Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cruising the Web

CBS uncovers another problem with; it is giving out wrong information on its estimated insurance costs.
Prices for everyone in the 49-or-under group are based on what a 27-year-old would pay. In the 50-or-older group, prices are based on what a 50-year-old would pay.

CBS News ran the numbers for a 48-year-old in Charlotte, N.C., ineligible for subsidies. According to, she would pay $231 a month, but the actual plan on Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina's website costs $360, more than 50 percent higher. The difference: Blue Cross and Blue Shield requests your birthday before providing more accurate estimates.

The numbers for older Americans are even more striking. A 62-year-old in Charlotte looking for the same basic plan would get a price estimate on the government website of $394. The actual price is $634.
Can't this gang do anything right?

While some Democrats are starting to urge Obama to delay various upcoming deadlines in Obamacare, he would have to totally ignore the wording of the law if he were to do so without action by Congress.
Even if Obama wanted to extend the open enrollment period, he wouldn't be allowed to without an act of Congress — at least if he wants to follow the law he signed.

Though the health care law granted the Secretary of Health and Human Services discretion to define dates for the open enrollment period to occur each year, it also specified that the initial enrollment period (i.e. the current one) had to be announced by July 1, 2012.

Specifically, Section 1311 of the healthcare law reads, "ENROLLMENT PERIODS: The Secretary shall require an Exchange to provide for-- (A) an initial open enrollment, as determined by the Secretary (such determination to be made not later than July 1, 2012)."

Given that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has already determined that the enrollment period must end on March 31 — and nearly 16 months has passed since she made that determination — extending the period would require an act of Congress to change the law.
The administration is already putting out a trial balloon of delaying the deadline for everyone to buy insurance for six weeks. No mention of how they get around the law. Of course, when has the letter of the law ever been a stumbling block for Obama? And who is to say that six weeks would be enough times to fix this disaster?

Of course, Kathleen Sebelius herself has said that the administration really needed five years to construct the site and a year of testing to have a successful launch of the website instead of the two years spent on constructing the site with no testing. Rich Lowry concludes,
“I was optimistic that things would go smoothly,” Sebelius told Gupta of her feelings on Oct. 1. “I felt that the day had finally come.” It had, and she only needed a few more years to be ready.

This whole Obamacare debacle is bringing back the whole image of Obama as "President Passerby." If he's not being regarded as dangerously aloof from important administration responsibilities, he's regarded as someone untrustworthy with whom the world as well as American politicians simply cannot rely on. As Daniel Henninger writes,
Bluntly, Mr. Obama's partners are concluding that they cannot do business with him. They don't trust him. Whether it's the Saudis, the Syrian rebels, the French, the Iraqis, the unpivoted Asians or the congressional Republicans, they've all had their fill of coming up on the short end with so mercurial a U.S. president. And when that happens, the world's important business doesn't get done. It sits in a dangerous and volatile vacuum.

The next major political event in Washington is the negotiation over spending, entitlements and taxes between House budget chairman Paul Ryan and his Senate partner, Patty Murray. The bad air over this effort is the same as that Marco Rubio says is choking immigration reform: the fear that Mr. Obama will urge the process forward in public and then blow up any Ryan-Murray agreement at the 11th hour with deal-killing demands for greater tax revenue.

Then there is Mr. Obama's bond with the American people, which is diminishing with the failed rollout of the Affordable Care Act. ObamaCare is the central processing unit of the Obama presidency's belief system. Now the believers are wondering why the administration suppressed knowledge of the huge program's problems when hundreds of tech workers for the project had to know this mess would happen Oct. 1.

Rather than level with the public, the government's most senior health-care official, Kathleen Sebelius, spent days spewing ludicrous and incredible happy talk about the failure, while refusing to provide basic information about its cause.

Voters don't normally accord politicians unworldly levels of belief, but it has been Barack Obama's gift to transform mere support into victorious credulousness. Now that is crumbling, at great cost. If here and abroad, politicians, the public and the press conclude that Mr. Obama can't play it straight, his second-term accomplishments will lie only in doing business with the world's most cynical, untrustworthy partners. The American people are the ones who will end up on the short end of those deals.

