Kathleen Sebelius: liar

February 7, 2012

Kathleen Sebelius, in a USA Today op-ed, lies through her teeth:

The public health case for making sure insurance covers contraception is clear. But we also recognize that many religious organizations have deeply held beliefs opposing the use of birth control. That’s why in the rule we put forward, we specifically carved out from the policy religious organizations that primarily employ people of their own faith.

This is untrue, and don’t think for a moment she doesn’t know it. Alan Sears explains:

The mandate explicitly does not exempt groups merely if they primarily hire members of their own faith. It forces those groups to violate their beliefs, unless they also primarily serve persons of their own faith. So a Christian hospital would have to turn aside Jews and Muslims at the door to be “religious enough” under the president’s aggressively secular policy.

POSTSCRIPT: Actually it’s worse than that. Just in case the exception still happened to apply to someone, it contains several other provisos as well, the sum of which is to ensure that no one will ever be exempt.

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Sebelius doesn’t understand business

February 18, 2010

What happens when you fill an administration with people who have never worked in the private sector? You get idiocy like this:

Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. has drawn a fierce backlash from Capitol Hill and the White House by posting premium increases for some customers in its California Anthem Blue Cross plan. California officials say 700,000 households face increases averaging 25 percent overall and as high as 39 percent for some.

The company was forced to postpone the hikes while [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius ordered an inquiry and other lawmakers publicly railed against the company. . . Sebelius suggested the increases were unwarranted and needed to be checked.

“While we don’t want companies to be insolvent … to suggest that this is entirely in line with even health care costs … these profits are wildly excessive, are way over anybody’s estimate,” Sebelius said Thursday.

In a letter last week to Anthem Blue Cross, Sebelius said the increases were “difficult to understand” given that WellPoint earned $2.7 billion in the last quarter of 2009.

If Sebelius had ever worked in the private sector, she might understand that WellPoint’s overall profit has no bearing on what the price of a particular policy should be. In a for-profit enterprise, each endeavor must pay for itself. A for-profit company doesn’t use its profits in one area to subsidize another area that is losing the company money. Yes, sometimes a company will subsidize an endeavor because they think it will be profitable in the future, or because it generates some non-pecuniary benefit like good PR, but that doesn’t change the overall point. Each endeavor must justify itself; businesses don’t allow one area to hemorrhage money just because another area is doing well.

It turns out that WellPoint made nearly all of its profit from a one-time transaction, and is actually losing money on individual health plans:

The bulk of its fourth-quarter profits, $2.2 billion, came from the sale of a business, and WellPoint told Sebelius that it actually suffered a loss in 2009 for the unit selling individual policies to people not covered through their jobs.

WellPoint needs to make this part of its business profitable or shut it down. Sebelius may be able to prevent WellPoint’s price increase, but it can’t stop them from leaving the market. That’s what’s going to happen if the government won’t let them charge a rate that turns a profit.

POSTSCRIPT: In light of Sebelius’s moral preening over WellPoint’s “wildly excessive” profits, it’s worth remembering that she is a tax cheat and a demagogue.


Sebelius

March 3, 2009

Now that Kathleen Sebelius has been nominated for HHS Secretary, it seems worthwhile to remember her last appearance in the national limelight, falsely blaming the Iraq War for a shortage of heavy equipment needed for tornado recovery.


Recalling Sebelius

August 22, 2008

Another rumored VP candidate for Obama is Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.  Sebelius first came to my attention last year when she politicized a tornado disaster.  For reasons unknown, her emergency management teams blocked volunteers from helping in the devastated town of Greensburg.  But what made her famous was her claim that the war in Iraq was hampering recovery, because all the needed equipment was in Iraq.  This briefly made her the darling of the media, but it turned out to be false.  The Pentagon, when asked, said there was sufficient equipment in Kansas, plus additional resources she could have asked for (but did not) from neighboring states or the Federal government.  Indeed, only a tenth of the Kansas National Guard was deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

In fact, Sebelius’s claim never made any sense in the first place.  (This was obvious to me when I first saw it on the news.)  Units don’t ship out to Iraq with their heavy equipment; they move personnel but use the equipment that is already there.  The only way the Kansas National Guard’s equipment could have been in Iraq if it was part of the initial buildup.  Even if that were the case (which seems unlikely), they would have had plenty of time by 2007 to replace it, and would have had their own leadership (Sebelius) to blame if they had not.


