreds of attorneys” to hide critical information from Congress’s investigation of the IRS targeting of conservatives.

According to new congressional bombshell testimony today, the IRS set up a previously unknown “special project team” comprised of “hundreds of attorneys,” including the IRS Chief Counsel (one of only two politically appointed positions at the IRS).

The “special project” this team was given?  Concealing information from Congress.

The IRS’s director of privacy, governmental liaison, and disclosure division, Mary Howard, testified that soon after the IRS targeting scandal was revealed, the IRS “amassed hundreds of attorneys to go through the documents [requested by Congress] and redact them.”

Our government is becoming more and more of a criminal conspiracy daily.

Why are so many poor people obese?  Well, as the SJWs would like you to believe its because of “food deserts”.  That is they don’t have access to nutritious food, but are stuck with fast food, etc.  A new study says “not so fast”:

The paper — “What Drives Nutritional Disparities? Retail Access and Food Purchases Across the Socioeconomic Spectrum,” by economists Jessie Handbury, Ilya Rahkovsky and Molly Schnell — found that “systematic socioeconomic disparities in household purchases persist after controlling for access.”

Translation: Even when healthful food choices are available, low-income consumers don’t always take them.

As a result, the authors suggest, local policies intended to punish fast-food purveyors, liquor stores, quickie markets and other sellers of high-calorie, low-nutrition food might not be the best way to go.

One thing that can make a difference is education. Low-income households with higher education levels, the authors say, “purchase more healthful foods.” Those with low income and low education “respond very little” to having healthful foods available.

Of course this won’t deter SJWs from trying to limit choice even more, will it.  After all, they always know best how you should live your lives.

Finally a little piece on “Progressives: The target is never what it seems” which hits on some points we’ve talked about here many times.

I have written  (here and here) how progressives are masters are distorting words and redefining them so that they no longer are even close to their original meanings. “Liberal” and “gay,” of course, are probably the most such distorted words. Words are the ammunition of discussion and debate, and if one side is allowed to select the ammunition, well, the ensuing discussions and debates are to be expectedly one-sided.

When you’re allowed to redefine words within the narrative, you own the narrative.  And when you own the narrative and you’re a progressive, you end up driving the cultural bus off a cliff.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 5 Jun 15

The Employment Situation in May perked up, with 280,000 net new jobs created, though unemployment rate rose 0.1% to 5.5%. The labor force participation rate rose to 62.9%, with 397,000 entrants to the labor force, of which 208,000 were re-entrants. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3%, while the average workweek remained steady at 34.5 hours.

Consumer credit rose by $20.5 billion in April, helped by an $8.6 billion increase in revolving credit.


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Economic Statistics for 4 Jun 15

Chain stores are reporting no better than mixed results for May, offering no clear signal for the May retail sales report. 

The layoff count in the Challenger Job Cut Report fell to 41,034 in May, vice 61,582 in April.

Productivity in the 1st Quarter of 2015 dropped -3.1%, while unit labor costs jumped 6.7%.

Gallup’s U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate fell -0.6% to 44.5% in May, identical to the rate measured in May 2014.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 8,000 to 276,000. The 4-week average rose 3,250 to 274,250. Continuing claims fell 30,000 to 2.196 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.4 points to 40.5 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.4 billion last week, with total assets of $4.465 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-11.3 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $19.2 billion in the latest week.


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A trot around the intertubes

There’s a lot going on but not much that needs a long and laborious explanation or rant.

The Clinton Foundation and our former Secretary of State are really starting to stink it up.  And my guess is there’s a lot more to come.  Years ago Terry Goodkind wrote a book called “Wizard’s first rule”.  The Clinton’s operate by that rule.  The rule?  “People are stupid”.  And there’s a Clinton corollary – “so is the media”.  They’ve operated off of that rule and corollary for decades.  They don’t see any reason to stop now.

The administration is claiming it has killed 10,000 ISIS members since it began its campaign of airstrikes.  Most people in the know doubt that number is anywhere near the truth and that, in fact, it’s much, much lower.   Here’s why:

Three out of every four times that Obama dispatches American warplanes over Iraq, they return to base without dropping any bombs or firing any missiles.

“Seventy-five percent of the sorties that we’re currently running with our attack aircraft come back without dropping bombs, mostly because they cannot acquire the target or properly identify the target,” said U.S. Army General (ret) Jack Keane in testimony before the U.S. Senate last week.

