Government Archives

Defending ObamaCare With Anecdotes

You’ve no doubt heard them yourself. I’ve heard them quite a bit; on social media, on blogs, and even in TV commercials. I’m talking about people with their own personal stories about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, has helped them personally.

It’s great to hear that people are able to get coverage for things that they either couldn’t get covered for before, or for less money. Who wouldn’t be in favor of that, and be glad for these people? It feels good hearing how people have benefited from this government program.

And that’s what those, especially on social media, are trying to say with their success story; this is a good thing, because it worked for me. Then I have to ask, what do we make of this story?

William Rivers Pitt, is the senior editor and lead columnist at the leftwing web site TruthOut. He has his own story which he posted at the Democratic Underground website, a forum for the far Left. (Have we figured out where this guy’s politics lie on the spectrum?) He first extolled the wonders of Obamacare, writing about his experience in getting signed up. System goes down in the middle of the session. No problem. Call the 800 number and finish the process there. “No. Big. Deal. Thanks, Obama.” That’s how he signs off that post.

And then reality set in. In another post later on, he relates his experience, not with signing up for Obamacare, but actually trying to use it.

What I’ve learned after a three-month war with these fiends: the ACA says the insurance companies cannot deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, which is true as far as it goes. But they can deny coverage for the life-saving medications necessary to treat those conditions. The insurance company I signed up with through the ACA exchange just denied coverage of my wife’s multiple sclerosis medication. We’re "covered," to the tune of $700 a month…just not for what she really needs.

He signs off that post quite a bit differently. Later he said he feels like a dupe, and wishes he had a time machine to undo what he’d done. His criticisms get to the point that the DU folks stopped allowing him to comment on his own post.

So then let’s consider this. Does this prove that Obamacare is an abject failure? No. Additionally, good experiences with it don’t prove that it is a success, either. If you contend that one is true, then you have to accept the other, and they come to opposite conclusions. Well then, what does any of this prove, other than that some people are doing better and others doing worse?

The answer is, it proves nothing.

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    I don’t know how much the Vatican’s Chief Justice holds sway in terms of official church policy, or how much his opinion reflects the position of the Catholic church, but I thought I’d pass this along.

    In an interview with Polonia Christiana magazine –and transcribed by Life Site News — Cardinal Raymond Burke said that Obama “promotes anti-life and anti-family policies.”

    “It is true that the policies of the president of the United States have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies,” Burke told the magazine.

    The former archbishop of St. Louis stated that Obama is trying to “restrict” religion.

    “Now he wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship, that is, he holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions,” Burke said.

    Burke took a swipe against Obama’s Affordable Care Act over the law’s birth control mandate, saying “such policies would have been unimaginable in the United States even 40 years ago.”

    “In a democracy, such a lack of awareness is deadly,” Burke told the magazine. “It leads to the loss of the freedom which a democratic government exists to protect. It is my hope that more and more of my fellow citizens, as they realize what is happening, will insist on electing leaders who respect the truth of the moral law as it is respected in the founding principles of our nation.”

    Since this was transcribed by Life Site News, you know there’s an abortion angle, and there’s just a bit more at the link.

    The freedom of religion vs. freedom of worship is a distinction that I’ve heard elsewhere, and it’s good to hear it given voice by someone at the Vatican. These days, it’s almost like you lose that First Amendment right upon leaving the church building. You don’t, even if you own a business (i.e. Hobby Lobby). This is a serious concern.

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      From Russia, With Love

      • Russia taking over Crimea.
      • Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia worried about the same thing happening to them.
      • Russian forces massing on the border of Ukraine.

      No, this is not the opening scene of some pre-World-War-2 movie; it’s history from the past couple of weeks. But during the Cold War, Russia had control of all of these under the umbrella of the Soviet Union.

      In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan set out to defeat – not just contain, as his predecessors has done, but defeat – the Soviet Union. He succeeded. His detractors said, and continue to say, that he got lucky; that the Soviet Union was going to collapse under its own weight anyway, and it just coincidentally happened on his watch. But Reagan was the first President to actively try to bring it down. That it happened right after this attempt is a cause & effect that is extremely rare in geopolitical affairs. And those he liberated – from places already mentioned as well as Poland and other former eastern Bloc nations – certainly give him that credit. And he did it without causing a nuclear World War 3, which those detractors predicted.

      A huge foreign policy success in the 1980s liberated millions and kept them free. Understanding the world as it was – not being afraid of the Soviets, but projecting strength to keep them at bay – set the stage for their downfall. And understanding today’s world as it is, is absolutely required in order to deal with the foreign policy challenges of today. But our current President doesn’t recognize what’s going on right in front of him. Here’s an excerpt from one of the debates he had with challenger Mitt Romney

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1409sXBleg

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        The Delaying Game

        Great line by James Taranto, summarizing the latest ObamaCare delay: "If you like your plan, and your state insurance commissioner likes your plan, and your insurance company likes your plan, you can keep it, possibly until after the next presidential election."

        How blatantly political.

