Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday's Just As Bad Obamacare Schadenfreude

They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday's just as bad.  Today marks the approach of a massive winter storm, which threatens to screw up Thanksgiving travel plans for millions of people up and down the East Coast.  We expect it to be mostly a rain event here, with most of it coming down tomorrow, up to 4 inches worth, but with snow or ice west of I95, it may well influence our hope to travel to Pittsburgh to see the kids.

So how's Obamacare hanging?  The administration admits that the Obamacare website "won't be perfect" on Dec. 1, in the same sense that Hurricane Katrina was not the perfect hurricane when it struck New Orleans, having weakened to a mere Category 3 storm:
Administration officials said Monday that some visitors to ObamaCare's federal enrollment site would experience outages, slow response times or messages to try again later during the month of December.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) delivered the message in the latest attempt to downplay expectations surrounding Nov. 30, the administration's self-imposed deadline for fixing HealthCare.gov.

CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille said errors that persist past this weekend would be "intermittent" and, in line with a promise made by the White House, would not affect the vast majority of the site's users.

But Bataille acknowledged that some people would still experience "periods of suboptimal performance" by the system due to either heavy traffic or technical issues that are still being addressed.
Enrollments in states, such as Colorado, continued to lag expectations:
Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act through Colorado's health insurance exchange is barely half the state's worst-case projection, prompting demands from exchange board members for better stewardship of public money.

The shortfall could compromise the exchange's "ability to deliver on promises made to Colorado citizens" and threatens the funding stream for the exchange itself, according to board e-mails obtained by The Denver Post in an open records request.
Oregon is taking application by fax; and having trouble with keeping up:
KOIN 6 News confirmed Cover Oregon has added dozens of extra fax lines to handle the paper applications being sent in by fax. On Wednesday, King said they had received about 24,000 paper applications. That number now is closer to 30,000. But many people complained of busy signals when trying to send in their application by fax. Michael Cox, the Cover Oregon spokesperson, said their office has one fax number but it’s an electronic interface that can handle more than one call at once. When a fax comes in it takes two seconds per page to be transferred into the server. When the paper applications began, Cover Oregon was only able to take 500 applications per day. It was upped to 1000, and this week increased to 1500 per day.
Democrats continue to get more restive:  As deadline nears, ticking clock on Democratic patience
“The president and his team have repeatedly assured us that the system will be working by Dec. 1. That’s when I start looking at what we have to do in our oversight function to hold the administration accountable for making it work.” Rep. Bruce Braley, an Iowa Democrat who is running for an open Senate seat said Thursday, adding that he’s contemplating whether to ask the president to fire members of his staff. “I’m thinking about those options. But my biggest concern is fixing the system and making it work.”

Asked whether he was mad at the president, Braley hesitated for a few seconds amid the din of a Capitol hallway.

“Yes,” he said.
When you're in a hole, keep digging!  Blue Cross subsidiary got no-bid Obamacare website contract:
A Blue Cross Blue Shield subsidiary received a no-bid contract for last-minute Obamacare website work, according to newly released documents.

Blue Cross subsidiary Novitas Solutions received a nearly $12 million no-bid contract from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on August 9 to help build the financial management and accounting facets of the online Obamacare exchanges. Novitas landed the no-bid contract as the Obama administration rushed to find a last-minute contractor to save the beleaguered website before it launched, according to House Energy and Commerce Committee documents.
Meanwhile, much like the actual weather, the real storm continues to grow on the horizon, as where many are preparing to reduce benefits in anticipation of the "Cadillac Tax.
employers prepare for the effects of Obamacare,
Aaron Baker, 36, his wife Billie and their two young children are covered under a generous health insurance plan offered by the private Midwestern university where he’s worked for 10 years. When they opened their benefits notice this year, they were pleased to see their $385 premium is only up by four dollars next year. However, they were shocked to discover that instead of covering the first dollar they spend with no deductible, the Baker’s plan now includes a $1,000 deductible and a $2,500 out of pocket maximum. They also will still have small co-pays for services.

