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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

October 23, 2013


 

The Obama Administration Lied

They spent months telling us would never be like this. But look at what it is now and realize national health care will be just like the Obamacare Exchange debacle: Delays, denials of service, waiting lines, no one answering the phone, and a president that says, "Keep trying."

 

The Exchange -- the key Obamacare infrastructure for implementing national health care nationwide -- is currently a colossal flop. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska received only four applications in the first 10 days, Fox News reports. As of Friday they'd received 50, but the applications had "so many errors" Blue Cross has hired temporary employees to process them manually and contact consumers directly. Remember how the exchange was supposed to be as easy as Travelocity?

 

Instead...it's become the brunt of jokes. On October 7, comedian Jon Stewart on The Daily Show he told HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: "I'm gonna try and download every movie ever made, and you're gonna try to sign up for Obamacare, and we'll see which happens first."

 

A technology expert, quoted by The New York Times, says as many as five million lines of software code may need to be rewritten to make the healthcare.gov website work, potentially putting people in danger of not being covered as required on January 1.

 

In response, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill to delay the individual mandate until the Government Accountability Office (GAO) certifies that the exchange system is "up and running and effectively working for six months, consecutive." 

 

Despite red flags everywhere, the administration spent months assuring Congress in sworn testimony that the exchanges would be all set to go by October 1. Gary Cohen, head of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), which is overseeing implementation of exchanges repeatedly testified to exchange readiness:

 

"CMS has been ... building Exchange infrastructure and initiating the many information technology (IT) and business activities needed to assure readiness for Exchange open enrollment beginning October 1, 2013." (12/13/12)

 

"The progress already made and the foundations we have developed give us confidence that the Marketplace will be ready for consumers on October 1." (2/14/13)

 

"Starting in October 2013, consumers will also be able to use www.HealthCare.gov to shop for coverage beginning in 2014..." (4/11/13)

 

"When consumers visit the Marketplace through HealthCare.gov beginning on October 1, 2013, they will experience a new way to shop for health insurance coverage." (9/19/13)

 

"Consumers will be able to go online...they will be able to choose a plan and get enrolled in a plan on October 1st." (9/19/13 video)

 

In August, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said, " We are on target and ready to flip the switch on Oct. 1."

 

All lies.

 

Trouble began on day one. Some people tried for days. Others gave up. On Monday, three weeks after the exchanges "opened," I was listening to radio talk show host Sean Hannity talk to an exchange call center worker. Amazing call. This friendly worker told him she had been told to...

 

Continue reading...

 




 




News to Know:

GOOD NEWS: Important Lawsuit Green-Lighted

Yesterday, a federal judge refused to dismiss the Halbig v. Sebelius lawsuit, which challenges the IRS for providing federal taxpayer subsidies to people in the 36 states using the federal exchange website, healthcare.gov. He'll hear it. The lawsuit claims that the law only allows subsidies through state exchanges. The judge is allowing the subsidies to be provided but promises to rule by February 15. Meanwhile, the state of Indiana and 15 of the state's public school districts have filed a lawsuit against the IRS to challenge two segments of the ACA; in particular the attempt to apply the "employer mandate" to state agencies as well as the proposal to tax and regulate states the same as private employers (ASI's Health Reform Week, Oct. 14, 2013).



Laughter is Good Medicine

On the day Obama went to the Rose Garden to talk about the Obamacare Exchange troubles, comedian Jon Stewart on The Daily Show spent nine minutes completely skewering President Obama and the ineptitude of the Obamacare roll-out. Prepare to laugh. Notice the sound of the audience in various places. Interestingly, some are groans, not laughs. At one point he gives a few statistics and says: "More in this country believe Obamacare has been repealed than have been able to sign up for Obamacare!" WARNING: some strong language, though most of it is bleeped out.



You Can't Keep It...and It's Expensive

Obama said you could keep your health plan. Obama said family policies would decrease by $2,500 in his first term. The "happy face" Obamacare marketplace promises affordable care. But here's a real-person story from SFGate:
 

"Jacqueline Proctor of San Francisco. She and her husband are in their early 60s. They have been paying $7,200 a year for a bare-bones Kaiser Permanente health plan with a $5,000 per person annual deductible. "Kaiser told us the plan does not comply with Obamacare and the substitute will cost more than twice as much," about $15,000 per year, she says.
 

This new plan, Kaiser's cheapest offering for 2014, would consume about 25 percent of their after-tax income. The new plan still has a $5,000 deductible but provides coverage for things her current policy does not, such as maternity care, healthy child visits and coverage for dependents up to age 26. Proctor has no use for such coverage, since her son is 30."



Little Interest in Obamacare Enrollment...So Far

As Obamacare's online insurance exchanges officially launched October 1, state marketplace websites saw quite a bit of traffic, but very few actual enrollments. According to the Connect for Health Colorado, only 11% of the 162,941 first-week visitors to the site created accounts, with only 226 of those actually enrolling (POLITICO, 10/14/13). Covered California had over 5.7 million hits in its first 24-hours of operation, but only 7,700 Californians began the application process. Connecticut saw a similar lack of interest, with its exchange receiving only 28,000 visitors and 167 applications on day one. Do the low numbers indicate technology difficulties or low interest in Obamacare coverage?



What are They Afraid Of?

