Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tapering Off Obamacare Schadenfreude?

The big news of the day, of course, is that five years after the end of "the great recession" the generic name for any recession a democrat finds upon coming into office, the Fed has enough confidence in the economy to begin tapering off, however tentatively, the crack called quantitative easing, the creation of public debt by having the Federal reserve by buying up new bonds at a near zero interest rate.  Shockingly, markets appear to have responded positively.

Is Obamacare schadenfreude tapering off as well? Not that I can see.  I found a record number of articles to cover today, so without anymore ado...

As Instapundit would put it, another rube self identifies, as Barbara Walters admits that they (I presume she means the MSM) thought Obama was going to be the Messiah:

Pajama Boy, the Obama White House's pathetic attempt to woo, who? from yesterday  has produce a storm of parody, some of which are located here, or here.  For example:

But that was nothing compared to the attempt to woo outright homosexuals to Obamacare by Out2Enroll, created by the Sellers Dorsey Foundation to promote the Affordable Care Act's benefits to the LGBT community. Not exactly NSFW, but if you get caught watching it anywhere real men work, well, just don't.

Different strokes and all, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Speaking of more slightly creepy advertising, the Organizing For America, the continuation of the Obamacare made this one, that  appears to star Pajama  Boy going home for Christmas dinner (which is kinda funny, since I assumed he was Jewish)...

Real Question from White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl: "Is anybody going to buy health care because "Barack Obreezy" tells them to buy it, because it's hot?"
Wow. That's his real, actual question. That isn't one of my fake "he said something like this" sort of headlines.

I think someone just earned himself a starring role on Media Matters for the next year or eight.

Karl's question isn't out of left field. He's asking whether all these silly advertising/promotion stunts -- Footie Pajama Guy being the most recent -- are really sufficient to encourage young people to pay a lot of money for what they previously did not purchase when it cost much less money.

A New York Times/CBS poll reported that only 1/3 of people think Obamacare with improve the healthcare system.  Keeping some of former Obama vote Ann Althouse's commentary:
The full numbers won't come out until later today, so there aren't specific percentages at the squib just published at the NYT, and there isn't even a rough fraction to suggest how many of the rest thought things would get worse and how many took the neutral middle position. The headline is "Broad Skepticism on Health Care Law," and I'm just going to guess that the negative group is more than 1/3. Here's some teasing text:
Among all adults, nearly half think the law will not affect them at all, while among uninsured adults, just over one-quarter say that. And while a nearly 4 in 10 plurality of uninsured Americans think the health care law will hurt them personally, they are twice as likely as the general public to say the law will help them.
. . .The promise was that vast majorities of Americans would be helped, including nearly everyone with inadequate or no insurance, and that nearly all of the rest would remain [at worst] in a neutral position, keeping what they had if they liked it. So we are experiencing a monumental reversal of expectations. It's hard to fathom how crushed people feel, both in having the huge promise so badly broken and in having so much upheaval with such an effect on one's personal finances and physical well-being.
See Barbara Walters above...

On another take on  polling from the Wall Street Journal/NBC, James Taranto points out how (Almost) Everyone Loses:
Reason's Peter Suderman takes note of a poll result that surprises him:
Obamacare has lost the uninsured.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released this week asked uninsured individuals whether or not they thought the law was a good idea. Just 24 percent said they thought it was. In contrast, half the uninsured polled said they thought it was a bad idea. As the Journal points out, that represents an 11 point drop in support for the law amongst the uninsured since September. The same poll also finds that 56 percent of the uninsured believe the law will have a negative effect on the U.S. health care system.

Let that sink in: What that means is that regardless of how bad the old system--the system that for whatever reason left them uninsured--was, a majority of people without health coverage now think that Obamacare makes it worse.

If Suderman's surprise is sincere, he must have taken a sip of the ObamaCare Kool-Aid. Implicit in his reasoning is a huge unwarranted assumption--to wit, that people without health insurance desire to have it.

Some no doubt do, and lacked insurance because a pre-existing condition made them uninsurable in the pre-ObamaCare regime. But some lack insurance because they don't want it, don't feel they need it, are completely indifferent, or think it costs too much. What does ObamaCare do for them?

