Category Archives: Obamacare

House GOP Leaders Take Up The Banner Of Obamacare Trutherism

China-currency-boehner

AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Anything to cast aspersion on the POTUS’ signature achievement.  Looks like a simple case of ACA envy to me…

TPM DC

“After two delays by the Administration, on March 31st Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges ended open enrollment with a purported 7.1 million signed up,” McCarthy’s release begins. “President Obama declared that ‘the debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.’ But this is hardly the end of the story.”

McCarthy’s office then outlined five data points it wanted to know about, alleging that the Obama administration “has refused to provide key information that would shed light on the true number of enrollees.” Those are:

  • How many effectuated enrollment (signed up and paid a premium)
  • How many paid their first month’s premium but not their second or third
  • How many were previously uninsured
  • How many young and healthy signed up (affecting rates)
  • How many received a subsidy (raising concerns about fraud)

At least two of those have been explicitly explained in the enrollment reports released by the Obama administration — and updated data will presumably be included in the March report expected Thursday.The February enrollment report included information on the last two: the demographics of enrollees and data on how many were eligible for financial assistance. First, 25 percent of the 4.2 million people who had enrolled through February were ages 18 to 34, the crucial “young and healthy” group. Second, 83 percent of those who signed up for a plan were eligible for financial help.

On the premium question, the administration has insisted that, because people pay insurance companies directly, only insurers have that information. Outside estimates have put the number at 80 to 90 percent of enrollees have paid. As for how many enrollees were previously uninsured, HealthCare.gov and most of the state websites didn’t collect that particular data point. Independent estimates put the number at one-third or so, although it seems that the uninsured comprised a bigger share of the late enrollment surge. They were also covered via Medicaid, which isn’t included in the 7 million number.

The question about whether people paid their second and third premiums appears new, and it’s unclear why that has now become a concern for the GOP.

Some of these questions are not wholly without basis. The demographics of Obamacare enrollees are important for the law’s long-term fiscal sustainability. People do need to pay their premiums for their coverage to take effect. One of the law’s stated goals was covering the uninsured.

But the framing of the House GOP’s release — “Debunking Obamacare’s 7 million Enrollees ‘Success’ Story”, insinuating that “the true number of enrollees” isn’t known — makes clear that its goal is to undermine the law’s unexpected patch of good news since open enrollment ended.

TPM raised these issues with McCarthy’s office, which still asserted that the administration “cannot let the American public know how many were previously uninsured, how many actually signed up for coverage they need, and how many weren’t kicked off of coverage they previously enjoyed.”

“Just because they gave us some data two months ago does not mean they gave us any clear and final data on enrollment when the President trumpeted the law as a success in the Rose Garden on live television,” Mike Long, a McCarthy spokesman, said in an email. “To proclaim ‘Mission Accomplished’ based solely on the number of clicks, without regard of knowing how those 7.1 million were affected, makes light of the seriousness that is health coverage of Americans.”

“House Republican leadership and various Committees have requested this information through hearings and by passing legislation. We’ve been stonewalled each time.”

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Very Bad News For Obamacare Opponents In The Government’s Latest Report

shutterstock_obamacare money

CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

Think Progress

Premiums for health care insurance in the Affordable Care Act are lower than the federal government had anticipated, the Congressional Budget Office reported on Monday when it revised its cost estimate for the health care law. The nonpartisan office now believes that the ACA will cost the government $5 billion less than projected in 2014 and $104 billion less for the 2015-2024 period. It also found “no clear evidence” that premiums will surge in 2015, noting that “enrollees in the future will be healthier, on average, than the smaller number of people who are obtaining such coverage in 2014.” The agency estimated that the national average premium for individual silver policy plans would increase by $100 that year.

The CBO attributes the additional savings to government, relative to the CBO’s last assessment from February 2014, to lower-than expected premiums, which in turn lowered the cost for exchange subsidies, and higher-than expected revenues from the excise tax on high-premium insurance plans.

“Despite projecting that slightly more people will receive insurance coverage through exchanges over the 2015–2024 period than they had anticipated previously,” the report says. “CBO and JCT project that costs for exchange subsidies and related spending will be $164 billion (or 14 percent) below the previous projection, mainly because of the downward revision to expected exchange premiums.” The office also predicted that plans offered in the exchanges will provide wider provider networks and higher reimbursement rates to providers as enrollment increases. “That pattern will put upward pressure on exchange premiums over the next couple of years, although CBO and JCT anticipate that the plans’ characteristics will stabilize after 2016,” it found.

