How do you say Obamacare in Spanglish?

February 14, 2014

The Spanish-language version of Healthcare.gov isn’t actually in Spanish:

The Associated Press reports “the translations were so clunky and full of grammatical mistakes that critics say they must have been computer-generated.” The situation is even worse when applicants begin digging into then nitty-gritty of the plans. “When you get into the details of the plans, it’s not all written in Spanish. It’s written in Spanglish, so we end up having to translate it for them,” Adrian Madriz, a health care navigator in Miami, told the AP.

From a Republican, this would be proof of racism.

(Previous post.) (Via PJ Tatler.)


Schadenfreudelicious

February 14, 2014

This can’t help but bring a smile to your face:

It’s getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naïve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation. . .

The win-at-all-cost mentality helped create a culture in which a partisan-line vote was deemed sufficient for passing transcendent legislation. It spurred advisers to develop a dishonest talking point—”If you like your health plan, you’ll be able to keep your health plan.” And political expediency led Obama to repeat the line, over and over and over again, when he knew, or should have known, it was false.

Defending the ACA became painfully harder when online insurance markets were launched from a multi-million-dollar website that didn’t work, when autopsies on the administration’s actions revealed an epidemic of incompetence that began in the Oval Office and ended with no accountability.

Then officials started fudging numbers and massaging facts to promote implementation, nothing illegal or even extraordinary for this era of spin. But they did more damage to the credibility of ACA advocates.

Finally, there are the ACA rule changes—at least a dozen major adjustments, without congressional approval.

Read the whole thing, and enjoy.

(Previous post.)


The first rule of Obamacare job cuts is: do not talk about Obamacare job cuts

February 14, 2014

The latest in Barack Obama’s make-it-up-as-we-go-along approach to implementing the law:

You’ve no doubt heard about the latest ObamaCare “delay”–the announcement that the Internal Revenue Service will waive fines on certain employers that do not provide workers with medical insurance. That “employer mandate,” which by law took effect this year, had already been put off until 2015. Now it won’t be enforced until 2016 for companies with between 50 and 99 employees, and those with 100 or more will escape fines if they offer insurance to 70% of their employees rather than the 95% stipulated in the law.

Of course, they have no statutory authority for any of that. And yes, that’s still an outrage, however common it is becoming from this administration. But I want to look a different aspect of this. Employers can avoid the mandate until 2016 if they can get below 100 employees. And thus the administration responds:

Obama officials made clear in a press briefing that firms would not be allowed to lay off workers to get into the preferred class of those businesses with 50 to 99 employees. How will the feds know what employers were thinking when hiring and firing? Simple. Firms will be required to certify to the IRS–under penalty of perjury–that ObamaCare was not a motivating factor in their staffing decisions. To avoid ObamaCare costs you must swear that you are not trying to avoid ObamaCare costs.

The administration has no statutory authority to make any such demand, and even if it did, the statute would be unconstitutional. But that may not matter, because no one wants to be harassed by the IRS, even if they have the law on their side.

What the Obama administration is saying is this: go ahead and cut jobs to get under 100, but don’t tell anyone that’s what you’re doing. If we see any embarrassing stories about Obamacare job cuts, we’re siccing the IRS on you.

(Previous post.)


Settled law

February 12, 2014

Barack Obama, October 2013, responding to Republican efforts to delay implementation of Obamacare:

Stop this farce. End this shutdown now. The American people don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job. Neither does Congress. They don’t get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law. They don’t get to kick a child out of Head Start if I don’t agree to take her parents’ health insurance away. That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work. That’s why I won’t pay a ransom in exchange for reopening the government.

February 2014, delaying implementation of Obamacare:

For the second time in a year, the Obama administration is giving certain employers extra time before they must offer health insurance to almost all their full-time workers. Under new rules announced Monday by Treasury Department officials, employers with 50 to 99 workers will be given until 2016 — two years longer than originally envisioned under the Affordable Care Act — before they risk a federal penalty for not complying.

Obamacare is “settled law” exactly as much as Obama wants it to be:

unilaterallychanged

 

(Via Instapundit.)

