Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Obamacare Overseer Michelle Snyder, Chief Operating Officer at CMS, 'Retires'

'Disgraced federal bureaucrats don't seem to resign these days. They certainly aren't fired -- and even when they are, they appeal and are reinstated. No, they "retire," and make off with a raft of taxpayer-funded benefits accrued over years of "public service." As Ms. Snyder prepares to step aside to spend more time with her family or whatever, her boss is singing her praises:

CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner noted in an email that Snyder was set to leave CMS at the end of 2012 but stayed on at Tavenner’s request to help with “the challenges facing CMS in 2013.” “While the agency is losing a key member of its leadership team, we should celebrate Michelle’s dedication to a mission that provides vital health care services to tens of millions of our fellow Americans through the Medicare and Medicaid programs,” Tavenner said. Snyder is the second top CMS official to leave since the website’s rocky rollout. Tony Trenkle, who served as the agency’s chief information officer, retired in November.

A job well done, Michelle. Bravo. And what did that job entail? According to the New York Times, "her official biography says that Ms. Snyder was responsible for “standing up new programs and activities required by the Affordable Care Act." And who among us wouldn't "celebrate" her job performance? Aside from the millions who struggled to log on to the broken website she oversaw, and plugged sensitive data into a compromised website, that is. Mary Katharine Ham quips, "Botch the roll-out of the president’s legacy law so badly that you end up with three million fewer insured people than when we started, and you get to retire, announce it over a holiday weekend, and grab that juicy pension for 41 years of mediocre-to-disastrous public service." ' - Shhh: Embattled Obamacare Official Quietly 'Retires', townhall.com, 12/31/2013

Link to entire article appears below:


Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Scope of Obamacare Is Coming to Your Local Vending Machine. No Way! Way!

"Not even vending machines are outside the scope of Obamacare mandates. Under the bill's new labeling regulations nutrition information must be placed next to each slot of candy bars, chips, peanuts and cracker-jacks.

Around 457 pages into Obamcare, section 4205 stipulates:

"the vending machine operator shall provide a sign in close proximity to each article of food or the selection button that includes a clear and conspicuous statement disclosing the number of calories contained in the article."

This new mandate will cost the vending machine industry an estimated $25.8 million initially and an additional $24 million for every subsequent year.

According to the Associated Press:

The rules will apply to about 10,800 companies that operate 20 or more machines. Nearly three quarters of those companies have three or fewer employees, and their profit margin is extremely low, according to the National Automatic Merchandising Association. An initial investment of $2,400 plus $2,200 in annual costs is a lot of money for a small company that only clears a few thousand dollars a year, said Eric Dell, the group's vice president for government affairs.
"The money that would be spent to comply with this — there's no return on the investment," he said.

The mandate could create savings to the health care system if even .02 percent of overweight adults consumed 100 fewer calories a week, according to the Food and Drug Administration."
- Obamacare Vending Machine Mandate Expected to Cost Millions, townhall.com, 12/28/2013

Link to entire article appears below:


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Obamacare: Insurance -OR- The Unsaid/Unseen Political Constituency Building Exercise with Other People's Money. Joe Manchin Comments.

‘WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's healthcare law could have a "meltdown" and make it difficult for his Democratic Party to keep control of the U.S. Senate next year if ongoing problems with the program are not resolved, a Democratic senator said on Sunday.

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has urged delaying a penalty for people who do not enroll for health insurance in 2014 under the law, told CNN that a transitional year was needed for the complex healthcare program, commonly known as Obamacare, to work.

"If it's so much more expensive than what we anticipated and if the coverage is not as good as what we had, you've got a complete meltdown at that time," Manchin told CNN's "State of the Union" program.

"It falls of its own weight, if basically the cost becomes more than we can absorb, absolutely."‘

‘Manchin said Senate Democrats who are up for re-election next year are "feeling the weight" of the program's woes and could have trouble keeping their majority in the chamber.’

‘"It needs to turn around," Manchin said of Obamacare. "I'm not going to say that I think we will lose it (the Senate). It's going to be extremely challenging. We have some very good people who are truly there, I believe, for the right reason. They're going to be challenged for the wrong reason."‘ - Democratic senator says Obamacare could have 'meltdown,' hurt party, 12/22/2013, Yahoo.com

Link to the entire article appears below:


Observation: If one reads the article then reflects upon its content, one comes away with a second, alternate impression. How so? Manchin is basically stating that Obamacare's intention was not insurance. Rather, Obamacare's intention was/is a political constituency building exercise with other people's money. The political constituency building exercise is backfiring and hence a liability to those depending on the political constituency building exercise, to in fact, build constituency. The backfire is: This particular political constituency building exercise is building constituency for competing politicos.