The office also concluded that the law’s so-called shock absorbers — reinsurance payments that are distributed to insurers that attract high-cost enrollees — “reduced exchange premiums this year by approximately 10 percent” and will “reduce premiums by smaller amounts in 2015 and 2016.” CBO found additional savings in Medicaid, revising downward government spending per adult enrolled in the program.

Ultimately, 12 million more nonelderly people will have health insurance in 2014 as a result of the law. Twenty-six million more “will be insured each year from 2017 through 2024 than would have been the case without the ACA,” the CBO concluded.

 

UPDATE

This post initially suggested that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) supports repealing the ACA’s reinsurance program. A spokesperson for the senator notes that the senator’s bill only targets the risk corridor provision of the law. Rubio has voted to repeal the ACA in its entirety, however, which would include the reinsurance provision. We regret the error.

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Seen On The Internet 4-3-2014

H/t: Democratic Underground

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Fox News Host Demands To Know Why GOP Hasn’t Offered An Alternative To Obamacare

Fox News Obamacare

Think Progress

On the final day of Obamacare’s open enrollment, Fox News host Jenna Lee hammered Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about why Republicans have yet to offer a comprehensive alternative to the health law — despite repeatedly voting for its repeal.

During an interview with the network, Graham agreed that his party should introduce a unified health care proposal. But Lee persisted, pressing him for more details. “Why do you think Republicans can put together a better plan to get the trust back in government?” she asked. “What are Republicans putting out there that says to the American, people, ‘no, you can trust us. If you don’t trust what is happening now, trust us?’”

After Graham evaded the question, Lee followed up. “Getting back to the question,” she said, “what is preventing the Republicans from putting forward a real plan that everybody can look at, even before November?”

Watch it:

“I think it is good for the Republican party to have a plan of its own to insure Americans without losing your doctor and bankrupting the country,” Graham agreed. “Let’s start with the idea that pre-existing illnesses should not deny you coverage, that means you’re gonna have to have pools for the really sick, but why would you want to deny somebody insurance because they got sick? Allowing children to stay on the policies up to they’re 26 makes sense given this economy and buying policies across state lines makes a lot of sense to me.”

Those proposals are already part of the Affordable Care Act, which establishes a temporary insurance program for sick people, prohibits insurers from discriminating against pre-existing conditions, and keeps young adults on their parent’s health care plans. The health law also allows insurers to sell policies across states that have established uniform regulations.

House Republicans are reportedly planning to unveil a replacement for the law later this year. In 2009, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that a bill backed by a majority of House Republicans would cover just 3 million additional uninsured Americans. Meanwhile, an estimated 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage under Obamacare.

Graham insisted that Republicans should continue chipping away at the health care law. “If we had the Senate and House, we would have hearings about what is really going on,” he said. “[I]f I were the leader of House, I would have an Obamacare hearing almost every other day to find out what’s in these numbers.”

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50th Time’s the Charm?

CongratsGOP

I guess the GOP never got the memo on the definition of insanity

Think Progress

House Republicans Are Still On Another Planet

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

While that quote has been misattributed to everyone from Albert Einstein to Mark Twain, it’s a pretty apt description of House Republicans and the Affordable Care Act.

Today, House Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the 50th time since the law was passed in 2010. The repeal bill they passed this afternoon would result in a million additional uninsured Americans just this year alone.

President Obama took a shot at these endless GOP games last week: “You know what they say: 50th time is the charm. Maybe when you hit your 50th repeal vote, you will win a prize. Maybe if you buy 50 repeal votes, you get one free.”

Meanwhile, in the real world, the Affordable Care Act continues to generate results. More than 4 million people have obtained private health coverage through the new marketplaces, millions more have gotten cover through Medicaid (more on that in a second), and three million young people have been able to stay on their parents’ insurance.

government report released yesterday detailed how the U.S. economy is already benefiting from the law: by driving up personal income and consumer spending. Between Medicaid expanding to cover millions more low-income people, and families who bought private insurance on the exchange and took advantage of the law’s generous tax credits, the ACA contributed a $33.9 billion jump in personal income for January alone.

