Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cruising the Web

This is the best the administration can come up with to combat the clear evidence that Obama was lying to the American people when he promised us over and over and over again that no one would lose their insurance or have to pay more if they were happy with it. They want to blame it all on those evil insurance companies who are ending plans that no longer comply with Obamacare regulations. Of course, if you are an individual who was purchasing your own plan and were quite content with a plan that didn't cover things you didn't need like maternity care or drug counseling, too bad. The administration has decided that all plans must cover whatever they require so your plan had to go. As Mary Katharine Ham points out, they must be hoping that low-information voters won't realize what really has happened and will just blame their insurance companies and that the media will cooperate. It must have spooked them to have so many mainstream news outlets like the LA Times and NBC and CBS and the NYT reporting on people who have lost their coverage or seen huge increases under Obamacare.

Even the liberals' favorite network, NBC, is now reporting how 50 to 80% of those 14 million people who purchased their insurance on the independent market will be losing their insurance. And it's all due to how the Obama administration has interpreted the law to tell insurance companies that they must comply with the new regulations.
Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date -- the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example -- the policy would not be grandfathered.
So now the government's spin is to tell people that their policy will be better because it will cover more than their previous policy. But what if they don't want to pay more to cover more? What if they were happy with their policies? Oops. They're just ignorant and should appreciate that the Obama administration knows so much better than you do what is good for you. NBC then reports on several individuals who were happy with their old plan and now have, either been knocked off their plan entirely, or are being forced to pay a whole more for new benefits they weren't interested in, often with much higher deductibles. Obama has been telling us for years that we could keep our plans if we liked it, but NBC is now telling us that the administration has known for three years that this was not true. And people getting those notices in the mail will know the truth.
Richard Helgren, a Lansing, Mich., retiree, said he was “irate” when he received a letter informing him that his wife Amy's $559 a month health plan was being changed because of the law. The plan the insurer offered raised his deductible from $0 to $2,500, and the company gave him 17 days to decide.
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The higher costs spooked him and his wife, who have painstakingly planned for their retirement years. "Every dollar we didn't plan for erodes our standard of living," Helgren said.
Ulltimately, though Helgren opted not to shop through the ACA exchanges, he was able to apply for a good plan with a slightly lower premium through an insurance agent.
He said he never believed President Obama’s promise that people would be able to keep their current plans.
"I heard him only about a thousand times," he said. "I didn't believe him when he said it though because there was just no way that was going to happen. They wrote the regulations so strictly that none of the old polices can grandfather."

It is going to be difficult for any amount of spin from the administration to convince such people that their eyes aren't seeing what they're seeing. As Allahpundit concludes,
So they carved out a phony “grandfather” provision to take some political heat off of themselves while the law was being debated in Congress, then basically eviscerated it after the law passed to quietly maximize the number of people who got soaked. Laszewski himself is suddenly staring at a 66 percent premium increase and higher out-of-pocket costs now that his own plan got canceled. Remember when John Roberts was torn to shreds by righties for calling the mandate a tax? The mandate might not be a tax, but the provisions about which plans are and aren’t legal under the law effectively is. It’s a direct hit on middle-class wealth in the name of subsidizing the sick. But rather than sell it that way, as a de facto tax to provide welfare for the needy, and risk a political backlash, Obama chose to lie his ass off in falsely reassuring people they could keep their plan if they liked it. You’re welcome, America.

And the numbers being so affected are much larger than the administration is trying to pretend. They want us to think that these are just a few disgruntled people who don't appreciate the beneficence of the administration in forcing them to have a much more expensive plan. Conn Carroll writes,
So how large a group of people will be facing Obamacare sticker shock?

Well, according to health care analyst Bob Laszewski, about 19 million people are currently in the individual health insurance market and 16 million of them are going to lose their current plan thanks to Obamacare.

Now many of those people will qualify for tax payer subsidies that will help them afford the higher premiums. But how many people that currently have individual health insurance will qualify for any help?

Well, according to a recent Kaiser Study, that number is less than half. Just 48 percent of people now buying their own insurance will be eligible for a tax credit that will help protect them from sticker shock.

That's 8 million Americans who, like Deborah Cavallaro will be "infuriated because I was lied to."

Actually we were all lied to, many, many times, and Obamacare's implementation will only expose that fact in very real human terms every day.
Oops, this has got to bite.
About 8,000 Washington residents who are purchasing health insurance on the state’s fledgling exchange marketplace may be getting less of a subsidy than they thought they had coming to help pay for it.

The exchange, called the Washington Healthplanfinder, said Friday that a calculator on its website mistakenly overestimated tax credits for about 6,000 applications that cover about 8,000 people, said Michael Marchand, communications director at the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates Healthplanfinder.

The error represents a setback for the state-run exchange, which has received favorable reviews once it got up and running as one of the few online marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act that has a functioning website and is posting strong enrollment figures.
And the LA Times reports on how there are plenty of problems with the rollout of Obamacare even in the low-tech ways that the administration is forced to deal with since the website doesn't work.
The surveys gave the volunteers phone numbers for hundreds of uninsured households. But the volunteers have not yet been trained how to answer questions about insurance. And they cannot sign people up; that responsibility rests with trained enrollment counselors. But only 390 of the state's 4,165 would-be counselors are certified and ready to assist people — leaving the volunteers scrambling to find enough counselors to sign people up at their November church health fair.

