Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Obamacare In Oregon



 


Move along.  Nothing to see here.  Move along.




I live in the State of Oregon in the USA.  Oregon has opted for its state-run CoverOregon health care insurance program in lieu of the HealthCare.gov marketplace. 

Healthcare.gov refers you to CoverOregon.com if you want to apply for affordable health care insurance.  And CoverOregon.com doesn't work.  It's been "open" since Oct. 1 but has yet to enroll its first customer.  Not one.

It should work.  The feds have already shoveled bucketsfull (an actual measurement) of money to Oregon.  We're a tech-savvy state.  We want it to work.  Nope, doesn't.

Our state has had to hire or reassign 400 workers "to process insurance applications by hand."  (Thank you, AP and The Eugene Register Guard)  

By HANDIn 2013With 400 untrained employees?  Who does that make sense to?  

Can't take it off-line, though.  That would make the Guv and the Prez look bad.  So temps, pick up your pencils and pull down your green eyeshades and get to work.  You're untrained?  Still, after a week?  Well, so what?  So is everyone else.

AP notes that Oregon "has a large population of young, underemployed progressives who might provide a burgeoning market for affordable coverage."  (Or perhaps make good temps, but I digress)  That is exactly the population whose premiums CoverOregon needs to attract in order to offset the health care costs of needy older Oregonians.  Healthy youngsters = low costs, elders = higher costs.  Simple, right?

Problem is, the elders will pay a little to get a lot and the youngsters, well, they just won't pay at all.  If they have catastrophic health care needs, they can enroll when the catastrophe happens and still be fully covered.  Except, I suppose, for the $95 penalty which they can't be required to pay, either.  

Plus, if the youngsters stay on their parents' policies (should those parents purchase policies before their own catastrophes) they won't be obliged to pay their own premiums (should they actually decide to pay) until they're 26.  So, no premiums from that group.  Oops.

* * *

I've had health insurance, most of it partially subsidized, almost all my life.  It's background noise in my life.  I'm glad I have it but I rarely think about it.

I know there are many good people who are not as fortunate.  They are in desperate need of health care insurance and it's just not there.  That's not the way it's supposed to be in America.  

Enter the Prez's answer, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Affordable health care for all Americans who want it is a good idea.  That's the way it's supposed to be in America.  Neither "all government all the time" nor exclusive of government.  If there was ever a time for the ever-elusive public-private partnership, this is the time.

But now isn't the time, it seems.  It's all-government all the time now and the government, at every level and in every department, is broken.  There is neither the leadership, the will nor the ability to fix it.  This didn't have to happen.

Oregon has a world-class private sector.  Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen lives here.  Nike's Phil Knight lives here and Nike is headquartered here.  We're up to our eyeballs in miscellaneous scholars and experts and over-achievers of every stripe.  Heck, I live here.  OK, forget that part.  

But who among them was asked to lend a meaningful hand to create Cover Oregon and stick around to make sure it rolled out successfully?  No one.  Where did the dollar-a-year experts go?  Cover Oregon and governor Kitzhaber preferred to roll the dice with its own employees and selected contractors.

Their disastrous result was predictable.  And do you really think that 400 temps are going to be the answer?  Seriously?  

Oregon was supposed to be the bell cow for the Obamacare roll-out.  As Oregon goes, so will the nation.  And Oregon has failed, at a cost of billions so far and billions more to fix it and billions more to run it and God knows how much more to spin it as a success.  

And the national roll-out has failed and the costs are skyrocketing.  Is it time to think the unthinkable:  Is America failing.

Poor us.

* * * * *

“My belief is that Oregonians need to hold people accountable for the actions that they make. And for this particular plan, it’s President Obama and essentially every Democrat who voted for it.  And in the state of Oregon it’s Gov. John Kitzhaber who is responsible for its implementation,” Oregon state Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, told Northwest Watchdog.  ”He (Kitzhaber) needs to explain why, as an early adopter with additional funds that other states didn’t get, that we’re dead last in sign ups.”

(Thank you, Shelby Sebens of watchdog.org. and Fox News)
 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Obamacare Death Spiral Begins


"If you like your health care plan you can keep your health care plan.  Period."

Who would have thought that simple assertion might be the death knell for the Affordable Care Act?  Well, not by itself, maybe.  It has a lot of help.

America accepted the ACA after it was rammed through a complicit partisan Congress.  But it did pass and it does not serve us to pretend it didn't.  We have what Congress and the Prez wanted us to have.  Most Americans, however grudgingly, knew that their health insurance, and therefore their health care, would change; some for the better, some for the worse. It was beguiling to believe that government health insurance would join "free Mexican food" in a utopian tomorrow.

Let's review what we were told:
  • Health care premiums would go down.  We were were even given a number:  $2,500 per family.
    The reality:  Premiums are going up - WAY up - and you can't choose what you want to insure.  67-year-old male?  "Pre-natal care for you, Buster, and don't ask any questions." -- "Hey, lady!  Turn your head and cough."
  • Coverage would be extended to those who never before could afford health insurance. 
    The reality:  Like whom?  The CBO still predicts 30M uninsured after Obamacare is fully implemented.  And now around 5M policy cancellations and growing? 
  • Healthcare.gov (HC.G for now) was on-track for full implementation on Oct.1.
    The reality:  Kathleen Sebelious knew last March that the ACA roll-out was imperiled, yet testified in April that it "we are on track to meet the October 1 deadline."  And again in July.  And on Oct. 1 said "... it's a great problem to have" and "the volume-related issues are ones that we welcome, frankly."
  • Problems with HC.G were mere "glitches" that were entirely expected and fixable, like when Apple rolls out a new product.
    The reality:  The "fix" turned out to be just a postponement of the individual mandate with the option of renewing your old plan, if... well, a lot of ifs.

You did hear one thing that turned out to be true:
"We have to pass the bill in order so you can find out what's in it."
-- Nancy Pelosi

On the other hand, NancyP also said:
"Every month that we do not have an economic recovery package 500 million Americans lose their jobs."

So she may not be entirely in the game.  You make the call.

The Obamacare death spiral has begun.  We can see a dull red glare just over the horizon.  We don't know the date or details of its doom, but that flushing sound?  Well, you know.

* * * * *

Bill Maher opined that the prez didn't lie about Obamacare, he merely "evolved on honesty."  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day 2013







No rants or opinions today.  This day is to be enjoyed in peace and by giving thanks to the numberless anonymous men and women who served so that we can live free.  I have written in this space on other Veterans Days.  I hope you'll take a look.

"Under the most demanding of circumstances and in the most dangerous corners of the earth, America's veterans have served with distinction. With courage, self-sacrifice, and devotion to our Nation and to one another, they represent the American character at its best."
     -- President Barack Obama, Nov. 7, 2013

Thank you, Veterans.