Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category
Over the past week, I’ve highlighted the fact that Julianne Ortman said she didn’t favor repealing Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act. Since one of the quotes was from the Star and Sickle, aka the Star Tribune, it’s fitting that conservatives question whether the Strib got the quote wrong. This video should dispel any worries that they misquoted Ms. Ortman:
If that doesn’t satisfy people that Julianne Ortman doesn’t favor repealing Obamacare, nothing will. Defeating Franken is one of Minnesotans’ top priorities this November. We won’t have a chance to fire Franken this November if our candidate sounds like Al Franken.
We know this because Mitt Romney couldn’t carry the attack to President Obama on Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act, because Obama would hit him on Romneycare each time Romney brought up the ACA. Does anyone think that Franken and his allies won’t highlight these statements if she’s the candidate? Of course they will.
If we want to deal with this from a position of strength, we can’t have a compromised candidate. It’s that simple.
Last night, Chris Dahlberg criticized Julianne Ortman’s statement that she “isn’t a full repeal person” in this tweet:
Chris Dahlberg ?@dahlberg4senate·
#Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster. It’s a shame Sen. Ortman is standing with Sen. Franken against repeal. #mngop pic.twitter.com/kN5mPU2q6f
I don’t know whether Sen. Ortman is honestly against repealing Obamacare or if she’s simply pandering to moderate voters. What I’m certain of is that Sen. Ortman’s statements aren’t winning her votes with GOP delegates.
I know that because the vast majority of delegates to the GOP State Convention hate the Affordable Care Act with a passion. Further, they understand that it’s impossible to fix a couple parts of the bill without throwing other parts of the bill totally out of whack. Finally, they know that sounding like Al Franken won’t help Republicans defeat Franken.
Mike McFadden favors repealing the ACA:
America’s health care system is broken, but Obamacare is not the answer. Before we can make the kind of changes Americans deserve, we need to repeal the “Unaffordable Care Act” and replace it with a patient-centered, market-based solution that will lower costs and increase accessibility for all Americans. Minnesota has some of the best health care minds in the entire world. Instead of looking to bureaucrats in Washington, we can take charge and develop homegrown solutions for health care. By restoring power to the states, we can free Minnesota to become a laboratory for innovation and a standard-bearer for health care solutions that work.
That’s the type of strong statement it’ll take to defeat Al Franken. Mr. McFadden would put physicians and families in charge of their health insurance. It wouldn’t let the federal government dictate to families.
I’ve met Sen. Ortman. She’s an honorable public servant. Unfortunately, she’s wrong on this issue. To defeat a well-funded Democrat incumbent, Republicans can’t afford to make this type of major mistake.
The more she speaks, the more Sen. Ortman sounds like Al Franken on health care. During an interview with KSTP’s Tom Hauser, Sen. Ortman said “Whether you agreed with Obamacare or not, it was passed by Congress, it was signed by the President. It was his initiative. It was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Compare that with Al Franken’s statement:
But it’s the law of the land. We should be moving forward, not re-fighting the same old fights. And we certainly shouldn’t shut down the government just because you wish Obamacare weren’t the law.
Ms. Ortman, we know that Democrats in Congress shoved the bill down America’s throats. We know that the Supreme Court ruled, incorrectly I believe, that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional.
Sounding like Al Franken won’t change people’s hearts and minds about the ACA. The best way to do that is by laying out a vision that’s different from Al Franken’s vision, which is Obamacare. Saying that Obamacare is the law of the land doesn’t highlight the fact that, under the ACA, health insurance premiums and deductibles are higher. Saying that it’s the law of the land doesn’t highlight the fact that people’s networks are smaller under Obamacare.
Most importantly, saying that the ACA is the law of the land doesn’t highlight the fact that Al Franken’s vote for the Affordable Care Act gave the federal government permission to tell families what coverages would be required for their health insurance policies.
To win the health care fight, Republicans need to offer Minnesotans lots of health insurance options. That starts with the premise that families, working with their physicians, are best suited to make the right decisions. It doesn’t start with the premise that Al Franken’s one-size-fits-all plan is best for Minnesotans.
As for Franken, his gibberish about moving forward is fluff. I’d love hearing his explanation of what that specifically entails. Does that mean keeping Obamacare as is? Does that mean making the exchanges work better? Would Franken vote to change the Essential Health Benefits requirements so catastrophic policies would qualify as Acceptable Health Plans?
It’s time to tell Al Franken and the Democrats that the 2014 elections will be about who’ll cling to the failed status quo, aka Obamacare, vs. who’s willing to propose a plan that gives families the options that will cover their needs while lowering health insurance premiums.
