Wednesday, December 4, 2013

ObamaCare Watch December 4 - 5 , 2013 - Daily dose of mendacity , incompetence , clusterfarking , heavy duty spinning ..... And then just the facts and the data !

ObamaCare news of the day - First as a recap , my recent post covering events from the prior few days........

Catharsis Ours: ObamaCare Ground Hog Day - December 2 , 2013 ...

Now for news of the day !

( Why wouldn't you take someone up on an offer to build the website for free ? And IBM was going to do this job - for free , tell why you say no ?  ) 

CONFIRMED: Obama WH Turned Down Offer to Build O-Care Website for Free – Blew a $1 Billion Instead

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Jim Hoft 
Gateway Pundit
December 5, 2013
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) told Bill Hemmer on America’s Newsroom today that an internet giant offered to build the Obamacare website for free.
This was confirmed during testimony today before a Congressional committee. Issa, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman, said the Obama White House turned down the offer.
Bill Hemmer: Was it proven today that an internet company offered to build the website for free but the government passed on it? Was that true? Did that happen?
Rep. Darrell Issa: It was stated under oath that it was true. No one argued that it wasn’t.
The Obama administration blew over a billion dollars so far to build the failed Obamacare website.
UPDATE: It looks like they were talking about IBM.
Via Politifact:
In a 2010 interview, IBM’s CEO said: “We could have improved quality and reduced the costs of the health-care system by $900 billion. … I said we would do it for free to prove that it works. They turned us down.”

How many people “enrolled” in ObamaCare have paid their first month of premiums?


Health-care reporters have been zeroed in lately on the 834 error rate, i.e. the rate of garbled or phantom enrollment data transmitted from to insurance companies as people sign up. WaPo claimed the other day that the rate is as high as one-third, but HHS, knowing a looming PR catastrophe when it sees one, has refused to give reporters a hard number. The media’s focus on that is all to the good — the higher the 834 error rate, the more chaos there’ll be next month in sorting out the big surge of applications in December — but there’s another key rate that’s being overlooked. Namely, what’s the rate of people who somehow, miraculously, have completed the sign-up process on but then failed to send a payment to their new insurer for their first month of premiums? I haven’t seen a single estimate of that yet even though it’s a crucial metric: If you don’t pay by New Year’s Eve, you’re not enrolled, even if you successfully signed up on the website. If there’s a huge nonpayment rate among new sign-ups, there’ll be a huge number of people who show up to see the doctor next month only to find, to their great confusion and annoyance, that they have no coverage because they haven’t paid yet.
That brings me to this new piece from CNN Money, from which I learned two important things. One: If you sign up but fail to pay by December 31st, it’s not a simple matter of your coverage being suspended until you pony up. Your enrollment is void and you have to re-enroll on the website in January. Imagine how well is likely to cope if, next month, there are suddenly hundreds of thousands of people flooding into the site trying to sign up again because they forgot to pay on time before. And two: At least one insurer out there is keeping tabs on its nonpayment rate and sharing that number with the media. And the results are … not good:
While the Obama administration has reported that more than 100,000 Americans picked plans in October, the first month of open enrollment, it’s not known how many of them have paid.
One insurer, Physicians Health Plan of Northern Indiana, has received payments from only about 20% of applicants, nearly all using the firm’s online portal, said Jim Brunnemer, the chief financial officer. It is sending invoices and email reminders to those who haven’t yet sealed the deal. If payment isn’t made by New Year’s Eve, PHP has been told by federal officials that it must void the application.
Another complication is that insurers also don’t have a lot of time to process applications and send out ID cards. The timeline, particularly over the holiday week, will prove “challenging” for some companies, one industry executive said.
Yesterday I guesstimated, based on the most recent enrollment numbers, that something like1.5 million people will sign up by December 23rd. Not every insurer will have a payment rate as poor as the one in Indiana cited above, but even if you triple it and assume 60 percent are paying on time, that’s still 600,000 people — roughly the population of Washington D.C. — that went to the trouble of signing up and then, for various and unknown reasons, didn’t complete enrollment by tendering payment. Maybe that’s because they’re short on cash right now, maybe they meant to pay and simply forgot, or maybe they didn’t read the fine print and thought they wouldn’t be expected to pay until January. My guess is that most of them fall into the last group. Which means all hell’s going to break loose next month.
unless the White House comes up with another “workaround.” They’ve already proved that they’re willing to overpay insurers temporarily in the interest of kickstarting enrollment; why wouldn’t they also offer to cover the first month of premiums for new enrollees who forgot to pay so that the missing revenue is available to insurers? Enrollees could pay the feds back later, maybe by having the value of those premiums withheld from their tax refunds in April if need be. (That’s how the mandate penalty will be collected, after all.) Given how lawless O has been in suspending the employer mandate and un-canceling plans, and given his willingness to perform frantic triage on the law politically by extending deadlines regardless of the policy consequences, it’s hard to believe he’d allow the nonpayment problem to wreak havoc next month. That’s the last thing Democrats need once they’ve finally made it past December 23rd and caught their breath over the holidays. Obama’s going to do something to “solve” this problem too. With your money, of course.
Back to the 834 problem, though. To prepare for today’s daily media conference call with HHS, watch Bob Laszewski’s interview with Megyn Kelly from last night. The key bit is the end of the clip when Laszewski insists, contra the White House’s claims that they improved the back end of as part of the big site upgrade before the November 30th repair deadline, that the 834 error rate was just as high on Monday of this week as it’s been in the past. If he’s right and that doesn’t change soon, insurers will have an unholy mess on their hands next month in sorting out hundreds of thousands of indecipherable enrollments. But look on the bright side: Even a low rate of accurate data is better than zero — which is what it is right now for Medicaid enrollments transmitted from to the states. Stay tuned. Exit quotation: “The third aide, who works for a [Democratic] senator up for reelection in 2014, said the White House had ‘s–t the bed.’”

