Saturday, November 22, 2014

Obamacare Schadenfreude Grubnado Winding Down

The Grubnado, the swirling mass of lies studded with sharp toothed economists and politicians appears to be subsiding, at least temporarily. For the first time since the scandal broke, the daily Obamacare Schadenfreude is not dominated by poor Dr. Jonathon Gruber.  But first, the continuing swirls:

Gruber Gets the Call: Gruber called to testify in Oversight probe on ObamaCare transparency
For the moment, it’s an invitation. Will Darrell Issa turn it into a subpoena? It depends on whether ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber decides to accept the invitation to the December 9th hearing, which will probe not just the attempts to deceive the CBO during the original debate but the shifting standards on enrollment data exposed this week (via The Daily Caller):
Last night, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., sent letters calling on Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber to testify on Tuesday, December 9th before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on repeated transparency failures and outright deceptions surrounding ObamaCare.
“From the outset, the health law has been the poster child for this Administration’s broken transparency promises,” Chairman Issa said in a statement. “Americans were told if they liked their plans and doctors, they could keep them. They were told the individual mandate wasn’t a tax. None of these were true. Jonathan Gruber, one of ObamaCare’s chief architects, publicly lauded the ‘lack of transparency’ that was necessary to pass the law and credited ‘the stupidity of the American voter’ that allowed the Administration to mislead the public. CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner testified before our Committee that the Administration met its goals by enrolling 7.3 million individuals, however we now know that wasn’t the case. The numbers provided by CMS were deceptive and obscured the number of Americans running from exchange plans. The American people deserve honesty, transparency and respect from those who forced the federal government into their healthcare. I expect Mr. Gruber and Administrator Tavenner to testify publicly next month about the arrogance and deceptions surrounding the passage and implementation of ObamaCare.”
Pass the popcorn. Looks like Gruber is going to need to spend some of that sweet government money hiring a good lawyer.

Why Gruber-gate Is So Devastating to Democrats
The growing impression that politicians don’t play straight with their constituents is completely toxic, particularly to Democrats, who actually want to use government to improve people’s lives. It’s one thing to downplay unpalatable choices made in the law; it’s another to never disclose the consequences of legislation until it’s too late for anyone to react. Combine that with the moustache-twirling of a Jonathan Gruber, saying that the idiots should be happy for what they got, and you have basically every conservative stereotype about liberal elites confirmed.

The sad part is that this was all known four years ago. You could see that Gruber was the world’s worst spokesman, and that his style of selective disclosure would get him in trouble. And you could see that a Rube Goldberg health care reform, turning patients into shoppers and relying on them to negotiate the maze, could lead to serious problems for individual customers, even if you didn’t know exactly how. It must sound good to neoliberal technocrats to avoid charges of socialism by routing policies through the market. But voters care about results, and price spikes and clawbacks will highlight how markets create losers as well as winners.

The whole thing demanded extreme amounts of transparency, which we never got. And the price paid, not just for Obamacare, but for Democrats in general, will be enormous.
And now, onto the (mostly) non-Gruber items.

Speaking of bait and switch: If You Like Your Obamacare Health Plan, You Can Keep It, If HHS Doesn't Pick a New One For You
Here's a Friday Obamacare news-dump for you: In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare's auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law's exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you'd be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier. From the attached fact sheet:
Under current rules, consumers who do not take action during the open enrollment window are re-enrolled in the same plan they were in the previous year, even if that plan experienced significant premium increases. We are considering alternative options for re-enrollment, under which consumers who take no action might be defaulted into a lower cost plan rather than their current plan.(Fact sheet via Adrianna McIntyre; proposal first noted by Politico.)
States running their own exchanges could start doing this in 2016, and federal exchanges could start in 2017.

It's not just auto-reenrollment. It's auto-reassignment, at least for those who pick that option. Basically, if you like your plan, but don't go out of your way to intentionally re-enroll, the kind and wise folks at HHS or state health exchanges might just pick a new plan—perhaps with different doctors, clinics, cost structures, and benefit options—for you. And if you want to switch back? Good luck once open enrollment is closed. There's always next year.
What appears to have happened is that the administration belatedly realized that without auto-reenrollment, a lot of the people who initially enrolled in Obamacare  would drop off, just because they weren't all that responsible in the first place. Then, as the lowest price plans which a majority of the enrollees selected became much more expensive (the usual response to losing money), the administration was faced with the likelyhood that many of the enrollees would face stiff price increases in the plans they had selected, inflating the statistics for Obamacare policies.  The easiest way out was just to sneak them back into the cheapest plan.

Americans Don't Want Government to Guarantee Healthcare, Again: Voters used to heavily favor federal intervention to ensure coverage. What happened?

In one word, Obamacare.

In short, when the details got out, people didn’t like them, and they soured on the whole principle. Maybe Gruber had a point. He just phrased it stupidly.
House GOP files Obamacare suit
House Speaker John Boehner said Friday he has sued the Obama Administration in federal court over its decisions to make changes to the President's health care law, which congressional Republicans argue were unconstitutional.

The move was expected for months -- the GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted to approve the lawsuit in July. But Boehner had trouble retaining a law firm that would take the case because of the political furor over the controversial health care law.

"Time after time, the President has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress. That's not the way our system of government was designed to work," Boehner said in statement on Friday.

He added, "if this President can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action."
Curiously, liberal fire brand attorney Jonathon Turley has been chosen present the Republicans case:
Turley Joins Republican Challenge To Obama's Lawlessness
For those in and out of the administration who dismissed the House lawsuit against the president for unconstitutional and illegal action, the naming of Jonathan Turley as lead attorney means game on.
. . .
Though he is a supporter of Obama and his policies, Turley is not a party hack as Jonathan Gruber is. He is a respected constitutional scholar and Democrat who is not willing to stand by as the Constitution, the document that gave birth and life to the world's oldest representative republic, is shredded as part of Obama's fundamental transformation of America. Unlike some of his contemporaries and most of the mainstream media, he took the House lawsuit seriously.

The president's handling of ObamaCare is only one of the extralegal excesses of this administration that Turley warned about when he testified before the House Judiciary Committee. He called Obama's vow to rule by executive order "one of the greatest challenges to our constitutional system in the history of this country" and one that "threatens a fundamental change in how our country is governed."

"The question represented by this lawsuit," Turley wrote Monday on his blog, "is whether we will live in a system of shared and equal powers, as required by our Constitution, or whether we will continue to see the rise of a dominant executive with sweeping unilateral powers. That is a question worthy of review and resolution in our federal courts."

1 comment:

  1. The earthquake of Obamacare is almost over, but its aftershocks will be felt for many years to come.

    See “Obamacare’s Orwellian Birth and Inevitable Collapse” at