Candidates that aren’t willing to fight for a patient-centered plan don’t deserve the people’s votes. It’s just that simple.
Harry Reid’s disgraceful diatribe included his accusation that people who told the truth about the Affordable Care Act’s disasters were un-American. Sen. Reid’s accusation is disgusting, one worthy of throwing him out of the Senate. Still, let’s not dwell on Sen. Reid’s comments to the exclusion of learning the definition of patriotism. Without a doubt, this person is a patriot:
There doesn’t seem to be any other large company trying to do this so it might as well be us. Somebody has got to work to save the country and preserve a system of opportunity. I think one of the biggest problems we have in the country is this rampant cronyism where all these large companies are into smash and grab, short-term profits, (saying) how do I get a regulation, we don’t want to export natural gas because of my raw materials.
Well, you say you believe in free markets, but by your actions, you obviously don’t. You believe in cronyism. And that’s true even at the local level. I mean, how does somebody get started if you have to pay $100,000 or $300,000 to get a medallion to drive a taxi cab? You have to go to school for two years to be a hairdresser. You name it, in every industry we have this. The successful companies try to keep the new entrants down.
Now that’s great for a company like ours. We make more money that way because we have less competition and less innovation. But for the country as a whole, it’s horrible. And for disadvantaged people trying to get started, it’s unconscionable in my view. I think it’s in our long-term interest, in every American’s long-term interest, to fight against this cronyism.
As you all have heard me say, the role of business is to create products that make peoples’ lives better while using less resources to do it and making more resources available to satisfy other needs.
When a company is not being guided by the products they make and what the customers need, but by how they can manipulate the system, get regulations on their competitors, or mandates on using their products, or eliminating foreign competition, it just lowers the overall standard of living and hurts the disadvantaged the most. We end up with a two-tier system.
Those that have, have welfare for the rich. The poor, OK, you have welfare, but you’ve condemned them to a lifetime of dependency and hopelessness. Yeah, we want hope and change, but we want people to have the hope that they can advance on their own merits, rather than the hope that somebody gives them something. That’s better than starving to death, but that, I think, is going to wreck the country.
Is it in our business interest? I think it’s in all our long-term interests. It’s not in our short-term interest. And it’s about making money honorably. People should only profit to the extent they make other people’s lives better. You should profit because you created a better restaurant and people enjoyed going to it.
You didn’t force them to go, you don’t have a mandate that you have to go to my restaurant on Tuesdays and Wednesdays or you go to prison. I mean, come on. You feel good about that?
In my estimation, that’s the definition of American patriotism. Capitalism and innovation being used to make the United States the greatest nation on the face of the earth is the definition of patriotism.
When companies makes money because their lobbyists get the government to build roadblocks in front of the competitors, that’s crony capitalism, which hurts the American economy overall. When companies’ profits increase because they’ve built a product that improves people’s lives, that’s competitive capitalism. That type of capitalism is the type of capitalism that strengthens the economy while improving people’s lives.
People that put the long-term health of the nation ahead of short-term profits and personal gain are patriots. That isn’t to say short-term profits are automatically evil. In many instances, they aren’t. It’s that building products that create profits now and long into the future has a stabilizing effect on a nation’s health.
That’s the definition of patriotism. That’s what Sen. Reid apparently doesn’t understand.
Dr. Patricia McLaughlin has a dispute with Sen. Harry Reid. Sen. Reid’s statement that the “horror stories” being shown nightly on TV are all untrue doesn’t fit with Dr. McLaughlin’s experience with the ACA:
Here’s a partial transcript of her interview with Greta van Susteren:
GRETA: You have patients that have insurance and that go to you but now you’ve been knocked off one of the networks. Is that correct?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I’ve not been dismissed but I have not been offered participation status in some of the subsections from one of the insurance companies and that would be insurance that would be covering individuals taking out insurance through the Affordable Care Act or through small business plans outside of the Affordable Care Act. It also included them.
GRETA: Does that mean that some patients of your’s can no longer go to you unless they pay for it out of their pocket?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: That’s correct.
GRETA: Have any of your patients said anything to you? Are they distressed or are they just happy to move onto another doctor?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, most patients are attached to their doctor. We’ve had longstanding relationships. We don’t just take care of the illness. We take care of the human spirit as well. So we know things about their spouse, their children, their parents. We’ve been through their trials and tribulations. There’s a relationship. Of course, they’re distressed.
