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[VIDEO] REASON TV: 5 Takeaways From Today’s Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare

5 Takeaways from the Supreme Court’s Obamacare Subsidies Ruling in King v. Burwell
Chief Justice John Roberts rewrote the law in order to save it – again.


GOP Senate Finance: At Least $5.7 BILLION Wasted on ObamaCare so Far

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‘That is $5.7 billion down the drain’

Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee say they have found at least $5.7 billion in wasted ObamaCare spending from the last five years.

Panel Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said his staff have tallied the costs of five programs that have failed or “added no value,” from the dysfunctional HealthCare.gov website to the national sign-up navigator program.

[Also see – CBO: Obamacare to Hit Only 65 Percent of 2015 Coverage Target]

“That is $5.7 billion down the drain,” Hatch said during a hearing Thursday to mark the fifth anniversary of ObamaCare’s passage.

money-down-the-drain

The federal government’s HealthCare.gov, which broke down in the fall of 2013, has been one of the most criticized components of ObamaCare’s rollout. Some estimates have put the cost of the botched launch and the series of tweaks to fix the website at $2 billion, a figure that Hatch’s staff cited Thursday.

[More – Many Uninsured Choose Penalty Over Enrollment Offer Under Health Law]

The analysis includes $1.3 billion spent on now-defunct state exchanges: Minnesota, Massachusetts, Oregon and Maryland. These systems, all in blue states, were plagued by technical issues and eventually scrapped or majorly reformed. Republicans have frequently pushed federal health officials to recoup the costs of the exchanges. Read the rest of this entry »


Giving Voters Exactly What They Deserve: Health Insurance Premium to Spike Again

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Stephen Dinan reports: Obamacare exchange customers could see a significant spike in their premiums over the next few years as insurers face pressures from both the government and the marketplace, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday in a new analysis finding Obamacare is both cheaper and less comprehensive than predicted.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The CBO said the exchanges and other new medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act will cost the government slightly more than half a trillion dollars over the next five years…(read more)

Washington Times


Ready for Increased Costs and Decreased Access? 2015: Obamacare’s Supporters Prepare To Get Care, They’ll Get It Good & Hard

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 writes: Obamacare was designed such that its most harmful provisions would not be implemented until after the President had been returned to office for a second term and his Democrat accomplices had been reelected to their congressional seats. Fortunately for the nation, the latter part of that strategy was a spectacular failure. Nonetheless, it did provide the public with a temporary reprieve from the health care law’s most painful exactions. That brief respite is now at an end. This year, you will begin to experience the realities of “reform” first hand and you are not going to like how it feels.

“But your premiums are just the start. The real pain will come when you need medical services. Your new plan probably has a far higher deductible and co-pay requirement than your old one. Consequently, when you see a doctor or have a test performed, you’ll have to pay the entire cost.”

In fact, you are probably already feeling the first twinges without recognizing that their source is Obamacare. If you are among the 150 million Americans who get health insurance through their employers, for example, chances are that the coverage your company offered for 2015 has much higher premiums than did last year’s plan. The President and his toad eaters in the legacy media will do their best to convince you that these increases are caused by insurance company avarice, but this is merely another lie they are peddling in the hope that they can save Obama’s “signature domestic achievement.”

“This need to pay for such services out-of-pocket despite being insured, according to USA Today, is already causing people to forego care.”

The actual cause was the looming employer mandate and other Obamacare regulations that took effect January 1. The mandate and accompanying red tape dramatically increase the cost of employee health insurance for companies with 100 or more full-time-equivalent workers. It requires all such firms to offer “minimum essential” coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees or pay huge fines. These PPACA-mandated benefits are expensive, and very few small-to-medium sized employers can unilaterally absorb the costs of such “essential” coverage. So you get to share the pain. Read the rest of this entry »


David Harsanyi: No, The GOP Doesn’t Have To Replace Obamacare. Just Get Rid Of It

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Republicans have every incentive to come up with an appealing menu of health care policy alternatives to sell voters. But the notion that they need to assemble these ideas into a single obamacare-design-250Washington-centric reform plan that can be plugged into the void left by Obamacare’s demise is a puzzling one.

“They don’t need a breakthrough. The fact is, Republicans have offered a number of plans with varying levels of free-market reforms, but Americans aren’t in the mood for another wide-ranging effort from Washington.”

According to Mike Allen, in the new insider account of ObamaCare, America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System, Steve Brill writes: “Nearly five years later, President Obama would tell me … ‘In hindsight, … there should have been one central person in charge, a CEO of the Marketplace.’”

“The president’s comment reflects his inability to grasp what a marketplace actually is, but it’s also a reminder that one of the most distasteful aspects of ACA is its centralized structure—which, for most liberals, was the point of the project.”

What does a contrived “marketplace” built on cronyism, coercion, and rent seeking, paid for by tax subsidies and governed by a regulatory structure that makes any genuine competitive pricing impossible need to be successful? More top-down bureaucratic management, of course.

