Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lightly Frosted Obamacare Schadenfreude

Last night as we were getting ready for bed it started to snow although the temperature was slightly above freezing. By the time we woke up this morning, the landscape was covered with a rind of frost.  Droplets of ice hung under the twigs and those leaves that haven't fallen yet.  I almost slipped and fell on the driveway while getting the morning paper.  It's a bright sunny day, so it won't last long.

Can you believe they see this one as useful advertising?

We already assume they have all the ambiguously gendered metrosexuals, right?

And signups are going so well. . .

45 States Still Haven’t Hit 10% of Enrollment Goals for Obamacare
Check out that runaway Obamacare enrollment over on!

In Arkansas, its up to 1,404! Well along the way to the state’s goal of 51,000 paid enrollees by the end of March.

In Delaware, it’s up to 793! The state’s goal is 35,000.

In New Hampshire, they hit 1,569. Getting close to that goal of 19,000!

In West Virginia, it’s up to 775! They’ll hit their goal of 24,000 in no time!

In Hawaii, all the way up to 444! That goal of 9,000 is in sight!

In Colorado they’re up to 9,980… with a goal of 92,000.

We can skip the scoffing over Oregon and Washington exchanges, as their ludicrously embarrassing failures have been extensively discussed. Oregon’s at 44, with a state goal of 237,000; Washington’s at 17,780… with a goal of 340,000. . .
Insurance firms are having so much trouble getting sign ups through Obamacare that some are resorting to bribing NGOs to do the work for them: Insurance Firm Tries to Get Nonprofits to Help It Sell Obamacare
Two weeks ago, the Tallahassee alumni chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority received a message on its website from a Fiorella representative with ”ACA Champion” in the subject line. The message said there is an opportunity to help people get insurance beyond the official website.

”There is another way for people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act,” wrote Don Olsen, an insurance agent in Sarasota who identified himself as a Fiorella representative. ”One that will donate money to your organization for each person that signs up under your direction. How much? For every 1,000 enrollees means between $50,000 to $100,000 to you. Interested?”
Tech companies called to the White to discuss the NSA scandal were subjected to a presidential harangue about the technical problems around Obamacare:
"We really didn't care for a PR pitch about how the administration is trying to salvage its internal health care tech nightmare."

Said an unnamed tech company CEO about a meeting with Obama that was supposed to be about the problem of government surveillance.

'He basically hijacked the meeting,' the executive said. 'We all told the White House that we were only there to talk about what the NSA was up to and how it affects us.'
But the savior is (as always) just on the horizon: Microsoft exec to take over rescue

Everyone who loves Internet Explorer and Windows 8 will rejoice at the latest appointment from the White House to rescue its core policy from incompetence. The rest of us will just marvel at the irony:
The White House is tapping the private sector for its next point man to fix the troubled Obamacare website.

The administration is set to announce that Kurt DelBene, an executive at Microsoft, will succeed Jeff Zients in leading the overhaul of the embattled, according to four sources with knowledge of the decision.
But DelBene isn’t just a Microsoft executive. He’s also the husband of a Congresswoman. Guess which party?

DelBene is currently the president of the Microsoft Office Division and has been with the company since 1992. He is also the husband of freshman Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.).
Obamacare, now with the Blue Screen of Death!

The problems with the Obamacare website and signup process threatens another Obama signature issue, immigration reform:

The flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act has endangered another of President Barack Obama’s top agenda items: Immigration reform.

It’s forcing the White House and its allies to confront a basic, but politically potent, criticism. If the government can’t build a website, how can it be trusted to correctly process millions of undocumented immigrants and require every employer to verify the status of their workers?
An excellent question.

With one week left to go, even President Obama has not, as required by the law, signed up for Obamacare:
He's putting out the word: Sign up for Obamacare, exactly like I didn't.

Apparently he's staying on his "old, crappy fake-sham Bad Apple insurance" as long as the law permits him to.

And maybe even after that -- he can always suspend that part of the law, should it become inconvenient.

Meanwhile, an ad is now running against Jean Shaheen which can be easily used against every Democrat who voted for Obamacare, which is practically every single one of them. (A couple of House Democrats in tough seats were permitted to vote against it, to fool their constituents; a few of those may still even be in office.)
Yep, leading from behind.  Besides, as Preznit,  he gets access to the White House physicians.

That ad is worth embedding.  One like it needs to run in every state with democrats in office.

The Alfred E. Neuman clause in Obamacare: A Gap in the Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act mandated that insurers cover dental care for children. Indeed, it was one of the 10 essential health benefits meant to set the bar for adequate health insurance.