Sunday, December 22, 2013

What is that Light at the End of The Obamacare Tunnel? That’s the Risk Pool Freight Train Coming Your Way......

The Scheme
Imagine government G, through a series of highly regulated insurers of the same government G, heavily advertises a new taxpayer subsidized insurance plan, independent of underwriting criteria (all comers), and such plan receives only a tepid response attracting less than 400,000 applicants. (1) (2) (3)

The plan is very difficult to apply for and application for such plan does not guarantee the plan was issued. Hence one must spend hours, if not days, applying for coverage and once what appears to be a successful application is finally submitted one must follow up by correspondence and phone calls to assure the application was accepted. Even then many applications can not be found or where transmitted with errors.

Meanwhile, government G, through a series of third party administrators has been maintaining a high risk plan of 101,000 insured‘s. Government G's published intention (known-known) is to end the high risk plan with an inordinately high loss ratio and dump the high risk plan into the aforementioned heavily advertised, taxpayer subsidized, independent of underwriting criteria plan that is difficult to apply for and determine issued-bound coverage. (4) (5)

Since the plan is very difficult to apply for yet has no underwriting criteria, the vast majority of those applying, those that would take enormous amounts of time to apply and follow up to make sure coverage adhered, are likely those that would benefit from the non-underwriting criteria plan. Stated alternatively, the subject of the insurance at hand, given the non-underwriting aspect, strongly attracts those wanting the insurance subject at hand, due to the non-underwriting aspect.

Does the above sound familiar? Please note that the above description is not of insurance, rather it is a description of a scheme known as Obamacare. As Thomas Sowell has noted many times: Not everything called insurance is insurance.

Nicolaus Copernicus, They Are Not

If one examines Obamacare’s latest enrollment figures one finds about 1.2 million applicants with 800,000 going into Medicaid and 400,000 going into subsidized private insurance (note that 1.2 million applicants does not indicate 1.2 million insured as no one appears to be able determine coverage adhesion). The 400,000 subsidized private insured’s are very likely made up of, in large portion, of those desperate for coverage and the despair leading to a grand incentive to take advantage of non-underwriting criteria and hence spending hours if not days applying for coverage and doing all the follow up to make sure coverage is effective. (6)

Rewinding a few years one finds that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) authorized a “Risk Pool” that covered applicants with pre-existing conditions. Approximately 101,000 remain in this pool. Further, state run risk pools that have existed longer than ACA have approximately 235,000 members. Meaning the 336,000 risk pool members will be added to the 400,000 non-underwritten applicants described above on or before 01/31/2014. (7) (8)

Hence the scheme has 400,000 members who’s make-up is likely an inordinate amount of chronically ill which in turn is combined with 336,000 chronically ill to produce a 736,000 anti-selection case that likely rivals or even surpasses anti-selection in another non-insurance insurance scheme known as Flood Insurance.

Upon Further Review

Consider for a moment that the ACA risk pool had to begin turning away applicants the first week in March, 2013 as the plan was going bankrupt as the $5 billion of taxpayer money (subsidy) used to initiate the pool and the premiums paid by members of the pool were not enough money to offset the claims of the pool. Hence any new applicants could not be accepted as current premiums paid by members plus the $5 billion of taxpayer money was calculated to exhaust by 01/01/2014 which met the criteria for dumping the pool into Obamacare. (9)

Insurance (Scheme) Death Spiral

The premiums paid, including taxpayer subsidy, will not sustain a 736,000 member plan that is likely made up of the chronically ill to a very large degree. Historical insurance plan results predict that losses will easily exceed premium causing a major premium adjustment upward. The upward premium adjustment will cause many healthy insured’s to find the plan too costly and they will drop out. As the healthy drop out one ends with an ever increasing concentration of the chronically ill. Round after round of premium increases occur until, theoretically, premium paid equals benefit derived. However, the premium equals benefit point is never reached as the plan implodes prior to that point as even the chronically ill find the plan too costly. (10)

But The Group Will Become Larger and That Will Solve the Problem

Nay, nay! The law of large numbers is only one criteria within legal reserve insurance. The oft mentioned mantra of “pooling the risk”, and all problems are solved, is a misnomer.

