American Elephants

Baby Elephant’s First Steps by The Elephant's Child

We are understandably fond of pictures of baby elephants, but this one is something special. The baby is pretty new, and just learning to take his/her first steps, which include stepping on that annoying trunk that he just hasn’t learned how to control yet.

There is no better relief from the anxiety of current events than baby animal cuteness. Who can stay depressed watching a video like this? Enjoy!

Hope for the Exchanges? Not Much. by The Elephant's Child

We are nearly three weeks into the initial rollout of ObamaCare, and it is again shut down for the weekend to fix it.  It doesn’t appear that weekends of tinkering will fix what the administration is still calling “glitches.” Some experts are saying they will have to take the whole thing down and start over. Nobody knows. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is now refusing to testify.

The Affordable Care Act’s botched rollout has stunned its media cheering section, and it even seems to have surprised the law’s architects. The problems run much deeper than even critics expected, and whatever federal officials, White House aides and outside contractors are doing to fix them isn’t working. But who knows? Omerta is the word of the day as the Obama Administration withholds information from the public.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is even refusing to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a hearing this coming Thursday. HHS claims she has scheduling conflicts, but we hope she isn’t in the White House catacomb under interrogation by Valerie Jarrett about her department’s incompetence.

The department is also refusing to make available lower-level officials who might detail the source or sources of this debacle. Ducking an investigation with spin is one thing. Responding with a wall of silence to the invitation of a duly elected congressional body probing the use of more than half a billion taxpayer dollars is another. This Obama crowd is something else.

The most transparent government in history stumbles once again. Mrs. Sebelius will have to make an accounting at some point, and explain just why the people who cannot create a working website should have the power to reorganize one-sixth of the economy. The truth will out. There are some journalists remaining who want to get to the bottom of things, and if they don’t there are some persistent congressmen whose job it is.

The larger problem is that insurers are cancelling policies by the thousands, or even the hundreds of thousands. Foolish individual purchasers who believed Barack Obama when he promised “if you like your plan, you can keep  your plan,” are learning a lesson. The main reason for the cancellations is that the policies fall short of what the Affordable Care Act requires starting January 1.  Who knew that they were going to require coverage for contraceptives?

Florida Blue is terminating about 300,000 policies. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people. Highmark and Independence Blue Cross are dropping 20% and 40% of their policies respectively in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. They are cancelling so-called “guaranteed issue” policies which were sold to customers who had pre-existing conditions when they signed up.

Experts say the federal health care exchange was built using 10-year-old technology that may need constant fixes and updates for the next six-months, and the eventual overhaul of the whole system. “They may be using 1990s technology in a 2.0 world,” said Jeff Kim, president of CDNetworks, a content delivery network.

HHS is offering platitudes —”We continue to work around the clock to improve the consumer experience…” We are seeing progress…” Outsiders cannot get into the system to see the extent of the problems. They are making patches, but the problems may be fundamental and require really starting over. Emerging errors include duplicate enrollment, spouses reported as children, missing data fields, and suspect eligibility determinations. Customers may mistakenly believe they have successfully obtained coverage, or be deterred from signing up.

We expected something like this. Nancy Pelosi was wrong. They should have read it carefully “to find out what is in it” before they passed it.

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