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The president’s comment reflects his inability to grasp what a marketplace actually is, but it’s also a reminder that one of the most distasteful aspects of ACA is its centralized structure—which, for most liberals, was the point of the project. Even voters who aren’t directly hurt by ObamaCare tend to dislike the idea of DC dictating what their coverage looks like. For many voters, ObamaCare represents every problem with health care in the United States. Gallup’s recent polling found that Americans now say that the “biggest problem” in America is “the government.” And they’re talking about federal government. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


‘People Are Going To Be In For A Shock’: Penalty For Uninsured Not Signing Up For Obamacare To More Than Triple

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Americans will see their bank accounts shrink if they don’t sign up for Obamacare in its second enrollment season.

“The penalty is meant to incentivize people to get coverage. “This year, I think a lot of people are going to be in for a shock.”

—  Laura Adams, senior analyst of InsuranceQuotes.com

Uninsured Americans who decide not to enroll will face a penalty of $325 per person, more than tripling the $95 penalty those who did not enroll had to pay the first time around.

Children under the age of 18 will be fined $162.50. The maximum amount an uninsured family will be penalized is $975 under the flat-rate method. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] HHS: Obamacare Cancellations Are ‘Invitations’ To Buy a New Plan

Enjoy this very special item from Joel Gehrke at The Corner, visually enhanced with some sass from Charles C.W.Cooke:

Gehrke writes: Insurance-policy cancellation notices issued as a result of Obamacare regulations ought to be perceived as “invitations” to purchase new plans, a Health and Human Services official told the Virginia legislature.

“If you got one of the notices that your policy was going to be discontinued because it didn’t adhere to the law, it meant that now you could go into the health-insurance marketplace…” 

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HHS’s Joanne Grossi told Republican state senator Jeff McWaters, adding,

“So, I just want to remind you that you weren’t losing insurance you were just using that insurance plan and were now being invited to go into the health insurance marketplace.” 

(read more)

National Review Online


The New Euro-Realists: Swiss Reject Switch from Private to State Health Insurance

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Geneva (AFP) – Swiss voters on Sunday rejected a plan for a seismic shift from the country’s all-private health insurance system to a state-run scheme.

Referendum results showed that almost 62 percent of voters had shot down a reform pushed by left-leaning parties which say the current private system is busting the budgets of ordinary residents.

“The Swiss population does not want a single national scheme.” 

The results also underlined the national divisions over the hotly-contested issue as the country’s German-speaking regions voted against the plan, while their French-speaking counterparts were in favour.

“Our health system is among the top performers in the world. Competition between health insurers and freedom of choice for clients play a major role in this.”

— Swiss Insurance Association

Switzerland’s private insurance lobby hailed the vote.

Going public would have been a major shift for a country whose health system is often hailed abroad as a paragon of efficiency, but is a growing source of frustration at home because of soaring costs.

“Over the past 20 years in Switzerland, health costs have grown 80 percent and insurance premiums 125 percent,” ophthalmologist Michel Matter told AFP. Read the rest of this entry »


Obamacare: Good For Who? Big Insurers. Most Customers? Rate Hikes

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For The Daily Caller, Sarah Hurtubise reports:

Obamacare is looking better than ever for the biggest insurance companies, and they’re prioritizing boosted earnings over expanding Obamacare coverage, according to a memo from Moody’s Investor Service.

“The premium increases show that insurers have chosen to protect earnings margins rather than push membership growth.”

Moody’s is optimistic about insurers’ credit ratings, noting that more insurers are expected to join Obamacare exchanges or offer more plans — and fewer enrollees for each insurer is likely to be beneficial, given early reports that Obamacare customers’ are sicker and costlier to insure than other insurance pools.

[RELATED: Obamacare customers could be sicker than the rest of the country]

“Since the policy-buying population has an unknown medical status and potentially unfavorable risk characteristics, less membership, and therefore less risk, is credit positive,” Moody’s concluded. Read the rest of this entry »


YOU DON’T SAY? Survey: U.S. Sees Sharpest Health Insurance Premium Increases

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The Daily Caller‘s Sarah Hurtubise reports: Americans have recently been hit with some of the largest premium increases in years, according to a Morgan Stanley survey of insurance brokers.

The investment bank’s April survey of 148 brokers found that this quarter, the average premium increase for customers renewing an insurance plan is 12 percent in the small group market and 11 percent in the individual market, according to ForbesScott Gottlieb.

The hikes — the largest in the past three years, according to Morgan Stanley’s quarterly reports — are “largely due to changes under the [Affordable Care Act],” analysts concluded. Rates have been growing increasingly fast throughout all of 2013, after a period of drops in 2012.

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 »


The Hammer: 7.1 Million Enrollees a ‘Phony Number’

“These guys go six months without any idea what the numbers are, and all of a sudden it’s to a decimal point.”

NRO


The Hammer: HHS Demographic Report ‘Sounds Like a Lot of Happy Talk’

From NRO:  The Department of Health and Human Services says that the demographics it released today about Obamacare enrollees aren’t a cause for concern; Charles Krauthammer says:

“…sounds like a lot of happy talk.”

