ObamaCare’s death Spiral, Stage One: Denial 

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Enrollment is falling short. The Obama administration projects that it will have roughly 10 million people on the state and federal exchanges by the end of next year, a staggering climb-down from prior expectations.

lowryRich Lowry writes: For the press, the debate over ObamaCare is over. There may be a few proverbial Japanese soldiers wandering on isolated islands yammering on about the failure of ObamaCare, but word will eventually filter down to them, too. This assumption is so deeply embedded that it is impervious to new evidence that ObamaCare is an unwieldy contraption that is sputtering badly.

“ObamaCare is a monopoly. It gives money to people to buy its product and through the individual mandate punishes those who don’t. And yet it’s still having trouble making the sale.”

Yes, ObamaCare has covered more people and has especially benefited those with pre-existing conditions (to be credible, Republican replacement plans have to do these things, as well), but the program is so poorly designed that, surely, even a new Democratic president will want to revisit it to try to make it more workable.

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“Premiums are rising. Not everywhere, but steeply in some states. Indiana is down 12 percent, but Minnesota is up 50 percent.”

Enrollment is falling short. The Obama administration projects that it will have roughly 10 million people on the state and federal exchanges by the end of next year, a staggering climb-down from prior expectations. The Congressional Budget Office had predicted that there would be roughly 20 million enrollees.

[Also see – Giving Voters Exactly What They Deserve: Health Insurance Premium to Spike Again]

[More – Broke U.S. Government Needs Millions of New Obamacare Enrollees to Prevent Program Collapse]

If the administration is to be believed, enrollment will only increase about another million next year from its current 9 million and only sign up about a quarter of the eligible uninsured.

[Read the full story here, at the New York Post]

Premiums are rising. Not everywhere, but steeply in some states. Indiana is down 12 percent, but Minnesota is up 50 percent. Health care expert Robert Laszewski points out that it’s the insurers with the highest enrollment and therefore the best information about actual enrollees that have tended to request the biggest increases — a sign that they don’t like what they’re seeing in their data. Read the rest of this entry »


Modern Good Samaritan

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Transparency: Three Lies About Obamacare Jonathan Gruber Accidentally Revealed

Gruberology

1. The Individual Mandate ‘Is Absolutely Not a Tax Increase’

2. Congress Meant for Subsidies to Flow Through State-based and Federal Exchanges

3. Obamacare Will Make Health Insurance More Affordable

read it here…

The Federalist


[VIDEO] Obama in 2006: ‘I Have Stolen Ideas Liberally’ From Jonathan Gruber

At The Corner, Brendan Bordelon writes: This weekend, President Obama dismissed MIT professor Jonathan Gruber as “some adviser who never worked on our staff.” But back in 2006, the president struck a much more laudatory tone while addressing the future architect of Obamacare.

At a Brookings Institution meeting in 2006, Obama praised the policy accomplishments…(read more)

National Review Online


Philip Klein: Obamacare Repeal is More Likely, and Now GOP Needs an Alternative

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Philip Klein writes:  This month, two developments have shaken the conventional wisdom that repealing President Obama’s healthcare law is an impossibility.

First, Republicans scored a historic election victory, not only taking control of the Senate but likely winning the most House seats since 1928 — the year before Ernest Hemingway published A Farewell to Arms.

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Second, the Supreme Court took up another case on Obamacare, and if the justices rule against the administration, it would force a re-opening of the law.

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“Benson’s fear is that if the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration, whatever the merits of the decision, liberal media would portray it as a right-wing court ripping health insurance away from millions over a silly typo out of animosity for the poor. And if Republicans didn’t pass a simple fix to change the wording, they’d be accused of mass murder.”

This doesn’t even account for the recently released videos of one of Obamacare’s main architects, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, conceding that Democrats misled the public to get the legislation passed, benefiting from “the stupidity of the American voter.”

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“The problem for Republicans — which I tried to convey to Benson in a spirited exchange that followed — is that going along with such a “fix” would be rightly seen as a complete surrender by Republicans that would alienate conservatives and enshrine Obamacare forever.”

The prospects of repealing Obamacare can now be better described, in the words of Rocco Lampone in The Godfather Part II, as “difficult, not impossible.”

But the hope of repealing Obamacare, however remote, is all the more reason for Republicans to begin coalescing around a real alternative to the law.

