Thursday, November 28, 2013

How To Flush Obamacare Talking Points The White House Designed To Ruin Your Thanksgiving


If any further proof were needed how lacking in common decency the Obama Administration is, be aware that thanks to the White House and Organizing for Action, some of your guests have been instructed to come to your family Thanksgiving dinner armed with talking points and told to 'get in their faces' about the ObamaCare fiasco.

I can't think of anything more contemptible, but since it might happen, the Federalist's Ben Domenech has thoughtfully provided us with some easy to use rebuttals to shut the robots up, hopefully. Here's a slice:

President Obama has done a lot of things I dislike, but ruining Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner is a bit much. And to let him be clear: that’s exactly what he’s doing. Instead of letting families argue about perfectly reasonable things to discuss over holiday dinners – such as when Mike Shanahan should be fired, which Bound 2 parody is the best, and whether Miley Cyrus should be launched into the sun for the good of humanity – the president wants to insist on inserting his priorities into family gatherings across the country. “I understand you worked hard to brine this bird, but let’s refocus on what matters: why you haven’t signed up at yet. Did you hear it’s getting much better? Don’t talk about the Iron Bowl or Aunt Jenny’s wedding, let’s turn this conversation back to what really matters: avoiding a death spiral and ensuring stability in the insurance market!”

We’ve certainly come very far from an era when people of different political mind were urged to set aside their differences and come together for a meal and football and gather round the hearth in peace. Instead we’re in the era of “argue with your neighbors, get in their face”. {...}

What’s more, now that these insufferable partisans in the administration have distributed their talkers, you’re a lot more likely to hear any one of these ten statements at tomorrow’s dinner, to which I am now obligated to offer a prebuttal. And yes, Mr. President, I hate you for making me write this.

1) may suck, but state exchanges are performing really well.

No, most of them aren’t. They’re way behind, too. Exchanges such as those in Oregon, Colorado, Maryland, Vermont, Hawaii, and other states which have led the charge in implementation have fallen flat on their faces. Oregon, which had total buy-in at all levels of the state and no political opposition to speak of, has signed up exactly zero people. And while states like California, Connecticut, and Kentucky have had better success, the vast majority of signups in the state exchanges are within Medicaid, not private insurance – in part because the eligibility is easier to determine. But that has negative outcomes as well, as those with private insurance are now required to go on Medicaid – such as this woman in Washington state.
2) The website’s problem is demand and once the front-end problems are fixed, it’ll work great.
No, it’s not – in fact, the website couldn’t even handle 500 visitors without problems according to internal documents from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, released in hearings last week (the all-caps emails are the best ones). The real problem with the website at this point isn’t capacity at all: it’s the extremely delayed back-end – major portions of which apparently haven’t even been built yet – which are supposed to hand off people to the actual insurers they select, and handle the payments for plans (the point at which people are actually “enrolled”). Collecting these premiums and making sure insurers get them has always been the heaviest lift under Obamacare, and the lack of these systems is far more problematic than just the front-end frustrations of delays and glitches. It’s along the lines of having an Expedia-like site that “works” because you can select your flight, but doesn’t actually have the capability for sellers to charge you, or reserve your ticket. Which is, let’s face it, kind of key. There is no public deadline for these remaining critical fixes, and they’ve already missed their first deadline for the front-end.
3) Only a few young and healthy people will pay more – for most people, they will keep their plans or have something better.
No, actually, premiums are going up just about everywhere, and for most people. In 41 states, premiums in the individual market are going up by an average of 41%

Only eight states – generally those with the most heavily regulated markets – will see premium reductions ranging between 3% and 40%. But according to The Manhattan Institute’s analysis, for those who have it bad, it’s really bad: the eight worst states are seeing huge premium hikes, including Nevada (+179%), New Mexico (+142%), Arkansas (+138%), North Carolina (+136%), Vermont (+117%), Georgia (+92%), South Dakota (+77%), and Nebraska (+74%). While the young and healthy get the brunt of these increases, the older folks aren’t exempt, either – and even if their premiums don’t increase that much, it’s likely they’ll see larger deductibles and narrower networks.
4) The pre-Obamacare health insurance market was a “free market” full of “junk” insurance plans, which screwed people over and dropped their insurance when they got sick.
No, this simply isn’t true. The American health insurance system prior to Obamacare was in some senses the worst of both worlds: one torn between single payer and third party payer, where while most of the care offered was superior to the rest of the world, the chief problem was explosive growth in costs… because no one cares what something costs when someone else is paying for it (in this case, your employer or the government). No one in their right mind would describe a reality in which the government holds so much market sway, and in which consumers have near-zero price transparency, as a free market system. And as for screwing over people who got sick: it’s been illegal for insurers in the employer market to drop people who get sick since 1997 (thanks, HIPAA!). This means the problem only applies to the individual market (10% of private health insurance), where people were dropped less than 4/10ths of 1% of the time, typically after an appeals process. You really want to argue we needed to disrupt the entire marketplace to solve a problem which impacted such a small portion of the population? It would’ve been cheaper to just hand them all a check for higher-subsidized coverage… such as those offered through high risk pools, the type states like Maryland and New Hampshire are trying to keep open since their exchanges are broken. Oh, and if you’re in the employer market and feel left out by all this disruption, don’t worry – you’re next.

Much more at the link .

Maybe print out a copy for your own use, just in case.

Happy Thanksgiving, and may your turkeys be confined to the oven and the serving platter, not sitting as 'guests' at your table or in your living room.

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