Let’s be succinct about this. The horror stories that Sen. Reid lightly dismisses are real. I think Sen. Reid knows that. Further, I think Sen. Reid won’t hesitate in lying about this to deflect attention away from the fact that the ACA is a failure that Sens. Pryor, Begich, Hagans, Udall, Landrieu, Franken and others voted for.
Sen. Reid knows that the AFP ads are devastating. Sen. Reid knows that AFP’s ads are hitting his vulnerable incumbents frequently and hitting them hard. If those ads weren’t working, Sen. Reid would lightly dismiss them or totally ignore them. It’s painfully obvious that Sen. Reid is worried that he’ll be Senate Minority Leader and his committee chairs will be ranking members within a year.
The bad news for the American people is that the Affordable Care Act is a trainwreck. The bad news for Democrats is that the American people might just take their frustration out of Senate Democrats this November.
Ronald Reagan once famously said that a recession is when your neighbor is unemployed, that a depression is when you’re unemployed and that the recover starts when Jimmy Carter was unemployed. This year, that should be translated into the recovery starts when Sens. Begich, Franken, Hagans, Landrieu, Pryor, Shaheen and Udall are unemployed.
Technorati: Harry Reid, Al Franken, Mark Begich, Mark Udall, Kay Hagans, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Democrats, Insurance Cancellations, Insurance Networks, Doctor-Patient Relationship, Election 2014
One thing that can’t be tolerated is a Republican candidate who treads lightly on the issue of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Sen. Ortman’s statement about Obamacare is disappointing:
Regarding the federal health care law, known as ObamaCare, she said: “There are some things about that that are good but I think that when you engage in a conversation in such a comprehensive way, you are going to see some things that people like and you are going see some things that people don’t like. And I think, overall, the system doesn’t work.”
This simply won’t cut it. Obamacare, aka the ACA, is a gigantic failure that should be scrapped and replaced with something that limits governmental ‘participation’. Preferably, the replacement bill should permit families and their physicians to determine what coverages they need or don’t need.
One of the significant flaws of the ACA is that the legislation created a one-size-fits-all plan across America. That’s the last thing we need. Another thing that’s counterproductive to getting rid of the plague of Obamacare is Republicans criticizing the attempted repeal of Obamacare:
“I’m not a full repeal person. I think the House of Representatives has voted 40 times to repeal it. The Senate is not going to repeal it. So if plan A is ‘Let’s do a repeal,’ we better start talking about Plan B. Because plan A got nowhere,” she said. Ortman said she would like to see Congress go “piece-by-piece through that new law and figure out what works and what doesn’t.”
As conservatives, the first thing we need is to admit that the ACA isn’t fixable. If we think that it’s fixable, then the only path forward is tinkering around the edges. That won’t work. What’s needed is a replacement plan that’s patient-centered, a plan that lets families and the physicians they know and trust choose what’s best for the families.
Anything that tinkers around the edges is defeatist thinking. I don’t accept the premise that the ACA is fixable because it’s exceptionally complex. For instance, if you think that government shouldn’t be in the business of telling families what coverages their health insurance policies must include, then catastrophic policies must be offered. The problem with that fix is that that totally messes up Obamacare’s funding mechanism.
That means Obamacare a) isn’t sustainable financially and b) doesn’t put families in charge of their health insurance. That isn’t acceptable.
Here’s Sen. Franken’s (predictable) position on repealing the ACA:
But repealing the law would strip Americans of this new freedom and take us back to the days when big insurance companies had the power to decide what care residents of Minnesota could receive-allowing them to once again deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, cancel coverage when people get sick, and place limits on the amount of care people can get, even if they need it. What’s more, without the law, insurance companies could overcharge for insurance just to boost their profits, or use fine print to deny medical treatments that are covered under people’s policies.
Ask people who can’t keep the policies they bought and liked because Washington, DC said they knew what’s best for families if they like their new options. Across the nation, people are telling their horror stories. If Sen. Ortman agrees with Sen. Franken that repealing Obamacare isn’t the right thing, then she’s sending the wrong message to Minnesotans.
After reading this article about MNsure, I’ve got more questions than answers. Here’s what I’m talking about:
With the new projections, the exchange now expects that Minnesotans will purchase about 500,000 months of coverage through the online marketplace this year, and more than 1.1 million months of coverage next year.
Thankfully, Rep. Greg Davids issued a statement that explains things nicely. Here’s the text of Rep. Davids’ statement:
“The numbers released today demonstrate that Governor Dayton dramatically overstated MNsure’s enrollment projections,” said Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston). “MNsure revised revenue projections from the insurance premium tax down 44 percent this year and 31 percent in 2015. As a result of the administration’s wildly inaccurate financial assumptions, MNsure will likely run a significant deficit next year and into the foreseeable future.”