Struck down

December 31, 2013

In one day, four injunctions (1, 2, 3, 4) against the HHS mandate in four separate cases. (Via Instapundit.)

Cases like Hobby Lobby are difficult, since they raise the question of whether people have any right to practice their religion in the conduct of their business. (The answer certainly ought to be yes, but will it?) But cases like these, involving religious organizations, should be no-brainers. There’s no earthly way the HHS mandate can stand up under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

(Previous post.)


Why politics sucks

December 27, 2013

Answer: because of liberalism. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Item #1: The blogosphere is abuzz over this ad from Barack Obama’s twitter account:

obamacare-pajama-boy

As many have pointed out, this tells you a lot about this how they see their own followers. I think it’s even more insulting to Obama’s non-followers: the very idea that grown men and women with jobs and families are going to change their opinion of the government taking over health care, just because a spoiled man-child came home from college for the holidays carrying marching orders from the president to harangue his parents with hope, change, and ironic eyebrows.

More on this in a moment, but first, item #2: Americans are sorting themselves into red and blue communities:

Democrats and Republicans are much less likely to live among each other than they were a generation ago.

Back in 1976 — the year of a close presidential election — just over a quarter of the population lived in “landslide counties,” where the winning margin was greater than 20 percentage points. . . Last year, more than half the country lived in landslide counties. . .

States themselves have become more polarized, with most legislatures and governorships controlled entirely by one party. As a result, not only are blue and red states tracking different courses on just about every issue, but some people are seeking to escape their states.

But if Americans are sorting themselves into like-minded communities, are they doing so on purpose? In other words, are people voting with their feet by consciously moving to states or counties that reflect their own partisan preferences?

Researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Southern California suggest that, yes, they may be.

This comes as no surprise to me. The fact is, blue-state liberals are very frequently a pain in the neck to work with. (Or to live with, I would guess, but fortunately I don’t have pajama boy in my family.) Why? Because of the constant political harangues in what ought to be non-political contexts. Exactly the kind of harangues that President Obama is asking ironic pajama-clad children to inflict on their parents this Christmas.

Case in point: Years ago I related the story of how a discussion of candidates for an important position in my department was turned to a nonsensical slam on Sarah Palin, apropos of nothing at all.

Case in point: More recently, at a retirement party for a valued member of our faculty (who happened to be female), another faculty member launched into a speech about how the departing faculty member reminded him of Hillary Clinton who was then leaving her job as Secretary of State. This was intended as a high compliment. In fact, the comparison was absurd and insulting; the two women have nothing at all in common other than their gender, and the departing woman was quite accomplished, in contrast to Clinton’s complete lack of any accomplishments at the State Department (unless you count her courageous stand against security at overseas consulates).

Case in point: More recently still, a colleague sent me an essay he wrote on the government shutdown. It rambled a bit, but I can summarize its key points: (1) Republicans claim to oppose Obamacare. (2) Obamacare is obviously great; no one could honestly oppose it. (3) So why are Republicans really shutting down the government? (4) It must be because they’re racist. He asked me for my comments, which I duly provided him.

I could go on, but I won’t. (Indeed, I’m leaving out the more painful harangues I’ve received.) In short, if blue-state liberals in general are anything like the liberals I know in ultra-blue academia, it’s no wonder conservatives and libertarians prefer nothing to do with them.

For all I know, red-state conservatives are just as insufferable. To some extent, I’d be surprised if they weren’t. Nevertheless, it’s still the fault of liberalism. The phenomenon at work is the intrusion of politics into all aspects of life. To some extent that’s because of the liberal media and the president’s pajama-clad minions, but fundamentally it’s because of the intrusion of government into all aspects of life.

Liberalism is at war with civil society. Civil society is the collection of disparate institutions, independent of the government, that make society work. The problem with civil society, to liberals, is that independence. Liberals can’t control it, so sometimes it does things of which liberals don’t approve. In fact, it often does such unacceptable things, since civil society, being made up of churches, other civic organizations, and individuals, has a strongly conservative character.

As a result, liberals have been very deliberately trying to crowd out civil society with government, by replacing activities that people just did on their own — but sometimes in a fashion that didn’t comport with liberal preferences — with government programs that liberals can control.

For instance, in the Obamacare HHS mandate you see a very deliberate effort to get religious organizations out of the business of charity. For years, Democrats have been trying to raise taxes on charitable donations, since any monies spent by private charities would be better spent by the government.