John Shinkle/POLITICO

John Shinkle/POLITICO

With 2.1 million Americans enrolled in Obamacare so far, only 24 percent are in the key 18–34 age bracket — fewer “young and healthies” than expected, Krauthammer noted. But insurance companies aren’t especially worried because, if they suffer huge losses, Obamacare provides for a government bailout that will save them from raising their premiums and beginning a “death spiral,” Krauthammer said.

“That’s why Republicans ought to pass within a week or two or three — right now — a provision to abolish the bailout, and then you will see insurers speaking in a completely different way”

NRO

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Owning Up to the Obamacare Lies

Charles C. W. Cooke has a devastating piece in today’s NRO…

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Liberals are finally admitting, quietly, that conservative critiques were right all along

Charles C. W. Cooke  writes:  Those who have elected to keep close tabs on the reactions to Obamacare’s blotchy rollout will presumably have noticed that it has been marked by admissions of guilt. The latest such confession comes from The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber, who bluntly conceded yesterday that “Obamacare actually paves the way toward single payer.” Pushing back against Michael Moore’s unsettling criticisms of the law, Schreiber tweeted:

This, Scheiber made sure to explain, was not an accident, and nor was it merely a dose of post hoc optimism. Obamacare, he claimed, is in fact “a deceptively sneaky way to get the health care system both of us really want” — that is, single payer. And “Republicans are in some sense playing into the trap Obamacare laid for them.”

I honestly do not know whether Scheiber’s prediction is correct. When government wishes to expand itself, it is tough for people to resist, and the instances are legion of people who wanted a little change but were subjected instead to a lot. Still, I suspect that this will not be the case with Obamacare. For a start, the rollicking disaster that has been the law’s launch will now be projected into every home each and every time an expansion of government is suggested. And, disappointingly for the movement that spawned the change, Americans appear to be reacting to it by concluding that government should henceforth have less — not more — to do with health care. Either way, whatever happens in the future, I do know this: When Republicans have written their own version of Scheiber’s column, complaining that Obamacare is but a “deceptively sneaky way to get” to single payer, they have been immediately denounced for hysteria and mendacity and invited to remove the tin foil.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sorry, Liberals: Obamacare Won’t Lead to Single Payer

  writes:  If you spend any significant amount of time talking to conservative activists who oppose Obamacare, you’ll eventually hear some variant on the theory that Obamacare was never meant to work. Instead, it was meant to destroy the existing health care system, and in the process pave the way for liberals to step in with the comprehensive health care fix the far left has always really longed for: single payer.

There’s often a hint of conspiracy surrounding the accusation, as if President Obama and the White House senior staff had hatched some meticulous plot to spend a year struggling to pass a health care law that they intended to fail in a series of carefully planned disasters sometime down the road, which would create the perfect opening for their true, secret goal.

I’ve always thought the notion was rather far fetched. Obamacare was a stalking horse for a modified version of Obamacare, not a single payer conspiracy scheme. But The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber suggests that conservative activists worried that Obamacare will lead to single payer might be at least partially onto something—maybe not in their belief that Obamacare was explicitly designed as a gateway to single payer, but in their worry that the health law will eventually lead to some sort of nationalized health system. And unlike those concerned conservative activists, Scheiber thinks this is a good thing.

The gist of Scheiber’s theory (delivered in response to a griping Michael Moore op-ed about the health law  in The New York Times) is that the law will create a unified, organized constituency for change. Private coverage in the exchanges will be too expensive for many, and dealing with private insurers will upset some beneficiaries. That will make existing government run health insurance options more attractive. “By pooling millions of people together in one institutional home—the exchanges where customers buy insurance under Obamacare—the Affordable Care Act is creating an organized constituency for additional reform,” he writes.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Hammer: Stop the Bailout — Now

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Charles Krauthammer  writes:  First order of business for the returning Congress: The No Bailout for Insurance Companies Act of 2014.

Make it one line long: “Sections 1341 and 1342 of the Affordable Care Act are hereby repealed.”

End of bill. End of bailout. End of story.

Why do we need it? On December 18, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers was asked what was the administration’s Plan B if, because of adverse selection (enrolling too few young and healthies), the insurance companies face financial difficulty.

Jason Furman wouldn’t bite. “There’s a Plan A,” he replied. Enroll the young.

But of course there’s a Plan B. It’s a government bailout.

Administration officials can’t say it for political reasons. And they don’t have to say it because it’s already in the Affordable Care Act, buried deep.

First, Section 1341, the “reinsurance” fund collected from insurers and self-insuring employers at a nifty $63 a head. (Who do you think the cost is passed on to?) This yields about $20 billion over three years to cover losses.

Then there is Section 1342, the “risk corridor” provision that mandates a major taxpayer payout covering up to 80 percent of insurance-company losses.

