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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, March 28, 2014

White House Premature On Obamacare Victory Lap | AP: "Poll: Obama Health Law Fails

Today in Washington, D.C. - March 28, 2014
The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene at 2 PM on Monday when it will begin consideration of H.R. 4302, the Medicare “doc fix” bill.

At 5:30 on Monday, there will be a series of votes on confirmation of the nomination of John Owens, to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, on passage of H.R. 4302, and on the motion to proceed to H.R. 3979, the vehicle for considering an extension of unemployment insurance again.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 54-44 (using the new rules Democrats created after breaking Senate rules with the nuclear option) to invoke cloture on the Owens nomination and 65-34 to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 3979.

The House reconvened pro-forma for 2 minutes at 11 AM today, The House returns on Tuesday, Apri 1st, at 12:00 PM.
Yesterday the House passed:
H.R. 4278 (399-19) — "To support the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4302 (Voice Vote) — "To amend the Social Security Act to extend Medicare payments to physicians and other provisions of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and for other purposes." This was another "doc fix" bill which is a temporary solution to the structural problem in the formula used to determine Medicare funding levels. This bill prevents a 24% reduction in reimbursements to physicians under Medicare. This is not a permanent fix to the ongoing problem.

The White House spent much of yesterday afternoon crowing about an announcement from the HHS department that supposedly 6 million people have enrolled in Obamacare programs.

But, as National Journal’s Ron Founier reminded high-fiving White House officials, this is a “Premature victory lap” for a number of reasons. The Hill explained, “[T]he number of people who have actually purchased coverage is likely significantly lower. Analysts estimate that as many as 20 percent of enrollees haven’t paid their first month's premium, meaning that roughly 1 million of the 6 million do not have insurance coverage. The administration has also said it doesn’t know yet how many enrollees already had an insurance plan and how many are obtaining coverage for the first time. Conservatives have cited studies that indicate many of those obtaining coverage under ObamaCare were previously insured and argue this means the law is falling short of its goal to enroll as many of the uninsured as possible.”

And as ABC News recalls, “6 million is not the number the administration had originally envisioned. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted in May that 7 million people would enroll in Obamacare by the end of March. And at the time, it certainly seemed like the administration had adopted the CBO’s estimate as its target number. In June, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called 7 million a ‘realistic target.’ And an internal U.S. Department of Health and Human Services memo circulated in September heralded the 7 million enrollee goal. Sebelius embraced the CBO estimate again in late September, telling NBC News, ‘success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014.’”

Of course enrollments are hardly the only aspect of Obamacare to consider. First and foremost are the continuing stories of Americans who “are paying more and getting so much less,” as one Utah woman wrote to Sen. Orrin Hatch. Others are endlessly frustrated with the “bureaucratic nightmare” the law has created, as a woman in Florida described it in a TV interview. Even a supporter of the law from Oregon declared, “The system is Kafkaesque.” Just today, The New York Times reports, “Wayne Buchholz, a 47-year-old rancher in Rhame, N.D., saw his high-deductible insurance policy canceled; he bought a new policy for his family, he said, but the premium doubled, to $800 a month, and the $12,000 annual deductible is similar to what it was before. ‘Liberals in Washington think that we are not smart enough to make our own decisions, that I’m too stupid to decide what’s good for me,’ Mr. Buchholz said. ‘In the past, I deliberately chose to have a higher deductible and a lower premium because I believe that insurance should be there for costs we cannot afford. Now I have a high premium and a high deductible, and virtually no choice.’”

On top of all this, the AP reports today, “Public support for President Barack Obama's health care law is languishing at its lowest level since passage of the landmark legislation four years ago, according to a new poll. The Associated Press-GfK survey finds that 26 percent of Americans support the Affordable Care Act.” The story notes that “only 5 percent of Americans say the launch of the insurance exchanges has gone very or extremely well” and “[o]f those who said they or someone in their household tried signing up for coverage, 59 percent said there were problems.”

Meanwhile, the endless parade of problems with the law and its implementation marches on. An AP story on Wednesday noted, “HealthCare.gov, the online portal to taxpayer-subsidized health insurance, runs slowly when compared with major private health insurer websites. That's according to an analysis for The Associated Press by Compuware, a Detroit company that measures website performance. . . . Compuware says the speed of HealthCare.gov is ‘unacceptable.’”

Earlier this week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell considered the state of Obamacare and said, “[Democrats] promised the sun and the moon to sell this thing. They said it would create jobs. They also said it would improve the economy, lower premiums, and insure the uninsured without causing Americans to lose their insurance, their doctors, or their hospitals. The kind of claims that would've made Billy Mays blush. But now, Americans know better.

“Evidence shows that not only will Obamacare encourage less job creation, but that it’s also making the economy worse, that it’s driving premiums higher, and that it won’t come anywhere near insuring all the uninsured – while causing millions of Americans to lose the insurance and the doctors they were promised they could keep. It’s also a law that’s unravelling before our very eyes. As we read this week, the Administration has now handed out so many waivers, special favors, and exemptions to help Democrats out politically, that the heart of the law – the individual mandate – may no longer even be viable. It's basically become the legal equivalent of Swiss cheese. And there’s a broader point here: If Washington Democrats think Obamacare is so bad that they need to exempt that many people from its mandates, then why shouldn't we just remove that hardship for everyone?”

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Posted by Bill Smith at 12:57 PM - Post Link

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