The White House confirmed on Oct. 7 that the administration will not change its plans to release enrollment data on a monthly basis. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a briefing, "When it comes to enrollment data, I want to clear this up, we will release data on regular monthly intervals just like was done in MA and was done in Medicare Part D. This is an aggregation process and we're not going to release data on an hourly basis." (POLITICO, 10/7/13). Similarly, Rhode Island, which reported 1,698 applications as of October 11, has stopped reporting Exchange statistics.



Adjust Your Income to Get Obamacare??

Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals with income between 138% and 400% of the federal poverty level can receive a generous taxpayer-funded subsidy to offset part or all of his or her coverage costs. As a result, this health care "incentive" for having a lower income is inspiring some to adjust their projected income for 2014 so that they qualify for a subsidy, even if the reported income does not reflect reality. This practice is even being encouraged by some professionals, with Karen Pollitz of the Kaiser Family Foundation saying, "If they can adjust (their income), they should."



VA Tops in Privacy Violations

The Veteran's Health Administration is one of the nation's top users of electronic health records (EHRs), but it also happens to be at the top of EHR privacy violations. According to an investigation done by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, VA employees committed 14,215 privacy violations at 167 locations from 2013 through May 2013. The violations involved over 100,000 veterans and 551 VA employees and ranged from the posting of protected information to identity and prescription theft. EHRs are noted for their vulnerability to privacy breaches, but Congress has essentially mandated EHRs for all.



Obamacare Supporters Frustrated

Problems with the Obamacare Exchange system are so numerous that even ardent supporters are expressing angst. Kevin Drum writing for the liberal Mother Jones says,
 

"The bugs seem deep and profound. So why has [the Obamacare rollout] turned out to be so much worse than I thought it would be?...[I]f things really are this bad, I really, really hope there a Plan B. Beefed up phone banks. Paper and pencil. Something."


 


Most Obamacare Enrollees Middle-Aged or Older

Information from Connecticut's new insurance exchange gives a better picture of who exactly is signing up for health care under Obamacare, and it's not the young adults the program desperately needs to remain solvent. Access Health CT released enrollment information that reveals that most enrollees are middle-aged and older adults. This does not bode well for exchange officials, who need to enroll younger adults ages 18-34 to better balance the risk pool and distribute the wealth of the young and healthy into the treatment of the older and sicker.



Shutdown Bill Forces Fraud Report

While the bill that ended the government shutdown did not defund Obamacare, it did require the Inspector General (IG) of Health and Human Services to investigate exchange fraud safeguards. According to the legislation, the IG will be required to, "submit a report to congress regarding the effectiveness of the procedures and safeguards provided under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for preventing the submission of inaccurate of fraudulent information by applicants for enrollment" in the Obamacare exchanges. The IG's deadline is July 1, 2014. All the more reason for people to refuse2enroll.org.



New Health Fee for Employers

Starting next year, businesses and employers will feel the effects of a new $63 per person fee to fund the ACA's $25 billion "Transitional Reinsurance Program," The fee, created by regulation and referred to as the "belly button tax" by insurers, will be collected to stabilize the insurance market as the previously uninsured and those with pre-existing conditions seek required coverage. "It's insurance for insurers," says Ryan Baker, director of health policy at the Missouri Foundation for Health. The University of Missouri System with 38,000 employees expects to pay $2.4 million. This is just one more reason why health insurance is more expensive under Obamacare.



Top Four Obamacare Complaints

The Obamacare exchange system (federal and state websites, IT connections, federal data hub, global database) officially went live on October 1, and hardly anyone is happy. According to CNNMoney, these are the top four Obamacare complaints:

 

  • I can't log in.
  • My info's not right.
  • The costs are too high.
  • My employer is raising my premiums because of Obamacare.



 

"Stay Away" from Healthcare.gov

Consumer Reports is now offering input on whether to purchase health insurance online. The Affordable Care Act's exchange system has been riddled with bugs since its Oct. 1 launch. Thus Consumer Reports suggests: "Stay away from Healthcare.gov for at least another month if you can. Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they've made." Or...hopefully not, since you understand the Exchanges are the Obamacare implementation centers.

 




Quote of the Week:




"Obamacare is a nightmare for my family," - A CNNMoney reader from North Carolina whose current $267 a month plan was being canceled and cheapest Obamacare exchange option, because she's not eligible for a subsidy, would cost her family $750 a month.

 




Stat of the Week:

300,000 - the number of policies that Florida Blue is terminating (about 80% of their individual policies) because they are non-compliant with Obamacare's new coverage mandates.

 

 




Featured Health Freedom Minute:

Daily Show's Jon Stewart Asks Seven Times

I donʼt usually suggest watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but watch his October 7 interview with Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding Obamacare. The first thing he said to her was, "Weʼre going to have a challenge. I'm gonna try and download every movie ever made and you're going to try and sign up for Obamacare and we'll see which happens first." Continue reading

Twila Brase broadcasts a daily, 60-second radio feature, Health Freedom Minute, which brings health care issues to light for the American public. Health Freedom Minute airs on the entire American Family Radio Network, with more than 150 stations nationwide in addition to Bott Radio Network with over 80 stations nationwide.

Click here to listen to this week's features.

Citizens' Council for Health Freedom
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Phone: 651.646.8935 • Fax: 651.646.0100
Email: info@cchfreedom.org
www.cchfreedom.org



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