Never heard of these? That’s the beauty of passing a bill of such monstrous length. You can insert a chicken-soup recipe and no one will notice.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Just wait, Insurance Companies Ruined By ObamaCare Will Need A Bailout Next Year

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer made a dire prediction. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Krauthammer said that all the exemptions the President has given to ObamaCare will ruin insurance companies thereby necessitating the White House to ask for a huge government bailout of these companies next year that Republicans in Congress should prevent.

But it seems far likelier that the overwhelming majority of ObamaCare enrollees are for Medicaid. The early numbers show upwards of 80 percent of applicants are qualifying for such assistance. As a result, the burden will initially be on the federal government, but will be transferred to the states with the passage of time.

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 »


Obamacare Initiates Self-Destruction Sequence

Photographer: Jim Stratford/Bloomberg News What happens to bad ideas.

What happens to bad ideas. Photographer: Jim Stratford/Bloomberg News

Megan McArdle writes:  On Wednesday, Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown reported that the administration was saying fewer than 500,000 people had actually lost insurance due to Obamacare-induced cancellations. This struck me as a strange leak: Half a million is a lot less than many people (including me) have been estimating, but it is still not a small number, and the administration has tended to sit on negative information until the last possible moment.

Yesterday, we had a more official announcement from the administration: Anyone who has had their policies cancelled will be exempt from the individual mandate next year. The administration is also allowing those people to buy catastrophic plans, even if they’re over 30.

What to make of these two statements? On the one hand, the administration is trying to minimize the number of people who have been affected by cancellations, and on the other hand, it is unveiling a fix to the problem of cancellations. And these are not minor changes.

As Seth Chandler points out, Healthcare.gov doesn’t even let you see catastrophic plans if you’re more than 30 years old. Is now the time to be making technical changes to the website?

As Avik Roy points out, catastrophic plans aren’t that much cheaper than the so-called bronze plans. They’re also not eligible for subsidies. This is unlikely to be much help to folks who lost insurance; all it does is introduce some much-unneeded complexity to Healthcare.gov.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Yearly Hammer

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Charles Krauthammer writes:  The lie of the year, according to Politifact, is “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” But the story of the year is a nation waking up to just how radical Obamacare is — which is why it required such outright deception to get it passed in the first place.

Obamacare was sold as simply a refinement of the current system, retaining competition among independent insurers but making things more efficient, fair and generous. Free contraceptives for Sandra Fluke. Free mammograms and checkups for you and me. Free (or subsidized) insurance for some 30 million uninsured. And, mirabile dictu, not costing the government a dime.

In fact, Obamacare is a full-scale federal takeover. The keep-your-plan-if-you-like-your-plan ruse was a way of saying to the millions of Americans who had insurance and liked what they had: Don’t worry. You’ll be left unmolested. For you, everything goes on as before.

That was a fraud from the very beginning. The law was designed to throw people off their private plans and into government-run exchanges where they would be made to overpay — forced to purchase government-mandated services they don’t need — as a way to subsidize others. (That’s how you get to the ostensible free lunch.)

It wasn’t until the first cancellation notices went out in late 2013 that the deception began to be understood. And felt. Six million Americans with private insurance have just lost it. And that’s just the beginning. By the Department of Health and Human Services’ own estimates, about 75 million Americans would have plans that their employers would have the right to cancel. And millions of middle-class workers who will migrate to the exchanges and don’t qualify for government subsidies will see their premiums, deductibles and co-pays go up.

It gets worse. The dislocation extends to losing one’s doctor and drug coverage, as insurance companies narrow availability to compensate for the huge costs imposed on them by the extended coverage and “free” services the new law mandates.

Read the rest of this entry »


Oregon Obamacare exchange pulls expensive hipster ads

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Caroline May reports:  The multimillion-dollar advertising campaign for the Oregon Obamacare exchange has been put on hold as officials there try to right the floundering ship and get people enrolled.

“We think it’s appropriate to hold off on any further advertising,” Bruce Goldberg, acting executive director of Cover Oregon, said at a Monday press conferenceaccording to the Northwest Watchdog, noting that most of the ads have been taken down except for several billboards.

Cover Oregon made headlines earlier this year for its, expensive, artistic television and radio ads that featured local musicians singing original songs about Oregon and healthy living to promote the state’s Obamacare exchange.

The ad campaign was featured in Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn’s 2013 ”Wastebook,” which chronicled the year’s top 100 most wasteful government-spending items.

“Oregon is spending $10 million advertising Obamacare with advertisements that don’t even mention the program or how to enroll in it. One of the television ads, produced by the Portland advertising agency North, Inc., does not mention the word ‘insurance’ or how or why to enroll in the program. Another Oregon ad does not mention the word ‘insurance,’ but features what appears to be Gumby riding on the Beatles’ yellow submarine,” the Wastebook, released this week, reads. “Between Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, however, just 44 residents were able to sign up for private insurance through Cover Oregon.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Government Takeover: White House Forces Obamacare Insurers To Cover Unpaid Patients At A Loss

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services. (Photo credit: US Mission Geneva)

(Photo credit: US Mission Geneva)

Avik Roy writes:  Of all of the last-minute delays, website bungles, and Presidential whims that have marred the roll-out of Obamacare’s subsidized insurance exchanges, what happened on Thursday, December 12 will stand as one of the most lawless acts yet committed by this administration. The White House—having canceled Americans’ old health plans, and having botched the system for enrolling people in new ones—knows that millions of Americans will enter the new year without health coverage. So instead of actually fixing the problem, the administration is retroactively attempting to force insurers to hand out free health care—at a loss—to those whom the White House has rendered uninsured. If Obamacare wasn’t a government takeover of the health insurance industry, then what is it now?