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“That is why conservatives should push Republicans to have an alternative plan ready to pass should the Supreme Court strike down the federal subsidies — a decision that should come by late June. “

Due to their suspicions of Republicans, whenever anybody utters the phrases “Obamacare alternative” or “repeal and replace,” many conservatives tend to hear “Obamacare lite.”

However, not every alternative to Obamacare needs to be a watered-down version of the healthcare law. And in fact, it’s always worth keeping in mind that even before Obamacare, the United States did not have a free market healthcare system. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Gruber may believe that American voters are stupid, but he was the one who was dumb enough to say all this on camera’

 writes: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Jonathan Gruber was, by most accounts, one of the key figures in constructing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare….(read more)

Here’s the full quote:

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO [Congressional Budget Office] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that.  In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass….Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

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This validates much of what critics have said about the health care law, and the tactics used to pass it, for years.

For one thing, it is an explicit admission that the law was designed in such a way to avoid a CBO score that would have tanked the bill. Basically, the Democrats who wrote the bill knowingly gamed the CBO process.

[Also see Of Course Jonathan Gruber Said That by Charles C. W. Cooke]

It’s also an admission that the law’s authors understood that one of the effects of the bill would be to make healthy people pay for the sick, but declined to say this for fear that it would kill the bill’s chances. In other words, the law’s supporters believed the public would not like some of the bill’s consequences, and knowingly attempted to hide those consequences from the public. Read the rest of this entry »


Jim Geraghty: The Progressive Aristocracy

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Jim Geraghty writes: In recent weeks, we examined the Obama administration’s willingness to reverse positions that it had once proudly proclaimed — on whether an individual mandate is necessary, whether the individual mandate is a tax, whether it is important that you can keep your plan or doctor, whether lobbyists should work in a president’s administration, whether a donor should be appointed U.S. ambassador, and so on. Then we noted environmentalists who said they would not criticize or attack lawmakers who supported the Keystone Pipeline, as long as they were Democrats.

“What kind of a country do you get when political leaders are driven by a desire to feel that they are more enlightened, noble, tolerant, wise, sensitive, conscious, and smart than most other people?”

Last week, we expanded the discussion to progressives’ wide-ranging willingness to contradict their own professed principles: gun-control proponents who travel with armed bodyguards, voucher opponents who send their kids to private schools, and minimum-wage-hike advocates who pay their staff less than the minimum wage, among others.

So what do progressives really want? If, as I suspect, the currency of progressivism isn’t policies or results, but emotions, what does that approach build? What kind of a country do you get when political leaders are driven by a desire to feel that they are more enlightened, noble, tolerant, wise, sensitive, conscious, and smart than most other people?

Read the rest of this entry »


Six Problems with the Latest Obamacare ‘Fix’

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Patrick Brennan writes:  Last night, the Obama administration announced two big changes to Obamacare, for people who have seen their individual-market insurance plans canceled this year: They won’t have to comply with the individual mandate, meaning they can go without insurance and not pay the not-insubstantial fine (1 percent of their income, basically); and if they do want insurance, they can buy a “catastrophic” plan on the exchanges, which is cheaper than any of the other plans available.

This will make life easier, in the short term, for some number of Americans — millions have seen their plans canceled, though the White House suggests just half a million of them still haven’t signed up for new plans, gotten Medicaid, or enrolled in an exchange plan. But as Ezra Klein bluntly put it, these changes could be “a very big problem for the law.” Here’s why:

1. The way it treats the uninsured is unfair and potentially politically unsustainable.

Now that the law’s requirements have been significantly weakened for people who did have insurance in 2013, it’s going to be hard to stand by them for people who didn’t.

In theory, this does reflect one of the principles of how the health-insurance market works: Under pre-Obamacare law, consumers were guaranteed the right to renew their policies (with some cost changes, of course). If you were uninsured, on the other hand, you could have a much harder time finding coverage on the individual market — which is why, for instance, people are allowed to maintain employer coverage for a certain period of time after leaving a job. But Obamacare is supposed to be about expanding coverage, and the inequities this change will create can be really problematic.

Philip Klein nicely lays out one of these scenarios: A previously uninsured 31-year-old California man making $32,000 will now have to pay more for the cheapest plan on the state’s individual market than would a 31-year-old who makes $100,000 a year but had his insurance canceled.

