Saturday, December 21, 2013

Calvinball Obamacare Schadenfreude

The Obamacare news of the day, probably the week, and maybe the year, is that there no longer any rules, or rather, the Preznit and his hencemenpersons, may, at any time, put on their black masks and change the rules.  
Calvinball is a game invented by Calvin in which one makes the rules up as one goes along. Rules cannot be used twice. No Calvinball game is like another. The game may involve wickets, mallets, volleyballs, and additional equipment as well as masks.
There is only one permanent rule in Calvinball: One can't play it in the same way twice. For example, in one game of Calvinball, the goal was to capture one's opponent's flag, whereas in a different game of Calvinball, the goal was to score points by hitting badminton shuttlecocks against trees using a croquet mallet. An apparent rule in Calvinball is that one must wear a black mask and that one isn't allowed to question the mask. Another apparent rule is that any new rule made up by each player must be accepted. A third apparent rule is that you cannot make any plays you made in a previous game.
Much like Calvinball, Obamacare is named after it's creator, and like Calvinball, the rules seem to be amenable to  change on the fly.  But, then Calvinball was a game invented by child who thought his stuffed tiger was alive...

I refer, of course, to the new "rule" announced by Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday night, that people who had insurance, and which was cancelled due to Obamacare, could, if they so wished, and they could find an insurance company to go along, enroll in one of the old "catastrophic" insurance plans that the administration had vehemently labeled as bad plans (because they didn't cover birth control and maternity in men's plans) put out by predatory insurance companies.

This leads to the odd situation that people who don't necessarily want to purchase health insurance, are forced to buy "comprehensive" insurance on the Obamacare exchanges, while people who probably had insurance they liked, and had it cancelled due to Obamacare, are forced to take the bad insurance plans put out by predatory insurance companies.  Wow, just wow.  I'm sure glad we didn't shut down the government or anything rash over the Presznit refusal to delay the individual mandate!

Obamacare Is Falling Apart Before Our Eyes 
The wrecking ball swung again toward the crumbling Obamacare edifice yesterday. Ironically, it continues to be the Obama administration that is operating the heavy machinery.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced, in the form of a letter to Democratic senators, that Obamacare’s individual mandate tax will be waived in 2014 for persons who had their policies canceled in 2013 due to Obamacare.

At this point, after months of on-the-fly pronouncements, delays, and exemptions (often announced, not coincidentally, in the days just before a major national holiday), perhaps nothing should surprise us anymore about Obamacare’s disastrous rollout. But yesterday’s announcement is still startling because of what it says about the state of the president’s signature domestic legislation. The law is falling apart before our eyes.
At this point, the White House is unwilling to say whether anyone will be forced to pay the "Obamacare Tax" in 2014:

Remember, Obamacare was only deemed legal when Chief Justice John Roberts decided to construe the Obamacare penalties for not being insured as taxes. Now we have the Preznit and his administration deciding willy nilly whether and on who a tax will be levied, for clearly political purposes.

Megan McArdle (Instapundit's favorite economist):  Obamacare Initiates Self-Destruction Sequence
On Wednesday, Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown reported that the administration was saying fewer than 500,000 people had actually lost insurance due to Obamacare-induced cancellations. This struck me as a strange leak: Half a million is a lot less than many people (including me) have been estimating, but it is still not a small number, and the administration has tended to sit on negative information until the last possible moment.

Yesterday, we had a more official announcement from the administration: Anyone who has had their policies cancelled will be exempt from the individual mandate next year. The administration is also allowing those people to buy catastrophic plans, even if they’re over 30.
However incoherent these fixes may seem, they send two messages, loud and clear. The first is that although liberal pundits may think that the law is a done deal, impossible to repeal, the administration does not believe that. The willingness to take large risks with the program’s stability indicates that the administration thinks it has a huge amount to lose -- that the White House is in a battle for the program’s very existence, not a few marginal House and Senate seats.

