Friday, March 21, 2014

Up To My Neck in Obamacare Schadenfreude

Everytime I think Obamacare Schadenfreude, it seems to ramp up some more.

The Administration continues to ramp up it's advertising outreach in anticipation of the March 31 Obamacare enrollment deadline.  ADMINISTRATION SPENDS $17 MILLION A MONTH ADVERTISING OBAMACARE
The New York Times reports that between January and March of this year, the Obama Administration is and will spend $17 million a month advertising for ObamaCare.
From January until the end of March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the site and administers the Affordable Care Act, will have spent $52 million on paid media, officials said. Conservative opponents of the law have concentrated their spending on ads focusing on Democratic candidates and sowing doubts about the viability of the law.
The Times also opens the piece with a paragraph that seems to mock the president for his misguided priorities:
Russian troops were rolling through Crimea when Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff and a foreign policy expert, was deployed on a mission to do media outreach. But the focus of Mr. McDonough’s calls to local talk radio stations was not geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe, it was health care.
Ellen Sucks Up to Obama: Obamacare 'Doing Very, Very Well...I Think Everyone's Very Grateful You Did This'

DEGENERES: It’s doing very, very’ve got 5 million people signed up so far. [Applause] An enormous number of people have signed up, so it’s successful....Well, for people who are starting to applaud here, I think everyone’s very grateful that you did this. And I think it is important for people to sign up. It’s just better to be covered. You just never know.
Everyone except the 6 million liars, as Sen. Harry Reid, (D-Nev) likes to call them:

In the same interview with Ellen, the Preznit claimed "I get tons of letters from people who didn’t vote for me but love ObamaCare."

Have you checked the postmarks to make sure they're not all coming from the West Wing?

Obama also reached out to local TV stations to sell Obamacare and assure the public he was not going to do anything about the Crimean takeover:
Six local TV anchors and camera crews from around the country discovered they’d been invited to interview President Obama on Wednesday, and receive VIP briefings from top Obama advisers. They had not requested the interviews. But Obama wanted to spend four minutes with each reporting team to discuss the minimum wage and the March 31 deadline for Affordable Care Act enrollment.

He also reassured KARE-TV anchor Julie Nelson during their meeting that “ultimately we’re not going to go to war with Russia. The Ukrainians don’t want that. We don’t want that.” And he told the Minneapolis newswoman that Russian President Vladimir Putin “is acting out of weakness, not of strength.” Obama rejected Nelson’s question that he had drawn a line in the sand with Putin over Ukraine. “What we have said is not to draw lines in the sand,” the president countered, noting that sanctions against Russia were intended to compel a diplomatic solution.

And he repeated to KSDK-TV (St. Louis) anchor Mike Bush that U.S. military action to defend Ukraine is not on the table.
Obamacare warning: Even Superman got sick from kryptonite
In its 11th hour bid to sign people up for Obamacare, the administration is warning younger Americans that their feeling of invincibility is ending and that, like Superman, they could soon be devastated by “kryptonite,” leaving them broke if they don't have health insurance.

“When I was in my 20s, I didn't think I needed health insurance. I was healthy. I felt like I was Superman,” wrote a blogger on the Health and Human Services website Tuesday. “Now that I'm 32, I don't feel like Superman anymore. I realize that anything can happen to me -- or to anyone -- at any time. I'm active and like to lift weights, but what if I injured my shoulder? What if I got seriously sick?”

The bottom line: “You may feel invincible, but even Superman has a weakness. Don’t let your kryptonite leave you with super-sized debt, or worse. Coverage is easy and affordable, but there’s no time to delay.”
To The Obama Administration, Everybody Is A Child

Terrific. Apparently it wasn’t enough to have them behave as though people 26 and older are forever going to be children. They apparently had to reach out to the douchebag contingent who dress up in goofy uniforms when it’s not Halloween.
. . .
Maybe it’s just me, but I find these ads offensive. Not in the liberal, “Oh my God you said something I don’t like therefore I am going to pretend to be offended and call you a bigot because what I really want you to do is shut up” kind of way.

It’s offensive in that they are so stupid. The aforementioned millennials I wrote about are going to see these images and laugh. Not in the “Haha, that’s really great” kind of laugh, but the “Holy shiite, who gave the green light to go ahead with this idiocy?”
Actually, it's liberals in general who regard "other" people as children.  Projection is the psychobabble term for it.

Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare! Pelosi: Stop calling it ObamaCare. It’s the Affordable Care Act. Affordable, affordable, affordable.

If it were working so well, they'd be happy to have their name attached to it.