BONUS: News from an alternate universe:

In a move certain to please his conservative supporters and infuriate his critics, President Romney announced this afternoon that his administration would make yet another change to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In a terse release, posted without fanfare to the Department of Health and Human Services website, officials revealed that the law’s employer mandate would be suspended until 2016 for all businesses that employ between 50 and 99 people.

Read the whole thing.

(Previous post.)


Law of unintended consequences, repealed!

February 12, 2014

One big problem for liberal social engineers is the law of unintended consequences. They pass a law that is supposed to accomplish a goal (e.g., raise the minimum wage), but people then change their behavior to mitigate the law’s effect (e.g., hire fewer low-wage workers). Why won’t people just cooperate: change the one thing liberals want and leave everything else alone?

So, get this:

Some lawmakers, though, have claimed that the mere threat of the employer mandate is causing companies to shed full-time workers in the hope of keeping their staff size below 50 and avoiding the requirement.

Administration officials dispute that this is happening on any large scale. Further, Treasury officials said Monday that businesses will be told to “certify” that they are not shedding full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate. Officials said employers will be told to sign a “self-attestation” on their tax forms affirming this, under penalty of perjury.

(Via Hot Air.)

Now, I’m not sure what legal authority they have to demand this; certainly I never heard of any. But in those thousand pages there could certainly be some provision that wasn’t noticed before (“we have to pass it to find out what’s in it”!). Let’s assume there is. (And if not, it doesn’t really matter to my point.)

This is simply brilliant. Liberals have a problem with people changing their behavior to cope with their interference, why not simply prohibit that? Simply ban the unintended consequences!

Why stop here? Tax increases make people cut back on business expansions. Make them attest — under penalty of perjury — that they are growing their business every bit as much as they would have. Price controls lead to shortages? Don’t let producers cut back. (It’s working in Venezuela, right?) Debasing the currency leads to inflation? Prohibit employers from raising wages. Welfare and social engineering destroying the nuclear family? Just require any single people to attest that they wouldn’t otherwise have gotten married. And if the self-attestation process has unintended consequences, just ban those too.

There’s really no limit to what they can accomplish, once behavior becomes clay they can mold instead of living people’s choices. (Darn those living people and their choices, anyway!)

And if it doesn’t work, at least you’ve got more ways you can harass the people you don’t like. It’s a win-win for liberals.

UPDATE: More here.

(Previous post.)


You can check out any time you like

February 9, 2014

As hard as it might be to enroll in Obamacare, un-enrolling is even worse:

Think it’s hard to enroll in ObamaCare? Try getting out of it.

Missouri resident Lesli Hill learned the hard way that terminating an Affordable Care Act plan can be far more difficult than navigating the website to buy one. She spent six weeks being bounced from operator to operator, calling the help line, using the online chat, blasting out emails to anyone who would listen, before ultimately driving to Kansas City last week to enlist her insurance company’s help. Only then was she able to break through the bureaucratic logjam, and cancel her policy.

(Previous post.)


Obamacare delenda est

February 5, 2014

The only silver lining to Obamacare is all the chances I get to say I told you so:

The new healthcare law will cost the nation the equivalent of 2.5 million workers in the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in a report released Tuesday.

The nonpartisan agency found the reform law’s negative effects on employment would be “substantially larger” than what it had previously anticipated.

It said the equivalent of 2.3 million workers would be lost by 2021, compared to its previous estimate of 800,000, and that 2.5 million workers would be lost by 2024. It also projected that labor force compensation would be reduced by 1 percent from 2017 to 2024 — twice its previous estimate.

But wait, there’s more:

One killer detail comes on Page 111, where the report projects: “As a result of the ACA, between 6 million and 7 million fewer people will have employment-based insurance coverage each year from 2016 through 2024 than would be the case in the absence of the ACA.”

Well, maybe millions will lose their employment-based coverage, but they’ll all get coverage back from the exchanges, right? Nope:

“About 31 million nonelderly residents of the United States are likely to be without health insurance in 2024, roughly one out of every nine such residents.”