On one of the "social media" sites I use, a liberal proudly touted this video of Marco Rubio saying, yes, I signed up for Obamacare, and yes, I'm receiving a subsidy, hoping to accuse him of some hypocrisy:

The truth, of course, is that under a republican rider to Obamacare, Congress and most of their staff were required to sign up for Obamacare. The rules of Obamacare state that if an employer forces staff onto Obamacare, they cannot, by law, provide a subsidy. However, Democratic staffers threw a hissy fit, and the Obama administration made a special exemption so that congress and their aides could obtain an employer subsidy.

This is not the same as the low income subsidy for lower incomes (up to a mere $95k, depending on circumstances), it is analogous to the subsidy that most employers provide for health insurance, including the whole federal government.

From guest post at the Other McCain: After Obamacare
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (aka Obamacare or the ACA) is proving to be difficult to implement. Can it be fixed?

. . .The ACA is barely standing under its own weight. The individual mandate will bury it.

The question before the nation is not “Can we fix Obamacare?” but rather “What are we going to do after Obamacare?”
Read the whole thing.

The Case That Could Topple Obamacare
It all started in 2011, when Jonathan H. Adler, a conservative law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, shot an email to his friend Michael Cannon, a health policy expert at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Adler thought he had spotted an error in Obamacare that could unravel a significant portion of the law.

At issue are the federal subsidies for individuals buying insurance in their state’s health care exchanges. The law stipulates that those subsidies should be allotted for plans purchased “through an Exchange established by the State under Section 1311” (italics added), a reference to the section of the law that establishes state-run exchanges.

Adler wondered: Did the law provide subsidies for only state-run exchanges and not federal ones? The law requires that the federal government step in to create an exchange when a state declines to do so. But does it fail to give subsidies to the residents of those states?

It may seem like a small problem, but if true, it spells disaster for the Affordable Care Act. Without subsidies, health care on the individual market becomes unaffordable. Without an affordable option, the individual and employer mandates disappear. In other words, the entire law could come crashing down in the 36 states that have opted not to run their own exchanges.
I'm told by lawyers that words matter.
“President Obama is trying to do the exact opposite of what the law says,” Cannon said.

The two drafted a paper in the first half of 2012 on their findings, but didn’t publish because they thought the Supreme Court might overturn the whole thing anyway. When the court largely upheld the law, the two published their paper in July 2012. Over a year later, there are now four cases challenging the subsidies in federally-run exchanges. One of them, Halbig v. Sebelius, was argued in D.C. district court this month by premier conservative litigator Michael Carvin.

“This is literally the simplest case I’ve ever had in 30 years of practicing law,” Carvin said at a Cato event this summer. “No one but a lawyer could seriously stand up here and tell you that north means south, black means white and state means federal. And all you need to do is read the statute and know that that is what the law is.”
But I think we're at a point that Obamacare is a giant game of Calvinball being inflicted on the public.  The words of the law don't seem to matter at all to the administration as exemptions, deadline extensions, and general disregard for the actual statute have made the process a bad joke.  It will be interesting to see if the courts go along with continued deliberate misreading of the law.

Speaking of extending deadlines, yesterday the major insurance companies, under heavy pressure from the Obama administration, "decided" to extend the payment deadline for Obamacare policies for plans starting on Jan 1, 2014 from Dec. 23, 2013 to Jan 10, 2014.
. . .The move addresses confusion over applications sent through the federal website as the Dec. 23 enrollment deadline nears.

Health plans are voluntarily making the one-time change to protect consumers from "potential gaps in their coverage caused by the ongoing technical problems with," the trade group said.

Some frustrated consumers have been sending premium payments to insurers who have never heard of them. Others say they will pass up federal subsidies and pay full price through insurers, while still others have given up altogether on the promise of health insurance by Jan. 1.
Ace called it Gangster Government.
So, either insure people who aren't really insured (as they haven't paid yet) or be excluded from selling insurance entirely.