But pediatric dental care is handled differently from coverage of other essential benefits on federal and state exchanges. These plans are often sold separately from medical insurance, and dental coverage for children is optional. People shopping on the exchanges are not required to buy it and do not receive financial support for buying it.

Now experts are warning that the flawed implementation of this benefit on the exchanges could leave millions of children without access to dental care.

“It’s letting kids down in my mind, and it is clearly inconsistent with congressional intent,” said Dr. Paul Reggiardo, the chair of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Council on Dental Benefit Programs. “The intent was to include all children. Now it only includes some.”
I'm generally against all the mandated coverage provisions in Obamacare, but what strikes me odd is the difference between contraception and pediatric dental care, only one of which is directly mandated in all Obamacare policies.  But I guess it makes sense.  White millenial women like Sandra Fluke are the democratic base, while married women with children tend to vote Republican.

Speakeing of the contraception mandate:

A district court judge struck down contraception mandate in New York's Obamacare.  Ace has six points:
1. This is the first litigation to result in a final injunction against the contraception mandate for religious non-profit organizations that come within the Obama Administration's purported exemption to the mandate. The 7th, 10th, and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeals have all found the mandate to be an unacceptable burden on the free exercise of religion for for-profit businesses that don't come under the exemption. . .

2. Not even the Obama administration knows what its proposed regulations do. Very late in this case, the government realized that, although the Archdiocese and its constituent organizations are covered by the mandate, the regulations might not actually force a third party they designate to provide the objectionable contraception coverage. The judge was not amused. . .

3. The Obama administration doesn't take religious beliefs seriously. In an astonishing display of anti-religious sentiment, the administration argued that forcing religious organizations to designate a third party to provide contraception coverage to their employees isn't a big deal (legally: de minimis) because it's "just a form" to fill out, "a purely administrative task.". . .

4. The Obama administration has handed out so many exceptions to the law, it can no longer claim the law serves a compelling purpose. In the past, courts have allowed the government to infringe religious rights if the government demonstrates a compelling interest and narrow tailoring, for example, income tax laws or criminal laws related to marijuana and peyote. But in this case, the administration was not able to claim that the contraception mandate serves a compelling purpose because it has been falling all over itself (largely for political reasons) to offer exceptions to the law. . .

5. The Obama administration's belated argument that the religious organizations may not actually end up providing any contraception coverage fatally undermined the administration's case. This comes under the category of bad litigation strategies.

6. The Obama administration thinks it has a general exception from complying with the Constitution. The administration, as it has frequently done with respect to disobeying laws it does not like, argued that it had to enforce the contraception mandate in such an infringing manner because it could not do it any other way. The district court pointed out the obvious flaw in this line of thinking. . .
How Obamacare has converted Medicaid into a predatory loan
It's called "estate recovery" and although it's been around for 20 years, most Americans have never heard of it. Sadly, this arcane bit of Medicaid fine print is about to become much more familiar. Basically, what it says is this: If you're over 55 and are on Medicaid, when you die the state can seize your assets in an effort to repay the cost of your care.

In the past it didn't affect too many people, because "asset tests" were included in the Medicaid enrollment requirements. The bar varied significantly from state to state, but the gist of it was that if your assets rose above a certain level you were disqualified, reagrdless of your income.

However, that was before the President signed his "signature legislation." Now, the requirements for Medicaid have been simplified to allow more low income non-elderly people onto the rolls. As a result, folks with low incomes - but substantive assets - are suddenly finding themselves trapped in a situation where they have no choice but to sign up for Medicaid.

In the 26 states that have opted to implement the Medicaid expansion, asset tests have been eliminated and eligibility is based on income alone. If you earn less than 138% of the federal poverty level, you'll probably qualify. If you do, you're no longer able to receive subsidies that help pay for the other plans on the exchange.
Get forced onto Medicaid, and the government get the rights to all your stuff after you die. Cool!  What will they do with all those recliners?

In a belated and understated admission of the obvious, Kathleen Sebelius finally admits that some people may end up paying more for their insurance:

Still waiting for the shoe to drop on small business:
Think the canceled health policies hurt the Obamacare cause? There’s another political time bomb lurking that could explode not too long before next year’s elections: rate hikes for small businesses.

Like the canceled individual health plans, it’s another example of a tradeoff that health care experts have long known about, as the new rules for health insurance prices create winners and losers. But most Americans won’t become aware of it until some small business employees learn that their premiums are going up because of a law called — oops — the Affordable Care Act.

Some will learn the opposite, that their premiums are going down because of the law. But as we saw with the canceled individual health plans, it’s the losers who will get most of the attention.

And the timing will be terrible for Democrats: A lot of those small businesses will have to start dealing with their new prices in October — just in time for Republicans to make it an issue in their mid-term election campaigns.
Expect another delay to take care of that political problem.