Here’s what MNsure announced today:
The MNsure Board of Directors announced Wednesday that it dramatically reduced enrollment expectations for 2014. The board released a new projection showing that 50,518 households will enroll in individual market plans, and 1,313 will enroll in small group plans through the SHOP exchange. In March 2013, the Dayton Administration estimated that 164,000 would enroll in individual market coverage, and 13,125 would enroll through the SHOP exchange. In October 2013, the board projected individual market enrollment of 102,800, and SHOP enrollment of 13,125.
That’s stunning. The Dayton administration estimated that 164,000 households that had purchased their insurance through the individual market would buy insurance through MNsure. Today, MNsure admitted that that estimate would only be 50,518 households. The Dayton administration’s estimate was off by almost 70%.
The Dayton administration estimated that 13,125 households would purchase insurance through small group plans. MNsure verified today that only 1,313 households will enroll in small group plans via the SHOP exchange. That estimate is off by 90%.
Those e-tab e-tab revenue projections for the Vikings stadium were off by 95%. These projections are getting into that neighborhood. That’s a frightening thought.
The best rule of thumb with this administration is that this administration doesn’t deal with serious projections. Rather, they specialize in Statistical Wild Ass Guesses, aka SWAG.
Predictably, the DFL’s spinmeisters are doing their best to put the happiest face on MNsure possible. This time, ABM and the public employee unions aren’t the only DFL spinmeisters plying their craft. Now they’ve got Scott Leitz, the interim CEO of MNsure, painting rosy pictures. This time, though, it’s time to dispel the myths that the DFL is working feverishly to establish. First, let’s look at what Mr. Leitz said in painting a hopeful picture:
“With regards to the private side, we are running about 30,000 right now, but we do anticipate because of the mandate that people have health insurance coverage by March 31,” Leitz said.
It’s time to see what official MNsure documents say about the health of the MNsure initiative. First, let’s look at how enrollment is going:
According to MNsure’s report, approximately 26,000 people had signed up for qualified health plans, aka QHPs, as of Jan. 4, 2014. As of Feb. 8, 29,493 people had enrolled, an increase of approximately 3,500. That’s an increase of approximately 13.5%. During the same timeframe, enrollments in Medical Assistance increased from approximately 28,000 to 41,591, an increase of over 13,500. That’s an increase of 48%.
That certainly isn’t the ratio MNsure was hoping for.
Here’s more bad news for MNsure and the DFL:
According to that chart, approximately 100 people are signing up for QHPs per day. If enrollments in process continue at this pace, MNsure won’t meet its goal of 69,904 until March…of next year.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the worst news. This pie chart should frighten Gov. Dayton and every DFL legislator who voted for the exchange legislation:
According to MNsure’s own statistics, only 21% of the enrollees in QHPs are in the 19-34 age cohort. That’s far below the 40% the federal government said is needed to pay for the benefits of less healthy people. Without 40% of the enrollees being young healthies or invincibles, health insurance premiums will spike this fall.
That should frighten Gov. Dayton, President Obama and Democrat legislators and senators to death because there’s nothing President Obama can do to stop insurance companies from announcing big premium spikes before this fall’s election. Those rate spikes will be announced in September or October.
If Democrats think they’re slamming into fierce headwinds now, they ain’t seen nothing yet. When that rate spike happens, employers will dump coverage and pay the penalty. Employees will get hit with the worst sticker shock they’ve ever experienced.
September and October will be difficult months for Democrats. The only month worse for Democrats than those months will be November.
When it comes to MNsure spin, Scott Leitz’s spin ranks right up there. Here’s what he said:
MNsure’s interim CEO Scott Leitz appeared on WCCO Sunday Morning.
“With regards to the private side, we are running about 30,000 right now, but we do anticipate because of the mandate that people have health insurance coverage by March 31,” Leitz said.
Notice that Leitz didn’t say that they anticipate people enrolling because MNsure is selling a great product. Leitz didn’t say that people would buy at the last minute because they’re having a difficult time picking between a bunch of great options at great prices either. What Leitz said in this unguarded moment of truth is that people would buy health insurance because the government pointed a gun at their head.