According to the enrollment notice, the changes are “to relieve future health plan trend pressure and to put the university in a position to avoid the excise tax that becomes effective in 2018.” The 40 percent excise tax—often called the “Cadillac tax”— is part of Obamacare and is levied on the most generous health plans. It’s designed to bring down overall health costs by making companies and workers more cost-conscious. The thinking is that if consumers have to pay more expenses themselves, through higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, they’ll avoid unnecessary or overly costly procedures. And that is supposed to make care more affordable for everyone.
And they told us if we liked out plan, yada, yada yada.  And most of us liked our plan...

A recent poll of Amricans on healthcare reveals that most are (still) pretty happy with theirs, but think that everyone else is unhappy with their own.  This is the media generated myth that the progressive desire for healthcare is founded on:
A review of recent research on healthcare cost, coverage, and quality reveals that Americans continue to be much more positive about their own personal healthcare situations than about the healthcare situation nationally. This suggests that Americans may be responding negatively to the new healthcare law at least partly because the majority don't perceive personal problems with their healthcare that urgently need addressing.

But not to worry, if you belong to one of the administrations favored groups, you too, just might be exempted from the damage caused by Obamacare: GOP blasts union 'bailout' under O-Care
A top Senate Republican is blasting regulations he argues will exempt unions' multi-employer health plans from a key tax under ObamaCare. Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.) pointed to a section of a 255-page regulatory filing and said it would amount to a "bailout" for the labor moment, which has grown increasingly dissatisfied with the new healthcare law.

"Despite endorsing ObamaCare and working fervently to get it passed, unions are now experiencing the ugly reality of this law, and they want out. This exemption is crony capitalism at its worst," said Thune, who is behind a bill to block ObamaCare exemptions for unions.

The Obama administration recently indicated that it would propose exempting certain self-insured, self-administered insurance plans from two of the healthcare law's three-year reinsurance fees.
Because equal protection under the laws is one of the administrations core values...

While the administration begins moves to protect its well paid union base, others in the coalition aren't being as well taken care of: CNN analysis: No Obamacare subsidy for some low-income Americans.
One of the basic tenets of Obamacare is that the government will help lower-income Americans -- anyone making less than about $45,900 a year -- pay for the health insurance everyone is now mandated to have.

But a CNN analysis shows that in the largest city in nearly every state, many low-income younger Americans won't get any subsidy at all. Administration officials said the reason so many Americans won't receive a subsidy is that the cost of insurance is lower than the government initially expected. Subsidies are calculated using a complicated formula based on the cost of insurance premiums, which can vary drastically from state to state, and even county to county.

That doesn't change the fact that in Chicago, a 27-year old will receive no subsidy to help offset premiums of more than $165 a month if he makes more than $27,400 a year.
But then, low income people aren't very reliable donors for elections campaigns, so who cares?

The Chicago Tribune (by way of HotAir), apparently:  Man, the number of ObamaCare losers really seems to be piling up, doesn’t it?

If President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders think the outcry against Obamacare is fierce now, watch if millions more Americans get blindsided with the news that they’ll be forced into these dysfunctional government online marketplaces. Some will face higher premiums or higher deductibles…

Tens of millions of people who have coverage through large American companies aren’t losers … yet. The administration granted those businesses a one-year reprieve from the Obamacare mandate to provide coverage or pay penalties. That ends for 2015, and employers are already calculating what to do. Some may cut jobs, or employees’ hours, to avoid offering costly insurance coverage. Other companies may dump everyone into the federal exchanges and pay penalties that are almost certain to be less than what coverage would cost.
One cancer victim who lost her insurance to Obamacare:

Tom McGuire, at One More Minute, notes that the Administration may have bought itself even more problems by putting off the enrollement period for 2015 insurance
The geniuses at Team Obama have moved back the health insurance enrollment period for 2015 until after the election, presumably to avoid headlines about sticker shock (this assumes healthCare.Fail is up and running, or at least limping, by then.)

But wait! As Marc Thiessen noted a few days back, other deadlines more or less assure a new ObamaCare meltdown next October regardless of this attempt to hide the ball:
But let’s say, by some miracle, Obama’s plan does work, and many in the individual market now losing their plans get to keep them for a year. That just means they will start getting cancellation letters 90 days before the end of the year. In October 2014. One month before the midterm elections.