Why? Because, in selling the bill to the American people in a nationally televised September 2009 address, President Obama said the need for ObamaCare was urgent precisely because “there are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.”

Now the CBO is saying is that in 10 years, about the same number of people will lack insurance as before. This, after new expenditures of as much as $2 trillion and a colossal disruption of the US medical system.

ASIDE: That statistic, bad as it is, doesn’t even tell the whole story. It just counts all those with some kind of insurance, neglecting the fact that nearly everyone is paying more for worse insurance.

In short, Obamacare is a complete failure. It is wrecking the economy, while utterly failing to do anything about the problem of the insured. More precisely, it’s a disaster, not a failure. Despite everything, it is succeeding in its real aim, which is to give the government more power.

BONUS: As a bonus, Glenn Reynolds digs this up, where Factcheck.org “fact-checked” Republican predictions that Obamacare would fail:

Independent, nonpartisan experts project only a “small” or “minimal” impact on jobs, even before taking likely job gains in the health care and insurance industries into account. . . One leading health care expert, John Sheils of The Lewin Group, puts the loss at between 150,000 and 300,000 jobs, at or near the minimum wage. And Sheils says that relatively small loss would be partly offset by gains in the health care industry.

Look, you can’t fact-check a prediction. It’s a prediction! And, as it turns out, all the predictions that they labeled misleading (as many as 1.6 million jobs lost) were much more rosy that what the CBO now says is actually happening (2.5 million jobs lost).

POSTSCRIPT: It’s worth noting that we’ve moved on from the side-show which was the Healthcare.gov debacle (although Healthcare.gov still doesn’t work!), and on to the first confirmation of real economic damage. Healthcare.gov was a surprise; we assumed that they would be able to build a web site. Stuff like this is what we were expecting. And worse to come.

(Previous post.)


Obamacare malware

February 4, 2014

Just when you thought Obamacare’s woes couldn’t get any worse:

U.S. intelligence agencies last week urged the Obama administration to check its new health care network for malicious software after learning that developers linked to the Belarus government helped produce the website, raising fresh concerns that private data posted by millions of Americans will be compromised. . .

Specifically, officials warned that programmers in Belarus, a former Soviet republic closely allied with Russia, were suspected of inserting malicious code that could be used for cyber attacks, according to U.S. officials familiar with the concerns.

It seems astonishing that they would have hired Belarusian developers to build the Obamacare exchanges, until you remember that Obamacare’s developers were chosen specifically for their ability to refuse a Congressional subpoena. Then it doesn’t seem so astonishing after all.

On some level it even seems appropriate, since Obamacare is basically a malware attack on the US health care system.

(Previous post.)


You can’t make this stuff up

January 20, 2014

The help line for Maryland’s Obamacare exchange connects to a Seattle pottery store.

(Previous post.)


I call BS

January 12, 2014

The Denver Post, it seems, is happy to print Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-CO) fevered imagination as fact:

More than two-thirds of the 250,000 people whose health policies the state Division of Insurance said last week were “terminated” have actually been offered renewals of existing plans through 2014, according to research by U.S. Sen. Mark Udall’s office. . .

Insurance companies have been sending out cancellation notices to consumers with plans that don’t meet minimum benefit levels required by the health care act. . . Many of the cancellation notices, however, also contain language allowing customers to renew their existing policies.

(Emphasis mine.) According to “research” by Udall, who previously tried unsuccessfully to pressure his state to fudge the cancellation numbers.

What would it even mean to send out a cancellation notice that allowed the customer to renew? That’s simply a contradiction in terms. I’ve looked at hundreds of cancellation notices at mycancellation.com and I’ve never seen anything that could possibly be described this way. We are asked to believe that there are hundreds of thousands of such self-contradictory letters in Colorado alone. Were that true, they could include at least one example.

(Previous post.) (Via Power Line.)