That’s why White House and Pentagon briefers usually talk about the number of sorties, not the number of air strikes. The number of missions flown is four times larger than the number of bombing runs.

There’s a simple fix, but it is politically unpalatable to the “lead from behind” crowd:

Gen. Keane offered a straightforward solution. “Forward air controllers fix that problem,” he said.

You know, “boots on the ground?”  Doing what they’re doing is sort of like firing artillery without forward observers.  Yeah, you’re likely to hit something every now and then, but is it really effective?  Uh, no.

Apparently ISIS acted as our own forward air controllers:

“Defense Tech reports that at a Air Force Association breakfast meeting in Washington DC on Monday, General Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, shared a story of how a careless social media post directly led to an airstrike against ISIS.”

While that is all well and good and wonderful, my question is why we have a General out there sharing this intel?

“The guys that were working down out of Hurlburt, they’re combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command. And in some social media, open forum, bragging about the command and control capabilities for Daesh, ISIL,” Carlisle said.

“And these guys go: ‘We got an in.’ So they do some work, long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three [Joint Direct Attack Munitions] take that entire building out.”

He was careful not to share sensitive details about the location of the building and airstrike, but he noted how ISIS’ enthusiasm of social media was turned against them in this case.

“It was a post on social media to bombs on target in less than 24 hours,” he said. “Incredible work when you think about [it].”

He shared a timeframe for a mission to be put together and why they were successful.  Who is the real “moron” here?  Before ISIS may have been guessing why they were hit.  Now they know.

This is going to disappoint the enviro-whacko crowd:

A decade into an energy boom led by hydraulic fracturing, the Environmental Protection Agency has concluded there is no evidence the practice has had a “widespread, systemic impact on drinking water.”

The report is the federal government’s most comprehensive examination of the issue of fracking and drinking water, and it bolsters the position staked out by the energy industry.

Yeah, fracking has only been around 66 years and been used on a million wells.  One might think that if there were a drinking water problem it would have been discovered before now.

That won’t stop the narrative however.  “Science” is only useful when it backs that narrative.  When it doesn’t, it’s just to be ignored.  See “climate change”.

 

Another liberal professor speaks out about the SJW “crisis” on campus:

The current student-teacher dynamic has been shaped by a large confluence of factors, and perhaps the most important of these is the manner in which cultural studies and social justice writers have comported themselves in popular media. I have a great deal of respect for both of these fields, but their manifestations online, their desire to democratize complex fields of study by making them as digestible as a TGIF sitcom, has led to adoption of a totalizing, simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice. The simplicity and absolutism of this conception has combined with the precarity of academic jobs to create higher ed’s current climate of fear, a heavily policed discourse of semantic sensitivity in which safety and comfort have become the ends and the means of the college experience.

Hey, you created it.  You get to live with it.  Either that or you grow a pair and take academia back.

Finally, in the “out of control government” category, we have this little jewel:

IRS lawyers have ruled that once illegal immigrants get numbers, they can go back and re-file for up to three previous years’ taxes and claim refunds even for time they were working illegally.

The lawyers said since the EITC is a refundable credit, that’s allowed even when the illegal immigrants worked off-the-books and never paid taxes in the first place.

Now, these are “laws” the Obama administration is more than happy to follow.  Pay up, sucker.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 3 Jun 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -7.6% last week, with purchases down -3.0% and refis down -12%.

ADP estimates that private payrolls rose a moderate 201,000 in May. We’ll see how true that is in Friday’s Employment Situation.

Rising imports lowered the April trade deficit to $-40.9 billion from $-51.4 billion in March.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index reached a new high of 32 in May, up from 31 in April.

Markit’s PMI Services Index fell from 57.4 in April to 56.2 in May.

The ISM non-manufacturing index for May, at 55.7, came in at the low end of Econoday expectations, falling -2.1 points.

The Fed’s Beige Book downgrades the strength of the economy today, with four of the Fed’s twelve districts reporting slowing growth.


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Economic Statistics for 2 Jun 15

Motor vehicle sales made a big 7.9% jump in May, to an annual sales rate of 17.8 million. North American-made vehicles also jumped 7.6% to a 14.2 million rate.

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index dropped -4 points in May to -7.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth remained weak, rising to just 1.7% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.6%.

Factory orders fell -0.4% in April for the 8th decline in 9 months. Ex-transportation, factory orders were unchanged.


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