Obama made them an offer they couldn't refuse. So they didn't.
How much did Obama know about Obamacare, and when did he know it?  Rep. Phil Gingrey to Sebelius: Prove You Met with President About Obamacare:
In a move sure to spark consternation inside the White House, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) sent a letter Tuesday to embattled Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting she produce a list of the one-on-one meetings she and President Barack Obama allege to have held in the over three-and-a-half years leading up to Obamacare’s calamitous rollout—meetings that do not appear on the White House's own official calendar.

“I have been greatly concerned over the lack of transparency and disregard for straight answers,” says Gingrey in his letter to Sebelius. “The Government Accountability Institute reported this month that according to the White House calendar, you have only met with the President once at the White House since becoming Secretary. Yet the White House has disputed the account and claims that you have been briefing the President regularly.”
I predict nothing will come of it.  Congressional oversight?  Are you kidding?

Some possible good news? Obamacare helps blunt the 'emerging Democratic majority'

It was back in 2002 that Ruy Teixeira and John Judis first wrote of an "emerging Democratic majority," in which a coalition of non-whites, women, the young and professionals would keep Democrats in power for an indefinite period. Since then, this theory has had its ups and downs.

But projecting the behavior of demographic blocs into the future can often be tricky, as women and the young have been known to change horses, and ethnic groups do not stay the same. Traditionally, they begin as immigrants who are poor, who sometimes face prejudice, and may feel in need of state protection and subsidies, and change over time into entrepreneurs and investors, as they assimilate, as prejudice lessens, and as the laws of selection play out...

Voters don't like losing wars, or financial implosions, and they really don't like hearing lies. Thus, the country's reaction to the rollout of Obamacare, plus the news that Obama had lied the 30 or so times he swore to them their health care arrangements would not be uprooted, hit the Teixiera-Judis conclusion quite hard. Women, the young, and Hispanics all bailed on Obama. His coalition is shot, as Byron York tells us. Demographics don't rule, after all.
MNSure director forced out after taking vacation while ObamaCare burned
The embattled director of the state’s fledgling health insurance exchange resigned Tuesday amid mounting criticism of her leadership and the troubled rollout of the new health care program.

MNsure executive director April Todd-Malmlov left her $136,000-a-year post during a closed-door meeting with the program’s executive committee. The board named Scott Leitz, the state’s assistant commissioner of health care, to the newly created position of interim CEO while it conducts a national search for a permanent chief executive. …

The outrage over Todd-Malmlov intensified following revelations that she and state Medicaid director James Golden took a nearly two-week tropical vacation late last month, even as the program was swamped with problems.

According to Star Tribune records, the two live together and have had worked closely on the implementation of the new exchange.
No happy ending today, just this article about how Obamacare may make Americans more reluctant to travel: ObamaCare May Devastate the Real Estate and Travel Industries

Americans are among the most mobile people on earth, but ObamaCare may soon start freezing them in place. Millions are losing their health insurance policies and being forced onto the ObamaCare exchanges, where most plans only provide local medical coverage. As Americans realize they must pay for all non-emergency medical care when they leave their home county, their decisions may have a profound impact on the real-estate market, particularly the second home sector, and on the travel business.

I recently interviewed a woman I'll call Sue, whose story may become increasingly common. Sue, a 60-year-old retiree, and her husband bought a second home in South Carolina to escape the Connecticut winters. "I had a Blue Cross Blue Shield policy in Connecticut, and I used it with no problem in South Carolina. I found an internist and ophthalmologist and dermatologist down here, and kept the rest of my doctors up north."

"The price was reasonable. It cost me $450 a month, with a $2,500 deductible. It was slightly more for out of network; there was no co-pay, and I got my prescriptions filled in both states with no problem."

"Then I got the letter telling me that my policy would no longer exist, because it didn't comply with the new health care law. They wanted to transfer us into a new plan that doubled my premium to $900 a month. The deductible went up to $3,500, and it covered zero out of network."
. . .
"The stress has been tremendous, and at some point, it just won't be worth it. I think the time is coming when we're going to ditch our South Carolina home and move back north to be near our primary doctors."

"I really can't take Connecticut winters and it's better for my health to spend those months in South Carolina. But with this new health care law, I don't think we can afford to keep doing that."
Will Obamacare policies be able to cover you when you travel away from your home? You had better read the fine print to find out.

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