A pool of homogeneous exposure units spread across a wide geographic area, subject to underwriting criteria, with risks priced according to potential loss, with future losses fully reserved, is a totally different concept than some fuzzy panacea of: “pooling the risk”.

Furthermore, the accumulation of the group into the future, if indeed it does accumulate; each and every new applicant, healthy or chronic, is faced with the original price driver as mentioned above, as well as, the future price driver of risks not subject to underwriting criteria, with risks not priced according to potential loss. Stated alternatively, cross subsidy exits in that each applicant is either a subsidizer or a subsidized.

It becomes a fiction that at price subsidized (Ps), that all can insure off one another at price Ps. Price does not function as a signal nor rationing agent, price merely becomes a political price (a price based upon politics, not economics).

Moreover, the younger, who are more healthy and less wealthy, cross subsidize the more wealthy and less healthy in regards to base premium, beyond the non-priced-risk phenomena and price subsidized fiction (Ps). Therefore the more healthy and less wealthy produce an additional subsidy for the benefit of the 
more wealthy and less healthy, which is directly related to price having become based upon politics, not economics.


(1) New Enrollment Figures Show Obamacare is Not on Track, breitbart.com, 12/11/2013


(2) Obamacare’s Medicaid enrollment crowding out private plans, Daily Caller, 10/29/2013


(3) 70% of ObamaCare Enrollees Are In Medicaid, breitbart.com, 12/11/2013


(4) Health insurance and high-risk pools, health insurance.org, 12/12/2013


(5) High Risk Insurance Pool Enrollees Losing Coverage Because of Obamacare, 11/19/2013



(6) Economist: ‘Triple Whammy' Could Send Obamacare Exchanges Into ‘Death Spiral’ - cnsnews.com, 10/21/2013


(7) Funds run low for health insurance in state ‘high-risk pools’, Washington Post, 02/16/2013


(8) Obama administration extends state high-risk pools through January, Washington Post, 12/12/2013



(9) Funds run low for health insurance in state ‘high-risk pools’, Washington Post, 02/16/2013


(10) Economist: ‘Triple Whammy' Could Send Obamacare Exchanges Into ‘Death Spiral’ - cnsnews.com, 10/21/2013






Thursday, December 19, 2013

Oversight Report on Obamacare Navigator Program Reveals Mismanagement and Lax Oversight, Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, 12/16/2013

"WASHINGTON – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today released a new staff report on the Obama Administration’s Navigator and Assister program in conjunction with today’s field hearing in Dallas, Texas. The report explains how the Administration’s serious mismanagement of these outreach programs exposes Americans to fraud and poses a threat to the safety of consumers’ personal information.

The Navigator program was created by ObamaCare as an outreach program to encourage and facilitate enrollment in health insurance exchanges. The Assister program was created by the Administration with dubious legal authority as a way around ObamaCare’s clear statutory prohibition on using federal exchange establishment funds on Navigators.

Months before the launch of ObamaCare on October 1, the Oversight Committee initiated an investigation into potential problems with the Navigator and Assister program. The Committee released a preliminary staff report in September that highlighted the significant risks for fraud, abuse, and misinformation due to the lack of background checks, inadequate training standards, and weak Administration oversight plan for Navigators and Assisters.

The new report makes clear that U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials lacked a contingency plan for the Navigator and Assister program after HealthCare.gov failed, leaving consumers open to the risk of identity theft due to confusion surrounding enrollment for health exchanges."

Link to the entire Congressional report appears below:




Latest Poll: 67% of Public Want Obamacare Delayed Until Fixed, 53% Want Repeal

"Americans remain unhappy with the health care law: Majorities say they wish it had never passed, would vote to repeal it if they could, and think implementation should be delayed until the kinks are worked out. At the same time, a shrinking majority believes the law will survive.

That’s according to a year-end Fox News poll released Wednesday.

Click here for the poll results.

The number of voters who want implementation of the law delayed continues to grow. The new poll shows 67 percent think it should be postponed a year “until more details are ironed out.” That’s up four percentage points since last month -- and up 10 points since October.

Those favoring a delay also now include a majority of Democrats: 54 percent support delaying implementation. That’s up 10 points from 44 percent last month.

Overall, by a 54-38 percent margin, people wish the health care law had never passed and the 2009 system were still in place.

Similarly, 53 percent would vote to repeal the law if given the chance, while 41 percent would keep it.

Republicans (86 percent repeal) are 14 points more likely to want the health care law repealed than Democrats are to want to keep it (72 percent keep).

About one Democrat in five would vote to repeal the law (22 percent).