Sabato: Pelosi might want to rethink that whole “embrace ObamaCare” thing
Look, Nancy Pelosi is from a deep-blue district. I have no doubt in her district, in the San Francisco area, you can be for ObamaCare and not have any electoral problems. The difficulty for Pelosi and the Democrats is, in every single reliable survey for a year, a plurality or majority of Americans have been opposed for a variety of reasons. She’s arguing, the best defense is a good offense. The problem with that is, when you are on the offense, using your time in the public arena to discuss a subject people have more or less made up their minds about, and they don’t like it, you’re wasting your time in the arena. Second point, Neil, which I think is even more important for the midterm elections: The people who favor ObamaCare, which is a minority, aren’t really that enthusiastic about it even if they favor it. But the majority who oppose ObamaCare are much more charged up, and they’re the people who tend to turn up in a low-turnout midterm election.
So how is the great selling of ACA Obamacare going?  Poorly, with one target group, at least.

Latinos’ support for Obamacare drops steeply
Another day, another unwelcome poll for the White House.

Pew reports that Hispanic support for Obamacare has lurched downwards from 60-plus percent in September 2013 to 47 percent.

That matters a lot, because it possibly means there’s less chance that the GOP’s campaign against Obamacare will prompt the large Hispanic turnout that President Barack Obama needs in November to keep Sen. Harry Reid in charge of the Senate.
Maybe instead of superheros they would would have preferred a masked wrestler motiffe to the ad campaign.

Anonymous blogger reveals the inner workings of Obamacare from the position of being forced into it: The Devious Secret of Obamacare
First, a little background. Bill Hobson is not my real name. My spouse was concerned that, if I used my real name, the IRS would come after us. A few years ago I would have considered such thoughts paranoid. Now, under Obama's IRS, I suspect that she might be right.

I am a former small business owner and former journalist. I've had individual health insurance policies since 1989, and with the same (major) company for the last fifteen years. As with most folks, I saw my premiums go up incrementally over the years as age and health care costs rose, but nothing like what happened in the past year.

I did not want to sign up for Obamacare. But my individual policy -- my spouse is covered separately -- had risen from $330 a month when the administration imposed this diktat to $437 a month going into 2013, an increase which I really couldn't afford. However, my doctor had told me I would require a medical procedure last year costing a significant amount, so I left the plan in place, planning to switch to a lower-cost, higher-deductible policy. I reckoned that this would bring my monthly premium back to the $330 range. The delay would also, I thought, allow the smoke to clear from the Obamacare power grab.

Little did I know that, when the smoke lifted, it would reveal a charred landscape.
During the course of the past year my monthly premium went from $437 a month to $551 a month, a 24% increase. The company said that these premium hikes were the direct result of Obamacare: specifically because of increased taxes and mandatory expansion of coverage imposed by Doctor O.

(The good news is that contraceptives and maternity care are now covered. However, as a 59 year old male, the only way I might need either is if get a prescription for the little blue pill, which I am not sure is covered.)

I was going to have to change my health insurance or start eating cat food. It should have been called the Unaffordable Care Act.
So far, just one of Harry Reid's 6 million liars, right?
As stated earlier, I went to various websites and used their calculators to figure out if I would qualify for a tax credit before making my decision. The online calculators said I would, so I gritted my teeth, went to the Obamacare website, and applied. It's a tedious process.
. . .
I finished and, as the website clearly states, at the risk of perjury gave my e-signature verifying that I had provided true information. Finally, I got my result. Despite what every online calculator had indicated, I would not be eligible for a tax credit: the only reason I had gone through the gol-darned process to begin with.

I called the toll-free support number and asked why the website had denied me tax credits. The pleasant-sounding young man who answered took a quick look at my income information and agreed that it looked like I should be eligible. Then he started asking how I had answered the multiple questions the application process requires. When he asked whether I had indicated I currently have health insurance, I said I had … because I do have health insurance.

"Ah," he said, "that may be the problem."

Wait, I said, are you telling me that to qualify for tax credits -- the only reason to sign up on the Obamacare website, as compared to buying directly from the insurance company -- that I can't already have health insurance?  He replied that was correct.

But surely, I maintained, thinking of two people I know of who got tax credits in circumstances similar to mine, I can't be the only self-employed person who's applying for tax credits who already has insurance. How do other people qualify?

There was a pause on the phone line, then the young man said, "Well, I'm sure that not all people give the, uh, correct answer to all the questions."