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          Since I know there are some folks who deny that ObamaCare is impacting workers’ hours, here’s a NY Times article that notes that even the public sector is feeling the pinch already.

          Cities, counties, public schools and community colleges around the country have limited or reduced the work hours of part-time employees to avoid having to provide them with health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, state and local officials say.

          The cuts to public sector employment, which has failed to rebound since the recession, could serve as a powerful political weapon for Republican critics of the health care law, who claim that it is creating a drain on the economy.

          President Obama has twice delayed enforcement of the health care law’s employer mandate, which would subject larger employers to tax penalties if they do not offer insurance coverage to employees who work at least 30 hours a week, on average. But many public employers have already adopted policies, laws or regulations to make sure workers stay under that threshold.

          Harry Reid recently claimed, ”There’s plenty of horror stories being told [about Obamacare],” Reid said. “All of them are untrue.” Tell that to the workers of this country, Harry.

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            Pens and Phones, Then and Now

            A pen and a phone. That’s what President Obama recently said he had which could circumvent Congress on policy topics he wanted to get moving. Conservatives, like me, compared him to a king, giving orders and expecting everyone to jump. The Left took this opportunity to show that the number of executive orders that have been issued by Obama was less than any President in at least the last half-century. True enough, but as is usual, it’s a cherry-picked data point. There is more than one way to dictate.

            Take ObamaCare, please. The number of times Obama has delayed, changed, or outright repealed parts of the law is staggering. If the law has that many problems, fix the law. Instead, he’s doing the very thing he campaigned against when running for President. He said that George Bush had taken too much power into the executive branch.

            And now, with his pen and with his phone, he’s changing laws that he has no Constitutional powers to change.

            Lately, he’s been doing the same thing with marijuana laws. John P. Walters, writing at the Weekly Standard, observes:

            First, the administration made a unilateral decision to curtail enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in states where smoked marijuana has been defined as medicine (the only “medicine” that cannot meet modern medical standards). Next, the administration announced it would not enforce the federal law when the states of Colorado and Washington sought to permit the open sale of marijuana.

            Ted Cruz, in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, had more examples:

            When Mr. Obama disagreed with federal immigration laws, he instructed the Justice Department to cease enforcing the laws. He did the same thing with federal welfare law, drug laws and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

            None of these are executive orders, but they are just as empowering of the Executive branch, and are, in fact, worse, because you can’t easily count the number of times these power grabs have been done. Executive orders are numbered. Sitting on your hands and not enforcing something goes below the radar of the average American.

            When we say we are a nation of laws, not men, we mean that it is the laws that govern us, not the whims of a particular man or group of men that have no accountability. If you’re a Democrat, would you be fine with this sort of behavior from a Republican? If not, make your voice heard. Because if you don’t, we will once again get the government we deserve. The government only has what power we give it. If you want a king, you’d better be happy with a king from either party.

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              "Doc Shock" Occurs As Predicted

              As predicted, that is, by Megan McArdle:

              In December, I predicted that “doc shock” was going to be a major problem for the U.S. health-care overhaul, as people found out that the narrow networks insurers use to keep premiums low often don’t cover the top-notch doctors you’d like to see if you get really sick:

              And indeed, it’s already started, according to the Wall Street Journal:

              Health-care wonks can insist that narrow networks aren’t news, but clearly, these networks are news to the folks in the plans — and now that they know, they aren’t happy.

              Read the whole thing. They’re trying to fix this by passing laws, but that’s been done before with the whole HMO thing years ago. The result was costs continuing to rise.

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                A Loose Definition of "Law"

                I mean, if you can make it say whatever you want, if you can change it on a moment’s notice, is it really a law?

                Most employers won’t face a fine next year if they fail to offer workers health insurance, the Obama administration said Monday, in the latest big delay of the health-law rollout.

                The Treasury Department, in regulations outlining the Affordable Care Act, said employers with 50 to 99 full-time workers won’t have to comply with the law’s requirement to provide insurance or pay a fee until 2016. Companies with more workers could avoid some penalties in 2015 if they showed they were offering coverage to at least 70% of full-time workers.

                It’s such a great law, we have to keep delaying it! Well, for big employers. For the small ones and the individual, you’re stuck with it.

                Oh, and why was this done?

                The move came after employers pressured the Obama administration to peel back the law’s insurance requirements. Some firms had trimmed workers’ hours to below 30 hours a week to avoid paying a penalty if they didn’t offer insurance.

                Because the administration saw the effect it was having on the economy, that’s why. It was causing such problems, that it just had to be delayed. Until after the mid-term elections.

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                  Our Leaders: Stupid Crocodiles

                  Reflect a moment on the Olympics, the US and many Western leaders have decided “not to attend”, Google followed suit with a rainbow Olympic rings display, and publicly gay (privately … who knows) stuffed shirts were sent as part of the US delegation and many others. This was supposedly in response to how Russia is perceived to deal with public homosexuality.