As the government supplants more and more of civil society, and as it simultaneously takes increasing control of our individual lives, politics — which ought to be a sideshow — is becoming dreadfully relevant. We have to fight over it, because it affects us so much.

And that’s why politics sucks. In part it’s because of liberal jerks like Barack Obama’s pajama-clad harangue brigade, but in greater part it’s because of liberalism itself.


Healthcare.gov violates security standards

November 22, 2013

It’s a good thing that Healthcare.gov doesn’t work, because the system is also insecure:

As HealthCare.gov was being developed, crucial tests to ensure the security and privacy of customer information fell behind schedule.

CBS News analysis found that the deadline for final security plans slipped three times from May 6 to July 16. Security assessments to be finished June 7 slid to August 16 and then August 23. The final, required top-to-bottom security tests never got done.

The House Oversight Committee released an Obama administration memo that shows four days before the launch, the government took an unusual step. It granted itself a waiver to launch the website with “a level of uncertainty … deemed as a high (security) risk.”

Agency head Marilyn Tavenner accepted the risk and “mitigation” measures like frequent testing and a dedicated security team. But three other officials signed a statement saying that “does not reduce the risk” of launching October 1.

(Via Hot Air.) In fact, the waiver (as CBS describes it) isn’t even allowed under government rules:

Ultimately, the letter recommended that Tavenner issue an Authority to Operate for six months while security testing continued on the site, which she approved. “This is a temporary Authority to Operate,” Sebelius said as she examined the document during the hearing. . .

Yet Sebelius’s matter-of-fact description of the temporary authorization is a lot different from the 2012 memo from Zients on federal cyber-security.

Page 11 of the Zients memo includes the following section:

Does OMB recognize interim authority to operate for security authorizations?

No. The security authorization process has been required for many years, and it is important to measure the implementation of this process to improve consistency and quality government-wide. Introducing additional inconsistency to the government’s security program would be counter to FISMA’s goals.

(Via Instapundit.) Counter to FISMA’s (the Federal Information Security Management Act) goals perhaps, but essential to the Obama administration’s political goals, and you know which takes priority.

The system’s insecurity isn’t just theoretical either. They’re already finding exploitable security holes.

(Previous post.)


Ah, the reality-based community

November 22, 2013

The left likes to style itself the “reality-based community,” or to claim that “reality has a liberal bias.” They seem to think that this is desperately clever. I’ve never really understood why. It’s just a more arrogant way to say I’m right about everything. Very often leftists mistake arrogance for cleverness (see also: Barack Obama), so that’s probably what’s going on.

But anyway, the reality-based community. Yes, let’s see how the reality-based community saw the oncoming train wreck of the Obamacare rollout:

Just days before HealthCare.gov went live with disastrous results, top White House officials were excitedly briefing lawmakers, reporters, Capitol Hill staff members and Washington pundits on their expectations for the government’s new health care Web site.

(Via Hot Air.) They really thought it would work! Which seems astonishing, since everyone knew it wouldn’t:

CBS News is learning the Obama administration knew of the risks associated with the Obamacare rollout well before last month.

Three years ago, a trusted Obama health care adviser warned the White House it was losing control of Obamacare. A memo obtained by CBS News said strong leadership was missing and the law’s successful implementation was in jeopardy. The warnings were specific and dire — and ignored.

David Cutler, who worked on the Obama 2008 campaign and was a valued outside health care consultant wrote this blunt memo to top White House economic adviser Larry Summers in May 2010: “I do not believe the relevant members of the administration understand the president’s vision or have the capability to carry it out.” Cutler wrote no one was in charge who had any experience in complex business start-ups. He also worried basic regulations, technology and policy coordination would fail.

(Via Hot Air.) How could they fail to be aware of what everyone knew? Time’s Gloria Borger (an Obama apologist!) has a simple explanation:

This much is clear, after speaking with both past and present senior administration officials: no one was really in charge, so no one knew for sure how bad the overall picture was. What’s more, and—perhaps most telling—no one wanted to even hint to the president that this techno-savvy administration possibly had a website stuck in, say, 1995. “People don’t like to tell him bad news,” says an ex-White House staffer.

(Via Ace.) Enjoy that “reality-based” bubble, Mr. President.

POSTSCRIPT: But wait, there’s more “reality” to be mocked. Kathleen Sebelius claims that Healthcare.gov has never crashed. And here’s the key mouthpiece of the far-left, Media Matters:

Right-wing media have used temporary technical glitches exacerbated by a flood of interest to demagogue against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges. In reality, the technological issues are caused in part by high levels of traffic, which demonstrate that millions of Americans are signing up for the health care program.

