Monday, October 28, 2013

Cruising the Web

Senator Joe Manchin (D - WV) went on ABC yesterday and said that "Nobody should be forced to buy a policy if it costs more than what they had. and is inferior to what they had." Yeah, that's not going to happen. That's an integral part of the design of the policy. As the Manhattan Institute figured out in a study,
on average, the cheapest plan offered in a given state, under Obamacare, will be 99 percent more expensive for men, and 62 percent more expensive for women, than the cheapest plan offered under the old system. And those disparities are even wider for healthy people.
(Link via Gateway Pundit.) So Manchin's idea of delaying the implementation of Obamacare for a year is not going to accomplish his goal.

Despite the impossibility of achieving this goal, I applaud Senator Ron Johnson's (R - WI) snarky plan to achieve Manchin's stated goal. Johnson is introducing a new law named after the campaign line Obama said over and over and over again, the "If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can Keep It Act." Don't expect anything to come of it, but it will be amusing to see how Democrats reject a law premised on Obama's repeated promise.

James Capretta explains the problem which will become clear if they ever get the website fixed and people start examining the offered programs and comparing them to their present policy.
The other reality now emerging is that millions of Americans are going to be pushed into these exchanges against their wishes, and they aren’t going to like what they see.

The problem will be most acute for the 19 million or so people who today purchase individual insurance. As industry expert Robert Laszewski has pointed out, today’s individual market is essentially being replaced by the Obamacare exchanges. Some insurance plans can continue operating into 2014 outside of the exchanges if they are “grandfathered.” But very few insurance plans qualify for grandfathered status under Obamacare because the rules strictly prohibit even the smallest changes in coverage or cost-sharing. Consequently, about 16 million Americans will shortly find out that they can’t keep the plans they have.

If and when they are able to look at their options on healthcare.gov or the state-built websites, many of these consumers will quickly become unhappy. The Obama administration keeps arguing that the premiums in the exchanges are below what was expected, based on hypothetical estimates produced by the Congressional Budget Office four years ago. But that’s not the relevant comparison. Consumers want to know how much more they are going to pay for insurance under Obamacare in 2014 than what the pre-Obamacare market offers them today.

The Heritage Foundation has carefully looked at this question, and the results are dismaying. The average family of four will see a premium increase in the exchanges of 10 to 30 percent. For young Americans, the premium hikes are much worse, in the range of 50 to 100 percent or more for 27-year-olds, including 71 percent in Nebraska and 170 percent in Georgia. And these premiums are for plans with, in most cases, very high deductibles, ranging from $2,000 to $2,500 for the so-called silver plans and $4,000 or more for bronze plans.

Ezra Klein explains how Obamacare has deeper problems than just the website. He's coming to realize what conservatives realized all along.

Glenn Reynolds outlines how the problems of Obamacare are really the problems of big government.

David Kline, an Oregon journalist, explains how, despite his desire to sign up for a plan under Obamacare, he can't figure out the contradictory questions on the Cover Oregon application. And no one there seems to understand their own application.

California residents are coming to the same conclusion about how Obamacare is going to affect them.
Thousands of Californians are discovering what Obamacare will cost them — and many don't like what they see.

These middle-class consumers are staring at hefty increases on their insurance bills as the overhaul remakes the healthcare market. Their rates are rising in large part to help offset the higher costs of covering sicker, poorer people who have been shut out of the system for years.

Although recent criticism of the healthcare law has focused on website glitches and early enrollment snags, experts say sharp price increases for individual policies have the greatest potential to erode public support for President Obama's signature legislation.

"This is when the actual sticker shock comes into play for people," said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. "There are winners and losers under the Affordable Care Act."

Fullerton resident Jennifer Harris thought she had a great deal, paying $98 a month for an individual plan through Health Net Inc. She got a rude surprise this month when the company said it would cancel her policy at the end of this year. Her current plan does not conform with the new federal rules, which require more generous levels of coverage.

Now Harris, a self-employed lawyer, must shop for replacement insurance. The cheapest plan she has found will cost her $238 a month. She and her husband don't qualify for federal premium subsidies because they earn too much money, about $80,000 a year combined.
This woman's reaction might stand for the entire Democratic Party agenda.
Pam Kehaly, president of Anthem Blue Cross in California, said she received a recent letter from a young woman complaining about a 50% rate hike related to the healthcare law.

"She said, 'I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it,'" Kehaly said.
Yup. A lot of liberal policies sound great in abstract. But then reality sets in and people learn, to their seeming amazement, that there is no such thing as a free lunch. And they're the ones buying lunch. Reality bites, doesn't it?

And these Californians are suddenly coming to realize what Republicans have known all along - President Obama was deliberately misleading (read: lying) to the American people.
"All we've been hearing the last three years is if you like your policy you can keep it," said Deborah Cavallaro, a real estate agent in Westchester. "I'm infuriated because I was lied to."