Sixty-one percent of voters believe the Obama administration knew ahead of time that not everyone would be able to keep their doctor. What’s more, almost everyone says it’s important to them to be able to choose their doctor (82 percent “very” and 13 percent “somewhat” important)." -  Fox News Poll: 67 percent say delay Obamacare, 53 percent would vote to repeal it, foxnews.com, 12/18/2013

Link to the entire article appears below:


John Goodman Discusses ‘Insurance Death Spirals’ in Relation to Obamacare

Sign-Up Break Through! Obamacare Web Site Enrollment Code Cracked!

When an NSA Meeting Becomes an Obamacare PR Pitch

"During a White House meeting called to brief America's largest tech companies today about government overreach in electronic surveillance, President Barack Obama changed the subject – angering some meeting participants by shifting gears to address the failed launch of healthcare.gov.

'That wasn't what we came for,' a vice-president of a company whose CEO attended told MailOnline. 'We really didn't care for a PR pitch about how the administration is trying to salvage its internal health care tech nightmare.'

One executive said that meeting participants were dead-set against straying from the principal focus of the meeting – the uncomfortable and legally untenable position they are in when the National Security Agency demands access to their digital records.

The White House said in advance that the meeting would include a discussion of healthcare.gov, but the company executive said the only subject that mattered to the participants was the NSA.

'He basically hijacked the meeting,' the executive said. 'We all told the White House that we were only there to talk about what the NSA was up to and how it affects us.'

Yet Obama, according to insiders, repeatedly peppered the discussion with reassuring words about how the Affordable Care Act's marquee website was well on its way to becoming functional.

The change was so noticeable that an AFP/Getty photographer assigned to cover the event noted in a photo caption only that Obama was there to 'meet with executives from leading tech companies to discuss progress with healthcare.gov.'

One executive of a company represented at the meeting told The Guardian that a change of focus 'is not going to happen. We are there to talk about the NSA.' " - Obama 'hijacks' tech executive meeting to make 'PR pitch' on Obamacare website fix instead of dealing with NSA surveillance, dailymail.com, 12/17/2013

Link to the entire article appears below:


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Aetna: "Nay, nay" to Obama Fix

Obamacare Contraception Mandate Struck Down! Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch! .....Obamacare “being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

Yesterday, Judge Brian Cogan of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, not only struck down Obamacare's contraception mandate as applied to religious non-profit organizations, but also sent a strong signal that federal courts were losing patience with President Obama's many stitches of executive power.

Previous courts had ruled against President Obama's contraception mandate as applied to for-profit entities (see Sebelius v Hobby Lobby), but this was the first court to hold that participating in Obama's scheme to provide free birth control is a substantial burden on the free practice of religion (specifically the Catholic Archdiocese of New York and its affiliate organizations).

The contraception mandate "directly compels plaintiffs, through the threat of onerous penalties, to undertake actions that their religion forbids," Cogan wrote. "There is no way that a court can, or should, determine that a coerced violation of conscience is of insufficient quantum to merit constitutional protection." ‘

‘Finally, the court also rejected the government's argument that Obama's failure to convince Congress to "fix" Obamacare authorized him to enforce his contraception mandate in the manner he did:

“Nor is the Mandate the least restrictive means by which the Government can improve public health and equalize women’s access to healthcare. ... The Government could provide the contraceptive services or insurance coverage directly to plaintiffs’ employees, or work with third parties – be it insurers, health care providers, drug manufacturers, or non-profits – to do so without requiring plaintiffs’ active participation."

"The Government first argues that the alternatives above are   infeasible because the defendants lack statutory authority to enact some of them. This argument makes no sense; in any challenge to the constitutionality of a federal law, the question is whether the federal government could adopt a less restrictive means, not any particular branch within it. It would set a dangerous precedent to hold that if the Executive Branch cannot act unilaterally, then there is no alternative solution. If defendants lack the required statutory authority, Congress may pass appropriate legislation."'
- Federal Judge Calls Obamacare "Totally Ineffective" While Striking Down Contraception Mandate, townhall.com, 12/17/2013

Link to the entire article appears below:


Monday, December 16, 2013

Another One Bites the Dust: Health Insurance Plans Provided By New York Professional Associations Cancelled Due To Obamacare

'Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.

They are part of an unusual, informal health insurance system that has developed in New York, in which independent practitioners were able to get lower insurance rates through group plans, typically set up by their professional associations or chambers of commerce. That allowed them to avoid the sky-high rates in New York’s individual insurance market, historically among the most expensive in the country.