“In reality”! That piece was posted on October 1, the day Healthcare.gov launched. How many people signed up that day? Not millions, as Media Matters claims. Not even hundreds. Heck, not even tens. Just six.

Ah, the reality-based community.

(Previous post.)


Obamacare corruption

July 29, 2013

One of the beneficiaries of Kathleen Sebelius’s shakedown of health care companies (she pressured them, under cover of authority, to contribute to organizations promoting Obamacare) is caught engaging in nakedly political activity:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ favorite pro-Obamacare nonprofit held a Democrats-only congressional briefing earlier this year, according to emails obtained by nonprofit watchdog Judicial Watch.

Enroll America president Anne Filipic, a former Obama White House aide, exchanged emails with Debra Curtis, a Democratic staffer on the House Ways and Means Committee.

“They [House Democrat leadership] want to do another one next week while Congress is in recess that would be open [to] all House Democratic Staff to start getting folks up to speed,” Curtis wrote to Filipic in a Feb. 11, 2013, email.

“We’ll check IDs to be sure we’ve got all Dems coming as well,” Curtis added the next day while projecting that a 100 people would attend.

Democrats haven’t really had to address Sebelius’s shakedown; with all the other Obama administration scandals sucking up all the oxygen, this didn’t get much attention. But if they did, I’m sure they would say that it was appropriate for her to fundraise for organizations seeking to further the government’s goals.

That wouldn’t be true in its own right — the government has no right to exploit its regulatory power to coerce any financial contributions in excess of legal tax liabilities — but this shows it’s not even true to that extent. Sebelius was extorting financial contributions to organizations engaging in partisan political activity. That’s a crime.

POSTSCRIPT: Sebelius sure is a piece of work.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


Professional paper-pushers excited about Obamacare

May 21, 2013

H&R Block contributed half a million dollars to Kathleen Sebelius’s Obamacare propaganda fund. Megan McArdle explains the significance (in three tweets):

Not surprising; the paperwork will be big business for them. Lower income people terrified of getting audited for EITC, etc are a core part of H&R Block’s business model. Donation suggests that H&R Block expects to get the same sort of boom from people who are terrified they’ve done their Obama paperwork wrong.


Obamcare shakedown

May 16, 2013

It got buried by the IRS’s admission of political targeting, but another scandal erupted last Friday. The Obama administration is worried by Obamacare’s stubborn refusal to become popular, so they want to run propaganda in support of it. Strangely, Republicans refuse to appropriate funds for Obamacare propaganda, and the administration apparently doesn’t want to waste the tens of billions in its Obamacare slush fund.

Instead, we learned Friday, they sent out the execrable HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to shake down health care companies, the very same companies that Sebelius’s agency regulates:

[HHS Spokesman Jason] Young said that Sebelius did not solicit for funds directly from industries that HHS regulates, such as insurance companies and hospitals, but rather asked them to contribute in whatever way they can.

But the industry official who had knowledge of the calls but did not participate directly in them said there was a clear insinuation by the administration that the insurers should give financially to the nonprofits.

Meredith McGehee, policy director for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, which researches government ethics issues, said she was troubled by Sebelius’s activities because the secretary seemed to be “using the power of government to compel giving or insinuate that giving is going to be looked at favorably by the government.”

The House of Representatives is opening an investigation. Those guys are going to be busy.

(Via Hot Air.)


“Highest ethical standards”

September 26, 2012

The Wall Street Journal reports (as quoted by Red State):

The National Labor Relations Board’s internal watchdog has found the agency’s top lawyer violated its ethics standards by participating in a case involving a company in which he had a financial stake.

The NLRB inspector general, in a report dated Thursday, said an investigation found that Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon made decisions about how to proceed in a case involving Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in which Mr. Solomon owned more than $15,000 in stock. The case focused on whether the retail company’s social-media policy violated federal labor law.

I’m sure Solomon will receive the same harsh discipline as Kathleen Sebelius.


“Highest ethical standards”

September 15, 2012

The Office of Special Counsel has found that Kathleen Sebelius violated the law by using an official event to campaign for Barack Obama:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act in February when she called for re-electing President Obama during an official department appearance, the Office of Special Counsel said Wednesday. The finding could possibly cost Sebelius her job.