On Wednesday afternoon, health policy reporters found in their inboxes a friendly e-mail from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announcing “steps to ensure Americans signing up through the Marketplace have coverage and access to the care they need on January 1.” Basically, the “steps” involve muscling insurers to provide free or discounted care to those who have become uninsured because of the problems with healthcare.gov.

HHS threatens to throw non-complying plans off the exchanges

HHS assured reporters that it would be “urging issuers to give consumers additional time to pay their first month’s premium and still have coverage beginning January 1, 2014.” In other words, urging them to offer free care to those who haven’t paid. This is a problem because the government has yet to build the system that allows people who’ve signed up for plans to actually pay for them. “One client reports only 15 percent [of applicants] have paid so far,” Bob Laszewski told Charles Ornstein. “So far I’m hearing from health plans that around 5 percent and 10 percent of consumers who have made it through the data transfer gauntlet have paid first month’s premium and therefore truly enrolled,” said Kip Piper.

“What’s wrong with ‘urging’ insurers to offer free care?” you might ask. “That’s not the same as forcing them to offer free care.” Except that the government is using the full force of its regulatory powers, under Obamacare, to threaten insurers if they don’t comply. All you have to do is read the menacing language in the new regulations that HHS published this week, in which HHS says it may throw otherwise qualified health plans off of the exchanges next year if they don’t comply with the government’s “requests.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Pressing the Panic Button?

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Yuval Levin  writes:  As usual, it’s hard to tell just what’s going on inside the administration regarding Obamacare, but I don’t think we can really take the steps announced by HHS yesterday as anything but a bright, red, flashing warning light about the internal expectations regarding January.

Some of what they announced is frankly bizarre and slightly crazy. Beside extending the high-risk pool program (which isn’t nuts, just a strong indication that they’re not ready for January at this very late stage), they are asking insurers to pay claims for consumers who haven’t paid their premiums, to treat out-of-network doctors and hospitals as though they were in-network, and to pay for prescription drugs not actually covered by the plans they offer.

The administration is trying to present this as a set of perfectly ordinary kind of transition measures that insurers normally make available to new customers, and some of the more reliable members of their amen chorus on Obamacare have echoed that. But that’s not what this looks like to me, and a few conversations today suggest it’s not what it looks like to the insurers.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: United States ‘Essentially Nationalizing Healthcare’

“The United States is essentially nationalizing its healthcare system”

Charles Krauthammer said Friday night.

Krauthammer criticized the way the administration has been ordering about—or strongly encouraging— insurance companies to do things, as if they were “wholly owned subsidiaries.”

“What you have here is what a lot of us have predicted years ago; the insurers, under the best scenario under Obamacare, have as much independence as the utilities,” he said.

Krauthammer: National Review Online


Reality Check: Five Things the Media Aren’t Reporting About Today’s ObamaCare Numbers

UPINoBamaCareJohn Nolte writes:  Only our media would report as “progress” the fact that thus far ObamaCare has resulted in only 364,000 sign-ups after cancelling 5.2 million policies. The White House and some in media are also incorrectly using the word “enrollee.” You have to pay for your first premium in order to  enroll, and according to some insurers, payment rates languish in the 5-15% arena.

Using words like “progress,” “soars,”  and “enrollee,” the White  House and media are spreading so much disinformation, it is hard to know where to begin.

Here are five things the media aren’t telling you about today’s ObamaCare numbers

1. ObamaCare Is at Less Than 30% of Its Stated Goal:

Let’s start with the number of enrollees the White House predicted they have by now: 1.2 million. Even using the Administration’s juiced number of 364,000 enrollees, that is only 30% of a goal that was low-balled to begin with.

The real enrollee number is is probably half that (see #4).

2. ObamaCare Has Likely Increased the Number of Uninsured:

ObamaCare has resulted in 5.2 million Americans having their insurance policies cancelled. While some of those ObamaCare victims likely re-enrolled directly with their insurance company, who knows how many were forced into the exchanges. It is therefore a safe guess that as of right now ObamaCare has resulted in a net increase in the number of uninsured in America (even if you include the 800,000 new Medicaid enrollees).

Read the rest of this entry »


Those Unattainable Invincibles

MoveOn.org worries about adverse selection

 hand showing the Bird

James Taranto writes:  On Friday we analyzed a fatuous article in which the Washington Post’s Ryan Cooper tried to reassure his left-liberal readers that they needn’t worry about thenext phase of the ObamaCare disaster–that is, the third phase, known as “adverse selection.” Adverse selection will occur when young, healthy adults fail to purchase insurance at inflated prices, which ObamaCare needs them to do to sustain the artificially low premiums of the middle-aged and those with pre-existing conditions.