There are other problems: The uninsured can sign up over the phone, but most seem to prefer looking at their options and discussing them before making it official. That leaves the website, which is largely working in California, except that for these potential clients, there are not enough laptops available to help explore their options. For some it's more basic than that.

"People aren't going to sign up online by themselves," said the Rev. Samuel Pullen of LA Voice, who brought the women together. Many of the volunteers who gathered at Dolores Mission, he notes, are not Web savvy. "You need an email to sign up. What if you don't have an email?" he said.
And the paper application for Obamacare isn't going to work either. What a mess.

Bret Stephens notes the trend in recent days for the administration to shield President Obama to say that he didn't know about what was going on in his own administration such as the tapping the phones of the world's leaders, or the problems with the Healthcare.gov website or the IRS blocking the non-profit status of groups that opposed the President or what was going down in Benghazi. Or, if Obama knew, he was just slow in making a decision about what to do such as in Syria. It's quite a long list. The only constant is that the President keeps playing golf through it all.
Call Mr. Obama's style indifferent, aloof or irresponsible, but a president who governs like this reaps the whirlwind—if not for himself, then for his country.
Richard Cohen is starting to wonder if, perhaps, President Obama just isn't all that competent.
Where is Casey Stengel when we need him? In 1962, as the manager of the brand new and determinedly hapless New York Mets — 40 wins, 120 losses — he looked up and down his bench one dismal day and wondered, “Can’t anybody here play this game?” That phrase kept coming at me recently as I watched the impressively inept performance of the Obama administration in both foreign and domestic policy. On a given day, this administration makes the ’62 Mets look good.

This is a surprise — at least to me. If Barack Obama has an image, it is of the infinitely cool, cerebral leader. The man can give a rousing speech, but he is, at heart, a planner and a plodder. Both of his presidential campaigns were exercises in micromanagement — digital all the way. Obama was the better candidate, but he had, by far, the better organization.

Yet this same man has lately so mishandled both domestic and foreign policy that he is in mortal peril of altering his image. This unsettling and uncharacteristic incompetence became shockingly clear when Obama failed to come to grips with the Syrian civil war. I did not agree with the president’s do-nothing policy, but at least it was both a policy and intellectually coherent. What followed, though, was both intellectually incoherent and pathetically inconsistent — a “red line” that came out of nowhere and then mysteriously evaporated and a missile strike that was threatened and then abandoned. It was a policy so wavering that if Obama were driving, he would be forced to take a breathalyzer.

The debacle of the Affordable Care Act’s Web site raised similar questions about confidence. This was supposed to be Obama’s Big Deal. The president has other accomplishments — navigating out of the Great Recession was no minor feat — but restoring the status quo does not get your face on Mount Rushmore. It takes achievement, a program — something new and wonderful. The Affordable Care Act was supposed to be it.
Victor Davis Hanson is forced to conclude that we are seeing a new model of presidency.
Three considerations are keeping the U.S. afloat without an active president. First, many working Americans have tuned the president out and simply go on about their business despite rather than because of this administration. If gas and oil leases have been curtailed on federal lands, there is record production on private land. Farmers are producing huge harvests and receiving historically high prices. Wall Street welcomes in capital that can find no return elsewhere. American universities’ science departments and professional schools still rate among the world’s best. There is as yet no French or Chinese Silicon Valley. In other words, after five years of stagnation, half the public more or less ignores the Obama administration and plods on.

Second, the other half of Americans gladly accept that Obama is an iconic rather than a serious president. Given his emblematic status as the nation’s first African-American president and his efforts to craft a vast coalition of those with supposed grievances against the majority, he will always have a strong base of supporters. With huge increases in federal redistributive support programs, and about half the population not paying federal income taxes, Obama is seen as the protector of the noble deserving, who should receive more from a government to which the ignoble undeserving must give far more. And if it is a question of adding another million or so people to the food-stamp or disability rolls, or ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon or that China does not bully Japan, the former wins every time.

Finally, the media accept that Obama represents a rare confluence of forces that promotes a progressive agenda. His youth, his charisma, his background, his exotic nomenclature, and his “cool” all have allowed a traditionally unpopular leftist ideology to enter the mainstream. Why endanger all that with a focus on Benghazi or the disaster of Obamacare? We have had, in the course of our history, plenty of Grants, McKinleys, Hardings, Nixons, and Clintons, but never quite an administration of scandal so exempt from media scrutiny.

As far as his image goes, it does not really matter to what degree Obama actually “fundamentally transforms America.” For the media, that he seeks to do so, and that he drives conservatives crazy trying, is seen as enough reason to surrender their autonomy and become ancillary to the effort. The media believe that once he is out of office, they can regain their credibility by going after the next president with renewed vigor as recompense.

In other words, the presidency has become a virtual office. Almost half the people and most of the media do not mind, and those who do just plod onward.
Sadly, even though he's not providing much leadership, his administration still finds ways to damage all parts of America's economy, politics, and foreign policy.