And the second is that enrollment probably isn’t what the administration was hoping. I don’t know that we’ll start Jan. 1 with fewer people insured than we had a year ago, but this certainly shouldn’t make us optimistic. It’s not like people who lost their insurance due to Obamacare, and now can’t afford to replace their policy, are going to be happy that they’re exempted from the mandate; they’re still going to be pretty mad. This is at best, damage control. Which suggests that the administration is expecting a fair amount of damage.
Jeniffer Rubin, the "house" conservative at the Washington Post: Well, let’s delay the mandate after all
The president once has given his media sycophants whiplash and made fools of Senate Democrats. After forcing a shutdown by refusing to delay the individual mandate, beating back Senate Democrats’ attempt to rescue themselves and their constituents and insisting all was fine, the administration has now agreed only a few days before Christmas to allow those to whom the president lied (“You can keep your insurance”) to avoid the mandate and instead buy low-cost catastrophic plans, the ones he has designated as subpar. Trying spinning that, Obama fans.

The Post reports, “The surprise announcement, days before the Dec. 23 deadline for people to choose plans that will begin Jan. 1, triggered an immediate backlash from the health insurance industry and raised fairness questions about a law intended to promote affordable and comprehensive coverage on a widespread basis.” Most Americans have little sympathy for the insurers, who made their own bed by supporting Obamacare, but the unfairness issue is real and unavoidable. If your insurance was canceled and you dutifully struggled to sign up for coverage through, got smacked with sticker shock but paid for new gold-plated insurance, you apparently were a sucker. A whole group of people with canceled plans will get a nice, inexpensive plan just like what they had. Or consider: You were in the target audience for the “pajama boy” ad — a 20-something who didn’t really want insurance and would just as soon have spent the money on a down payment for a house. You toddled over to the screen, hot chocolate in hand, and spent a bunch of money on something you didn’t want. Now there are a bunch of people who get a much cheaper option– so why don’t you?

This is truly make-it-up-as-you-go-along time. It is also a political debacle, another one for Democrats. Brad Dayspring of the National Republican Senatorial Committee tells Right Turn, “It’s a bigger political problem than just the disastrous law.” He argues, “They’ve lied so much that they can’t keep their own spin straight. These Democrats have zero credibility with voters, absolutely zero.”
 He’s an anarchist! A terrorist! It’s the law of the land!!!!! “After forcing a shutdown by refusing to delay the individual mandate, beating back Senate Democrats’ attempt to rescue themselves and their constituents and insisting all was fine, the administration has now agreed only a few days before Christmas to allow those to whom the president lied (‘You can keep your insurance’) to avoid the mandate and instead buy low-cost catastrophic plans, the ones he has designated as subpar. Trying spinning that, Obama fans.”
Ann Althouse:   If you liked your insurance, but couldn't keep it because Obamacare caused it to get cancelled...
... you can... well, obviously not keep it, because you did lose it, but... how can we put this that might quiet the screaming for a little while?
Nothing is working, and the idea seems to be to orchestrate the catastrophe so it feels somewhat better.

With Obamacare, it's nothing but palliative treatment.
 and : "Obamacare Is Falling Apart Before Our Eyes."

Writes James C. Capretta in The Weekly Standard.
I said it back in October 2012: "It's a slow-motion topple. We just haven't seen it go down yet."

Who disapproves of Obamacare?
I was somewhat surprised by these numbers:
Fifty-three percent of the uninsured disapprove of the law, the poll found, compared with 51 percent of those who have health coverage. A third of the uninsured say the law will help them personally, but about the same number think it will hurt them, with cost a leading concern.
I wonder if any of this poll was conducted in Spanish, and if not whether that would have changed the results. I found this interesting too:
Of the uninsured who said they were not likely to sign up by the deadline, fully half said it was because of the high cost. Twenty-nine percent said they planned to go without coverage because they object to the government’s requiring it, and 11 percent said they did not need health insurance.
And this:
Seventy-seven percent of the uninsured said they disapproved of the mandate, compared with 65 percent of those who already have health insurance.
More later...

 Who Says Obama Hasn’t United the Country?

Yesterday the Obama administration suddenly moved to allow hundreds of thousands of people who’ve lost their insurance due to Obamacare to sign up for bare-bone “catastrophic” plans. It’s at least the 14th unilateral change to Obamacare that’s been made without consulting Congress.

“It shows that the Obamacare insurance products aren’t selling so, at the last minute, the administration is holding a fire sale on a failed launch,” says Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, a health-care advocacy group. “Just think how you must feel if you were one of the people who spent the last two months fighting their way through to buy a policy that will be thousands of dollars more expensive than this catastrophic insurance!”