That is a political disaster for the Democrats.
Per this recent Congressional Research Service report on cancellations that 90 day requirement is the law:
Issuers may also uniformly terminate coverage for a group of individuals, if it is done without regard to health factors. To do so, issuers must:

•provide 90 days’ prior notice to individuals that the coverage is being discontinued.
So Team Obama has "solved" the sticker shock problem but left themselves a new one. Beginning in October, people whose plans are non-compliant will get cancellations effective Jan 1, 2015. But these people will be in limbo for six weeks since they won't be able to enroll in replacement plans until mid-November. People will spend the month of October wondering what their new insurance might look like in terms of pricing, deductibles and networks, and hearing "Trust us" from Team Obama.
Stacy McCain asks Do Democrats Think They Can Spin Their Way Out of the ObamaCare Catastrophe?
One of the things you may have noticed in the past couple of weeks is that some liberal pundits are claiming that ObamaCare is essentially a public relations problem: The program is just wonderful, but there have been some P.R. problems with the rollout.

Democrats need to learn that denial is not the name of a river in Egypt
Anyone who doubts the devastating impact of ObamaCare’s failure need look no further than NY-23 where Democrat Martha Robertson is trying to run away from her previous support of the policy. This is a “purple” district that, on paper, should be competitive for Democrats, but Robertson’s campaign is in complete meltdown mode. And speaking of complete meltdown . . .
We are starting to see a broad polling trend for Barack Obama, and it should have the White House worried — but maybe Obama’s fellow Democrats in Congress even more. The latest CNN poll confirms what the Washington Post/ABC poll first noticed, and what the CBS poll corroborated — Obama’s approval decline involves more than just his performance. The Americans public is souring on Obama as a person and as a brand, and that spells real trouble for his agenda . . . .
There are limits to what media spin can accomplish, and trying to tell people who lost their insurance that this is good news, that the president had a good reason to lie to them — that won’t sell.
Of course they do, it's worked before.

The administration has put out a call for all 'true believers' to engage their family members in discussion about the benefits of Obamacare over Thanksgiving dinner (it's probably not a good idea to get between conservatives and their turkey while they're holding carving knives)...

...but fortunately, The Ace of Spades has provided the counterarguments:

Ace of Spades' Talking Points for Talking With Your Obnoxious Progressive Family Members About Obamacare This Thanksgiving
1. Hey remember when you said that Obamacare was going to work great, and then, when people asked you how it actually worked, you sort of implied they were stupid for not knowing, and yet you never provided any evidence that you had any idea of how it was supposed to work yourself? Yeah, you were wrong to do that.

2. Remember when you called me crazy for saying Obama wanted to "spread the wealth around," based on not a scrap of evidence except for Obama himself saying he wanted to spread the wealth around? Yeah, there's a NYT article that says that Obamacare is fundamentally a redistributive program -- which means it "spreads the wealth around." Yeah you were wrong on that, too.

3. Remember when you said that it was only "REPUBLICAN LIES!!111!!" that Obama's "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" promise was itself a lie? I hate to keep coming back to this point, but you were way wrong on that one too.

4. Remember the "if you like your doctor" pledge? Yeah I feel like a broken record here, but you were wrong.

5. Remember when you gleefully, giddily declared the end of the Republican Party and a new era of Proud Progressive dominance? Yeah, the current political Big Story is whether or not Obamacare will wind up discrediting progressivism for just an election cycle or two, or as much as a generation. It looks like you were wrong about that.

6. Remember when you were so confident, arrogant, snotty, sneering, and dismissive about legitimate and informed concerns about Obamacare? You were wrong. And you weren't just wrong on the facts, but you were wrong on a human level. You very nearly screamed your ignorant opinions and shouted down dissent. You sneered at people as ignorant who actually knew more than you did, and you indulged in entirely-unwarranted moral preening about your alleged concern for the poor. Despite the fact that you never do anything to actually aid the poor. Apparently shouting at relatives is your idea of "charity."

Yeah you were wrong. You are wrong.

I know you won't apologize, but at least keep your stupid mouth shut this year and let us all digest in peace.
Stay safe out there!

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