Friday, February 21, 2014

Hot and Cold Obamacare Schadenfreude

Back to the Obamacare Schadenfreude post that was so rudely interrupted by a severe thunderstorm warming (and the thunderstorm itself).  The first line has passed after a brief but intense burst period of lightning, and rain.  We'll be under a watch for a while, but the worst has probably passed.

You think maybe they should have at least assigned some intern to at least read the law for them? I know legislators don't do anything like that, but they do have well paid staff members whose job it is to Aid (hence the title Aide) them to understand the laws they pass.

Senate Democrats: Why Didn’t Someone Tell Us Obamacare Would Cut Medicare?
From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Senate Democrats: Why Didn’t Someone Tell Us Obamacare Would Cut Medicare?

The National Republican Senatorial Committee points out that North Carolina senator Kay Hagan and other vulnerable Senate Democrats are now whacking the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid . . . for enacting changes required by Obamacare. Hey, Senator Hagan, if you want to blame someone, blame the foolish or dishonest lawmakers who voted for the law!

Wait a minute, that’s you!
In 2009, Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) promised North Carolinians who depend on Medicare that she was going to “protect Medicare” and that they would “not see a drop in their Medicare coverage.”

But in 2010 Kay Hagan voted to slash Medicare Advantage to pay for ObamaCare. (H.R. 4872, CQ Vote #72: Motion agreed to 56-42: R 0-40; D 54-2; I 2-0, 3/24/10, Hagan Voted Yea)
But there is some justice, thanks to the Republican amendment that forced Congressmen and their staffs onto Obamacare:  More than 12,000 Congressional staffers have enrolled in health plans through Obamacare
Thousands of people have purchased health coverage through the District of Columbia’s new small-business insurance marketplace, but only a tiny fraction of them actually own or work for a small business.

The rest are members of or work for a single large organization — Congress.
Starting this year, new rules require federal lawmakers and their staffers to enroll in health-care plans through the small-business exchange on the city’s new insurance marketplace, known as DC Health Link. So far, 12,359 representatives and staff members, including those who work in district offices across the country and those working on Capitol Hill, have purchased plans, according to numbers obtained by The Washington Post from city health officials.

Normally, the small-business exchanges are reserved for companies with fewer than 50 employees (rising to 100 workers over the next two years). Some lawmakers have therefore questioned whether it’s fair to allow elected officials and their staffs to access the new online insurance marketplaces, which are expected to offer relatively low-cost plans, when private companies the size of Congress are excluded.
Others have complained that they were forced to switch from the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which is still used by other federal workers, to plans on DC Health Link. In part, that’s because the city’s online exchange, like many others across the country, experienced a number of technical problems during the first few months.
From Smitty at The Other McCain:  If #ObamaCare Helps At Least One Person, Other Human Wreckage Is OK
Barack Obama will take many things; your life, your liberty, your pursuit of happiness: but he will never take responsibility. That’s on you:
Julie, her husband, and four children were covered by a medical plan they liked, and had been promised they could keep by President Obama. But like so many others in this country, her family’s private health care policy was cancelled because of the Affordable Care Act. So my sister and her family struggled through the expensive and incompetently designed Obamacare website to find a new policy. Unfortunately, while they waited for their new Obama-approved healthcare plan to finally kick in, my little sister fell ill. She couldn’t keep down solid food. She should have gone to a doctor. But she toughed it out, as many people do, until her new coverage would kick in on February 2. She and her husband didn’t have a lot of money, so she didn’t want to incur what she thought were avoidable medical expenses.

But she didn’t make it. It turns out that, unbeknownst to her, she wasn’t suffering from an upset stomach or food poisoning, but a badly blocked gall bladder that had become highly infected. Her body went into septic shock just two days before her Obamacare policy would have kicked in.
Eggs, omelets in the redistribution scheme.

Another victim of the "small network" problem in California:

And speaking of accepting responsibility, the head cheese of Obamacare in Nevada just quit.
Meeting lower enrollment targets for Nevada’s online health insurance exchange will still be challenging as the system continues to grapple with website and call center issues, a state official said Thursday.
“It has been a difficult month,” Jon Hager, executive director of the exchange, said in a report to the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange board. “We have had website problems, long wait times at the call center, frustrated partners, frustrated consumers and low enrollment.”
Hager outlined immediate goals that reflect issues that have plagued the system from the start: Fix the website and fix the call center.
But Hager won’t be there to oversee those attempted fixes, because he just joined the ex-directors of Minnesota, Maryland, Hawaii, and Oregon among the ranks of the resigned. Via the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
The executive director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange is resigning.
Jon Hager, who came under fire in a Feb. 13 exchange board meeting for cutting March 31 enrollment goals from 118,000 to 50,000, left the agency Thursday afternoon.
Board members told Hager in their meeting that it was time to put together a “disaster recovery plan” to help fix technical problems that have plagued the exchange’s Nevada Health Link website since it launched on Oct. 1.
As for that “disaster recovery plan,” the board is looking at firing Xerox, the contractor that designed the website, as well as straight-up scrapping the effort and joining the federal health exchange — which might be their best option. Their state exchange’s operations are being funded through federal grants this year, but that funding expires in 2015, and Gov. Sandoval has already said that he won’t use state general funds to keep it going. Oof.
Much the way the Federal Obamacare website was taken off-line for repairs during the critical "Young Suckers Youth" sign up weekend, the California website went off-line for the debut of their new marketing campaign:
No, it’s not the traffic because the marketing campaign was so successful. It’s just more glitches, meaning all the money spent on the marketing campaign was wasted once again.
Amid a big marketing push, California’s enrollment website for Obamacare coverage has suffered an unexpected outage due to software glitches.
The website problems come at a crucial time as the Covered California exchange tries to persuade more uninsured people to sign up ahead of a March 31 deadline.
The state exchange unveiled new TV commercials and radio ads this week aimed in particular at Latinos, who have been slow to enroll so far. The exchange is also urging more people to visit enrollment counselors, who rely on the state’s online system.
Covered California took its enrollment system down for scheduled maintenance and upgrades for 24 hours this past weekend. But problems have persisted and Thursday consumers were greeted by a message saying “the enrollment portion of the site is being worked on.”
You can still browse the site for expensive plans and compare expensive prices, and hey, maybe if you manage to put something in your cart, presumably the Obama administration can count you as an “enrollee.” But you can’t actually enroll.
Could the Republican have planned it better?  I'm sure their fault.  When asked what happened to the $2500 per family savings, three democratic congressmen  had a bit of trouble explaining it.
Senator Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Tim Walz came back to Mankato, MN yesterday to meet and greet constituents at South Central College, along with Rep. Collin Peterson. The three Democrats addressed an agricultural symposium, where Peterson talked at length about the farm bill. But KEYC’s Ryan Gustafson captured a priceless moment when one attendee wanted to know why Democrats promised that ObamaCare would save families $2500 a year in premiums:

KEYC - Mankato News, Weather, Sports -

The lawmakers fielded other questions as well, talking debt and immigration reform, but it was the question about the struggling health care law that everyone in the audience wanted to see answered, and two out of the three Democrats on the dais seemed hesitant to tackle.

The question: “I thought the Affordable Care Act would save $2500 per family. What happened?”

After Sen. Klobuchar and Rep. Walz looked at each other, laughter broke out in the room.

Rep. Peterson quickly picked up the microphone to say, “I voted ‘no’, so I’ll let these guys handle that,” to the applause of the crowd.

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