Piling On

All that being said, I’m almost at the point where I feel sorry for Obamacare supporters. There’s been a growing avalanche of bad news about government-run healthcare and they somehow have to justify this festering pile of you-know-what.

For instance, it must not be fun having to explain to people that their private financial and medical information will now be in the hands of some of the least competent people in America. Which means we’re sure to see more stories like this.

A MNsure employee accidentally sent an e-mail file to an Apple Valley insurance broker’s office on Thursday that contained Social Security numbers, names, business addresses and other identifying information on more than 2,400 insurance agents. An official at MNsure, the state’s new online health insurance exchange, acknowledged it had mishandled private data. A MNsure security manager called the broker, Jim Koester, and walked him and his assistant through a process of deleting the file from their computer hard drives. Koester said he willingly complied, but was unnerved. “The more I thought about it, the more troubled I was,” he said. “What if this had fallen into the wrong hands? It’s scary. If this is happening now, how can clients of MNsure be confident their data is safe?”

Or imagine what it must be like when some of your biggest allies start complaining about the law. Such as union bosses.

Top labor leaders left the White House on Friday after an hour-long meeting with President Barack Obama, still looking for a way to address concerns that “Obamacare” will hurt their members’ healthcare plans. The dispute with unions – traditional allies of Democrats – as the Obama administration begins to roll out Obama’s signature healthcare reforms is providing political ammunition for Republicans who want to defund or repeal the law. …Earlier this week, AFL-CIO members passed a resolution calling for significant changes to the healthcare law, stopping short of asking for its repeal, but exposing the rift between the labor movement and the Obama administration.

Or government bureaucrats.

A new survey of 2,500 federal employees and retirees found that 92.3 percent believe federal workers should keep their current health insurance and not be forced into ObamaCare.  Only 2.9 percent say they should become part of the new health insurance exchanges.

And what about stories about cost overruns.

According to data published by the Department of Health and Human Services, the cost of the computer cloud that stores cost, coverage, and performance data for insurance plans sold under the Affordable Care Act (also called the ACA or Obamacare) has more than tripled since the contract was originally awarded in 2011. Press reports indicate that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded a $10.8 million contract to Terremark – a subsidiary of Verizon – early in 2011. The contract called for the company to design a system to help consumers find an insurance plan and transfer it to CMS’ computer cloud, among other duties. This week CMS announced the contract is now for $35.5 million – more than triple the original amount.

And how about all the bad news about limited choice in the infamous Obamacare exchanges.

Only one company will participate in West Virginia’s new individual health insurance marketplace. Media outlets report that Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Carelink/Coventry applied and were accepted to participate in the individual marketplace. But Carelink/Coventry has withdrawn. …The health insurance marketplace is part of the Affordable Care Act. Enrollment begins Oct. 1. Coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2014.

Or rising insurance costs.

For the vast majority of Americans, premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they’re currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data. Adding even more out-of-pocket expenses to consumers’ monthly insurance bills is a swell in deductibles under the Affordable Care Act. Health law proponents have excused the rate hikes by saying the prices in the exchange won’t apply to the millions receiving coverage from their employers. But that’s only if employers continue to offer that coverage–something that’s looking increasingly uncertain. Already, UPS, for example, cited Obamacare as its reason for nixing spousal coverage.

So let’s add all this up. Our privacy will be compromised, our choices will be limited, our costs will increase, and the government will squander more of our money. All for a law that even left-wing groups are learning to despise.

That’s why I almost feel sorry for the President and his media flunkies.

But notice I said “almost.” In reality, I feel zero empathy for those who undermine our freedom with statism.

Indeed, I want to add to their misery with some satire. So let’s close this post with a few new Obamacare cartoons, starting with this gem from Steven Breen.

Gary Varvel adds his insight.

And here’s a clever cartoon from Lisa Benson, though let’s hope and pray something saves us from single-payer.

Last but not least, Bob Gorrell shows the overall impact of this costly new entitlement on the economy.

I have plenty of additional Obamacare cartoons here, here, and here, all of which help mock a bad law.

But let’s remember a very serious point. As suggested by the Benson cartoon, the left sees Obamacare as a stepping stone to single-payer. And it you think Obamacare’s a mess, I invite you to peruse the horror stories about the U.K. system linked at the bottom of this post.

Putting Democrats on the defense about why the law creates perverse incentives that Congress gets to bypass, while the rest of America has no choice but to endure, has the potential to be both politically illuminating as well as immensely entertaining. For instance, via the Daily Caller:

Responding to the hoopla surrounding the health insurance policies on Capitol Hill, the Nevada Democrat flatly stated Thursday, “That’s what the law says, and we’ll be part of that.”

Reid said the Republicans and critics are just using the issue as a “diversion” to “try and embarrass the president.”