Well, you’ll never guess who’s terrified of adverse selection. “Only 29% of uninsured young people now say they plan to sign up for Obamacare,” warns an email we received today from one Mark Crain:

This could become a gigantic problem, because the only way we can afford to cover all the people with pre-existing conditions is if younger, healthier people enroll as well. If only sick people sign up, our entire health insurance system falls apart.

And who is this Mark Crain? He’s with MoveOn.org, that chronic affliction on the American body politic since 1998. Laughably, Crain blames adverse selection on “one-sided press coverage” and–get ready for it:

This isn’t happening by accident–Republicans have been spending huge amounts of money running despicable ads to convince young people they’d be better off uninsured.

Here’s the plan to fight back: First, we’re launching a major social media advertising campaign aimed at getting young people to sign up for health insurance. Second, we need to get the media to start paying attention to all the great things that are happening because of Obamacare, so people aren’t afraid to sign up.

His email requests a donation of $3. That and another $6,247 will cover the individual deductible on an ObamaCare bronze plan.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Obamacare Architect: If You Like Your Doctor, You Can Pay More

I saw this, too, when it was broadcast. And knew this clip would make the weekend roundup of relevant appearances on the Sunday news shows. I dreaded this segment, recalling previous media appearances by Zeke. His sharply worded answers and habit of overtaking, and not answering direct questions. I expected Emanuel to again be arrogant and combative (he can’t hide his contempt for news people, especially Fox) but he was somewhat more subdued this time. And his spin wasn’t as dishonest (‘you can pay more’ is, at least, honest) and argumentative, though his version of the numbers are still questionable. He did try to filibuster the host, and dominate the segment with multi-part answers and evasions, but Wallace did a good job of keeping things on track.

Zeke Emanuel is the Elder Statesman of the Elite medical-political class. An arrogant prick, too. A defiant spokesman for the “we are the experts, we know what’s good for you” class of  Obama-age Autocrats. The following is a text summary of his key comments:

The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper reports: If you want to keep your doctor, you might have to pay more for it, Obamacare architect Zeke Emanuel said today on Fox News Sunday:

The host, Chris Wallace, said:

“President Obama famously promised, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Doesn’t that turn out to be just as false, just as misleading, as his promise about if you like your plan, you can keep your plan? Isn’t it a fact, sir, that a number, most, in fact, of the Obamacare health plans that are being offered on the exchanges exclude a number of doctors and hospitals to lower costs?”

“The president never said you were going to have unlimited choice of any doctor in the country you want to go to,” said the Obamacare architect.

“No. He asked a question. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Did he not say that, sir?”

“He didn’t say you could have unlimited choice.”

“It’s a simple yes or no question. Did he say if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor?”

Read the rest of this entry »


Indemnity! Whiskey! Sexy!

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James Taranto writes: This column has made the point before that there are three phases of the ObamaCare catastrophe. Phase 1, the technical failure, might have been avoided had the administration had some basic standards of competence. But Phases 2 and 3 are inherent in the law.

Phase 2 was the revelation that the ObamaCare enterprise is the most massive consumer fraud in American history–that the “if you like your plan, you can keep it” sales pitch was not only false but deliberately deceptive, and also that ObamaCare forces insurance companies to engage in dishonest practices such as selling maternity coverage to men and postmenopausal women.

Politico notes that the combination of Phases 1 and 2 has created a new way for ObamaCare to fail: “Health care experts say, it’s not out of the question that the Obama administration could face the worst-case scenario on Jan. 1: the number of uninsured Americans actually goes up.” (This columnist is not an expert, but we raised the possibility a month ago.)

Assuming that the politics of ObamaCare remain static–that is, assuming Senate Democrats continue to fear the president more than they fear their constituents–Phase 3 will develop over the coming months. Phase 3 is the demonstration that even if the system is technically functional and the fraud impervious to redress, ObamaCare is economically unviable because of adverse selection: Americans who stand to benefit from the law’s price controls, the old and the sick, will buy insurance in large numbers, while those who get hit by them, the young and the healthy, will not. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Young People Reject Obama’s Bad Bet

A Roll of the Dice

John Fund writes: President Obama is back selling his health-care law with the manic intensity of a late-night-infomercial pitchman who knows that if he doesn’t move the product, it could be discontinued.

Here’s Obama aiming his comments at young people this Wednesday: “The product is good. It’s affordable. This is a big deal, to quote Joe Biden. And if you’re a student-body president, set up a conference on campus. If you’re a bartender, have a happy hour.”

But it’s the president who may need a drink after viewing the latest poll numbers on young people’s attitudes towards Obamacare. At the heart of the health-care law is the following premise: Enough young and healthy people will sign up for new health insurance through the government’s excuse for a website to provide enough income for insurance companies so the planned subsidies to older and sicker uninsured people can keep flowing.