Think about that for a second — a $33.9 billion jump in personal income in the first month of the law’s full implementation.

The report also found a bigger than expected increase in consumer spending as well — about $45.2 billion total for the month. The Wall Street Journal looked at the report and said that about three-quarters of this surprisingly positive growth came from those benefiting from the ACA.

States are also taking important steps to protect their citizens and make sure affordable coverage is available for everyone. In Arkansas, the House of Representatives, which in recent weeks voted to kick 96,000 people off their health insurance, finally wrangled the votes to extend the state’s “private option” for Medicaid expansion for another year. In New Hampshire, the State Senate is expected to follow suit with a similar plan, using federal money to help low-income residents enroll in private insurance coverage.

Unfortunately, other Republican governors and lawmakers around the country continue to reject expanding Medicaid, denying health coverage to millions of their fellow citizens solely because of partisan politics. Thousands of these people will die as a result. Really.

BOTTOM LINE: The Affordable Care Act is working, It is providing quality, affordable health coverage to millions of Americans and a boost to our economy. Even some red state Republicans are starting to see the light and understand the benefits of the law. With today’s 50th vote to repeal the law, Congressional Republicans made clear once again that they are quite simply living on another planet.

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Paul Krugman: GOP’s Obamacare lies hurt American families

Paul Krugman: GOP's Obamacare lies hurt American families

(Credit: AP Photo/ Francisco Seco)

As comprehensive and satisfying a take-down of the modern GOP as you will read…(Salon)

Salon

Award-winning economist and best-selling author Paul Krugman’s latest column for the New York Times is an unapologetic attack on the Republican Party for, in Krugman’s words, “trying to deceive voters” and, in the process, “deceiving themselves.”

What’s got Krugman riled up this time is the GOP’s official response to President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address, in which Washington congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers argued Obamacare “is not working” and, as proof, cited the experience of one of her constituents, Bette Grenier, who claimed to have seen her monthly premiums increase by a whopping $700.

Before explaining the problems with Grenier’s story, Krugman makes quick work of McMorris Rodgers’ assertion that Obamacare is not working. He notes that sign-ups, while slightly behind projections due to the disastrous rollout of Healthcare.gov, are nevertheless happening at a rapid speed, and that most insurance companies are thus far not concerned that the applicant pool is too old and sick (which could lead to higher premiums for everyone else).

“[T]he law,” Krugman declares, “is doing its job.”

Moving on to Bette Grenier, Krugman, like Salon’s Brian Beutler, points out that Gernier’s story almost immediately fell apart once it was examined by members of Washington state’s media.

The biggest problem with her tale was the fact that Grenier, if she wanted to, could have found a much cheaper alternative than the $700-hike plan, but she refused, saying, “I wouldn’t go on that Obama website.”

Moreover, Krugman notes that Grenier’s prior insurance was pretty bad — it was barebones, had “a $10,000 deductible” and “[offered] very little financial protection.”

But instead of blaming Grenier, Krugman charges Republicans like McMorris Rodgers, who rely on “misleading stories at best, and often outright deceit” in order to portray Obamacare as an unmitigated disaster.

“Who pays the price for this deceit?” Krugman asks. “In many cases, American families. Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing.”

But they’re not the only ones. Krugman also engages in a little bit of concern trolling, warning the GOP that their confidence in Obamacare’s malfunctioning is leading them to a false sense of security about their chances in November’s elections. “[C]onservative politicians aren’t just deceiving their constituents,” Krugman writes, “they’re also deceiving themselves.”

“Right now, Republican political strategy seems to be to stall on every issue, and reap the rewards from Obamacare’s inevitable collapse,” he continues. “Well, Obamacare isn’t collapsing — it’s recovering pretty well from a terrible start. And by the time that reality sinks in on the right, health reform will be irreversible.”

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When does lying about Obamacare become immoral and evil?

Daily Kos

Rick Perry is the governor of a state that has the highest percentage of uninsured. After the full implementation of Obamacare in 2014, many will remain uninsured because Texas Gov. Rick Perry is not accepting the Medicaid expansion to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Perry runs around Texas telling his constituents that it would bankrupt the state. He says this even though 100 percent of the cost of the expansion is paid for by the federal government for the first 3 years. Thereafter the states are responsible for only 10 percent.