“Let’s stop these really juvenile political games,” Reid said. “The one dealing with healthcare for Senators and House members and our staff. We are going to be part of exchanges.” …

“We’ll be treated like the rest of the federal employees,” he said Thursday. “It’s nothing unique that employers help pay for health care. Ford Motor Company, Sears, doesn’t matter.”

“That’s what the law says.” …Yes, it is rather convenient that the White House can thusly placate Congress just by suddenly deciding to make changes and additions to the law through obfuscating and questionable legal channels whenever it likes, isn’t it?

THE AGENDA IS THE AGENDA!!

Anyhow, Politico reported on Wednesday that even our esteemed members of Congress might have to deal with the administration’s frazzled rollout of the health care law. Their exemption might not quite be ready by the official start date, the poor dears:

The Office of Personnel Management may not issue final rules about how members of Congress and their staff can get insurance coverage through exchanges until after enrollment opens on Oct. 1, Chief Administrative Officer of the House Dan Strodel wrote in a memo to staff Wednesday. Without the final rule, Hill staff won’t be able to view their plan options, costs, benefits or final details on who must enter the exchange, he wrote.

“Members and staff are advised that although state and federal healthcare exchanges created under the ACA [Affordable Care Act] will open for enrollment on October 1, it will not be possible to confirm plan options, costs, benefits, or which House staff will be affected until OPM issues final regulations, which could very well be after the exchanges have already opened,” the memo says. ..

“However, please be assured that from the day the OPM final rule is issued until the open enrollment period closes, our benefits counselors will work tirelessly to ensure there is no gap in coverage for those no longer eligible to participate in FEHBP,” the memo continues. (Hot air)

When Trader Joe’s announced it was dropping health benefits for part-time workers, it reassured them that they’d be no worse off as a result.

“We believe that with the $500 from Trader Joe’s and the tax credits available under the (Affordable Care Act), many of you should be able to obtain health care coverage at very little if any net cost to you,” noted CEO Dan Bane in a memo to employees revealed this week.

In other words, Trader Joe’s — like some other companies — has decided to shift its health care costs onto federal taxpayers via the subsidized ObamaCare insurance exchanges.

The specialty grocer’s move adds further evidence that ObamaCare will cost far more than the $1.4 trillion currently forecast, as businesses and governments find ways to transfer their employee health costs onto the federal government, and as millions of other workers find they can get a better deal in the taxpayer-subsidized exchanges.

A Moving Target

Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that 7 million workers will lose their employer-based coverage as a result of ObamaCare, forcing them into the exchanges. That was nearly double the CBO’s previous forecast.

But recent evidence suggests the CBO’s projection is still far too low. That would mean its cost forecasts also are far too low.

A survey by the National Business Group on Health found that 30% of large companies are considering dumping workers into ObamaCare exchanges after next year. Other surveys have found similar results.

Employers are also looking to drop early retiree coverage and spousal benefits to save costs. More than 60% said they’re considering this for retirees so they can “take advantage of the law,” an Aon Hewitt survey found.

Local governments, too, have been eyeing ObamaCare as a way to reduce their bloated pension costs. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled plans in May to push 30,000 city retirees into the ObamaCare exchanges, saving the city $108 million a year.

Others are likely to follow suit, since doing so “offers a very high-quality, potentially very affordable way to get people into health care without the burden falling back onto the city and town,” Neil Bomberg of the National League of Cities told the New York Times.

Should these governments do so, ObamaCare’s price tag will climb even higher.

Meanwhile, a study published this week in the journal Health Affairs finds that 37 million workers could decide to quit their employer plans on their own because they can get a better deal through ObamaCare’s taxpayer-subsidized exchanges.

Cheaper For Workers?

If all those workers did so, ObamaCare’s costs would shoot up by $132 billion a year. And if companies boost their annual employee contribution levels by just $100, another 2.25 million workers could jump ship, adding nearly $7 billion more to ObamaCare’s annual price tag.

Several other factors suggest ObamaCare costs will far exceed what the government promises.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration loosened the verification requirements that the exchanges must use to decide eligibility for insurance subsidies, increasing the potential for fraud.

“It has been estimated that as much as $250 billion of hard-earned American taxpayer dollars could be given out in fraudulent ObamaCare subsidy claims,” said Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. Black championed a bill that would block ObamaCare subsidies until strict verification procedures are in place.

Subsidy Forecasts Surge

Projected subsidy costs have climbed. The CBO now figures ObamaCare subsidies for each eligible person will average $5,290 in 2014. That’s 33% higher than the initial CBO forecast.

Also, to make ObamaCare look less costly on paper, Democrats who drafted the law employed gimmicks that won’t likely last.

For example, ObamaCare caps overall subsidy costs at 0.5% of GDP starting in 2019. But staying under that cap would require steep cuts in ObamaCare subsidies for enrollees, which, as CBO director Doug Elmendorf said, “may be difficult to sustain.”

Should Congress abandon that cap, actual ObamaCare costs will far exceed official forecasts. (IBD)

And No Government program ever does that! 🙂

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