Cost Sebelius her job? Good one. The White House quickly announced that the administration holds itself  “to the highest ethical standards” and therefore she will not be disciplined. (I might be making up the word “therefore”.)

The White House apparently thinks that retroactively reclassifying the event from official to political is plenty. That might make sense if they could also retroactively send the government employees who attended the event back to work.

POSTSCRIPT: Sebelius sure is a piece of work.


The emperor has no clothes

September 3, 2012

The so-called fact-checkers, which is the to say the opinion police, seem to have finally gone too far. Their recent performance has been so egregious, at a time when people are paying close attention, that everyone on the right and many in the center are realizing that the “fact-checkers” are worse than worthless.

The latest is moderate Democrat Mickey Kaus, who counters the bogus fact-checks of Romney’s ad attacking Obama for gutting welfare reform. In truth, the ad is neither fact nor falsehood, but opinion. Moreover, it is opinion firmly grounded in fact. The “fact-checkers” who grade it false based on the administration’s counter-argument are (at best) being misled.

The fact-checkers cite Sebelius’s pledge to issue waivers only to states that get at least 20% more people off welfare. Kaus points out that (1) that pledge was issued only after Republicans starting attacking the new policy, and (2) the easiest way for states to attain that 20% “improvement” is to increase the number of people on welfare by about 20%, at which point simple math will provide the 20% increase in people getting back off welfare. So Sebelius’s pledge doesn’t improve the new policy — it may make it even worse.


This, I believe

April 27, 2012

The execrable HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admits that she did not seek any legal advice before issuing her mandate requiring everyone, Catholics included, to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients as part of their health care.

If she had, her lawyer might have told her that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Who wants to hear that sort of thing?

(Via the Corner.)


The Chicago Way

February 7, 2012

An audit of the Department of Health and Human Services found $10 billion in discrepancies. But let’s be fair; HHS’s mandate is correcting Catholic theology, not accounting. . .


Obama’s next attack on freedom of religion

February 7, 2012

Unchastened by its 9-0 rebuke by the Supreme Court in its effort to gain the power to dictate to churches who their ministers will be, the Obama administration has turned its attention on Army chaplains. The administration prohibited Catholic chaplains in the Army from reading a pastoral letter from the Catholic Church to their congregations. (The letter opposed the Obama administration’s order that Catholic hospitals dispense contraceptives.) The administration also edited the letter before allowing it to be distributed in printed form.

Let’s please not have any more nonsense about this administration’s respect for civil liberties.


NYT does the NYT thing

August 16, 2011

Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) investigations must be getting too close for comfort, because he’s getting the full New York Times calumny treatment:

The Times piece has the odor of a rush job. It gets some small but important facts wrong. For example, contrary to the Times, Issa’s San Diego company doesn’t have an office in a building overlooking a golf course. The Times also accused Issa of splitting a holding company into “separate multibillion-dollar businesses” when he owns none (The Times corrected this in a later edition). The Times even suggested Issa went easy on Toyota during its recent troubles because his company is a supplier to the Japanese automaker. It’s not.

But the big stinker in the Times hit piece is its central accusation — that a building Issa bought for $10.3 million appreciated 60 percent after he secured congressional earmarks for nearby road construction. The Times used the wrong sale price, which was actually $16.6 million. So much for the Times’ 60 percent appreciation accusation. We hope the timing of the Issa slam has nothing to do with his subpoena threat to Sebelius, just as we hope the Times’ oversight regarding Waxman’s trial lawyer lucre and Obamacare is coincidental. But we’re not holding our breath.

(Via Instapundit.)


As predicted

September 21, 2010

The state of Connecticut has approved health insurance rate increases to cover Obamacare’s new mandates. No word yet on whether Kathleen Sebelius will sanction the entire state for its “misinformation”.


HHS predicted premium hikes

September 15, 2010

There’s an interesting coda to Kathleen Sebelius’s overt threats against health insurers that tell their customers that premium increases are resulting from Obamacare. Sebelius claimed that administration experts had determined that Obamacare’s early provisions would have a “minimal impact on premiums”.

That’s ridiculous on the face of it: if the cost of the new benefits were minimal, insurers would be offering them already. But we needn’t rely on economics and common sense. Sebelius’s own agency found that the new provisions would increase some premiums by as much as 7%. In comparison, the premium increases that she is blasting range from 1% to 9%. Even at the high end of that range, they’re not much higher than HHS’s own estimate.

