Saturday, March 5, 2016

Long Awaited Obamacare Schadenfreude

Been so much Hillary stuff, I haven't been able to sit down and work this one off, and it's been building up

How much of a failure is Obamacare? Even NPR, in a backhanded slap at the statistics, admitted that most people have not benefited from Obamacare. In fact, only 15% of the population claim to actually have been helped by Obamacare and 26% say they have been harmed. Ouch! A disaster from the very start: HHS failed to heed many warnings that was in trouble

The Fiscal Times observes that Obamacare is wide open to fraud, and that HHS was not going to bother to fix it, noting:
It found that repeated warnings to bureaucrats had an interesting effect – they “became desensitized to bad news about progress … CMS leadership and staff took little action to respond to warnings, remaining overly optimistic about the launch, and developing few contingency plans.” Warnings came in abundance, The Washington Post’s Amy Goldstein reports, including “a series of 11 scathing reviews from an outside consultant — among them a top-10 list of risks drawn up in the spring of 2013” -- months before CMS knowingly rolled out a failing system.
When you can't get fired, what's there to get concerned about? GAO, HHS Inspector General reports on ObamaCare provide damning indictment of Big Government. Ho hum, put on another pot of coffee. Then cut and paste that section on "improving service by acknowledging the needs of transgendered and gender ambiguous persons in the software" from last year's performance plan to this year.

Watchdog Finds Billions in Possible Fraudulent Obamacare Payments
“According to GAO analysis of CMS data, about 431,000 applications from the 2014 enrollment period, with about $1.7 billion in associated subsidies for 2014, still had unresolved inconsistencies as of April 2015—several months after close of the coverage year.”
But the sad truth is,  Feds Have No Idea What Medicare, Medicaid Fraud Costs, because they're not really trying to see it, let alone prevent it. GAO: Obamacare gave subsidies to 11 of 12 fictitious applicants. The 12th probably made a coding error on the form.

Obama is looting the Treasury to pay off insurers. Of course, they fell in line to support Obamacare.
President Obama doesn’t seem to care. On Feb. 12, the administration announced that the money will be handed out to insurers — a whopping $7.7 billion this year alone.

But it’s not just expensive: That huge handout to the insurance industry is also illegal.

This is money you and everyone else who already has insurance are forced to pay, called a reinsurance fee. You pay the fee whether you buy your own plan or get covered at work, even if your employer self-insures. You may be clueless about it, but the fee is buried in your premium or taken out of your compensation.

The text of the Affordable Care Act is clear as a bell on what this money can be used for.
Some of these annual fees — adding up to billions a year — belong to the public, not the insurance companies. The law states a fixed share “shall be deposited into the general fund of the Treasury of the United States and may not be used” to offset insurance companies’ losses.
Laws? Who needs 'em? Without that money this would be even worse: Illinois Obamacare plan crippled by losses, and Highmark trimming doctor reimbursements to stem ACA losses (when can we start trimming elected officials "reimbursments" for their role in deficits?), and Official: 8 of 11 Remaining Obamacare Co-Ops on the Brink. But the President and his supporters insist it's working. As indeed it is; it was designed from the beginning to kill private insurance as a stalking horse for single payer.

Health Insurer Highmark plans to reduce what it pays doctors because last year it lost a $500 million on ObamaCare plans.
Posted by Fox Business on Monday, February 22, 2016

So what happens if you speak out too loudly about Obamacare? According to now suspended presidential candidate Ben Carson, the IRS might decide to audit you:

We already know Trump is being audited. Trump releases health care plan based on ObamaCare repeal
Here are the seven steps Trump and his team envision to reach that goal:

  1. Completely repeal Obamacare. Our elected representatives must eliminate the individual mandate. No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.
  2. Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines. As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state. By allowing full competition in this market, insurance costs will go down and consumer satisfaction will go up.
  3. Allow individuals to fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under the current tax system. Businesses are allowed to take these deductions so why wouldn’t Congress allow individuals the same exemptions? As we allow the free market to provide insurance coverage opportunities to companies and individuals, we must also make sure that no one slips through the cracks simply because they cannot afford insurance. We must review basic options for Medicaid and work with states to ensure that those who want healthcare coverage can have it.
  4. Allow individuals to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Contributions into HSAs should be tax-free and should be allowed to accumulate. These accounts would become part of the estate of the individual and could be passed on to heirs without fear of any death penalty. These plans should be particularly attractive to young people who are healthy and can afford high-deductible insurance plans. These funds can be used by any member of a family without penalty. The flexibility and security provided by HSAs will be of great benefit to all who participate.
  5. Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure.
  6. Block-grant Medicaid to the states. Nearly every state already offers benefits beyond what is required in the current Medicaid structure. The state governments know their people best and can manage the administration of Medicaid far better without federal overhead. States will have the incentives to seek out and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse to preserve our precious resources.
  7. Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products. Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America. Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.

For conservatives, this is a mixed bag, but mostly positive. Trump commits in substance to a repeal of ObamaCare and the exit of the federal government from management of the health-care markets. It returns oversight over plan coverage to the states, where it was before ObamaCare got imposed, and would allow for greater competition through interstate sales. It also returns HSAs to the center of policy regarding insurance management for individuals and price transparency as a way to blunt utilization, hinting — not explicitly stated, though — that an emphasis will fall on tailored coverage rather than demanding expensive comprehensive coverage for those who don’t need it and won’t ever use it. Block-granting Medicaid will be especially popular with budget hawks, even if the “waste, fraud, and abuse” slogan will have some of those rolling their eyes. The problems in entitlement spending are structural, not just behavioral.
Not bad actually, but does he really mean it? How about next week?

Meanwhile Bernie Sanders plan relies on the time tested failures of socialism. And Americans don't like it.
The AP recently asked 1,033 adults what they thought of “Medicare for All,” a cornerstone of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.

When asked their view of “single-payer” health care—what such a system is often called—the respondents seemed to like it. “A slim plurality of 39 percent supports replacing the private health insurance system with a single government-run, taxpayer-funded plan that would cover medical, dental, vision and long-term care, with 33 percent opposed,” the AP’s Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Emily Swanson write. Just 26 percent, meanwhile, support the existing Obamacare law.

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