But under the Affordable Care Act, they will be treated as individuals, responsible for their own insurance policies. For many of them, that is likely to mean they will no longer have access to a wide network of doctors and a range of plans tailored to their needs. And many of them are finding that if they want to keep their premiums from rising, they will have to accept higher deductible and co-pay costs or inferior coverage.

“I couldn’t sleep because of it,” said Barbara Meinwald, a solo practitioner lawyer in Manhattan.

Ms. Meinwald, 61, has been paying $10,000 a year for her insurance through the New York City Bar. A broker told her that a new temporary plan with fewer doctors would cost $5,000 more, after factoring in the cost of her medications.

Ms. Meinwald also looked on the state’s health insurance exchange. But she said she found that those plans did not have a good choice of doctors, and that it was hard to even find out who the doctors were, and which hospitals were covered. “It’s like you’re blindfolded and you’re told that you have to buy something,” she said.

The people affected include not just writers, artists, doctors and the like, but also independent tradespeople, like home builders or carpenters, who work on their own.' - With Affordable Care Act, Canceled Policies for New York Professionals, NYT, 12/13/2013

Link to entire article appears below:





Obamacare is “New Coke”? New Coke Lasted 78 Days

"New Coke was introduced to the marketplace on April 23, 1985. On that same date, old Coke was removed from the marketplace. On July 10, 1985, the old Coke product was returned to the marketplace. It only took 78 days for the people at Coca Cola to recognize and admit that they had made a huge mistake. Obamacare will be 78 days old on Tuesday, December 17, 2013. There is a message here." - Obamacare and New Coke, Ken Adler, Townhall.com, 12/16/2013

Link to the entire article appears below:


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Obamacare Provider Networks: The Networks Look Like Medicaid Networks? One has Signed Up for “Medicaid Plus“?

‘Many plans being offered now on the new insurance exchanges sharply limit the number of hospitals where services are covered, according to a new McKinsey & Co. report. Insurers are making a bet that price is more important to consumers than choice, and limiting the number of hospitals and doctors allows them to keep the cost of a plan as low as possible. Many of the new plans offered still are more expensive than current plans because they offer more benefits.’

‘According to the McKinsey report, which looked at federal and state-run insurance exchanges in 20 cities including Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston, about 60% of health plans offer coverage at a smaller number of hospitals than comparable current individual plans. McKinsey identified 120 health plans in those markets by examining federal and state exchange filings, as well as provider information listed on individual insurer and hospital websites. Some of these new plans limit coverage to one or two large hospitals.

The number of hospitals accepting insurance from a consumer who buys coverage on the exchange could be 60% lower than the number of hospitals in current individual plans, according to the McKinsey report, which included the 20 largest hospitals in each market that it measured.

Consumers can still buy plans on the exchanges that offer coverage at a wide network of hospitals, but they cost significantly more, McKinsey said. In a market where the same insurer offers two separate plans—one with broad hospital access, one with limited options—the more comprehensive coverage costs 26% more, McKinsey said.’

‘Leading research and teaching hospitals, such as Cedars-Sinai, the University of Chicago Medical Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, are cut out of most plans sold in their home states. That move "is built on the premise that hospitals are commodities," said Thomas M. Priselac, CEO of Cedars-Sinai Health System, which is available on just one of seven middle-tier plans sold in Los Angeles. "That's just not true."‘

‘Consumers who need complex procedures like heart transplants will still be able to get them because their insurers will contract with hospitals that offer them.

Still, "when you need an organ transplant, it's a matter of life or death—do you want your insurance company calling us, working out a deal?" asked David T. Feinberg, CEO of the UCLA Hospital system, which includes Ronald Reagan. The hospital is included in just two of seven middle-tier health plans sold in the Los Angeles market.’ - Shrinking Hospital Networks Greet Health-Care Shoppers on Exchanges, WSJ, 12/13/2013

Link to entire article appears below:










Saturday, December 14, 2013

When the Facts Aren’t the Facts and the Checker is Checkered: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”

‘PolitiFact has named ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,’ the Lie of the Year for 2013,” said the online site. “Readers in a separate online poll overwhelmingly agreed with the choice.” ‘

‘Not only did Obama sell the lie that we can keep our insurance, he was aided and abetted in the lie by none other than PolitiFact.

Talk about irony.

Even PolitiFact admits of this, although they do so in the “half-true,” weasely way that they reserve for something that they support policy-wise, but know is being touted through lies.

