Thursday, December 11, 2014

Obamacare Schadenfreude: Post Grubernol Drip

There are, of course, still news articles coming out of the Grubernol's greats Tuesday hearings:

I Do Not Think That Word Means What Gruber Thinks It Means
by Smitty, Via Hot Air, emphasis mine:
In an appearance on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Gruber was probed by Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) over his lamentation that the administration’s lack of honesty about the imposition of taxes both on those who do not purchase insurance and on those who do have insurance. Turner prodded Gruber over whether he had any conversations with members of the White House who perhaps shared his opinion that the ACA needed to be crafted in a “tortured” way to ensure its passage.
After much deliberation, Gruber finally answered: “I honestly do not recall.”
The Fatal Conceit of Jonathan Gruber

Gruber came to my attention more than two years ago. As a scholar of Soviet planning, I was struck by its parallels with ObamaCare. I read the New York Times’ glowing reports about its architect, one Jonathan Gruber of MIT. The New York Times’ “Mr. Health Care Mandate”of March 29, 2012 was an ode to genius economics professor cum scientific planner, Gruber. After the Supreme Court’s tough questioning of the ObamaCare legislation, the Times probably felt that ObamaCare needed a boost from Gruber, who, by his own admission, “knows more about this law than any other economist.” It was to Professor Gruber that the White House turned to design its new health care law, and for good reason.

The Times reassuringly described Gruber as “the numbers wizard at MIT,” who has “spent decades modeling the intricacies of the health care ecosystem.” Gruber has “brought a level of science to an issue that would otherwise be just opinion.”

I might note that the Soviets used the term “science” for their own “scientific” planning commission. I drew little comfort from Professor Gruber’s scientific-planning credentials, especially when I learned “he’s the only person you can go to for that kind of thing.” Gruber, aided by his brilliant MIT graduate student assistants, is a one-man Gosplan, the name given to the Soviet Union’s state planning committee. That is not much of a recommendation. Science is better served by competing ideas not by a one-person monopoly.

Both Gruber and the USSR’s Gosplan planners believe their planning is “scientific” and executed by “the best of the best.” Both types of planning commissars suffer from F. A. Hayek’s “fatal conceit”—the belief that we can plan incredibly complex economic systems. As Hayek pointed out in his writings, such “scientific” plans inevitably fall apart under the weight of unintended consequences. . .
Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise most of the press ignored Gruber’s comments
It seems that there is only so much the mainstream political press can ignore. In the wake of Tuesday’s congressional hearing in which health care policy expert Jonathan Gruber attempted to explain his inflammatory comments about the law and the easily misled American voter, those media outlets that were still maintaining an embargo on that story finally gave up the ghost.

Tuesday’s hearings were informative primarily for what Gruber was not willing to say. The health policy consultant succumbed to amnesia when he was pressed to recall if he ever had a conversation with a member of the administration who shared his belief that the ACA’s construction was “tortured” so as to get the bill passed by Congress. He refused to surrender documents relating to his work with the government, and played coy to the point where he attempted to debate the definition of the word “document” with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). This was newsworthy stuff, but the primary focus of the mainstream press was on Gruber’s dubious and abundant apologies for insensitive comments that much of the public heard for the first time only last night. . .
Trey Gowdy Eviscerates Sniveling Worm Jonathan Gruber
No wonder the Democrats released their partisan CIA “torture” report today. Anything to distract the American people from seeing the carnage of Jonathan Gruber testifying before Congress.

Needless to day, South Carolina’s Trey Gowdy stole the show as he reduced Gruber to a pile of mush. . .

One gets the sense that Dr. Jon learned how how to grovel before school yard bullies years ago.

Obamacare Advisor Who Called Voters 'Stupid' to Congress: 'I Have No Philosophy of Abortion, End-of-Life Care'
"If there are fewer elderly people, particularly poor elderly people, wouldn't that save a ton of money too? ... And do you understand the dangerous implications of going down this path?" Massie asked.

"I have no philosophy of abortion. I have no philosophy of end-of-life care," Gruber answered. "My job as an economist is to deliver the empirical facts so that you all can make the necessary decisions."

Pressing further, Massie asked Gruber if he advocates the rationing of end-of-life care, and "as an economist, does it save money?"

"I do not advocate that the federal government should ration end-of-life care," Gruber answered.
"Vunce der rockets are up, who cares vere zeh come dow? Dat's not my department" say Werner von Braun.

In non-Gruber Obamacare Schadenfreude, soon to be ex-Senate majority leader Harry Reid is joining the chorus of democrats regretting how Obamacare has cost them their leaderships: Harry Reid: 'We Never Recovered from the Rollout' of Obamacare
As he tells a New York Times reporter:
In hindsight, Mr. Reid said, it was easier to see how damaging the mismanaged rollout of the Affordable Care Act exchanges had been. “We never recovered from the rollout because the election became one that was directed toward the president. We couldn’t overcome that,” he said. Still, he added, “I should have seen it coming.”
This follows Chuck Schumer, another leading Senate Democrat, who criticized Obamacare recently, too
Sebelius has figured out why Obamacare is unpopular: The ‘Obama’ part

Former Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius is back, and she has figured out why the Affordable Care Act is so unpopular.

