Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Obamacare Schadenfreude 5/28/14

We had a long thunderstorm here last night, which left us with a half inch of rain, and clouds this morning.  Like the weather, everybody talks about Obamacare, but nobody fixes it.

Pelosi admits, Single Payer is the goal, Obamacare is the intermediate stop.
Please don’t misunderstand. She is most assuredly not suggesting that Obamacare isn’t working fabulously as is. Like the president, the House Minority Leader believes the new law is working “the way it’s supposed to,” a sentiment shared by a minuscule fraction of the public. To drive home this point, she beams that the law is “beautiful,” and that is finally “well” — even as crucial elements that impact consumers have yet to be built. Come to think of it, Pelosi tells Ezra Klein, the Obamacare rollout (!) is pretty compelling evidence of Democrats’ strong record on governance.

This line of thinking is roughly akin to that guy who recently cited…Benghazi as Hillary Clinton’s biggest accomplishment. Points for sheer, shameless balls, if nothing else. Democrats find themselves torn between two O-Care narratives, which exist in tension with one another. Safe liberals like Pelosi can cheerfully indulge the delusion of Obamacare’s glittering success, while more vulnerable members and candidates seek refuge in the “fix it, don’t nix it” camp. In a nod to reality, Pelosi acknowledges there may be some elements to “improve upon,” prompting Klein to ask for an example or two:

Hospitals hiking cost on the poor due to … ObamaCare
There are multiple levels of irony in this New York Times report on the impact of ObamaCare on poor patients in the nation’s hospitals. Congress demanded the power to revamp the health-insurance industry and expand Medicaid in order to help the poor get better medical care for less money. In reality, the opposite appears to be happening, as hospitals attempt to force the poor into ObamaCare:
Hospital systems around the country have started scaling back financial assistance for lower- and middle-income people without health insurance, hoping to push them into signing up for coverage through the new online marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act.
The trend is troubling to advocates for the uninsured, who say raising fees will inevitably cause some to skip care rather than buy insurance that they consider unaffordable. Though the number of hospitals tightening access to free or discounted care appears limited so far, many say they are considering doing so, and experts predict that stricter policies will become increasingly common.
Why did this unintended consequence occur? In part, because ObamaCare penalizes hospitals for extending charitable assistance . . .
As I said before, there's nothing in charity for politicians.

Unions are still waking up to the notion that Democrats weren't exactly thinking of them when they wrote Obamacare. WSJ: ObamaCare implementation turning into a pretty big headache for Big Labor
Now that unions are getting into the hard work of renegotiating labor contracts with employers, the WSJ notes that potentially major disputes over which party has to pay for the onerous new costs associated with ObamaCare are popping up all over the country:
Unions and employers are tussling over who will pick up the tab for new mandates, such as coverage for dependent children to age 26, as well as future costs, such as a tax on premium health plans starting in 2018. The question is poised to become a significant point of tension as tens of thousands of labor contracts covering millions of workers expire in the next several years, with ACA-related cost increases ranging from 5% to 12.5% in current talks.
In Philadelphia, disagreement over how much workers should contribute to such health-plan cost increases has stalled talks between the region’s transit system and its main union representing 5,000 workers as they try to renegotiate a contract that expired in March. …
Labor experts on both sides say the law doesn’t take into account that health benefits have been negotiated by employers and unions over decades, and that rewriting plans to meet new requirements can affect wages and other labor terms.
“It’s been a challenge for even some of the stronger unions to maintain the quality health plans that they have offered over the years,” said Daniel Murphy, an attorney in New York who represents employers in labor talks.
Neither employers nor unions struggling with declining national membership are likely to fall any deeper in love with the law after these negotiations are over, especially since the excellent healthcare offerings have traditionally been one of the prime attractors in joining a union in the first place.
Elections have consequences.

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