Of course, like every other exemption from Obamacare the latest fix is supposed to last only a year, raising the prospect that people will be kicked off their catastrophic coverage as soon as the 2014 election is safely in the political rear-view mirror.
This week’s Fox News poll found Obamacare to still be a polarizing issue with 53 percent of respondents wanting it repealed and 41 percent wanting to keep it. But then this question was asked: “Setting aside how you feel about the law, do you think implementation of it should be delayed for a year until more details are ironed out, or not?”

It wasn’t even close. By 67 percent to 28 percent people now want the law delayed. And every demographic group agrees: 57 percent of liberals, 65 percent of women, 67 percent of those under age 35, and 60 percent of lower-income voters. Even African Americans, the bedrock of Obama’s support base now favor a delay by 48 percent to 47 percent.

The public may not know the details of health-care policy, or how to navigate Obamacare’s website. But they can see the fiasco of Obamacare unfolding before them and they’re increasingly united on slowing it down. Look for more and more Democrats in Congress, who will have to face the voters next November, to join them.

In Hours Before Rare Obama News Conference, Goes Down Again
Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman with the Department of Health and Human Services, said the system was deliberately taken down Friday morning due to an error that needed to be fixed. She said it should be up by early afternoon. "Right now is queuing consumers," Peters said. "This system is in place while the tech team works on fixing an error that happened during routine maintenance last night. This work started at 10 a.m. and we anticipate this could take two to three hours and that the site will be up and running again soon."
It's so totally fixed.

Before the launch of the site, the head IT guy, Tony Trenkle, refused to sign off on the system's security. So his boss signed it instead, despite the site not being secure. Trenkle then either resigned, or was fired, or some combination of the two.

That happened again with this relaunch. Sharyl Attkisson reports: 
Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), revealed the findings when she was interviewed Tuesday behind closed doors by House Oversight Committee officials. The security risks were not previously disclosed to members of Congress or the public. Obama administration officials have firmly insisted there’s no reason for any concern regarding the website’s security...
58 Percent of Uninsured Haven’t Even Looked at the Exchanges Yet
Most of the uninsured haven’t even looked at the exchanges yet:
Ten percent of uninsured Americans in the poll say they have applied for insurance under the exchanges. Thirty-two percent say they have looked up information about the exchanges but have not applied; 58 percent have not looked up information about health insurance exchanges.

Oh, and 59 percent of the uninsured think getting health insurance would “hurt them financially.”
Remember, all of this grief and aggravation is driven by the aim to get the uninsured to buy insurance.
There is usually a reason that people are uninsured.  They don't want to pay for it.

Obamacare needs 'sexy' makeover: CEO
The only way to get more Obamacare signups is to significantly reduce the scope of the legally required minimum plan, athenahealth Chairman and CEO Jonathan Bush told CNBC on Friday.

The White House took a temporary step in that direction late Thursday, when it relaxed the rules for people who lost their existing coverage, because their plans didn't meet the health law's broader standards.

(Read more: Feds offer another break to people losing health coverage)

The changes allow those affected to buy cheap, basic catastrophic coverage plans, and waive the threat of a tax penalty if they fail to have any coverage in 2014.

Bush, whose company provides doctors offices with cloud-based services for electronic health records, practice management and care coordination, said on "Squawk Box" the Obama administration needs to narrow the requirements of the mandated plan by half to make it more enticing.

"You'll have a very different cost curve because the only way you get people into the market is if you make it sexy and attractive and affordable," he said. People are willing to "dump about $200 or $300 a month into this thing" for something closer to catastrophic coverage.

I got it!

and free lance entrepreneurs in Massachusetts seem to have taken the problem in hand:

Massachusetts State Police Bust 'Obama Care' Heroin
Massachusetts State Police on Friday confiscated 1,250 bags of heroin during a traffic stop -- and many of the bags were labeled "Obama care." Other bags were labeled "Kurt Cobain."

The traffic stop was made in the town of Hatfield, Mass.

"During the stop, evidence of illegal narcotics led to a request for a State Police K9," the state police said in a statement on the agency's Facebook page. "Trooper David Stucenski and K9 Frankie located 1,250 individual bags of heroin in the vehicle. Four people were taken into custody and charged with narcotics violations."
I'm going to guess that not many of the customers for Obamacare heroin  would buy Obamacare instead.

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