And, as CNN has shown, calling the 800 number isn't going to help people who want to buy Obamacare. People can't get information on the costs and coverage of the various health care choices. They have to wait for one to three weeks to get information in the mail telling them to call back later. But everything is going to depend eventually on using the computer site.

John Fund reports on how no outside IT expert has any optimism that the website will be fixed by the promised date at the end of November. And he gives this awful example of what is happening to people who might have attempted to sign up in these past weeks.
Ben Simo, a former president of the Association for Software Testing, says he now has “zero trust” in Healthcare.gov. He had started an application on the site for a family member but abandoned the application, he wrote on his blog. The status screen showed that the application was left “in progress,” but then he received a notification that his application had been processed and his eligibility results were available. “How is it that my application was processed when I did not submit the application?” he asked, adding:
I had explicitly selected the option at the end of the application stating that I do not agree to the terms for submitting the application. However, it appears that the system ignored my telling it that I do not want them to pull the necessary info to process the application and processed my application anyway. Not only did they process an application I did not submit, the letter says they referred my application to a state agency — a state agency with which I did not authorize them to share any information.
Once you enter the blob, you cannot escape.

The NYT detailed how rosy the predictions were for the launching of Healthcare.gov in the weeks before it went live. Everyone was so optimistic, despite worries being expressed behind the scene. But no one wanted to admit those problems because they didn't want to give the Republicans any sort of victory. As Ed Morrissey writes,
In other words, “some Democrats” would prefer to hear lies for political purposes than to find out the truth about incompetence in the Obama administration. That’s not exactly a confidence builder for the ObamaCare project rolling forward. It’s also a good indicator of the level of honesty we can expect from the White House on the status of this program at any time, too.
Mark Steyn did a little research into the Canadian company that was in charge of creating the Obamacare website.
Their most famous government project was for the Canadian Firearms Registry. The registry was estimated to cost in total $119 million, which would be offset by $117 million in fees. That’s a net cost of $2 million. Instead, by 2004 the CBC (Canada’s PBS) was reporting costs of some $2 billion — or a thousand times more expensive.

Yeah, yeah, I know, we’ve all had bathroom remodelers like that. But in this case the database had to register some 7 million long guns belonging to some two-and-a-half to three million Canadians. That works out to almost $300 per gun — or somewhat higher than the original estimate for processing a firearm registration of $4.60. Of those $300 gun registrations, Canada’s auditor general reported to parliament that much of the information was either duplicated or wrong in respect to basic information such as names and addresses.

Sound familiar?

Also, there was a 1-800 number, but it wasn’t any use.

Sound familiar?

So it was decided that the sclerotic database needed to be improved.

Sound familiar?

But it proved impossible to “improve” CFIS (the Canadian Firearms Information System). So CGI was hired to create an entirely new CFIS II, which would operate alongside CFIS I until the old system could be scrapped. CFIS II was supposed to go operational on January 9, 2003, but the January date got postponed to June, and 2003 to 2004, and $81 million was thrown at it before a new Conservative government scrapped the fiasco in 2007. Last year, the government of Ontario canceled another CGI registry that never saw the light of day — just for one disease, diabetes, and costing a mere $46 million.
So what was in this Canadian company's history that got them the no-bid job? The administration refuses to answer that question. As Mark Steyn concludes,
Despite the best efforts of President Obama and doting tweeters in Jersey City, government isn’t groovy. The standard rap on Obamacare is that it’s turned America’s health system into the DMV. If only. I had cause to go to the DMV in Twin Mountain, N.H., the other day. In and out in ten minutes. Modest accommodations, a little down-at-heel, nothing cool about it at all. But it worked just fine. Friendly chap, no complaints. Government can do that at the town level, county level, even (more sparingly) at the state level.

But a national medical regime for 300 million people? Not in a First World country. And, when you’re mad enough to try it, the failure is not the insignificant enrollment numbers, but the vaporization of the existing health plans of 119,000 Pennsylvanians, 160,000 Californians, 300,000 Floridians, 800,000 in that tech tweeter’s New Jersey . . . That’s the magic that happens when you disdain the limits of prosaic, humdrum, just-about-functioning government. Perhaps things will get so bad the coolest president ever will no longer seem quite so hip. But, alas, you’ll have to wait three years for a hip replacement. That’s government health care for you.

Carl M. Cannon examines the debate between many Democratic mayors and other Democrats over the necessity of public pension reform. Eventually, reality has come to slap politicians in the face. And California is ground zero for that fight among Democratic politicians. Eventually, Illinois politicians will be facing the same problem as they struggle to pay for their own pension problems.

Even one of Obama's economic advisers acknowledges that entitlements will have to be cut in order to do something about our fiscal situation. Amazing how they'll accept this basic facts except when it comes to politics.

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