How to destroy health insurance

January 11, 2014

If you want to destroy a health insurance market, institute community rating (every customer pays about the same, regardless of risk) and guaranteed issue (no applicant can be turned down). That puts the market into a death spiral: prices soar, so the healthy flee, so the prices soar even more. New York showed how it’s done:

New York state’s guaranteed issue and community rating rules—the two regulations that limit how insurers can charge based on health history and require them to sell policies to all comers—took effect in 1994. At the time, there were about 752,000 policyholders in the state’s individual market, or about 4.7 percent of the non-Medicare population. But by 2009, according to a Manhattan Institute report by Stephen Parente and Tarren Bragdon, the state’s individual market had practically disappeared, leaving just 34,000 participants, or about 0.2 percent of the non-elderly population. Individual insurance premiums, meanwhile, were among the highest in the nation—about $388 on average in 2007, compared with just $151 in California, another big Democratic-leaning state. In New York City, the annualized premium cost for individuals was more than $9,300 and more than $26,400 for a family.

The median household income in New York City is $50,711, so health insurance is quite literally unaffordable, it would cost over half the typical family’s income.

Obamacare is different, as it includes an individual mandate. This is supposed to prevent the death spiral: prices soar (boy, do they), but the healthy aren’t allowed to flee, so prices don’t soar further. There’s a couple of problems with the theory though.

First, the individual mandate’s penalty isn’t really severe enough to force people into the market. Many people will pay the penalty rather than sign up for expensive insurance they don’t think they need. In fact, the fact that the penalty isn’t severe enough is part of why John Roberts was able to convince himself that it could be construed as a tax, not a penalty, and thus found constitutional. If the mandate actually worked, it would be unconstitutional.

Second, as I’ve noted before, the quality of health insurance is not uniform. Even if the mandate worked, it doesn’t force healthy people into good plans. Consequently, good plans will become unaffordable and cease to exist.

(Previous post.)


Writing on the walls

January 11, 2014

If it wasn’t clear that Democrats are running scared from Obamacare, check out this Star Tribune column explaining that Al Franken (D-MN) wasn’t really the 60th vote for Obamacare. In fact, no one was!

They’ve abandoned “Obamacare is good” and are now attempting “it’s not my fault.” I don’t think it will work any better.

(Previous post.)


Ha ha, good one!

January 10, 2014

The Obama administration says that people who have their personal information stolen through Obamacare should not be notified:

The Obama administration stopped short Thursday of threatening to veto House bills to require officials to tell people if their personal data has been compromised through ObamaCare, and to require weekly reports on the health law’s implementation.

The White House said in two Statements of Administration Policy that it opposed both bills, one of which is set for a Friday vote in the House. . .

In its second statement, the White House said officials are already working on security issues with the HealthCare.gov website. Additionally, it repeated that the legislation requiring reports on data breaches would create “costly paperwork requirements.”

Got that? They are against warning people who they have made vulnerable to identity theft, because — don’t drink a beverage right now! — it’s too expensive! They waste trillions on one boondoggle after another, but suddenly become miserly when it comes to notifying people that they screwed up and exposed them to identify theft.

(Via JammieWearingFool.)

UPDATE: Democrats broke ranks with President Obama to vote for this. Good. But get this:

The White House said it opposed the bill, arguing the government already has plans to tell people if their information has been compromised.

We oppose it because we plan to do it anyway. Pinky swear!

Sheesh. That’s so lame even his own party isn’t buying it.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


As predicted

January 10, 2014

We’ve been talking for months about the disaster that is the Healthcare.gov back-end, and now, as predicted:

Record-keeping snags could complicate the start of insurance coverage this month as people begin using policies they purchased under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Insurance companies are still trying to sort out cases of so-called health insurance orphans, customers for whom the government has a record that they enrolled, but the insurer does not.

Government officials say the problem is real but under control, with orphan records being among the roughly 13,000 problem cases they are trying to resolve with insurers. But insurance companies are worried the process will grow more cumbersome as they deal with the flood of new customers who signed up in December as enrollment deadlines neared.

More than 1 million people have signed up through the federal insurance market that serves 36 states. Officials contend the error rate for new signups is close to zero.

Insurers, however, are less enthusiastic about the pace of the fixes. The companies also are seeing cases in which the government has assigned the same identification number to more than one person, as well as so-called “ghost” files in which the insurer has an enrollment record but the government does not.