Most of the states with the highest uninsured rates are the ones neither setting up exchanges nor accepting the Medicaid expansion to Obamacare. These states have chosen the status quo. Millions of American citizens that could qualify for healthcare insurance through the Medicaid expansion will be left in the cold.

Make no mistake, the governors of these states have choices. They could take the 3 year Medicaid expansion at 100 percent and then opt out in year 4 if they really thought their state would get bankrupted. Their citizens could have at least 3 years’ worth of preventative care, coverage for their children, and much more. They could make the poor and the working poor in their states healthier.

Opposition to Obamacare has characteristics of an addiction. One knows intrinsically when one is doing wrong or doing something detrimental. However, the cravings make one disregard reality and acquiesce to the drug. What is the drug? The drug is hate for all things Obama.

Politics is a blood sport. Politicians and parties attempt to get an advantage at every turn. That is okay as long as it does not materially or deliberately affect the overall well-being of the constituent.

There are many stories detailing the plight of the poor whose only recourse is the emergency room. They get to the emergency rooms only to be stabilized and not really diagnosed in detail. Generally, not until it is too late do they get care at a point when it is most expensive and deadly. One of the most gut-wrenching stories was detailed by a Galveston, Texas, medical student where she literally watched a patient die over a few months. The patient died not because they could not help his cancer, but because he was uninsured.

There are so many real stories out there that every politician opposing Obamacare has access to. They instead promote stories that are generally debunked soon after they are released to the public. They choose to continue promoting stories they know are debunked.

More on these Obamacare lies below the fold.

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CNN Anchor Challenges Congresswoman To Substantiate Obamacare Criticism, Hilarity Ensues

BlackburnCNN

CNN finally got this one right…

Think Progress

On Friday morning, CNN anchor Carol Costello challenged Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to substantiate her claim that HealthCare.gov will endanger Americans’ medical privacy. The host pushed the Congresswoman to specify which medical details enrollees would have to turn over to the federal government, causing Blackburn to become visibly uncomfortable and unsure as she strung together various buzzwords about privacy.

The exchange originated from a question Blackburn herself leveled at the primary contractors responsible for HealthCare.gov during a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday. Blackburn asked the witnesses why some of their employees had access to “the database servers storing the enrolling information” and suggested that they were in violation of The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the law that guarantees “federal protections for individually identifiable health information held by covered entities and their business associates and gives patients an array of rights with respect to that information.”

Asked to explain how requiring enrollees to enter their biographical enrollment information violates a law that only applies to medical data between medical entities, Blackburn demurred:

COSTELLO: So what specifically were you referring to on the website that violates, that could possibly violate HIPAA?

BLACKBURN: We are concerned about privacy overall. Data security privacy and of course applying and complying with the HIPAA laws, and…

COSTELLO: But what question specifically asks that would concern you about HIPAA, what medical question does it ask?

BLACKBURN: Carol, HIPAA requires you to — it’s the way you structure your website and the way you transit the information, the transfer rights that are there, and when you look at privacy on these websites, what you have to do is keep all of the application information in one server [...]

COSTELLO: I’m trying to understand what kind of information you’re talking about. What kind of information are you talking about? What specifically does the website ask that I might be afraid might shared with whomever? Specifically. What information?

BLACKBURN: You should be very concerned not only as you navigate the website but as you make a purchase, and then as your information is handled, what we want to make certain is that an individual’s medical information their financial information is all going to be kept in a private mannerWhat we do not want is a peeping Tom who is going to look through their PII, their personal identifying information. they want to make certain the federal government has standards and are applying and abiding by the privacy laws that are on the books and by the HIPAA regulations that every hospital and every doctor abide by. so this is a serious investigation, looking at the entire roll-out and launch of this website, how this data is being used.

Watch it:

As Washington & Lee Law Professor Timothy S. Jost explained to ThinkProgress in an email, “HIPAA only applies to health care providers, clearinghouses (and this is a narrowly defined term) health plans, and their business associates.” “Even so, access is available to data without consent for health care operations, which this would be.” Deven McGraw, of the Health Privacy Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology, agreed, adding, “It does not violate HIPAA – it’s not even covered by HIPAA.”