At the time Obama was touting Obamacare as something that wouldn’t change the health insurance industry or the healthcare industry, Politifact rated the claims as either “half-true” or “true”.

And they did so, in part, by using one of the Big Lies the administration later tried to use to cover his gaffe.

You know why the administration tried to foist the blame for cancelled policies not on the law itself, but rather on the insurance companies?

Because they got the talking point directly from Politifact in 2009.

“We concluded that nothing in Obama’s proposal proactively forced such changes, and the bills clearly intended to leave much of the current health care system in place,” said PolitiFact in response to Obama’s claims in September 2009 that employer plans wouldn’t have to change as a result of Obamacare proposals.

Said Obama at the time: "If you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have."

No caveats on that. PolitiFact rated that claim as “true.” ‘ - Obamacare Big Lie Came from “Fact Checker” PolitiFact Talking Point, townhall.com, 12/13/2013

Link to entire article appears below:






Friday, December 13, 2013

Obamacare Results in a Net Loss of Insurance Coverage? - Or- The Mad Hatter Tells the White Rabbit That His Watch is "Two Days Slow"

“How anxious is the Obama administration about the health care law’s effects on insurance coverage? For the last few days, speculation has increased about the possibility that the law could actually result in a net loss of coverage at the beginning of next year—with more people losing existing insurance as a result of cancellations than have signed up for new insurance plans under the law. An announcement this afternoon strongly suggests that the administration is more than a little bit concerned about this possibility as well.

The Department of Health and Human Services said this afternoon that it will extend coverage options for individuals currently enrolled in the law’s temporary high-risk pool program through the end of January, instead of allowing the program to end on December 31 as originally planned. It will also require private insurers selling policies in the law's insurance exchanges to accept payment up until December 31 of this year for coverage than begins January 1.

In addition, HHS said it would “strongly encourage” insurers to take other "transitional" steps over the next month as well—steps like accepting partial pre-payment for coverage that begins on January 1 as a “down payment” in lieu of full payment prior to the start of coverage and allowing people who sign up after the December 23 deadline to begin coverage on January 1. HHS also said it hoped insurers would accept out of network providers as in-network for “acute episodes” or in cases in which a provider was listed in an insurer’s enrollment directory but dropped out after an individual’s enrollment date.

On an afternoon conference call about the changes, the administration even suggested that insurers should consider accepting as enrolled anyone who has signed up for a plan by December 23—even if the person in question has not paid the first month’s premium at all. Payments could be made after January 1, and after coverage kicked in.” - White House In Obamacare Panic Mode? Administration Announces Steps to Maintain Insurance Coverage As Worries About Disruptions Mount, reason.com, 12/12/2013

Link to entire article appears below:


Update: Trainwreck: White House Issues More Frantic Obamacare Deadline Extensions, townhall.com, 12/13/2013



Obamacare Web Site Price Tag: A 20,000% Mark Up?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Obamacare Strikes Again! Volunteer Fire Departments May Be Forced to Close. No Way! Way!

“Volunteer fire departments all across the U.S. could find themselves out of money and unable to operate unless Congress or the Obama Administration exempts them from the Affordable Care Act.

'I thought the kinks were worked out of Obamacare at the first of the month, Central Florida volunteer firefighter Carl Fabrizi told Sunshine State News.

'Man, oh, man, this could potentially destroy some real good companies in Florida.'

The U.S. Department of Labor takes the term 'volunteer' literally, but the IRS says volunteer firefighters are technically employees if they're on the job more than 30 hours per week, making them subject to Obamacare's employee-mandate rules.

Since the Obamacare law doesn't specifically carve out an exemption for them, fire departments where 50 or more people work – either as volunteers or officially as employees – are expected to provide health insurance for every one of them.

In towns with more than one volunteer fire department, all the staffers will likely be lumped together for tax purposes, pushing many municipalities above the 50-worker threshold.

That could cost departments of life-savers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Those that dump their volunteers into the federal insurance exchanges would still have to pay an annual $2,000 fine for each 'employee' after the first 30.” - ‘A Public Safety Disaster’: Obamacare Could Force Thousands of Volunteer Fire Departments to Close, foxnews.com, 12/09/2013

Link to the entire article appears below:



Sunday, December 8, 2013

Healthcare.gov: Stop Sending Paper Applications! Use Our Unsecured Website! Damn the Cybersecurity, Full Speed Ahead!