He didn't say it, but he might as well have added, "Hint, hint."
. . .
That deepened my curiosity even more. Why would Obamacare “navigators” encourage applicants to misrepresent their existing insurance status when applying?
A headline in the LA Times this past week answered the question. "Obamacare meeting goal of reducing number of uninsured" it read.
Well, yes, if you pay people to be nominally uninsured, well, of course they'll be "uninsured."
The administration has been taking heat for the last few months for not signing up more uninsured folks, ostensibly the main reason for this disaster. And, after years during which Barack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius have established that the truth doesn't matter -- "If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor" -- when it comes to Obamacare, the ends justify the means. The guy and the gal at the top lied, why shouldn't the guy at the bottom? Call it trickle down ethics. The fish, as they say, rots from the head down.
. . .
Those Obamacare enrollment numbers we're reading are as flimsy as the gowns you put on at the doctor's office.

Through much of this process I've thought about the Georgetown law student who said that tearing apart what was, arguably, the world's best health-care system and replacing it with Obamacare was necessary because she needed her birth control pills paid for, since -- she claimed -- it was a women's health issue.

(Ironically, oral contraceptives are covered under my new Obamacare policy. But condoms -- the birth control device which might prevent the most likely health risk for sexually active women, STD's - -are not covered.)

Well, she has her birth control pills paid for now.

Which probably is a good thing.

Because somebody is getting screwed.
Hint; it's all of us. But really, read the whole thing; it's a nice piece.

In Oregon, they are continuing their war on reality: Oregon governor sacks four for site failure
Well, one guy resigned and the governor asked the state health board to get rid of the others. Perhaps that’s an indicator of the authority and leadership that led to this debacle? The state of Oregon has now evaluated how it spent $200 million on an exchange site that hasn’t enrolled one person. The report cites familiar problems in the Obamacare saga—a “‘fundamental breakdown” of project management, ‘no single point of authority or accountability,’” among other things.
 . . .While releasing the report at the Capitol, Gov. John Kitzhaber said he is “angry and disappointed” by the exchange’s problems, but praised the report as a thorough way to prevent similar problems in the future. He announced that Bruce Goldberg, the former Oregon Health Authority director who now heads the exchange, has resigned — calling it “the right decision.”
$200,000,000 and no enrollments through the website....

Megan McArdle has yet another article on the follies of Obamacare, this time on the disagreements between the administration and the insurance companies over the extent of premium increases to come:

Obamacare's War of Leaks
The Obama administration has said it expects premium increases for health insurance next year to be considerably slower than the pace before implementation of the Affordable Care Act. That’s not what insurance industry executives told the Hill:
Some insurers initially underpriced their policies to begin with, expecting to raise rates in the second year.
Others, especially in larger states, will continue to hold rates low in order to remain competitive.
But insurance officials are quick to emphasize that any spikes would be a consequence of delays and changes in ObamaCare’s rollout. 
Read the whole thing.

And finally, a possible resolution to the whole mess. Another big week for Obamacare in the courts
In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court will hear argument on whether the contraception mandate violates the religious freedom of businesses and business owners. An anti-religion outcome in the case would forever alter the relationship between the government and believers, essentially requiring that people with sincere religious beliefs give up their rights to religious practice when they operate a business.
In Halbig v. Sebelius, employers are challenging the HHS and Treasury’s authority to provide tax subsidies to individuals who sign up for Obamacare on federally-run exchanges. The Obamacare law was so sloppily written (rushed Christmas Eve votes will do that) that Congress forgot to provide for such subsidies in the text of the law. Professor James Blumstein explains:
So, the IRS rode to the rescue. It wrote a regulation that, despite the provisions in the ACA itself, provided a subsidy for all income-qualified purchasers, even those on federally-run exchanges. A result is that an employer could face a substantial new tax if just one employee receives a federal subsidy, even if the employer’s state has chosen not to set up an exchange. And the states would no longer have an incentive to run an exchange since residents would receive federal subsidy on federally-run exchanges.
The subsidy cases aren’t quite as flashy as the contraception mandate cases. They’re about statutory interpretation, which only a lawyer could love. (And I do.) But unlike the contraception mandate cases, the subsidies cases could actually bring the entirety of Obamacare crashing down. If HHS has to let Hobby Lobby and other employers decline to provide contraception, Obamacare, with its exchanges, its taxes, its intrusion into daily life, will go on. But if HHS and Treasury are forbidden from offering health care subsidies to people in two-thirds of the states, the whole thing collapses as Obamacare’s enormous premium and deductible hikes price people out of the market. So definitely send a prayer for the religious business owners in Hobby Lobby. But send one for the Halbig plaintiffs too. If Congress won’t bestir itself to end this unpopular, destructive law, the Courts might.
Does the actual letter of the law mean anything in the "critical studies" era?

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