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Ten days into ‘Obamacare’

This is very good information…

The Maddow Blog

It’s been 10 days since Americans could start signing up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s exchange marketplaces, and as you’ve probably heard, there have been some technical troubles. And while I don’t doubt it’s been incredibly frustrating for those who’ve struggled with online glitches, let’s not forget that we’ve seen troubles like this before.

Twelve days after Medicare Part D became the law of the land in 2006, the system was “plagued by problems” and “many of the most vulnerable elderly and disabled patients” were unable to get medicine. Several states were forced to pay for temporary supplies of medicine for Medicare patients because the Bush/Cheney administration was falling short on a systemic level.

The same year, Mitt Romney’s health care reforms in Massachusetts — which later served as the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act — started out with all kinds of problems. Stephanie Mencimer reported this week that in the early months, the state system saw “lost paperwork, computer glitches, confusion over who was eligible for what, and not enough staff to handle the workload.” It led to consumers waiting “several months after submitting an application to finally get coverage.”

In other words, “Obamacare” in good company. In time, the kinks plaguing Medicare and Romneycare got worked out and the public was quite pleased with the results, and chances are pretty good that the Affordable Care Act will follow a similar trajectory. Impatience, whether it’s politically motivated or not, is understandable, but judging a new and complex system after 10 days has never been an especially good idea.

What’s more, let’s also not forget that the negative experiences are not universal.

Robyn J. Skrebes of Minneapolis said she was able to sign up for health insurance in about two hours on Monday using the Web site of the state-run insurance exchange in Minnesota, known as MNsure. Ms. Skrebes, who is 32 and uninsured, said she had selected a policy costing $179 a month, before tax credit subsidies, and also had obtained Medicaid coverage for her 2-year-old daughter, Emma.

“I am thrilled,” Ms. Skrebes said, referring to her policy. “It’s affordable, good coverage. And the Web site of the Minnesota exchange was pretty simple to use, pretty straightforward. The language was really clear.”

Why was her experience so much easier? It wasn’t just luck.

The original plan for the Affordable Care Act to rely on state-based exchanges — rather than have one big federal marketplace, Obamacare intended for states to set up their own exchanges, invite insurers to compete, and trouble-shoot as necessary.

Many states did exactly that, but a variety Republican governors balked — to set up a marketplace for consumers, they said, would be cooperate with a law they don’t like. It meant a sweeping federally run exchange for everyone in those states.

It’s created disparate experiences based on where Americans live.

In Washington State, the state-run exchange had a rocky start on Oct. 1, but managed to turn things around quickly by adjusting certain parameters on its Web site to alleviate bottlenecks. By Monday, more than 9,400 people had signed up for coverage. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange does not require users to create an account before browsing plans.

“The site is up and running smoothly,” said Michael Marchand, a spokesman for the Washington exchange. “We’re seeing a lot of use, a lot of people coming to the Web site. If anything, I think it’s increasing.”

Other states reporting a steady stream of enrollments in recent days include California, Connecticut, Kentucky and Rhode Island.

Some states are having more success than others — as Sarah Kliff explained, ease of use and online registrations matter. But I can’t help but wonder how much easier the last 10 days would have been if more Republican governors weren’t intent on keeping their constituents from signing up for the health care benefits they’re entitled to?

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Jon Stewart Blasts Republicans: ‘Obamacare Is Your ‘Springtime For Hitler’ (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post

As Republicans continued to saber-rattle about shutting down the government in protest of Obamacare, Jon Stewart called them out for wanting a program that would provide health insurance to millions of Americans to fail.

After first taking a look at their ludicrous new ad campaign, featuring Uncle Sam readying to give an unnecessary rectal exam to one of the unfortunate beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act, Stewart responded to Ted Cruz’s claim that Obamacare would create an “addiction” to the “sugar:”

“But the sugar in your metaphor is, in this case, health insurance. Something that can literally battle the affects of too much sugar…. I don’t understand any of this. You’re protecting America from this terrible Obamacare plan that, once we get a taste of, we’ll never want to be without. You only win if the program fails. Obamacare is your ‘Springtime for Hitler.’”

Watch the clip above.

 

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September 25, 2013 · 10:57 AM