If you’re wondering why, please remember that whenever the Democrats or the White House get in trouble, step one of escaping that trouble is to use the bully pulpit to blame someone else. Oh, and there’s the fact that in the past, attacking the health insurance companies seemed to have worked:
The approach hasn’t sat well with some Democratic allies, who are publicly and privately urging the White House to ramp up its attacks on insurers, arguing that the the tactic shored up support as they struggled to push the bill through Congress. A group of Democratic strategists pressed senior administration officials during a conference call last week.
They’d like a repeat of 2009-10, when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called insurers “the villains,” Obama blasted their willingness to “bend the truth or break it,” and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius accused them of banking excessive profits.
“When Obamacare got into trouble, we juxtaposed our message against the insurance companies, which are very unpopular,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has advised her 2014 clients, including Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, to go after insurers. “We should be messaging against the insurance companies this time as well. This is not good faith. If there is a snowstorm, the insurance companies are blaming it on Obamacare.”
But there’s a problem. With the horrific rollout of ObamaCare, the White House needs the support of the industry they demonized for so long. They need the “villains”.
This time around, Obama needs the industry to make Obamacare work.
His restrained response over the past week shows just how much the dynamic between Obama and the insurance companies has shifted since the law passed — and how their fates have become intertwined. The health care law expands coverage to millions of Americans by sending them into the private insurance market armed with tax subsidies, forcing the president and his former nemeses into an uneasy partnership that’s only beginning to face strains.
“Their interests are aligned with our interests in terms of wanting to enroll targeted populations,” a senior White House official said Wednesday. “It is not that we will agree with everything now either, but I would say for some time now there has been a collaboration because of that mutual interest.”
The uneasy truce will likely exist until such a time as it is politically expedient for the White House to blame all of ACA’s ills on someone else — namely health insurance providers (trying to blame Republicans seems to have had little traction). But they can’t afford to do that at the moment. However, while a full frontal assault on the industry may not be in the offing, the White House is still inclined to snipe:
Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett angered insurers when she posted on Twitter that it was a “fact” that “nothing in Obamacare forces people out of their health plans.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney has been critical of insurance companies during his daily briefings, calling the individual market an under-regulated “Wild West.” But he’s tried to strike a balance, casting insurers as engaged in bad practices before the new health care law brought them into line.
Obama did the same during a health care speech Friday in Boston.
“Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received or used minor pre-existing conditions to jack up your premiums or bill you into bankruptcy,” Obama said.
Ah, the life of a failed community organizer and his posse. Help create a monstrosity out of whole cloth and then, when it performs as poorly as critics said it would, find a “villain” and blame them. Except right now you need the villain. Meanwhile your party is raising the volume on its protests about the awful rollout and its effect on their chances for re-election next year.
What to do. What to do.
Well, I suppose this was inevitable.
FYI last night at the Great Falls Grange debate, Democrat delegate candidate Kathleen Murphy said that since many doctors are not accepting Medicaid and Medicare patients, she advocates making it a legal requirement for those people to be accepted.
But of course she is. What other option could there possibly be but forcing doctors to see those patients? It’s clearly not possible to pay doctors an economically justifiable payment for seeing such patients. I mean, if you’re not willing to take substandard payment for Medicare patients, you probably shouldn’t be a doctor anyway, what with being a greedy bastard and all. You have a $250,000 annual malpractice insurance payment? Too bad. You got a couple of nurses that cost you $100,000 per year, and $50,000 a year in office rent? That’s on you, bucko. You’ll take my $50 Medicare payment and be happy to get it, or maybe we’ll just levy some really serious fines on you.
If you’re a doctor—and really, if you’re, well, anyone—you belong to the state. Oh, we might not lower the boom on you until we really need to, but let’s make no mistake. The collective has a claim on you. Your labor. Your income. Maybe we let you keep most of it. Maybe we don’t. Either way, if we need your stuff, we’ll take it, because we have a right to it. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, man. And if you don’t think so, we can always just clap you in prison to help you come around to the right way of thinking.
We’re gonna get our medical care. And our unemployment benefits and food stamps. And our social security. Somebody’s gotta pay for it. If we decide that somebody is you, then you just need to suck it up. That’s what we got the law for, after all: to make you suck it up whenever we say.
The Democrats’ newest line in the peeling onion of fail that is Obamacare is that its failure is all the Republicans’ fault because…they sabotaged it. This line has been taken up by Politico in an article by Todd S. Purdum.