(  Without Millennials buying into the grand ObamaCare Scheme , there is no way for this to be anything other than a bloodbath for Insurers... Well , as of now , they aren't buying in..... ) 

Millennials Abandon President; 57% Disapprove Of Obamacare "Unlikely To Enroll, Even If Eligible"

Tyler Durden's picture

In the last election it was the Millennials (18-29 year olds) that brought President Obama home on his hope and change miracle tour; but now, just over a year later, a Harvard Institute of Politics poll finds that a stunning 57% of 18-29 year olds disapprove of Obamacare. As we noted before, this is a critical breakdown in making the Affordable Care Act 'affordable' but it seems less healthy customer are more likely to persevere through the technical obstacle to gain coverage than younger, healthier "customers" who feel less need for insurance (never mind the "easy" women and keg-standing men). The poll gets worse with 40% expecting the quality of their coverage to worsen, and as Bloomberg reports, even more troubling for the White House, almost half in that age group say they’re unlikely to enroll in insurance through a government exchange, even if eligible.

More than half of those 18 to 29 years old say they disapprove of Obamacare and half expect it will increase their health-care costs, a survey by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics shows. Four in 10 say they anticipate the quality of their coverage will get worse because of the law.

In a finding perhaps even more troubling for the White House, almost half in that age group, the so-called millennials, say they’re unlikely to enroll in insurance through a government exchange, even if eligible. That could put at risk the economics of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which needs young, healthy people to enroll in large numbers to offset the costs of caring for older, sicker Americans.

“There are very few aspects of the health-care initiative that they approve of,” John Della Volpe, the institute’s polling director, said today on a conference call. “They think quality will decrease, that prices will increase, so it’s not surprising that has taken a significant hit to the president’s approval rating.”
Support from young voters was crucial to Obama's two successful presidential campaigns.

Perhaps more troubling for Obama, the poll showed 40% of young Americans believe Obamacare will bring worse care, 51% believe it will bring higher costs and 57% said they disapprove of the president's signature law.

"Although Millennials have held firm in their approval of the president in past polls, we are now seeing a sea change among this critical demographic," said Trey Grayson, director of Harvard Institute of Politics.
But, apart from that, it's all going great !  ! ?

(  29,000 folks signed up on Healthcare.bov for the first two days of December - but of course , insurers still in the dark waiting for to actually tell them who signed up , consumers still have to make their first premium payment to actually be formally enrolled and we know the back end issues still have not resolved ( still not built actually ) .... ) 