(Previous post.)


Administration thuggery hits new low

September 10, 2010

Democrats don’t want people to tell the truth about their health care nationalization act. In the past, we’ve seen them ask for people to report their neighbors who speak ill of Democratic health care plans. We’ve seen them summon executives who disclosed the law’s impact on their books (as required by law) to Capitol Hill for a tongue-lashing. And we’ve seen them promise to “reeducate” those who oppose the law.

Now, health insurance companies that explain to their customers how the new law is forcing rate increases are coming under fire from the Obama administration:

President Barack Obama’s top health official on Thursday warned the insurance industry that the administration won’t tolerate blaming premium hikes on the new health overhaul law.

“There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter to the insurance lobby.

“Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections,” Sebelius said. She warned that bad actors may be excluded from new health insurance markets that will open in 2014 under the law. They’d lose out on a big pool of customers, as many as 30 million people nationwide.

(Emphasis mine.)

Once the nationalization law goes into full effect, most individual purchases of health care will have to go through the exchanges. Sure, there’s no requirement to use the exchanges, but few will be able to afford to forgo the subsidy. (It’s much like schooling: you pay for public school through your taxes, so you have to pay twice to use a private school instead. Most people can’t afford that.) And that’s assuming that the government doesn’t make the exchanges an outright requirement, which Democrats would dearly love to do.

So what Sebelius is saying is: tell your customers the truth about our law, and we will put you out of business.

Conversely, Sebelius is saying that we the public will not be permitted to buy insurance from anyone who tells us the truth.

This is an outrage, but it’s just the logical extension of the thuggery we’ve seen throughout this administration’s health care nationalization campaign. The administration demanded that industries pony up in support of the campaign, and those who didn’t bid enough got the shaft. Sebelius is warning her victims that they still have more shaft to give.

POSTSCRIPT: It’s no excuse for thuggery even if Sebelius is right and the insurance companies are wrong. But in any case, that’s vanishingly unlikely: Sebelius does not understand how business works, she admits she has no idea what Obamacare will cost, and she is a liar and a demagogue. (She’s also a tax cheat, but I suppose that doesn’t matter in this case.)

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Yeah, she’s lying. Her own agency predicted hikes similar to these.

UPDATE: Michael Barone weighs in.


Reeducate me

September 2, 2010

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, says that people who are opposed to Obamacare need to be reeducated.

I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she just doesn’t know that, in a political context, “reeducation” usually refers to indoctrination or worse.


Democrats covered up actuary report?

April 27, 2010

UPDATE: The Medicare Actuary says there is no truth to this report. (Via the Corner.)

UPDATE: The Spectator is standing by its story, sort of, saying that although the actual report had not been delivered, the data underlying it had. I have no idea whether or not that’s true, but in any case it’s not what they said originally. This gives the media an excuse (if they needed one) not to pursue the story, so I think this story will go away quickly. (Via Instapundit.)

Whether or not the Spectator is right now, there’s a lesson here: details matter. If you work for the MSM, you can afford to get the details wrong at first. If you’re on the outside, you have to get them right.

ORIGINAL POST:

Last week I noted that the Democrats had hurried through a vote on the health care nationalization bill before the Medicare Actuary could complete his report, which ultimately found that the bill would raise costs, not lower them. Now a far more serious allegation has been made, that the Democrats actually had the report and covered it up:

The economic report released last week by Health and Human Services, which indicated that President Barack Obama’s health care “reform” law would actually increase the cost of health care and impose higher costs on consumers, had been submitted to the office of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius more than a week before the Congressional votes on the bill, according to career HHS sources, who added that Sebelius’s staff refused to review the document before the vote was taken.

“The reason we were given was that they did not want to influence the vote,” says an HHS source. “Which is actually the point of having a review like this, you would think.”

The analysis, performed by Medicare’s Office of the Actuary, which in the past has been identified as a “nonpolitical” office, set off alarm bells when submitted. “We know a copy was sent to the White House via their legislative affairs staff,” says the HHS staffer, “and there were a number of meetings here almost right after the analysis was submitted to the secretary’s office. Everyone went into lockdown, and people here were too scared to go public with the report.”

In the end, the report was released several weeks after the vote — the review by the secretary’s office reportedly took less than three days — and bore a note that the analysis was not the official position of the Obama administration.

If these allegations are substantiated, this is a huge scandal. Will the press investigate?

