American Elephants

This is Not Just a “Glitch.” Failure Was Built In From The Beginning. by The Elephant's Child

When Barack Obama lights upon a statistic or a fact that he likes, he is inclined to repeat it endlessly. You don’t hear it just once, but over and over. So it was that —under the health care law that Democrats proposed, premiums for average families would fall by $2,500. That was often accompanied by a disparaging view of insurance companies and how they gouged people and were unfair. Over and over, he said it  health insurance would be more affordable and to show that he meant it he gave it a specific number. Uh huh, that worked out well.

He also promised that if you liked your present insurance pan you would not have to give it up. You would not face any changes. A new health care law would help all those people who had no access to insurance. But you didn’t need to worry about changes. And if you liked your doctor, you could keep your doctor. But I’m sure that you have heard the press challenge the president on just that issue, haven’t you? You haven’t? How odd, that’s a fairly obvious question.

ObamaCare flow chart

This graphic came out soon after the law. Anyone who saw it should have understood instantly that Democrat claims about affordability were hooey, a vernacular term that covers most government promises.

Another Obama claim was that government had to act because health care costs were spiraling out of control, and Obama has credited ObamaCare which hasn’t taken effect yet for controlling those costs. In actuality, health care costs had been trending down since 1996, as new diagnostic procedures and equipment, and new drugs success in saving lives became measurable. A lot of people have avoided expensive operations and hospital stays with better preventive care.

ObamaCare has rolled out to demonstrate that three years of effort could not turn out a workable project. The administration refers to “glitches,” but that is the height of euphemism for a total disaster. The technology portion of the Affordable Care Act went live and promptly came down with a possibly terminal disease. The administration blames it on an “unanticipated surge of Web traffic.” In a country with a population of over 300 million, a surge of interest was “not anticipated?”

Health and Human Services has had three years to develop a website. It was budgeted to cost $94 million — contractor CGI Federal built the site and demanded more money from the government as costs soared. Way more! So far, it has cost $634 million, more than it cost to build Facebook or Twitter, and it doesn’t work. Far from being something that can be fixed with a little jiggering over the weekend.

Information technology experts who examined the website at the request of the Wall Street Journal said the site appeared to be built on a sloppy software foundation. Engineers at Web-hosting company Media Temple Inc. found a glut of stray software code that served no purpose they could identify. Basic Web-efficiency techniques weren’t used, clogging the website’s plumbing. Bloomberg said that the tech people they spoke with believe flaws in system architecture are part of the problem. An independent expert in website design said there was so much traffic going between users’ computers and the server, it was as if the system was attacking itself, similar to what happens when hackers conduct a distributed denial of service. Officials are adding more servers, but the problem may be much deeper. Apparently nobody buys the government’s argument that the load was too unexpected.

In the meantime over 250,000 state and public employees in South Carolina are seeing triple-digit increases in insurance premiums. The United Food and Commercial Workers union may be on the picket line on Monday in the Seattle area with thirty-thousand workers from four major grocery chains on strike over the loss of their health-care plans. Companies say that costs have risen because of a new tax on their “Cadillac” medical plans in ObamaCare. Home Depot and Trader Joe’s have recently cut coverage for part-time workers.

Government programs always cost far more than original estimates, the only exception being the Medicare Drug Plan under George W. Bush, which came in significantly less than estimates because it included incentives to encourage use of generics. Bright ideas that were sure to save money — aren’t saving money.  They were doubly counting projected savings, they thought getting doctors and hospitals computerized would save — it hasn’t, it has been expensive and major errors are rife. Consider how often you make a typo, and that most of what is essential are numbers, where word-check doesn’t work. Medicaid expansion was supposed to help, but they just told the states to expand and offered no funding, and the Supreme court rendered Medicaid expansion optional. They even eliminated the incentive that made the drug benefit affordable.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that merely delaying ACA implementation for one year would save $36 billion.

Promises, Promises: Obama Doesn’t Understand His Own Bill by The Elephant's Child

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law what he billed as a triumphant reform of America’s health care system. Two days later in a speech at the University of Iowa, the president declared:

From this day forward, all of the cynics, all the naysayers — they’re going to have to confront the reality of what this reform is and what it isn’t. … They’ll see that if Americans like their doctor, they’ll be keeping their doctor. You like your plan? You’ll be keeping your plan. No one is taking that away from you. … It wasn’t Armageddon.”

“If you already have insurance, this reform will make it more secure and more affordable. … Costs will come down for families, and businesses, and the federal government, reducing our deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next two decades. That’s what reform is going to do.”

Last week. President Obama responding to Max Baucus’ comment that ObamaCare was a looming “train wreck,” He claimed it’s all much ado about nothing. “A huge chunk of it’s already been implemented.”

Well, no. All that’s been implemented so far are a mandate to cover children up to the age of 26, and a more generous Medicare drug benefit. Democrats have put off the bulk of the law — the massive market regulations, the government-run exchanges, the mandates to buy coverage and all sorts of taxes and fees — until 2014, both to hide the true cost and to keep the public ignorant before the 2014 election.  Polls have shown that well over 40% of the public don’t know anything about ObamaCare. They probably think it’s free health care.