'So it's come to this. During the past week, the Associated Press reported today, "Federal health officials," meaning "the Obama administration," began "urging" (i.e., "telling") counselors and navigators around the country to stop using paper applications for Obamacare coverage, "because of concerns those applications would not be processed in time." It seems that either Team Obama or AP (my money is on AP) doesn't mind risking criticism for waiting to let this news out until a weather- and sports-dominated Saturday. It's apparently okay to keep those who don't know any better, i.e., those who went to the trouble of printing a paper app on their own, in the dark.

So you shouldn't use paper. But the vastly under-reported but inarguable fact is that HealthCare.gov isn't secure; experienced IT security experts strongly warn against using it. So consumers shouldn't be going online either, meaning that there's no defensible way to apply for coverage before the end of the year.’ - As Feds Say to Stop Using Paper Obamacare Apps, AP Again 'Forgets' That HealthCare.gov Is Not Secure, Newbusters, 12/07/2013

‘For the love of Jiminy Cricket, how much cybersecurity incompetence are American citizens expected to accept and excuse while also footing the $660 million bill? Online security experts say the “new and improved” Healthcare.gov site may actually be more insecure now than before it was fixed!

An operational progress report quoted Jeffrey Zients, a management consultant on repairs to the Obamacare site, as stating, “The bottom line -- HealthCare.gov on December 1st is night and day from where it was on October 1st.” Well if this is “day,” then it’s an Arctic Alaskan daytime with no sunlight as “experts” blindly attempt to bolt on security to a system that was developed without a care about the security or privacy of Americans.

David Kennedy, founder and principal security consultant of TrustedSec, warned that the Healthcare.gov was not secure. In fact, Kennedy previously told CNBC that it’s hard to bolt on security after a site is developed and that “no security was ever built into the Obamacare site.”

So how many of the security risks were eliminated now that the administration “fixed” the site? None according to what Kennedy told the Washington Free Beacon. “It doesn’t appear that any security fixes were done at all.” He added:

“There are a number of security concerns already with the website, and that’s without even actually hacking the site, that’s just a purely passive analysis of [it]. We found a number of critical exposures that were around sensitive information, the ability to hack into the site, things like that. We reported those issues and none of those appear to have been addressed at all.”

“They said they implemented over 400 bug fixes,” he said. “When you recode the application to fix these 400 bugs—they were rushing this out of the door to get the site at least so it can work a little bit—you’re introducing more security flaws as you go along with it because you don’t even check that code.”

Well that’s just peachy keen and that’s before considering the “hacker” threat. But, hey, it’s not like the feds are required to notify citizens if there is a breach; after all, it’s so much easier to leave that headache to each state. Just ask Vermont, since Vermont Health Connect had to admit to a security breach that allowed “improper access to another user’s Social Security number and other data.”

Kennedy also said that:

the team working on Healthcare.gov is more likely to hide its security flaws than address them. When it was revealed that the most popular searches on the website were hack attempts—confirmed by entering a semicolon in the search bar—the website simply removed the tool.

“The top results were hacker attempts,” Kennedy said. “Their fix for it wasn’t, ‘Hey let’s restrict people from inputting malicious code into the website,’—because that’s how hackers break into websites—it was, ‘we’re just going to completely disable that entire function completely, and not even show the search results back.’”

“We’ve deployed 12 large, dedicated servers,” states the operation progress report. Oh goodie gumdrops, it “can now handle about as many shoppers as the average custom T-shirt site,” pointed out Human Events. The site has “a remodeled 404 Error page that pretends to be a ‘waiting room,’ where you can ‘queue up’ and leave an email address to be notified” when it’s your turn to fill out all your private info.

Julie Bataille, Director of Communications, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, summed up the newly “fixed” site’s progress report [pdf] as having an upgraded and reconfigured firewall that protects the system while allowing “more than five times the network throughput.” The “improved shopping” experience on Healthcare.gov supposedly can handle 50,000 people logged on to the website at once, and “more than 800,000 visitors a day;” but even with a lower number of “shoppers,” the Associated Press reported that many visitors faced “the same old sputters and even crashes.” ‘ - Healthcare.gov more vulnerable to hacking & privacy breaches after 'fix', Computerworld, 12/03/2013

Links to above mentioned articles appear below:



Healthcare.gov: Where Information Security is Job 57!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

California Obamacare Exchange Insurance: A Bridge to Nowhere?

‘An estimated seven out of every 10 physicians in deep-blue California are rebelling against the state's Obamacare health insurance exchange and won't participate, the head of the state's largest medical association said.