Ron Fournier who serves as somewhat of a Grey Eminence for the Washington press corps writes,
That is either a lie, which would be unforgivable. Or it reveals an unfathomable lack of oversight. For a breakdown of this magnitude to go undetected by Sebelius and her boss, there must be severe gaps in the management systems of the Obama administration that any first-year MBA student could ferret out. Even Democrats are asking, how could they let this happen?

The Obamacare website will refer users to organizations and navigators who haven't been certified and verified to keep your private information secure. And there are now more than 700 websites that are using similar names to or Obamacare in order to fool people into giving out their personal information. Joel Gehrke reports on this cyber-squatting.
For instance, there is a website — — that brands itself as part of the "Obamacare enrollment team," directs people to an "Obamacare enrollment form" and asks users for their name, address, Social Security number and other contact information. According to a counter at the bottom of the page, more than 3,000 people have visited
....To prevent cyber-squatting, professional website owners typically purchase domain names that are similar to the main page.

For instance, former Senate candidate Sharron Angle wanted to make sure that people who misspelled her first name by using only one "R" would still reach her website.

So she bought the domain name — — and the page automatically redirects users to the proper website.

For the same reason, the owners of also own

"I was shocked to find out that they have not picked up any of these other top-level domains," the cybersecurity expert said.

He also provided the Washington Examiner with a list of 221 websites that he identified, using proprietary software, as cyber-squatters taking advantage of the rollout — websites such as — and another 499 that he identified as squatting on state exchange websites.

Online security expert John McAfee predicted such a problem weeks ago. "There is no central place where I can go and say, 'OK, here are all the legitimate brokers and examiners, for all of the states,' and pick and choose one," McAfee told Fox News' Neil Cavuto.

"[I]nstead, any hacker can put a website up, and make it look extremely competitive, and because of the nature of the system — this is health care, after all — they can ask you the most intimate questions and you're freely going to answer them."
With stories like this being added to the other stories about what a challenge it is to use the actual website, do we really expect the necessary millions of people to go to the site and buy insurance?

Time Magazine reports that most of those who are enrolling in the new health insurance policies are enrolling in Medicaid, not purchasing private insurance plans. Jim Geraghty explains why this is so important.
States and the federal government are counting the new Medicaid recipients in their figures of people using the exchanges, but a Medicaid user isn’t paying much in for their treatment — they almost always can’t afford to pay much. Counting these new additions in the total is a bit of spin to make Obamacare appear more popular than it is. As emphasized repeatedly, Obamacare absolutely requires young people to purchase plans that they pay for through premiums (and through copays and deductibles).

Who comes up with these things? Now there are efforts by the Obama administration to alter the U.S. Marines uniform to be more "unisex." So they want to dump the traditional Marines cap that they've used since the 1930s for a new cap that looks a bit like the traditional caps worn by the French military. With all the cuts to the Department of Defense, do we really have the money to spend on a uniform redesign?

Milton Ezrati details the depressing decline and fall of France. It has gotten to the point that France is the 21st century "sick man of Europe." And there are a lot of competitors for that title.

So now we're learning the truth of how Hillary Clinton's State Department cooperated with David Sanger to reveal U.S. efforts to use the computer worm Stuxnet to target the Iranian nuclear program. Think about that. The administration jeopardized a secret program in order to make themselves look good.
State Department officials appeared to exchange information of such a sensitive nature with Sanger that it raised concerns about what the New York Times would report.

“Assured me all is for book and while they will be reporting on Israel/Iran but what you said is “walled off” and not for their reporting,” Hammer wrote to Jacob Sullivan on December 21, 2011 in an email with the subject line “Sanger.”

The Sanger coordination appears to have been part of a larger strategy by the State Department to interact with handpicked journalists during the 2012 election cycle.

“I think we should do Tom Friedman next- problem with him is that often he is on travel but if we have a window we can check if he is around. Otherwise, maybe we could do a chat with Fred Hiatt and Jackson Diehl of WaPo or Jerry Seib of WSJ,” Hammer wrote to State Department special assistant Colleen Neville on December 15, 2011.
And it is quite clear that Hillary Clinton knew all about this. But, hey, what difference does it make that administration officials would leak favorable top secret security information just to win an election?