Friday, January 17, 2014

Lightly Frosted Obamacare Schadenfreude

Sunny, but lightly frosted here in Slower Maryland. But cool weather doesn't stop Obamacare Schadenfreude.

HHS official: We have no idea how many people have paid their first month’s ObamaCare premium
Of course they don’t, silly. How would they? They haven’t built that part of the site yet.

As of a week ago, Bob Laszewski’s best guess based on his chats with friends in the industry was 50 percent. The feds probably have some inkling of the actual number, not from but from trying to reconcile their data on O-Care enrollees with the data various insurers have. The whole point of building the website was to avert the need for that; someone would sign up on, they’d make payment through the site, the info and money would be automatically forwarded to the insurer, and the conveyor belt would keep moving. As it is, with glitchy files still being transmitted on the back end, both sides have to compare notes periodically via a laborious reconciliation process to make sure they have the same information. Checking payments is just one facet of that, but a long and important one — as noted in the clip, until the feds know that you’ve ponied up for your premiums, they can’t get things moving for you on subsidies.
Talking Points Memo, a liberal site, has a letter from a "young irresponsible invincible from New York, and an Obama voter on Obamacare:
...I earn 55,000 a year working in a restaurant, though I have a Masters Degree. I live in Brooklyn. I earn too much to qualify for assistance with healthcare, so my premium is $308/month.

My apartment rent is $1400/month, student loans are just under $800/month, I pay around $200/month in credit card bills, $100 for a cell phone, and $50 for car insurance. Then we have food, movies, metro cards, etc, etc ...

Run the numbers, where do I find room for another $308/month???

I've been off my parents insurance for 8 years. I've been to the doctor less than 5 times in those years, for a total cost of under $500. It's hard for me to justify spending almost $3800 a year on a bronze plan when that's more than 7 times what I've paid over the last 8 years! And even spending that much, I've still got a large deductible to cover.

I know I'm not getting any younger, but man, these numbers are hard to swallow, much less get excited about!
So, find a cheaper apartment, dump your cell phone, and what the hell do you need a car for in Brooklyn?  Get in there and support me, slacker!

A doctor reports on how Obamacare is going to impact the number of doctors willing to take Medicare and Medicaid patients:
I stopped accepting Medicaid insurance 10 years ago. Before that, I was willing to accept a substandard payment out of a sense of loyalty to my patients. I hung in with it for many years.

Ultimately, I found that there weren’t enough specialists willing to play ball with me. It was too difficult to find an orthopedist to treat my patient for a broken bone, or an ophthalmologist to remove a cataract, or even a cardiologist to treat a patient with angina. Plus, the paperwork is prohibitive and the referral networks are narrow.

Everything I know about medicine strongly suggests that Obamacare is about to make all these problems worse.

Keep in mind that our emergency rooms are already overflowing. The number of ERs in the U.S. has declined by more than 10% over the past decade at a time when more are needed. Crowds of patients who don’t really need to be there interfere with the triage and care of sicker patients with heart attacks, strokes, appendicitis, bleeds, etc.
Obamacare created tens of thousands of new IRS agents, but caused an equal number of doctors to drop out.  Time to start talking about drafting doctors.  In fact, I think we should start by identifying the students smart enough to become doctors, and force them into life long poorly paid jobs upon their 18th birthday.  Because that's the only way the system will work under Obamacare.

Insurers spending seven figures to stop Medicare Advantage cuts
Hey, I thought insurers were on board with raiding Medicare Advantage? After all, that’s what ObamaCare does to generate revenue for the ACA’s redistribution scheme. One of the supposedly cost-saving mechanisms within ObamaCare was a series of reductions to insurer reimbursements for their end of Medicare coverage. Suddenly,insurers are finding something about ObamaCare they don’t like:
Insurance officials say the cuts are already forcing insurers to cut their doctor networks, and they warn that further cuts will increase cost and limit access to seniors

“If the Medicare Advantage plan is cut once again, seniors are going to find out in October that their costs are going up, their benefits are being reduced and they have fewer choices of providers and fewer coverage options,” said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for the insurance industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans.
Security concerns, pooh poohed by the democrats, media (but I repeat myself) continue to be an issue.  Security expert: Hackers could upload code to to take control of users’ computers
I honestly don’t know what to believe. There’s no reason to doubt the security pros and every reason in the world to doubt that HHS equipped the site with sturdy security before rolling it out. We don’t even have to draw an inference from the overall half-assed execution of as of October 1st; remember, HHS’s own security people were waving red flags before launch day. And yet, despite endless stories about the site’s vulnerabilities and high-profile testimony by security experts before Congress in November about just how bad things are, there have been no major breaches to date.
That we know of...
Hackers could steal personal information, modify data or attack the personal computers of the website’s users, he said. They could also damage the infrastructure of the site, according to Kennedy, who is scheduled to describe his security concerns in testimony on Thursday before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee…

Kennedy said he last week presented technical details describing the vulnerabilities in the site to seven independent cyber security experts, who reviewed videos of potential attack methods as well as logs and other documentation…

“The site is fundamentally flawed in ways that make it dangerous to people who use it,” said Kevin Johnson, one of the experts who reviewed Kennedy’s findings. Johnson said that one of the most troubling issues was that a hacker could upload malicious code to the site, then attack other users.

“You can take control of their computers,” said Johnson, chief executive of a firm known as Secure Ideas and a teacher at the non-profit SANS Institute, the world’s biggest organization that trains and certifies cyber security professionals…
I just hope the hackers who take over mine will clean it up well before they leave.  Maybe scrub all the spittle off the screen?

Do you get the impression that the Obamacare website is like a road repair project, with a lot of people standing around leaning on computers, and checking their email, while one disgruntled flunky does all the work?

You will betray me three times before the rooster crows 2014 elections...
Just how angry are voters over ObamaCare? So angry that Democrats will be running against it — and not just Democrats, but also their PACs. The House Majority PAC, which declares its mission to be “holding Republicans accountable and helping Democrats win seats in the House,” defends Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in part by emphasizing her outrage to “the disastrous healthcare website”:

In fact, the ad hilariously claimed that Kirkpatrick “blew the whistle” on by quoting a statement made by the Democrat decrying the “stunning ineptitude” of HHS on … November 15th … in a press release. By that time, the “stunning ineptitude” had been obvious for more than six weeks. No one needed Kirkpatrick to “blow the whistle,” and in any case, this was less a case of whistleblowing than an exercise in ass-covering.

What doesn’t the ad note? Well, it misses the fact that Kirkpatrick voted for ObamaCare in 2010, and has consistently voted against repeal. It misses the fact that Kirkpatrick will continue to be an obstacle in getting rid of the law that upended the individual market for health insurance, and will create even more disruption this fall when the mandates hit the employer/group market.
But Ace, being off his happy meds yesterday, has a word of caution for Obamacare opponents:
1. Could The GOP Actually Give Up On Repealing ObamaCare?

Short answer...of course. It's the GOP for crying out loud.

Longer answer: Erick Erickson makes a strong case that the groundwork is being laid for just such a cave. The groups that are siding with the GOP establishment in the ongoing intra-party wars are accommodating themselves to "fixing" not "repealing and replacing" ObamaCare. It's not a huge stretch to expect that their allies in the GOP will follow along in due course.

Yes, most Republicans continue to say the right things, but they always say the right things before they do the wrong ones. Case in point...the sequester spending caps were supposed to be sacrosanct or traded for some big entitlement reform. How'd that work out?

This is why it's important to keep the pressure on "the establishment" from the right and not buy into their "focus on Democrats" nonsense. Left to their own devices the GOP will...go left. Every time. 

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