For the 85% to 90% of Americans who already have health insurance…they don’t have to worry about anything else

The Congressional Budget Office expects 7 million workers to lose their employer coverage because of ObamaCare, and perhaps as many as 20 million. Small businesses now offering coverage face huge rate hikes because of ObamaCare’s regulations and benefit mandates.

“The other stuff’s been implemented and it’s working fine. We’re going to be able to drive down costs…and that will save the country money as a whole over the long term.”

The high risk pools have been a disaster, attracting only a third as many people as predicted while costing far more than was budgeted. HHS had to issue more than 1,200 waivers to companies who said the laws initial insurance market rules would have forced them to cancel coverage for millions of workers. The small business tax credit has also been a bust. Obama’s own number crunchers say ObamaCare will force national health care spending up by at least 7.4% in 2014, and add billions more cost in the next decade.

It was built on lies in the first place, but the reality is turning out to be far worse than even its detractors believed. Seven to twenty million workers will lose their jobs or their jobs will become part-time — less than 30 hours a week. And the cost of their health care will go up dramatically, while they have less money to pay for it.  Forced onto Medicaid? There aren’t enough doctors to go around.

Misleading Claims Don’t Inspire Much Confidence! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is back on the campaign trail.  Yes I know, many will wonder, with some justification, just when he ever left it.  Democrats running for reelection and those running for office for the first time are trying hard to avoid presidential endorsement or even acquaintance.

So Obama is out trying to convince disaffected Democrats that all that change he promised them — is still coming, it just takes time.  He has done everything right, but he has been hampered by the criticism of the evil Republicans who, although Democrats control the entire Congress, still have the nerve to disagree with him.

Mr. Obama’s problems, however, are largely of his own making.  He promised change, but most people thought he meant changing the atmosphere in Washington.  They were astonished when they found that he wanted to change the best health care system in the world into a replica of England’s National Health Service, close to the world’s worst.  At least that is the system that Obama’s health care advisers most admire.

The president went on to make his problems worse with promises that have already proved to be false.  People don’t like being misled.

Mr. Obama said over and over that if you like your current coverage, you can keep it.  Many employers will stop offering insurance, benefits will go down and co-pays will go up.  Pilgrim Health in Massachusetts has already announced that its 22,000 seniors will be dropped from Medicare Advantage.

The president said that health-care reform would stop insurance premiums from rising rapidly, but would reduce them by $2,500 a year for a family.  Uh huh.  Ours has just gone up by 16% because of the new mandates.  When you add more people, it costs more.  When you make sure that nobody can be turned down, it costs more. When you insist on all sorts of “preventative” care, that costs more. Elementary school math.  Price-WaterhouseCoopers has found that, with reform, premiums are likely to rise by 111% over the next ten years, compared to an increase of 79% if nothing had been done.

Remember that odd phrase —”bending the cost curve down?” The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has found that we will spend an estimated $311 billion more over the next ten years than if the bill had never passed.

The bill will cover some of the uninsured, but over 20 million will remain uninsured.  The plan is for Medicaid to cover 30 million more, but there are not enough doctors now for all Medicaid patients, and more and more doctors are refusing to take Medicaid patients because the government does not pay for their costs.

Obama made a big deal of children being able to be covered on their parent’s policies, but parents who could not afford insurance insured their children on inexpensive separate children’s policies to make sure the children were protected. Parents try hard to protect their children. But child-only policies are no longer available, and the parents still cannot afford insurance.

The president promised no tax increase for the middle class, but there are hefty taxes on medical equipment and medical devices.  So no increase in taxes unless you need a cane or a wheelchair, a stent, or a prosthesis.

Employers’ existing plans will not be legal under Obamacare, they will have to change significantly to accommodate all the mandates and regulations to come. As plans get more expensive, they will have to raise premiums to pass the costs along.  But Obamacare puts limits on how expensive a policy can be. Too expensive, and it will just have to be a loss for the insurance company. Private insurers will not operate at a loss, but go out of business.

And this is what we know with a system that is not yet fleshed out with all the mandates and regulations.  The bill, all 2000+ pages of it, establishes dozens and dozens of agencies, bureaus, offices, and departments of this and that — each of which will devise another ream or two of regulations and procedures. Secretary Sebelius is supposed to set this all in motion, and she doesn’t want anyone claiming that anything is not the insurance companies fault.  If you attempt to blame it on the Obama administration, you will have to go to reeducation camp.

Health care doesn’t matter much when you are healthy.  You can pretty much do without it.  Health Care matters when you are sick, or old and frail, or badly hurt. Democrats hate it when you use bad examples from other systems.  They call them “scare stories.”  And of course they are. Because that’s the important question.  How are you treated by a failing system when you are in need? If you don’t like the answer, you don’t just write it off as just a “scare story.” You recognize that could be you, and try to prevent such a situation from ever coming to pass.

John Hinderaker from Power Line assembled some stories from Britain’s National Health Service,  Easy Opinions blog took the Power Line list, and annotated it for easier searching: Annals of Government Medicine, annotated. That is the inevitable end result of ObamaCare.  Did you think the Brits did this on purpose?Progress

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