About 40 percent of those who sign up for new plans will have to be under 35 for this cost-shifting scheme to work. If they’re not, then to avoid having everyone’s premiums start to dramatically spike upwards, Obama may have to bail out insurance companies, the least popular and least trusted private-sector provider of services outside of used-car lots. Explaining that to voters may be beyond anyone’s rhetorical gifts.

Read the rest of this entry »


Obamacare and Its Cronies

 They Deserve Each Other

pic_giant_120313_SM_Obamacare-and-its-Cronies_0

“Collaboration” between insurers and the administration, or revolving-door economics? 

Andrew Stiles writes: Despite the myriad problems with Obamacare’s rollout, health-insurance companies are not tempering their support for the controversial law. The industry is even gearing up for an expensive “PR blitz” to enroll people in the exchanges, which should come as no surprise.

In the words of former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, insurance companies are “not necessarily unbiased. They have a lot of skin in the game.” Indeed, one of the more peculiar aspects of the Obamacare debate has been the mainstream media’s apparent bemusement at the insurance industry’s support for a law that not only forces people to buy its products (which are necessarily more expensive under the law) but also offers direct taxpayer subsidies to help cover the cost, to the tune of nearly $500 billion over the next ten years.

It was hardly a shock when, in 2011, the industry’s largest lobbying group, America’s Health Insurance Plansargued in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court that, in the event that the individual mandate to purchase insurance was struck down, Obamacare should be scrapped entirely.

At the moment, insurance companies (and the Obama administration) are primarily focused on getting young, healthy individuals to sign up, and shell out, for plans offered on the exchanges. The companies may not appreciate the administration’s habit of blaming them for every setback, but they are so invested in Obamacare’s success at this point that they have few options other than to be team players.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Daily Hammer

TheHammer

Krauthammer’s Take: HealthCare.gov Report ‘Makes You Wonder if These Guys Even Read Their Own Stuff’

Charles Krauthammer blasted the federal healthcare exchange Monday evening, especially the administration’s boast that the site’s team was operating “with private sector velocity and effectiveness.”

“It makes you wonder if these guys even read their own stuff,” Krauthammer said, especially as the website represents a “de-privatization, a nationalization of . . . one-sixth of the economy.”

“It could take eons to actually undo the bad information” insurance companies have received from the site’s backend, he said, “or [the info] is not reaching the insurers at all, in which case someone is going to show up on January the first thinking he has insurance who doesn’t and we’re going to have all hell break loose.”

National Review Online


Has Obamacare Been Rescued by the Administration’s ‘Tech Surge’? Don’t Bet On It

note: This is an official White House photo WhiteHouse.gov

note: This is an official White House photo WhiteHouse.gov

 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 »


Chicago Tribune: Obamacare is Losing Altitude

Losing-Altitude

Employers could drop health care. Is that the next potential consequence of Obamacare?

Abbott Laboratories chief executive Miles White said something last Tuesday that should jolt tens of millions of Americans who watch from a comfortable distance as the giant Obamacare blimp ignites and tumbles to the ground. These Americans are safely ensconced in employer-provided health care coverage — for now.

But there are “clear incentives for companies to drop their health care plans and move people onto the exchanges,” White told analysts at a luncheon, referring to the disastrously cranky and unreliable online insurance marketplaces created under Obamacare.

“I can tell you that the employees of Abbott or AbbVie (the pharmaceutical firm Abbott spun off in January) are going to be pretty unhappy about that, you know, if we did that,” White said.

If President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders think the outcry against Obamacare is fierce now, watch if millions more Americans get blindsided with the news that they’ll be forced into these dysfunctional government online marketplaces. Some will face higher premiums or higher deductibles, and they’ll be required to share private medical and financial information on a website with a questionable security firewall, opening them to fraudsters, hackers and cyberchaos.

Read the rest of this entry »


Manias, Panics and ObamaCare Crashes

Obama-fades

A reader’s guide to the coming Affordable Care Act traumas

President Obama says not to worry about the Affordable Care Act’s botched rollout because the country will love it once the website is fixed and subsidies start rolling. But what if the troubles are only beginning because they’re built into the law? In the tradition of service journalism, we thought we’d offer a reader’s guide to the many potential ObamaCare traumas to come.

Technology woes beyond Dec. 1. President Obama has promised for weeks that the 36 federal exchanges and the Healthcare.gov website will work for “the vast majority of users” by the end of November. But he’s refused to say how he defines success.

Press leaks suggest that the White House goal is for four of five people who want to sign up for insurance to be able to do so, including via a call center or paper application. Yet even that 20% error rate may be overpromising. Health and Human Services deputy Henry Chao told a House hearing this week that about 30% to 40% of the information technology that supports enrollment—such as the “back end” systems that send out monthly subsidies—still needs to be built.

All of which suggests that the Dec. 1 deadline is political, not a reflection of the repair team’s progress. The White House had to say things would work by then to pre-empt a Democratic mutiny and because people whose insurance has been terminated must register by Dec. 15 for a new plan by the New Year.