It remains to be seen if Leitz’s prediction is right. I’m betting it isn’t because President Obama might delay imposing the individual mandate because it’s as unworkable as other parts of the ACA are. If that happens, people will have an additional incentive to not buy insurance. If people choose not to buy health insurance, health insurance prices will skyrocket. Not just that but there’s another important thing that likely will happen if people don’t sign up:
Only about one third signed up for private insurance plans, far below the projected numbers. That’s a problem because starting in 2015, money to fund MNsure is supposed to come from a tax on those private plans. If that trend continues, MNsure will face a substantial deficit and taxpayers may have to bail out the program.
If Minnesotans don’t flock to MNsure, MNsure will run a significant deficit that taxpayers will have to cover. This MNsure report indicates that MNsure won’t reach its targets. According to the report, 41,591 individuals have enrolled in Medical Assistance, 29,943 individuals have enrolled in qualified health plans (QHPs), while 21,414 individuals have enrolled in MinnesotaCare. According to the chart on page 4 of the report, approximately 3,500 people have signed up for QHPs this year. That’s approximately 3,500 individuals signing up between 1/4/2014 and 2/8/2014. That’s a little over 100 enrollments per day.
That’s stunning. MNsure needs to go from 29,500 individuals enrolled on 2/8/2014 to having 69,900 individuals enrolled on 4/1/2014. If enrollments continue at a pace of 100 enrollees per day between 2/8/2014 and 4/1/2014, they’ll have 34,600 individuals enrolled on April 1. At that pace, they’d fall short of their goal by 35,300 people.
That’s just part of the terrible news. According to the latest data, only 21% of the people signing up for QHPs are in the 19-34 age group. If that percentage doesn’t double by April 1, next year’s premiums will jump through the proverbial roof. If MNsure falls that far short of their goal, Minnesotans would be totally justified in thinking of that the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, isn’t affordable.
It isn’t surprising that Mr. Leitz’s spin got past Ms. Murphy’s attention. What won’t escape people’s attention if they’re buying health insurance is the fact that it’s expensive.
I’ve written this post and this post about Al Franken’s fundraising appeals. Mostly, Franken’s fundraising appeals have been long on Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, the TEA Party and Citizens United. In other words, they’re a collection of the Democrats’ favorite boogeymen.
This morning, I got an email from Jorge Bonilla who is running against Alan Grayson. Here’s part of Bonilla’s fundraising appeal:
We are well over eight months away fron Election Day 2014, yet Alan Grayson is already invoking each and every one of the Left’s boogeymen in his fundraising appeals.
It’s only February, yet Grayson has already issued pro-forma denunciations of Fox News, Sean Hannity, the energy sector, has compared the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan, and most recently, has smeared our veterans while attacking the eeeeeeevil Koch Brothers.
Of course, such attacks are pure hypocrisy coming from Alan Grayson. The non-partisan and independent Center for Responsive Politics is dedicated to tracking the influence of money in our election process, and they have compiled a list of the largest political donors over the last 25 years.
The scary “Kochtopus” is all the way down at #59. But who occupies most of the top spots? You guessed it…Grayson’s Big Labor buddies. A quick crosscheck with Grayson’s top donor list confirms this inconvenient fact.
Apparently, the Congressman Without Guts feels compelled to insult our intelligence (as well as that of his own individual donor base) by performing this “outrageously tough progressive” shtick, which now includes this Koch theater.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice a pattern developing. Even intellectual midgets like Franken and Grayson could spot it. What’s obvious is that Democrats will go totally negative this election. They’ll criticize the entire panoply of conservative ‘boogeymen’ for this nation’s ills rather than admit that it’s their policies that’ve failed. They’ll do whatever it takes to distract people from the ACA disaster. They’ll insist that they’re pushing back against President Obama and ‘holding him accountable’ for the disastrous performance of HealthCare.gov while criticizing Republicans for wanting to repeal the law that’s causing health insurance prices to jump.
The Democratic playbook for this election is simple. To hold onto the U.S. Senate, Democrats will attempt to portray Republicans as utterly beholden to special interests out to destroy America’s middle class. They’ll do this while accepting money from environmental organizations while pretending to be friends of the private sector unions who want to build the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Their message will essentially be ‘Don’t vote for Republicans because they’re scary.’ Meanwhile, they didn’t notice that they’re the ‘Scary Characters Party’. While it’s too early to predict the Franken and Grayson races with anything approaching sanity, it isn’t too early to predict that this won’t be a good year for Democrats.
The only thing left to determine is how bad it’ll be.
Technorati: Alan Grayson, Al Franken, Democrat Boogeymen, Karl Rove, TEA Party, Koch Brothers, Sean Hannity, Fox News, Smear Campaign, HealthCare.gov, President Obama, Democrats, Jorge Bonilla, GOP, Election 2014