No, it’s not the law’s imposition of new taxes on those who have health insurance, or the “fines” levied on individuals who are now forced to purchase insurance whether they want it or not. It’s not the limits the law places on access to preferred health care providers. It’s not the fact that millions in the individual market lost the plans with which they were happy with but did not comport with new ACA coverage standards, nor the fact that millions more are set to lose their policies when the law is eventually fully implemented. It’s not the law’s deleterious impact on the labor participation rate, which remains at its lowest point since the Carter administration.

Nope. The reason why “Obamacare” is so persistently unpopular is the fact that the law bears the name of a president who is also unpopular.

“I think we may need to call it something in the future different, but it is working,” Sebelius said at an event sponsored by Politico. “Obamacare, no question, has a very bad brand that has been driven intentionally by a lot of misinformation and a lot of paid advertising.”

Maybe it’s the sudden onset of “Gruber syndrome” that prompted Sebelius to suggest the public has been led by the nose by disreputable propagandists and only views the law unfavorably because they lack the cognitive abilities to think for themselves. Maybe the ACA covers that as a preexisting condition.
Well, at least she didn't say it was because he was negro black African American. Which puts her a step above most of the democrats in congress.

Obamacare is slowing the rise of health care spending! Well, not so much
While the news cycle continues to explode over big ticket items, the New York Post notices that the administration has been feeding some bits of “good news” out into the media stream. One of these is yet more proof that, all evidence to the contrary, Obamacare is working out just fine, thank you very much. And one indicator of this is that the program is clearly slowing the rise of health care spending in the United States. That’s a win, right? Well, it would be if it were true.
The ObamaCare lies keep coming. In two highly publicized announcements last week, top Obama health officials claimed the Affordable Care Act is slowing health care spending and improving hospital safety.
The media parroted these boasts, but the evidence shows they’re bogus.
Even as administration figures — from President Obama down — distance themselves from Jonathan Gruber, the ObamaCare adviser caught calling the public stupid, they’re still relying on his playbook: They assume we’re not going to check their facts.
On Dec. 3, federal actuaries released data showing that health spending inched up only 3.6 percent in 2013.
As the report notes, health care spending actually began to slow in 2009, and it wasn’t because of any great shift in government programs. It came about because the economy had tanked, people had a lot less money to spend and they began putting off doctor visits and medical procedures or medicines which they simply couldn’t afford. That downward pressure continued for years without comment by the administration until they needed a convenient data point to shore up the public messaging campaign.
And Job health insurance costs rising faster than wages
People with insurance through an employer—that is, most people with health coverage—are paying "more in premiums and deductibles than ever before" as those costs outpace the growth of wages, a new reportfinds.

Total premiums for covering a family through an employer-based plan rose 73 percent from 2003 through 2013, while workers' personal share of those premium costs leaped 93 percent during the same time frame, the Commonwealth Fund report said. At the same time, median family income grew just a measly 16 percent.
. . .
However, Collins noted, Obamacare also contains some inflationary drivers for employer-based health plans, including the rule allowing adults below the age of 26 to remain on their parents' plans, and the provision that requires plans to cover the costs of preventative health services such as birth control without requiring any co-payment.

"Despite those changes," she said, "we're seeing an overall leveling off in the rate of growth of premiums."

"But because incomes have grown so slowly, you still have an [insurance cost] growth rate ahead of income," Collins said.
The Obama "no-growth" economy is killing any benefits from Obamacare. But at least the people who never went back to work because of his policies can get subsidized health insurance.

Feds Plan for 35 Agencies to Help Collect, Share, Use Electronic Health Info
Along with the primary goal of expanding the availability of health insurance, the Affordable Care Act aims to make the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) universal. This plan actually began with the 2009 stimulus (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), which included the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Doctors and other health providers have been offered incentives to convert patient information and health histories to a compatible and transferable electronic format, and as of June 2014, 75 percent of eligible doctors and 92 percent of eligible hospitals had received payments under the program.

This week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020, which details the efforts of some 35 departments and agencies of the federal government and their roles in the plan to "advance the collection, sharing, and use of electronic health information to improve health care, individual and community health, and research."
So who's worried about the NSA when 35 different agencies will be "sharing" your personal information?

All Senate GOP staff going on ObamaCare
Senate Republican staffers will be required to obtain health insurance through ObamaCare's exchanges under a rule passed Wednesday by the GOP Conference.

The proposal from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) means that Senate Republicans will designate their staff as "official," moving them automatically onto the marketplaces.

A loophole used in both chambers allows lawmakers to designate staff as "unofficial" or "official staff," which permits them to keep their insurance coverage under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.

"Republican senators made a strong, principled statement today in passing my resolution," Vitter said in a statement.

"Washington should have to live under ObamaCare just like everybody else until we repeal it. And we won't be complicit in Obama's illegal rule designed to protect Washington insiders."

Vitter is an outspoken critic of some lawmakers' decision to keep their staff off the marketplaces.

He also opposes the employer subsidy for insurance given to lawmakers and staff by the government, arguing it gives Congress an unfair advantage. The question of whether staffers will still receive financial help to pay for their coverage was not addressed in Wednesday's resolution.

The GOP Conference challenged Senate Democrats to adopt a similar policy and not allow their aides to remain on the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.
From Alinsky's Rules for Radicals:
RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. 

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