Note that the 13,000 problem cases are only the ones they know about. Any “orphans” who haven’t come forward during the first ten days aren’t counted among the number.

(Previous post.) (Via Hot Air.)


If you don’t like the numbers, change them

January 9, 2014

Colorado senator Mark Udall (D) asked his state’s insurance regulators to cook its numbers to reduce the number of people receiving cancellations notices because of Obamacare. To their credit, Colorado’s regulators refused.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


The model for the nation

January 9, 2014

Massachusetts’s health care system, which was loosely the model for Obamacare, is delivering the highest health care costs in the country.

(Previous post.)


Iowa resets

January 9, 2014

Everyone in Iowa who thought they signed up for health insurance on the Obamacare web site needs to sign up again. Every single person.

(Previous post.)


I got pinched!

January 7, 2014

It’s terrible how people are getting screwed by Obamacare. But, if anyone has it coming, it’s the people who fought for it when they thought someone else would pay, and are only now finding out they were the suckers:

One Oregon mother says that she is unable to afford health insurance for her and her 18-month-old son because it’s too expensive.

The woman — who wishes to remain anonymous — tells KOIN-TV that she originally championed President Barack Obama’s signature health care law because she thought it would help people in her situation.

“I’ve been a cheerleader for the Affordable Care Act since I heard about it and I assumed that it was designed for people in my situation,” she told KOIN. “I was planning on using the Affordable Care Act and I had done the online calculator in advance to make sure I was going to be able to afford it.”

ASIDE: What, the online calculator lied? Imagine that.

I’m reminded of an exchange from Firefly (from Ariel, one of my favorite episodes):

Mal: You called the Feds.
Jayne: I got pinched!
Mal: Which is what happens when you call the Feds.

She thought that the feds would help her profit at the expense of others, but it turns out all the got was skyrocketing premiums and no subsidy. Which is what happens when you call the Feds.

(Previous post.) (Via Vodkapundit.)


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.)


The human cost of Obamacare

December 31, 2013

Read this. Wow.

(Previous post.)


They don’t like the dog food

December 26, 2013

Even the well-implemented Obamacare exchanges aren’t winning customers:

Our state-based exchange has been hailed as one of the best in the country and yet signup numbers are low. “Why,” they queried? . . .

With all this and having already spent or committed well over 50 million dollars, the number of individual New Mexicans who have signed up for Obama’s health insurance is… 291.

The NM HIX did everything right to sell Obamacare. The people are not buying.

(Previous post.)


Obamacare-compliant, non-functioning exchange

December 26, 2013

Even Massachusettsians who liked Romneycare generally oppose Obamacare. And for good reason, it turns out:

I live in Massachusetts, a state that had, under Governor Mitt Romney, pioneered the “individual mandate” and “universal coverage” that are at the center of Obamacare. You’d think they’d have a functioning Web site for health insurance. And they did, a year or so ago when I window-shopped for health insurance. Since then, however, to become compliant with Obamacare, the state scrapped the old RomneyCare web site and replaced it with a non-functioning Obamacare site.

By “non-functioning,” I mean, “non-functioning.” As in, it really doesn’t work.

They replaced their working exchange with an Obamacare-compliant broken exchange. Awesome.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


All your assets are belong to Medicaid

December 26, 2013

One of the main ways that Obamacare is expanding health coverage is by expanding Medicaid. This is not only bad for the country as a whole, it’s bad for the recipients themselves. Medicaid is so bad, its recipients actually have worse health outcomes than if they had no health insurance at all.

Now comes a new revelation about how truly awful Medicaid is: Not only is it worse than nothing, it doesn’t even cost nothing. People think of Medicaid as a government entitlement, like Medicare, but it’s not. If you’re on Medicaid, the government reserves the right to seize any meager assets you might have, to pay for your worse-than-nothing Medicaid care.

(Previous post.)


“Leading by example”

December 24, 2013

Barack Obama has signed up for Obamacare:

President Barack Obama has signed up for health insurance through an Affordable Care Act exchange, the White House said Monday. In what an official acknowledged is a “symbolic” move since the president gets his medical care from the military, Obama selected a low-cost bronze plan through the District of Columbia exchange.