From the moment the bill was introduced, Republican leaders in both houses of Congress announced their intention to kill it. Republican troops pressed this cause all the way to the Supreme Court — which upheld the law, but weakened a key part of it by giving states the option to reject an expansion of Medicaid. The GOP faithful then kept up their crusade past the president’s reelection, in a pattern of “massive resistance” not seen since the Southern states’ defiance of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954…
Most Republican governors declined to create their own state insurance exchanges — an option inserted in the bill in the Senate to appeal to the classic conservative preference for local control — forcing the federal government to take at least partial responsibility for creating marketplaces serving 36 states — far more than ever intended.
Then congressional Republicans refused repeatedly to appropriate dedicated funds to do all that extra work, leaving the Health and Human Services Department and other agencies to cobble together HealthCare.gov by redirecting funds from existing programs. On top of that, nearly half of the states declined to expand their Medicaid programs using federal funds, as the law envisioned.
Then, in the months leading up to the program’s debut, some states refused to do anything at all to educate the public about the law. And congressional Republicans sent so many burdensome queries to local hospitals and nonprofits gearing up to help consumers navigate the new system face-to-face that at least two such groups returned their federal grants and gave up the effort.
So, political opposition to a law that Republicans always opposed is now "sabotage’. That’s simply nonsense on stilts. The law was passed without a single Republican vote. That should’ve been a big signal to Democrats that the law was going to be on shaky ground, but of course, in their arrogance, it didn’t.
Back in 1993, when Hillary Clinton was working on Health Care Reform, Daniel Patrick Moynihan gave her some sage advice. He told her that without support from a large, non-partisan majority, no large-scale reform can ever be successfully concluded. She ignored him at the time, just as Democrats ignored that advice when they passed Obamacare on a strictly party-line vote.
But no Congress can ever bind a succeeding Congress. This has been a black-letter principle of American politics for two centuries. The only way a succeeding congress can be bound is if the support for a particular law is widespread and bi-partisan. And in the case of Obamacare, not only have the Republicans been opposed since the beginning so has a majority of the American people. Obamacare has never polled with majority support among the electorate, and as its implementation date has drawn closer, the majority of the electorate that opposes it has increased.
Howard Dean, recently suggested that Republican opposition to Obamacare is a sign that Republicans have "forgotten that they’re actually supposed to serve the American people." But since, by all the polling results I’ve ever seen, a substantial majority of the public opposes Obamacare, it would seem to me that Republican opposition is actually the precise opposite of what Howard Dean suggests.
Defining opposition to Obamacare as "sabotage" is simply sour grapes from an arrogant political party that imposed an unpopular law against the apparent wishes of the electorate.
Obamacare is a disaster. I predicted it was an unworkable disaster before it was passed, as did anyone who took the time to look at the perverse incentives it created. The amount of wishful thinking that went in to passing this stupid law is incomprehensible to me. It could not have been more clearly prone to failure if it had been intentionally designed to fail.
Make no mistake: if you support Obamacare, you are a complete dolt, or so lacking in fundamental knowledge that your opinion about it is irrelevant. It is a law that literally cannot accomplish its stated purpose, because it ignores essential and fundamental economic and political realities. Moreover, it was passed in opposition to a majority of Americans.
Opposition to this disaster is not sabotage. It is the only rational response to the utter stupidity it encapsulates.
But framing opposition as sabotage does have a darker, more nefarious purpose. The whole point of such charges is to delegitimize the opposition. Frankly, it’s part of what I see as an ongoing Democratic strategy to define opposition to any policy they support as un-American, at the very least, if not somehow criminal. The Left in this country could not be doing more to foment a civil war if they were intentionally trying to do so.
I have very little hope for the future of this country. I have very little left but anger.
This on-line debacle that’s so embarrassed the Democrats and the Obama administration? It is likely the result of blatant cronyism. The inept hiring the incompetent:
A tech firm linked to a campaign-donor crony of President Obama not only got the job to help build the federal health-insurance Web site — but also is getting paid to fix it.
Anthony Welters, a top campaign bundler for Obama and frequent White House guest, is the executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group, which owns the software company now at the center of the ObamaCare Web-site fiasco.
UnitedHealth Group subsidiary Quality Software Services Inc. (QSSI), which built the data hub for the ObamaCare system, has been named the new general contractor in charge of repairing the glitch-plagued HealthCare.gov.