Read the rest of this entry »


Trial Balloon: White House Implies Individual Mandate Could Be Delayed

jayjayOn Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney implied that the Obama administration could delay the implementation of the individual mandate thanks to the massive technological glitches attendant on the launch of the Obamacare exchanges. Carney explained that anybody “without access to affordable care due to a state not expanding Medicaid or other factors” wouldn’t be penalized, and then avoided answering whether the website failures could be an excuse for non-compliance with Obamacare. “We are focusing on implementing the law,” Carney said, “and ensuring that people have the information they need.” He added, “The law is clear that if you do not have access to affordable health insurance, then you will not be asked to pay a penalty because you haven’t purchased affordable health insurance.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Institute for Justice: The Individual Mandate is Slavery

  reports: Another side-effect of the decline of IQ in the United States is a corresponding decline in sentience, which in turn contributes to  the “happy slave” phenomenon – or those that simply place little or no value on the freedoms the Constitution protects.

Flashback 2012: Recognizing it as slavery, The Institute for Justice attempts to stop the Individual Mandate:

“The individual mandate violates a cardinal rule of contract law—to be enforceable, all agreements must be voluntary. The Framers understood this, and would never have given the federal government the power to force individuals into lifelong contracts of insurance. The Court should not allow the government to exercise this unprecedented and dangerous power.”

The Institute for Justice – The Firewall


EXACTLY: Urban Institute ‘Delay of the Individual Mandate Would ‘Seriously Disrupt’ Obamacare’

Supporters of the law, of course, consider this a bad thing. But for opponents of the law, it’s the reason Republicans should target the individual mandate.

Obama-Obamacare-SignatureIn July, 22 House Democrats joined House Republicans in passing a bill to delay Obamacare’s requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance by one year, a measure that would save $35 billion. The individual mandate, which Barack Obama opposed during the 2008 Democratic primaries, has never been popular. And the Obama administration’s decision to delay the employer mandate by one year handed opponents of the individual mandate an obvious argument to make: If you’re going give corporations and big businesses a special break, shouldn’t families and individuals get a reprieve, too? Read the rest of this entry »


How ObamaCares Individual Mandate Could Go Down

Over at The Atlantic, Chris Frates covers Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “secret plan to repeal ObamaCare,” which turns out to be an old plan to repeal the law’s mandate through the reconciliation process after regaining the Senate majority in the 2012 election. The plan ran into a small problem with Republicans took it in the eye at the polls. They didn’t win the presidency, and they didn’t retake the Senate either.

But the push to repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate is not dead yet. Republicans in Congress already see it as vulnerable simply because it’s the least popular part of the law. Implementation troubles could mean that the requirement becomes even less popular by the end of the year.

ObamaCare’s health insurance exchanges are currently set to start enrolling people in October. Or at least they’re supposed to. Recent comments from federal officials, however, involved in the exchange process do exactly inspire great confidence.

“It’s only prudent to not assume everything is going to work perfectly on day one,” Gary Cohen, a Medicare official who is heading up the implementation process for the administration, recently told a group of health insurance industry insiders. Cohen’s colleague Henry Chao, who is managing the technology behind the exchange, told insurers he was “pretty nervous” about the start of enrollment. And while Cohen continued to insist that every state would have an exchange ready by October, he admitted that the federal government was making contingency plans, noting that “there is some possibility that the type of exchange may be different than what we’re looking at today.” A recent survey of health industry executives, meanwhile, found that 70 percent did not think the federal government would have the exchanges ready on schedule.

So what happens if the exchanges aren’t ready on time? Or what if the exchanges open—but there are big problems with enrollment? The exchanges, which are intended to both allow individuals to select insurance plans and determine eligibility for the law’s subsidies, are the primary vehicle for individual compliance with the mandate. Which means that if even a handful of the exchanges—remember, there’s one for every state—aren’t open or aren’t broadly functional, then large numbers of people are likely to have trouble complying with the individual mandate.

And if that happens, there will be an awful lot of pressure to repeal, or at least delay, the mandate. Indeed, it’s the kind of pressure you can plausibly imagine pushing Democrats to vote against the requirement. Remember, many Democrats were wary of the mandate. As a White House candidate in 2008, President Obama openly opposed it. If complying with the mandate is difficult enough, then it’s possible—maybe not likely, but possible—to imagine Democrats agreeing to strike the provision, or delay its implementation.

And what then? Well, Democrats have (probably correctly) pointed out that the law’s insurance industry reforms don’t really work without a mandate to ensure that most everyone buys in. But here’s the thing: If the mandate gets taken down under the above scenario, it’ll be because the law isn’t working with the mandate either.

via Reason.com.