Obama gets free gold-plated personal care at an instant’s notice (he likes that plan and will keep it), but, as a PR gesture, he will throw a little money into a plan he doesn’t need. At least he’s suffering through Healthcare.gov with the common people. . .

Oh, wait:

But Obama did not directly sign up for insurance. Rather, his staff went in person to sign him up, an official told POLITICO. “Like some Americans, the complicated nature of the president’s case required an in-person sign-up,” the official said.

Figures. When the system didn’t work for him, he sent his flunkies to a back door that is not available to the common folk. So get this:

Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told American Urban Radio Networks that the president is “leading by example” . . .

Leading by example? I don’t think that means what you think it means.

(Previous post.)


HHS won’t disclose security breaches

December 23, 2013

HHS, which under the execrable Obamacare law gets to make its own rules, has decided that it will not be required to disclose any security breaches, even to the people whose information is stolen.

And security breaches are a virtual certainty; recall that the system was deemed too insecure to go live, but went live anyway, in violation of government rules. Indeed, they’ve happened already.

(Previous post.)


Congress warned against trusting Healthcare.gov

December 21, 2013

Healthcare.gov is good enough for America (or so we are told), but it’s not good enough for Congress:

Congressional staffers were warned Wednesday not to rely on information provided by the ObamaCare exchange website, in an email alert informing them they might not be enrolled for coverage even if they technically signed up.

The “very important” message, sent to Capitol Hill officials Wednesday afternoon, is the latest sign that the government has concerns about the reliability of the system. Despite improvements in the basic operation of the exchange websites, and increased enrollment, there are lingering concerns about whether those signing up will actually be covered on Jan. 1.

“Please DO NOT ASSUME you are covered unless you have seen the Confirmation Letter from the Disbursing Office!” the email to staffers said.

The email urged staffers who have signed up via the DC Health Link — the health care exchange for the District of Columbia — to double check with the office that they’re enrolled.

(Previous post.)


White House appoints new Healthcare.gov chief fixer

December 21, 2013

Politico reports:

The White House is tapping the private sector for its next point man to oversee the troubled Obamacare website. The administration is set to announce that Kurt DelBene, a former executive at Microsoft, will succeed Jeff Zients in leading the oversight of the embattled HealthCare.gov.

Wait, I thought they told us Healthcare.gov was fixed now. Why do they still need someone to fix it? They couldn’t have been lying, could they?

(Previous post.)


Healthcare.gov deemed too insecure to go live, went live anyway

December 21, 2013

The chief information security officer at CMS (which runs Healthcare.gov), determined that Healthcare.gov was too insecure and recommended that it not go live. As usual, political considerations took priority over reality and she was overruled.

And the security failings continue to be serious:

A top HealthCare.gov security officer told Congress there have been two, serious high-risk findings since the website’s launch, including one on Monday of this week, CBS News has learned.

Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), revealed the findings when she was interviewed Tuesday behind closed doors by House Oversight Committee officials. The security risks were not previously disclosed to members of Congress or the public.

Well, of course they didn’t disclose the problems to Congress! Literally their entire effort has been organized to avoid disclosing problems to Congress.

(Previous post.)


No health insurance at any price

December 21, 2013

The latest Obamacare catastrophe is so bad, it would be comical if it weren’t ruining lives. Due to a drafting error in the law (I’m assuming it was an error), it will be literally impossible to buy health insurance at any price in the Northern Mariana Islands:

Because of a quirk in the Affordable Care Act’s drafting, the Northern Mariana Islands and the four other American territories are subject to some parts of the law but not others. This has messed up the individual market in the Northern Mariana Islands so badly that the one plan selling policies there told the territory’s top insurance commissioner it would not sell new plans for 2014.

In other words: Beginning Jan. 1, regulators expect it will be literally impossible for an individual to buy a new policy in the Northern Mariana Islands, and difficult in other territories.

If you like your health insurance, you lose it, and you can’t get any to replace it.

(Previous post.)