Dan Mangan reports: In a potentially crippling blow to Obamacare, a top federal appeals court Tuesday said that billions of dollars worth of government subsidies that helped 4.7 million people buy insurance on HealthCare.gov are not legal under the Affordable Care Act.
“Now, Obama and Company will look for John Roberts to pull their fat out of the fire again. I am afraid he will.”
— Wesley J. Smith
In its decision, a three-judge panel said that such subsidies can be granted only to people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov. Plaintiffs in the case known as Halbig v. Burwell argued that the ACA, as written, only allows that often-significant financial aid to be issued to people who bought insurance on a marketplace set up a state.
The decision is certain to be challenged by the Obama Administration, and does not immediately have the effect of law. But if it is ultimately upheld, it would cause insurance rates for those people who lost the subsidies to dramatically rise. Read the rest of this entry »
Peter Suderman writes: Is Obamacare back in action? For the last two months, Healthcare.gov, the federally run insurance portal at the heart of the law, has experienced numerous technical troubles. The administration vowed to fix those problems by the end of November, and today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it had met the goal of making sure that the site “worked smoothly” for the “vast majority of users.”
In a conference call this morning, a spokesperson for HHS said, “we believe we have met that goal.” A six-page progress report released by the administration this morning touts technical progress as well as managerial improvements, declaring that the team making the improvements is now “operating with private sector velocity and efficiency.”
Anyone else catch the irony there? Set up a vast, government-managed tech operation, watch it fail—and then, as it attempts to reboot itself, boast of private-sector quality work? (Also, let’s not forget that the original failed work was in fact done by private contractors working under the managerial bumbling of the federal health bureaucracy.) Read the rest of this entry »
I didn’t access the full article, and I took liberties with the headline, but from the introduction, it soft-pedals as you might expect, though the cover art makes up for it. This is about as much fun as watching reruns of Watergate Hearings. Which for some of us, actually is kinda fun…
TIME: A good President needs a big comfort zone. He should be able to treat enemies as opportunities, appear authentic in joy and grief, stay cool under the hot lights. But humility doesn’t come naturally to those who decide they are qualified to run the free world. So the sign that the Obama presidency had reached a turning point came not when his poll numbers sank or his allies shuddered or the commentariat went hunting for the right degree of debacle to compare to the rollout of Obamacare.
It happened when he started apologizing. In triplicate. For not knowing what was going on in his own Administration. For failing to prevent his signature achievement from detonating in prime time. For not telling the whole truth when he promised people that Obamacare would not touch them without permission: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”
Only the pant crease remains
Rich Lowry writes: Barack Obama is the coolest president we’ve had since John F. Kennedy, at least according to conventional standards for such things. Obama has always been a brand as much as a politician, one that has been perceived as sleek, smart, and up to date.
Then along came HealthCare.gov. Its failure to launch is a signal event in the long political battle over Obamacare and perhaps an inflection point in the president’s image. It’s hard to maintain a sense of truly being on the cutting edge of change when you can’t build a website.
Obama’s cool was, in part, an artifact of world-class marketing. Graphic designer Michael Bierut writes in the book Designing Obama (yes, there’s such a book) of how impressed he was watching Obama rallies in 2008: “The awe-inspiring part was the way all the signs were faithfully, and beautifully, set in Hoefler & Frere-Jones’s typeface Gotham.” If only the folks at Health and Human Services were consumed with such attention to detail.
Stewart wouldn’t like it if we took his jokes seriously, but he still skewered the president’s abysmal press conference Thursday in ways that left the leader’s image in tatters.
New HealthCare.gov data show just how broken it is
The health insurance signup numbers the White House released Wednesday afternoon were deeply disappointing, though not particularly surprising.
Everyone knows that the HealthCare.gov website has been performing abysmally, and the actual numbers confirmed what everyone could only guess at until now because the White House had withheld the data.
Overall, only about one-fifth of the people the White House expected to sign up for insurance in the first month actually did so: 106,185 against a forecast of 500,000. That’s just slightly less than a capacity crowd at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium. And of those who signed up, only 26,794 did so on the federally run exchanges in 36 states. The rest enrolled on state-run exchanges.
“These are the people who love Freakonomics, who enjoy all sorts of mental puzzles, who like to see an idea turned on its head, but who couldn’t fix a toaster.”
Our technocracy is detached from competence. It’s not the technocracy of engineers, but of “thinkers” who read Malcolm Gladwell and Thomas Friedman and watch TED talks and savor the flavor of competence, without ever imbibing its substance.
These are the people who love Freakonomics, who enjoy all sorts of mental puzzles, who like to see an idea turned on its head, but who couldn’t fix a toaster.
The ObamaCare website is the natural spawn of that technocracy who love the idea of using modernity to make things faster and easier, but have no idea what anything costs or how it works.
It’s hard to have a functioning technocracy without engineers. A technocracy made in Silicon Valley with its complete disregard for anything outside its own ego zone would be bad enough. But this is a Bloombergian technocracy of billionaires and activists, of people who think that “progress” makes things work, rather than things working leading to progress. Read the rest of this entry »
Just kidding. The title of the following Rich Lowry NRO article is “Heckuva Job, Kathleen Sebelius”. But it wouldn’t surprise anyone, would it? Career success formula in the Obama era: Incompetence + Catastrophe + Taking Heat + Lying on National Television = Reward, Success, Promotion. Is Kathleen Sebelius following in the footsteps of Susan Rice?
Rich Lowry writes: Little did they know it, but Republicans fighting to defund or delay Obamacare had an ally in spirit in Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Her explanation for the Obamacare website is that she couldn’t possibly have been expected to make it work in the mere three and a half years since the law passed. She told the Wall Street Journal that the website ideally needed five years of construction and one year of testing, and instead had only two years of construction and almost no testing.
That means with the proper development time, Healthcare.gov would have had a flawless launch . . . on October 1, 2017. Had Senator Ted Cruz suggested a four-year delay in Obamacare as his fallback in the defunding fight, he would have been scorned as an unbending fanatic, although he might have been giving Sebelius the breathing room she needed.
Remember last week when MSNBC viewers saw a banner reading, “GOP flubs Obamacare launch“? It took him days, but today Fox News contributor Juan Williams attempted a similar leap, blaming the “excruciatingly embarrassing” rollout of the HealthCare.gov website on those darned Republicans and their “massive opposition… more
Jeryl Bier writes: One day away from the launch of the Obamacare marketplaces, the question most on the minds people visiting the Healthcare.gov website is not about coverage, but rather about avoiding the penalty, or tax, for not having health insurance. As of Monday morning, here is how the website listed its “Most Popular” items:
As the website explains, the fee (tax) in 2014 is 1 percent of annual income or $95 per person, whichever is higher. The fee increases each year. By 2016 it increases to 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person, whichever is higher.