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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Obamacare Exchanges "Not Like Travelocity" | Obamacare National Marketing Campaign To Cost Nearly $700M

Editorial Cartoon by William Warren
Today in Washington, D.C. - July 26, 2013
The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene on Monday, when it will take up the nomination of James Comey to be FBI director.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 98-1 to confirm Derek West as Associate Attorney General and voted 56-42 to table (to kill) a motion from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to recommit S. 1243, the Fiscal Year 2014 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill, to the Appropriations Committee with instructions that it be reported back with an amendment to limit spending levels to $45.5 billion.

The House convened at 10 Am for two minutes and set the next meeting of the House at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30, 2013. Yesterday, the House voted 265-155 to pass H.R. 2218 to amend subtitle D of the Solid Waste Disposal Act to encourage recovery and beneficial use of coal combustion residuals and establish requirements for the proper management and disposal of coal combustion residuals that are protective of human health and the environment.

Is the White House Spoiling for a Government Shutdown?  Well, now we know why the president won’t dismiss the idea of a government shutdown – his White House is busy mapping out a strategy that could make one happen.

According to the Washington Post, “[s]enior White House officials are discussing a budget strategy that could lead to a government shutdown” this fall. “Under this scenario, the president might refuse to sign a new funding measure that did not roll back the sequester.” The sequester he proposed and insisted on, that is.

This emerging White House strategy is consistent with recent administration threats to veto any spending bill unless Congress agrees to the president’s demand for a broader budget deal with higher taxes and higher spending – the type of explicit threat to shut down the government rarely seen in Washington.

This is a radical reversal for the president who, previously said: “[B]y law, until Congress takes the sequester away, we’d have to abide by those additional cuts.  But there’s no reason why we should have another crisis by shutting the government down in addition to these arbitrary spending cuts.” (Statement by the President on the Sequester, 3/1/13)

Republicans are no fans of the sequester and voted to replace it – twice. Senate Democrats have passed no legislation to replace the sequester, and the president has put no pressure on his party to do so.

If the president truly wanted to replace the arbitrary cuts he insisted on, he would work with the House to enact smarter spending cuts and reforms that strengthen our economy. He wouldn’t be threatening to shut down the government unless he gets another tax hike to pay for more of the ‘stimulus’-style spending he’s touting.

Every day, there’s a new story on the “train wreck” that the implementation of Obamacare is turning into and how it’s failing to live up to the promises Democrats made about it.

Just a month ago, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a press release touted the exchanges created by the health care law,  “In the same way that websites like Travelocity allow consumers to compare multiple options according to features and price, the new exchanges will give millions of now uninsured or underinsured Americans a way to enroll for health insurance.” Yesterday, in a story headlined, “New health insurance markets: Not like Travelocity,” the AP wrote, “You may have heard that shopping for health insurance under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul will be like using Travelocity or Amazon. But many people will end up with something more mundane than online shopping, like a call to the help desk. Struggling with a deadline crunch, some states are delaying online tools that could make it easier for consumers to find the right plan when the markets go live on Oct. 1.

Ahead of open enrollment for millions of uninsured Americans, the feds and the states are investing in massive call centers. ‘The description that this was going to be like Travelocity was a very simplistic way of looking at it,’ said Christine Ferguson, director of the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange. ‘I never bought into it.’ . . . The Obama administration, which will be running the markets or taking the lead in 35 states, has yet to demonstrate the technology platform that will help consumers get financial help with their premiums and pick a plan. . . . It's a complicated transaction with different components, including arranging financing and picking the right product, each with its own choices and trade-offs. You may need a glossary of health insurance terms. And there's another layer. One part of the process involves applying for federal benefits — with consequences if you lie to the government, or maybe just make a mistake.”

As the ever expanding set of regulations and complications of Obamacare comes to light, it’s little wonder Americans continue to sour on this law. National Journal wrote last night, “Opponents of President Obama's health care law overwhelmingly believe the Affordable Care Act will worsen the quality of their care, and even a plurality of the law's supporters don't think it will improve their health care . . . . These findings from this week's United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll underscore why the law has become so politically precarious for the White House. . . . Those who disapprove of the measure feel more strongly than those who approve. In a new CBS News poll released Wednesday, the majority of respondents, 54%, said they disapprove of the health care law, while only 36% approved. But the poll also explored the intensity of those feelings: Only 15% ‘strongly approve,’ 21% ‘somewhat approve,’ 18 percent ‘somewhat disapprove,’ and 36% ‘strongly disapprove.’ . . . Overall, this week's poll found just 18% of Americans believed the law will improve their health care ‘at least somewhat,’ one-third believe it will make their care worse, and 41 percent think it won't have much of an impact at all. Among the 36% of respondents who want to repeal Obamacare, two-thirds think it will make their health care worse.”

With Americans’ rightful continuing skepticism of this law, the Obama administration is apparently pulling out all the stops to spend taxpayer money to sell the law to Americans paying for it. According to the AP, “The campaign won’t come cheap: The total amount to be spent nationally on publicity, marketing and advertising will be at least $684 million.” The Washington Post described the form some of this taxpayer-funded marketing would take: “In Connecticut, selling Obamacare involves airplanes flying banners across beaches. Oregon may reel in hipsters with branded coffee cups for their lattes. And in neighboring Washington, the effort could get quite intimate: The state is interested in sponsoring portable toilets at concerts.” Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal noted that Teddy Roosevelt, “[t]he long-suffering presidential mascot for the Washington Nationals baseball team starred in a video promo last night with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to promote Obamacare.

The video aired before the Nationals game last night with the Pittsburgh Pirates.” And today, Reuters describes “the first wave of 2,000 community organizers in California getting trained to persuade more than 1 million uninsured people in the state to sign up for subsidized health coverage under President Barack Obama's reform law. . . . Among U.S. states, California will have the largest force deployed in a massive national outreach effort costing hundreds of millions of dollars. These thousands of foot soldiers will have to promote the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the face of widespread political opposition and public skepticism. . . . Opponents of the health reform law have criticized the public funds spent on mobilizing tens of thousands of people like Kayali into what they say is a highly politicized campaign.”

Speaking about Obamacare yesterday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “[G]oing around telling people Obamacare’s ‘working the way it’s supposed to,’ or that it’s ‘fabulous’ or ‘wonderful,’ as several of our Democrat ... have done ...  doesn’t change reality. It’s just words. It doesn’t change the fact that recent surveys show only 13%  of Americans now believe the law will help them. Or that about half believe it will make things worse for the middle class. Or that actuaries are now predicting cost increases of 30% or more in my home state of Kentucky. . . . So, if the President is ready to ‘pivot’ from campaign mode to governing mode, he can start by dropping the misleading claims and admitting what pretty much everyone knows: that a lot of Americans are going to feel pain once this ocean-full of tomorrows finally crashes ashore. Americans are worried. I don’t blame them.”

Leader McConnell called on the president to sign a bill that would delay both the employer and individual mandates in Obamacare. “It would be a great first step . . . a delay that would give Republicans and Democrats the chance to start over and work together this time on bipartisan, step-by-step health reforms that could actually lower costs.”

Tags: Obamacare, exchanges, marketing campaign  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 1:54 PM - Post Link


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