Report: 29,000 sign-ups on in first two days of December


A big improvement over October, when there were fewer than 27,000 in the entire month. But are these actual enrollments or the wink-wink “enrollments” that HHS has been using to bloat its numbers?
Inquiring insurance-industry minds would like to know.
The site has held up under pressure from about 1 million visitors for two days straight, giving some early tailwinds to the Obama administration’s effort to reboot the conversation on its website and Obamacare as a whole…
Despite the apparent turnaround of the consumer experience on the federal website, enrolling on is not the same as people actually being covered by insurance policies. For the latter to happen, must tell insurers who has signed up, and the consumers must pay their first premium
“The back-end issues remain not resolved, and consumers’ coverage will be disrupted,” Mark Pratt, a senior vice president with America’s Health Insurance Plans, told the National Conference of State Legislatures meeting.
You can parse those numbers different ways depending upon whether your agenda is glass half-empty or half-full. Half-full: The daily sign-up rate in December so far is more than four times what it was in November. If they stay on track with roughly 15,000 new quasi-enrollees each day, they’ll tally nearly 350,000 before the 12/23 deadline. That ought to slow Democratic heartbeats on the Hill, at least over the holidays. Even better for ObamaCare fans, the sign-up rate might increase further before Christmas. Remember, the number of people who used to have insurance and have been canceled this year due to the O-Care rollout numbers in the millions. The closer we get to December 23rd, the more panicked they’ll be that they won’t have coverage on January 1st. There’s bound to be a last-minute spike. Bill Clinton reassured Democrats yesterday that “if the computer problems are all fixed, and it’s up and running by — and healthy in the next several weeks, I think that the damage will be minimal.” That’s … not remotely true, but robust enrollment data this month will keep people in the party believing it for awhile.
Half-empty: Even if there’s a last-minute spike, some significant portion of those people won’t sign up in time, whether for reasons of procrastination, absent-mindedness, or hair-tearing difficulty with the farking website. There’ll be illnesses and accidents among that population in early January and no one to help cover the cost. As for the enrollment (or “enrollment”) rate, 350,000 a month would be a major upgrade over October but it’s still far short of HHS’s pre-launch target for the website’s first three months. They wanted 3.3 million signed up by December 31st between the federal and various state exchanges. As of December 1st, had generated 125,000 or so sign-ups and the states had added roughly 80,000 in October with November’s data still to come. Assume that 250,000 people enrolled on the state exchanges last month, and that this month both and the state websites will combine for another one million sign-ups (a high bar given their track records). That would leave HHS at … 44 percent of its target on December 31st, even after the big December crunch. And all of this assumes, of course, that each sign-up is decipherable, non-duplicative, and paid up before the deadline even though we know for a fact, per the testimony of insurance execs, that that won’t be the case. Even the website traffic data that HHS is touting is underwhelming upon reflection. A million visitors a day is nice, but (a) there won’t be a big splashy re-launch and accompanying presidential speech every day in December to hold the public’s interest, and (b) those one million visits produced only 15,000 or so enrollments, a success rate of just 1.5 percent. What should we conclude from the fact that more than 98 percent of people who surf over to surf away without having signed up?
I’ll leave you with this from New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot, who was grumpy about her expensive new ObamaCare “comprehensive” plan until she remembered her “values”:
To be clear: I’m not happy to be paying more in the short term, and it may be a struggle at times. I wish other self-employed people didn’t have to shoulder so much of the burden. I wish we had a single-payer system, but that seems wildly unrealistic. And the new health-care law exists for the common good, not just the individual consumer. Vaccination provides more effective protection—so-called herd immunity—when more of us are vaccinated. Universal health insurance works in something like the same way: we are better off as a society—more compassionate, but also healthier—when we can all get the care we need.
So yes, I’ll subsidize someone else’s prenatal coverage, in a more effective way than I’ve been doing by default under the current system, in which too many pregnant women show up in emergency rooms without having had such care, creating problems for themselves and their babies, and all sorts of costs for taxpayers. And I’ll remember to be relieved that my own access to health care is guaranteed. But they had better work out the problems with the A.C.A.; if they don’t, and it doesn’t fulfill its promise of insuring the uninsured, I’m really going to feel like a chump.

( More of the same - short term fixes... ) 

Short-term fix on ObamaCare subsidies: Pay now, check later


If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because HHS is going to use the same strategy for insurer subsidy payments that the IRS plans to use for paying tax credits. Both strategies are born out of necessity driven by incompetent systems development, too:
President Barack Obama’s administration has found a short-term fix to pay insurance companies for plans selected on, the not-yet-complete government website used to shop for insurance required under Obama’s healthcare program.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not yet finished building the part of the website that would transfer billions of dollars in subsidies for plan premiums and cost-sharing payments to insurance companies. …
The administration is planning a “workaround” for payments, said Daniel Durham, vice president for policy and regulatory affairs at America’s Health Insurance Plans.
What will the “workaround” be? Well, the insurers will tell HHS what taxpayers owe them in subsidies, and, er … HHS will cut checks with no questions asked:
Health plans will estimate how much they are owed, and submit that estimate to the government. Once the system is built, the government and insurers can reconcile the payments made with the plan data to “true up” payments, he said.
“The intent is to make sure plans get paid on time, which is a good thing,” Durham told Reuters.
It’s only a “good thing” if they get paid what they’re actually owed.  That’s what insurers need to meet the demand for provider payments that will start on January 1. But don’t think that insurers will get off easy in this arrangement.  First, this is almost designed to produce massive confusion on what is really owed, and may tie up future subsidy payments for months as HHS disputes the claims and holds back payments, confusion and counter-claims created by the early payments and the fact that HHS can’t verify income levels independently at the moment.
But there’s another reason for the insurers to hate this.  HHS just gave them less than four weeks’ notice that they will have to build their own infrastructure to deal with HHS’ failure to build the back end on time:
The fix puts an additional “burden” on insurance companies, already taxed by having to double-check faulty enrollment data from the system.
Now, companies need to quickly put together financial management systems to make the payment estimates, so they can be paid beginning in January, he said.
In other words, this is incompetence on an expanding scale — and everyone’s paying for it except the incompetents. So far, anyway.

You couldn’t make this stuff up. As the pernicious Obamacare sinkhole continues to expand,taking more and more Americans down with it, the White House had the nerve to tweet this this afternoon:

Obama: "Christmas is no time for Congress to tell more than 1 million of these Americans that they’ll lose this insurance."