(Via Instapundit.)


Medicare Actuary pans Obamacare

April 23, 2010

Surprise, surprise. The Medicare Actuary says that health care nationalization will cost more than projected:

President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law is getting a mixed verdict in the first comprehensive look by neutral experts: More Americans will be covered, but costs are also going up. . .

But the analysis also found that the law falls short of the president’s twin goal of controlling runaway costs, raising projected spending by about 1 percent over 10 years. That increase could get bigger, since Medicare cuts in the law may be unrealistic and unsustainable, the report warned. . .

In addition to flagging provider cuts as potentially unsustainable, the report projected that reductions in payments to private Medicare Advantage plans would trigger an exodus from the popular alternative. Enrollment would plummet by about 50 percent. Seniors leaving the private plans would still have health insurance under traditional Medicare, but many might face higher out-of-pocket costs. In another flashing yellow light, the report warned that a new voluntary long-term care insurance program created under the law faces “a very serious risk” of insolvency.

So the new law drives health care costs up, even if you assume Medicare reimbursements will be cut, which of course they won’t be. The full report is here. No wonder Democrats wouldn’t wait for the report before passing the bill.

BONUS: Kathleen Sebelius admits that she has no idea what the bill’s high-risk pools will cost.

POSTSCRIPT: The report did say that the bill would extend health coverage to 34 million more people, but as people will discover, coverage is not necessarily the same thing as access. At a talk I attended yesterday, Allan Meltzer pointed out that the bill does nothing to expand the supply of health care. Primary-care physicians are already underpaid, and the bill assumes their pay will be cut further. Thus, expanding coverage merely moves the long lines for treatment out of the emergency room and into the physician’s office where all of us can enjoy them.

UPDATE: In fact, most of the newly insured would be in Medicaid, which many doctors won’t accept because the reimbursement rates are so low.


More taxpayer financed propaganda

October 21, 2009

Roll Call reports:

Senate Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is raising concerns that a Department of Health and Human Services Web site that urges visitors to send an e-mail to President Barack Obama praising his health care reform plan may violate rules against government-funded propaganda.

The Web page is accessed through a “state your support” button featured prominently on the HHS Web site and carries a disclaimer that the Web site is maintained by HHS.

In a letter sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Tuesday, Grassley warned that “any possible misuse of appropriated funds by the executive branch to engage in publicity or propaganda in support of an Administration priority is a matter that must be investigated and taken seriously,” noting that in 2005 Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argued that “the use of official funds for similar activities were ‘underhanded tactics’ and that these tactics ‘are not worthy of our great democracy.’”

(Via the Corner.)


Taxpayers are chumps

September 11, 2009

Gosh, it’s been months since the last time the president nominated a tax cheat. The latest is Lael Brainard, nominated to be Undersecretary for International Affairs.

Dusting off the scorecard:

  • Geithner, Treasury Secretary (confirmed)
  • Daschle, HHS Secretary (withdrawn)
  • Killefer, “Chief Performance Officer” (withdrawn)
  • Solis, Labor Secretary (confirmed)
  • Emanuel, Chief of Staff (no confirmation required)
  • Kirk, US Trade Representative (confirmed)
  • Sebelius, HHS Secretary (confirmed)
  • Brainard, Undersecretary for International Affairs (nominated)

Taxpayers are chumps

March 31, 2009

(Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. . .)  The latest Obama cabinet appointment with unpaid tax is HHS nominee Kathleen Sebelius:

Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius recently corrected three years of tax returns and paid more than $7,000 in back taxes after finding “unintentional errors” _ the latest tax troubles for an Obama administration nominee. The Kansas governor explained the changes to senators in a letter dated Tuesday that the administration released. She said they involved charitable contributions, the sale of a home and business expenses.

(Via Instapundit.)

Here’s the updated scorecard:

  • Geithner, Treasury Secretary (confirmed)
  • Daschle, HHS Secretary (withdrawn)
  • Killefer, “Chief Performance Officer” (withdrawn)
  • Solis, Labor Secretary (confirmed)
  • Emanuel, Chief of Staff (no confirmation required)
  • Kirk, US Trade Representative (confirmed)
  • Sebelius, HHS Secretary (nominated)

Sebelius’s last trip into the national limelight was when when she politicized a tornado disaster by blaming the Iraq War for missing equipment.  The charge ultimately proved to be entirely without merit, which was obvious from the outset to anyone who knew how the military was managing equipment in Iraq.