The Legacy of Obamacare Lies:
. . .It’s worth taking a few minutes to go back and read President Obama’s big health care speech from September of 2009. He argued that reform was necessary not only to help the uninsured, but to help middle class Americans facing rising costs and coverage insecurities. The law, he said, would “provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance” and would slow the growth of health costs for families and businesses as well as for the government. Obamacare, in other words, was supposed to fix what most Americans felt was wrong with the health care system—not simply expand coverage to the uninsured.

That speech, and others like it, contributed to a sense that Obama, along with the rest of the Democratic party, was not merely attempting to reform a small segment of the health insurance market, but was instead taking responsibility for fixing the entire health care system. When Obamacare passed the next year, that’s essentially what the president and his party did.

So in an important political sense, President Obama, and by extension Democrats in Congress, own the American health care system now. And they own all of it. So when any part of it breaks or goes wrong, Obama, the Democratic party, and the health law they passed will be blamed, regardless of whether or not the law is directly responsible. . .
But anybody who calls for accountability is a Hater!  Haters gonna hate. But they plan to vote Republican.
Meet the haters.

We’re talking about the voters who’ve had it with all Washington politicians: President Obama, congressional Republicans and congressional Democrats. Despite their distaste for, well, everyone, when push comes to shove, these voters are lining up squarely behind GOP candidates for Congress.

So, just who are the haters, and why do their votes matter so much?

They lean heavily Republican. Thirty-four percent identify as Republicans and another 38 percent are independents who lean Republican. Just 13 percent are independents with no lean and just 10 percent are Democrats. Seventy-one percent oppose the federal health-care law.

The haters matter because they constitute a significant and growing share of the electorate, due to sunken approval ratings for both Obama and congressional Republicans. Together they make up about a third (34 percent) of all voters. A month before the 2010 GOP wave election that swept House Democrats from power, the haters constituted only 28 percent of the electorate.
The Washington Post, putting the "critical" in critical thinking.

Stacy McCain points out Rush Limbaugh's brilliant take down of Cillizza and his ilk:
When the government gets shut down, people get depressed and scared and panicked and are afraid to leave home, and then they blame the Republicans for it, and then the Democrats and the media celebrate. "Mission accomplished!" But two months later, the Republicans are cleaning the Democrats' clock in the generic ballot. I mean, Charlie Cook, the dean of political analysts, says he has never seen this gigantic a shift in the generic ballot in such a short period of time.


He has never seen anything like it. So how do they explain it? What could cause such a massive reversal in just two short months? The obvious conclusion is... HATE. Hate of government. Hate of Washington. Hate of Democrats. The fact that the Republicans are leading in the generic ballot, meaning more people prefer Republicans at this point in time when the poll is taken, must mean that hate is alive and well. ...
And finally, from Maggie's Farm, a light little bit on the ObamaFlower Program:
(Receptionist) Hello, Welcome to ObamaFlowers. My name is Trina. How can I help you?

(Customer) Hello, I received an email from Professional Flowers stating that my flower order has been canceled and I should go to your ecomxchange to reorder it. I tried your website, but it seems like it is not working. So I am calling the 800 number.

(Receptionist) Yes, I am sorry about the website. It should be fixed by the end of November. But I can help you.

(Customer) Thanks, I ordered a "Spring Bouquet" for our anniversary, and wanted it delivered to my wife's work.

(Receptionist Interrupting) Sir, "Spring Bouquets" do not meet our minimum standards, I will be happy to provide you with Red Roses.

Rest of it is below the fold -
(Customer) But I have always ordered "Spring Bouquets", done it for years, my wife likes them.

(Receptionist) Roses are better, sir, I am sure your wife will love them.

(Customer) Well, how much are they?

(Receptionist) It depends sir, do you want our Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum package.

(Customer) What's the difference?

(Receptionist) The Bronze package is 12 red roses The Silver is 18. Gold, 24, and Platinum, 48 red roses.

(Customer) The Silver package may be okay, how much is it?

(Receptionist) It depends, sir. What is your monthly income?

(Customer) What does that have to do with anything?

I need that to determine your government flower subsidy. Then I can determine how much your out of pocket cost will be. But if your income is below our minimums for a subsidy, then I can refer you to our FlowerAid department.

(Customer) FlowerAid?

(Receptionist) Yes, Flowers are a right, everyone has a right to flowers. So, if you can't afford them, then the government will supply them free of charge.

(Customer) Who said they were a right?

(Receptionist) Congress passed it, the President signed it and the Supreme Court found it Constitutional. . .
Read it all.

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