“It doesn't surprise me that there's a high rate of nonparticipation,” said Dr. Richard Thorp, president of the California Medical Association.’

‘California offers one of the lowest government reimbursement rates in the country -- 30 percent lower than federal Medicare payments. And reimbursement rates for some procedures are even lower.

In other states, Medicare pays doctors $76 for return-office visits. But in California, Medi-Cal's reimbursement is $24, according to Dr. Theodore M. Mazer, a San Diego ear, nose and throat doctor.

In other states, doctors receive between $500 to $700 to perform a tonsillectomy. In California, they get $160, Mazer added.

Only in September did insurance companies disclose that their rates would be pegged to California’s Medicaid plan, called Medi-Cal. That's driven many doctors to just say no.

They're also pointing out that Covered California's website lists many doctors as participants when they aren't.

“Some physicians have been put in the network and they were included basically without their permission,” Lisa Folberg said. She is a CMA’s vice president of medical and regulatory Policy.’

‘Dr. Sherry Franklin, a pediatric endocrinologist at Rady’s Children’s Hospital, San Diego, and at the University of California San Diego Hospital, isn't joining the exchange.

Franklin said last summer she "got a letter in the mail letting me know if I wanted to participate with Blue Cross through the exchange, which is different from my regular Blue Cross practice, because they are paying less. They did not tell me how much less. You had to agree or disagree. So, of course, I said no."‘

‘No one is more aware of this than Alex Briscoe, health director for Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, which includes Oakland.

“Enrollment doesn’t mean access, because there aren’t enough doctors to take the low rates of Medicaid,” he said. “There aren’t enough primary care physicians, period.” ‘ - Doctors boycotting California's Obamacare exchange, Washington Examiner, 12/06/2013

Link to the entire article appears below:


Related story regarding Medicaid and Medicaid reimbursement rates: George Will: Medicaid is Next Obamacare Crisis, 12/01/2013, Newsmax.


Friday, December 6, 2013

The Young Shun Obamacare: Scheme Assumption Threatens Insurance “Death Spiral”.

"Mounting opposition to ObamaCare among young adults is creating a new crisis for the White House.

While the federal enrollment website HealthCare.gov appears to be improving by the day, polls show the “young invincibles” key to making the law work are becoming less likely to enroll.

Younger people were skeptical of the healthcare reform law even before its troubled rollout, despite their support for President Obama.

But polling indicates the problems facing HealthCare.gov — a site the administration initially touted as a hip, tech-friendly experience — have reinforced their doubts about the need to have health insurance at all.

“The trend is daunting for the White House but not necessarily surprising,” said Pew Research Center Director Michael Dimock.

“Younger folks are part of Obama’s base ... but the rollout confirmed concerns that were already in their minds.”

A poll released Wednesday by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found that more than half of 18- to 29-year-olds disapprove of ObamaCare and believe it will raise their healthcare costs.

Even more troubling for the administration is that less than one-third of uninsured young people said they plan to enroll in coverage.

Without a large number of young, healthy people in the insurance exchanges, it could create a “death spiral” of high premiums that could threaten the long-term viability of the marketplaces." - Young invincibles spurn O-Care, 12/04/2013, the hill.com


Link to the entire article appears below:






Thursday, December 5, 2013

Obamacare and The Unending String of Legal Challenges

“Hours after the University of Notre Dame filed a religious challenge to the U.S. health-care overhaul in Indiana federal court, a judge in Washington heard arguments in a lawsuit assailing tax provisions of the statute.

The cases underscore the persistent and diverse nature of legal attacks on the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act even as the Obama administration struggles to fix bugs in HealthCare.gov, the online marketplace for health insurance created by the measure.

Obamacare litigation continues partly because questions about its legitimacy as a piece partisan legislation are unresolved, said Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington and an opponent of the act. The statute passed Congress without Republican support in either the House or Senate.

It doesn’t matter what motivates the plaintiffs bringing those challenges as long as “their legal arguments are sound, because that’s what the courts are looking at,” Shapiro said.

The suit in Washington, in which a federal judge yesterday heard arguments for an immediate verdict, was brought by seven individuals and businesses from six states. At least three similar complaints have been filed in Oklahoma, Virginia and Indiana. All challenge some of the federal government’s authority to offer tax credits to subsidize health insurance for poor people under Obamacare.” - Obamacare Lawsuits Mount as Notre Dame Joins Scrum of Opponents, newsmax, 12/04/2013

Link to the entire article appears below: