Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Obamacare Schadenfreude and a Cup of Coffee

Even after a good day fishing, Obamacare Schadenfreude keeps going.

First, from the black helicopter people at WND, a rumour that Justice Roberts switched his vote on the constitutionality of Obamacare because he was being blackmailed by the NSA:
Why did Chief Justice Roberts at the eleventh hour change his decision? He was going to side with the other justices and find that Obamacare was unconstitutional. Is it something that was dug up on him by the NSA or the CIA? Was that used against him to blackmail him?

“These are the kinds of things [the government is doing], and that’s why it’s so scary what’s going on with the NSA and the CIA. It can happen in a democracy. So that may help explain it, and perhaps we can reach these issues through the NSA cases that we brought, the NSA/CIA cases. I intend to get the truth on this.”

Klein himself sounded taken aback by Klayman’s suggestion.
Myself, I favor the thinking that Roberts really was swayed by the doctrine that if a statue can be interpreted as constitutional by some mechanism, he was obliged to accept that rationalization, even if it had not been argued that way in court.

Reason magazine's take on the recent revelation that millions of the Obamacare enrollments are based on faulty data and will result in bills (or refund checks) from the IRS.
. . .The law's subsidies are doled out based annual income, and people who apply for coverage are responsible for submitting income data in order to prove eligibility for the subsidies. The problem is that a million or so people have entered incomes that differ substantially from what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has on file.

Normally this would be reconciled through a follow-up auditing process; when the system identifies people whose submitted incomes don't match IRS records, those people are asked to send in further paperwork as proof. But only "a fraction" of those people have responded, according to the Post. And even when they have provided additional documentation, it doesn't matter.
The federal computer system at the heart of the insurance marketplace cannot match this proof with the application because that capability has yet to be built, according to the three individuals," the report says.
So piles of unprocessed “proof” documents are sitting in a federal contractor’s Kentucky office, and the government continues to pay insurance subsidies that may be too generous or too meager.
Fun fact: That contractor happens to be Serco, the data entry company which has a $1.2 billion deal under the health law, and which recently generated some negative attention when an anonymous employee said that there was almost no work to do at the company's processing centers.

Another fun fact: The back end system that processes and verifies the subsidies was originally supposed to be completed when the exchanges opened last October. Then, when the exchanges launched with so many problems, officials pushed back the opening to early 2014 so they could concentrate on fixing the consumer-facing end of the system.

It's May, and the back end is still far from complete. Federal health officials won't provide reporters with timelines indicating when they expect it to be complete. And insurers participating in the law have been told to be prepared to continue using the current, manual workaround system until at least September.

The Obama administration doesn't really want to talk about any of this, because they promised this wouldn't be a problem. Or, as the Post puts it, "members of the Obama administration are sensitive because they promised congressional Republicans during budget negotiations last year that a thorough income-verification system would be in place." So far, that obviously isn't the case.
Four years now, and it still doesn't work right.  It's almost as if that's not really the point and never has been.

Speaking of Serco, and the employees paid to sit and hit "refresh" on the website: AP Treats Obamacare Contractor's Employees in Three States Doing Almost No Work As a Local Story
A search at 11:00 p.m. ET tonight at the Associated Press's national web site on "Serco," the company with a five-year, $1.25 billion contract to process paper Obamacare enrollment applications, returned no results. That's absolutely pathetic, given that St. Louis TV station KMOV, based on multiple accounts from several current and former employees and contractors, has reported that the company has well over 1,000 people doing almost nothing all day simply because there are very few paper applications to process. KMOV, which carried five consecutive reports this week (here, here, here, here, and here), even noted in its later segments that its work had drawn national attention.

What's worse than AP not covering the story nationally? How about the wire service treating it as a local and regional story, even though Serco and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are wasting roughly $20 million per month of U.S. taxpayers' money, and even though calls for investigation have come from U.S. senators in at least two states? It would have been just as absurd if AP had treated bankrupt Solyndra, which failed to repay an Energy Department loan of over $500 million several years ago, as a California-only story because that's where its plant was. Excerpts from the AP's story, including a "This story is boring, so don't read it" headline, follow the jump (bolds are mine) . . .
The miracle is that they covered it at all. I'm surprised they haven't tried to claim it was a deliberate part of the stimulus program.

And now, another cup of coffee:

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