Welters and his wife, Beatrice, have shoveled piles of cash into Obama’s campaign coffers and apparently reaped the rewards.
Beatrice Welters bundled donations totaling between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama’s campaign during the 2008 election cycle, according to campaign- finance data compiled by Center for Responsive Politics.
Well, how sweet is that? Give a little, get a lot! And while this certainly isn’t the first administration or political party to practice cronyism, it certainly is the most open about it. One would almost think they believe that they are entitled. A spoils system of sorts.
UnitedHealth Group is one of the largest health-insurance companies in the country and spent millions lobbying for ObamaCare.
The insurance giant’s purchase of QSSI in 2012 raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill, but the tech firm nevertheless kept the job of building the data hub for the ObamaCare Web site where consumers buy the new mandatory health- insurance plans.
QSSI has been paid an estimated $150 million so far, but officials couldn’t say how much more the company might collect on the repair contract.
Whatever happened to the belief that there should be a distance between politics and business? Once, it was a point of integrity to ensure there was no shadow or hint of a possible conflict of interest?
Now? Just line up at the trough, those that gave the most get the most. As for the work? Just like every other government program (except health care), they’ll be glad to overpay for shoddy work.
And here we are.
“I’m extraordinarily frustrated,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) after top Obama-administration officials gave Senate Democrats a private briefing on the state of the Web-site repairs.
He said they were losing confidence the site could be quickly fixed.
“I don’t think there’s confidence by anyone in the room. This is more of a show-me moment,” said Merkley.
I don’t think there’s confidence by anyone in the country – except, of course, the “true believers”.
Or so it seems.
Tell me, if a senior executive of any corporation had rolled out a product that was as bad as the ObamaCare website and had caused as much embarrassment and grief for the corporation as this roll out has produced for this administration, would they likely still be employed by the corporation?
Oh, I’m sure you can think of some “lifeboat” instance where it might happen, but for the most part, they’d have been sent packing immediately after the depth of their non-performance was ascertained.
But not in this government. I’m of the opinion that Kathleen Sebelius must have Obama’s college transcripts or something to still be employed. That said, pressure for her ouster continues to build:
It’s Kathleen Sebelius’s turn now. On the Hill, they’re calling for her resignation and tossing around words like “subpoena.” Pundits are merrily debating her future. (She’s toast! Or is Obama too loyal to fire her so soon?) Her interviews, more closely parsed than usual, seem wobbly. Though never a colorful presence on the political scene, she’s suddenly a late-night TV punch line.
And on Wednesday morning, the embattled secretary of health and human services will submit to a quintessential station of the Washington deathwatch — testifying before a congressional committee — to discuss her agency’s failings in the botched rollout of the federal health-insurance Web site.
Granted, this is only part of the on-going debacle that is the Affordable Care Act, aka “ObamaCare”. And while it will, in years to come, be cited as the perfect example of ineptitude coupled with incompetence, it isn’t the big problem right now. The big problem, as pointed out yesterday, is the country was purposely lied too in order to garner enough support to push this monstrosity through Congress and make it law.
Lied too. Point blank and with a smile. Jonah Goldberg shares my opinion of Obama’s lie and goes a century or two more:
And that lie looks like the biggest lie about domestic policy ever uttered by a U.S. president.
Ever. For those of you who want to cite Clinton, Nixon or some other president, Goldberg points out:
The most famous presidential lies have to do with misconduct (Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” or Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations”) or war. Woodrow Wilson campaigned on the slogan “He kept us out of war” and then plunged us into a calamitous war. Franklin D. Roosevelt made a similar vow: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”
Roosevelt knew he was making false promises. He explained to an aide: “If someone attacks us, it isn’t a foreign war, is it?” When his own son questioned his honesty, FDR replied: “If I don’t say I hate war, then people are going to think I don’t hate war. . . . If I don’t say I won’t send our sons to fight on foreign battlefields, then people will think I want to send them. . . . So you play the game the way it has been played over the years, and you play to win.”
Is that the case with Obama? Lying in order to pass some cherished legislation which won’t at all do what you promise it will do is “the game” and in politics, justifies “playing to win”?
Or is it, much more simply, damn the truth, the ends justify the means?
Yeah, that’s how I see it too.
As for accountability for the Obama lie, don’t hold your breath. Sebelius may end up biting the bullet. But the buck won’t even slow down at Obama’s desk.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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?
This week, Bruce, Michael and Dale discuss Obamacare and the end of antibiotics.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
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.
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.
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.
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.”