More cancelled health plans. Millions and perhaps tens of millions more Americans will lose their coverage, despite the White House’s one-year suspension of the mandates that force insurers to liquidate their old products. The problem is backloaded. Read the rest of this entry »


Woman are Fleeing Obama

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Tammy Bruce writes: During a six-week period of time that no one could have imagined, President Obama became the man who fell to earth. Much of the commentary since the launch of Obamacare has rightfully centered on the remarkable collapse of the program and the even more shocking and utter management failure of this presidential-legacy issue by Mr. Obama and his inner circle. While the downward shift in support by most Americans in light of the fiasco is not surprising, the retreat of women from the president is most significant.

Why are women finally beginning to reject Mr. Obama? Because he betrayed their trust. It’s personal. With the truth of Obamacare on the table for all to see, including the higher premiums, the canceled policies, the excluded doctors and hospitals, the original targeted marketing of Obamacare to women has now been exposed as the cynical and manipulative fraud it really was. It would have been bad enough, but perhaps forgivable, had Mr. Obama simply been wrong or made a major mistake. To have flagrantly lied, though, about an issue fundamental to our health and future, is particularly unacceptable to women — the very people on whom he has relied for his elections and for support of his legislative agenda.

Large parts of the American public have been disillusioned to discover that Mr. Obama is not the man they thought him to be. It could hardly have been otherwise, given the cold reality that he has fumbled or grossly mishandled a variety of serious domestic and foreign-policy issues (jobs at home, the economy, the debt, a “red line” for Syria, support for the Muslim Brotherhood in EgyptIran and the bomb). Disillusionment is degenerating to distrust, as a majority of Americans are coming to the conclusion that he lied about the essential premise of Obamacare, his signature legislation. Read the rest of this entry »


OBAMA’S CARNIVAL OF CASCADING CATASTROPHE

Image source: Mad Magazine

Image source: Mad Magazine

Obamacare: So, what could go wrong next? 

David Nather writes:  Busted website, canceled policies, lousy early enrollment numbers. And that could be just the warmup.

Because the lesson of the last six weeks is that when it comes to the Obamacare rollout, if it can go wrong, it probably will.

 ‘It’s going to get worse’  –Bob Woodward  

The stumble-filled debut of President Barack Obama’s health care law is drawing new attention to the other risks that have been on the radar screen of health care wonks for months. Think health insurance plans sinking under the weight of sick customers, newly insured people being stunned that they still have to spend on health care, and possibly another wave of canceled policies — right before the 2014 elections.

They’re mostly worst-case scenarios, and an Obamacare recovery in the next few months could still prevent some of the biggest ones from ever happening. But health care experts are taking all of them a lot more seriously now — because at this point, why wouldn’t they?

A complete list of possibilities could be overwhelming, but here are the main ones to watch:

Death spiral

This was always the worst of the worst-case scenarios: Only sick people enroll in the Obamacare health insurance plans, healthy people stay away, and everyone’s premiums rise out of control because there are no healthy people to cover the sick people’s costs.

Read the rest of this entry »


D.C. Insurance Commission Questions Obama’s Improvised-at-Press-Conference Obamacare ‘Law’ Revisions: Next Day, Fired

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BODY COUNT: D.C. insurance commissioner William P. White 

Rick Moran writes:  A majority of state insurance commissioners across the country have made it clear that applying President Obama’s “fix” to Obamacare isn’t possible and would only make matters worse.

But the very first insurance commissioner who made that argument has been fired.

[Glen Reynolds “Don’t Buck the Party Line, Comrade “]

Washington Post:

A day after he questioned President Obama’s decision to unwind a major tenet of the health-care law and said the nation’s capital might not go along, D.C. insurance commissioner William P. White was fired.

White was called into a meeting Friday afternoon with one of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s (D) top deputies and told that the mayor “wants to go in a different direction,” White told The Washington Post on Saturday.

White said the mayoral deputy never said that he was being asked to leave because of his Thursday statement on health care. But he said the timing was hard to ignore. Roughly 24 hours later, White said, he was “basically being told, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ ”

Read the rest of this entry »


The Daily Hammer

President Obama’s so-called insurance fix is a scam that was meant to deflect blame from the White House, Charles Krauthammer said Friday night.

TheHammer

“He pretended to want to restore the plans to people who lost them,” Krauthammer said during a panel appearance on Special Report. “Because it is a sham. It was only intended to shift the blame. His intent is for these plans not to be renewed; he knows how impossible it will be.”

Krauthammer said that Obama knew how many insurance companies would refuse to renew canceled policies and how many state insurance commissioners would refuse the fix – ensuring that only a trickle of people re-enrolled in their old plans. However, had Obama not made that move, over 100 Democrats would’ve voted for Representative Fred Upton’s (R., Mich.) bill to extend canceled insurance policies a year.

“That would’ve been a rebellion against him and he would lose, as a second term president, complete control of the party and been a lame-duck less than a year into the second term,” Krauthammer said.

National Review Online