                  Consider the following. Make an honest list of the top 10 economic, liberty, social, legal, and cultural issues facing the Russian people and the Russian Federation today. Order these by which have the highest priority and will do the greatest good. If you are honest (and I will charitably assume that is the case), gay rights did not appear on the list. Extend it to 20. Gosh. Still not there. In fact, I’d be willing to bet, if you put the time and effort it that gay rights might not even (if you are honest) make the top 100.

                  So …. why is that a putative issue for our leaders? Could it be because all politics is local and this is a safe way of pretending to do something about gay issues in their country without having to actually, you know, do anything about those issues? Crocodile tears all around.

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                    Wal-Mart Out-ObamaCares ObamaCare

                    One of the big promises of ObamaCare was that, with a much larger pool of insured people, the cost to the average individual or family would go down. That’s how insurance works, right? You spread out the risk over a bigger population, and the required payouts become less than the premiums taken in. More people, less risk, lower costs.

                    You’d think so. But as it turns out, the insurance offered by one of those eeevil corporations, Wal-Mart, beats the equivalent ObamaCare plan handily. David Todd, an independent insurance agent based in Little Rock, Ark., compared the health plans.

                    Todd looked at a 30-year-old woman who could qualify for the government subsidy. “The nonsubsidized premium is $205 a month for this 30-year-old. If they get a subsidy, then the premium is zero. But that person has to come up with $6,300 if something catastrophic happened,” he said.

                    The Walmart monthly premium for the same 30-year-old woman would be about $40. Her deductible would be $2,750, minus $250 in cash advance, for a total net deductible of $2,500.

                    Todd said some Obamacare exchange family plan deductibles can go as high as $12,000 before benefits kick in.

                    This is what the government considers “subsidized”; pay thousands up front and get your money back, depending on when you spent it, over a year from now. OK, but what is the actual coverage like? Very good question. Let’s take a look at some of the particulars.

                    Walmart also offers a free preventive health plan that mirrors the Obamacare plan. Its employees can take advantage of a wide range of free exams and counseling, including screenings for colorectal cancer, cervical cancer, chlamydia, diabetes, depression and special counseling for diet and obesity.

                    Their children can get more than 20 free preventive services, ranging including screenings for genetic disorders, autism and developmental problems to obesity, lead poisoning exposure and tuberculosis. There are also 12 free vaccinations, and free hearing and vision testing.

                    Walmart employees pay as little as $4 for a 30-day supply of generic drugs and only $10 for eye exams through a separate vision plan.

                    Oh, and in Chicago, where this comparison was done, Wal-Mart employees have access to about 2 ½ times as many doctors than those with ObamaCare do. What does it say about ObamaCare that doctors and hospitals would rather do business with a private company than with the government?

                    Well, it says that we’re going about this all the wrong way.

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                      Live By the CBO, Die By the CBO

                      Dana Milbank explains that the Congressional Budget Office issued glowing reports years ago about how ObamaCare was going to save money. The Obama administration trumpeted those findings far and wide. I noted at the time that the system was gamed because the administration knows the rules by which the CBO comes up with estimates, and wrote the bill to get the best looking numbers at the start. It wouldn’t matter that later estimates would be worse; it would have already been sold to the American people.

                      But now, things are looking much worse.

                      The congressional number-crunchers, perhaps the capital’s closest thing to a neutral referee, came out with a new report Tuesday, and it wasn’t pretty for Obamacare. The CBO predicted the law would have a “substantially larger” impact on the labor market than it had previously expected: The law would reduce the workforce in 2021 by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers, well more than the 800,000 originally anticipated. This will inevitably be a drag on economic growth, as more people decide government handouts are more attractive than working more and paying higher taxes.

                      This is grim news for the White House and for Democrats on the ballot in November. This independent arbiter, long embraced by the White House, has validated a core complaint of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) critics: that it will discourage work and become an ungainly entitlement. Disputing Republicans’ charges is much easier than refuting the federal government’s official scorekeepers.

                      The President’s spokesman, Jay Carney, tried to spin it as people who would "spend more time with their family", or perhaps become entrepreneurs. The latter guess is just that; a guess trying to make it sound wonderful. The former is a euphemism for living off the dole because the benefits are better.

                      Carney noted that these were "personal choices", but he conveniently neglects to mention that they are personal choices spurred on by the government. People respond to incentives; that’s why things like tax deductions work the way they do. ObamaCare is pushing people to dependency.

                      The CBO numbers prove it.

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                        Escaping Canada (Temporarily)

                        I knew that many Canadians were leaving their borders to come to the US to avoid the long waits they have to endure up there. I just didn’t know how many. Well a free-market think tank, the Frasier Institute, has published the numbers for 2013. Turns out just under 42,000 folks fled the country, at least temporarily, to jump the line and get the timely care they needed. That was down just slightly from the just over 42,000 that came here in 2012.

                        This brings up a question in my mind. With the advent of ObamaCare down here, where will these folks go now? And I guess the next obvious question would be, where will we go?

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                          Voter Fraud: Proven to be Easy and Undetectable

                          One of the reasons used against the idea of requiring ID to vote is that there has been so little voter fraud detected, that this is a solution looking for a problem. Well, the Department of Investigations in New York City recently finished up a report that shows that voter fraud can be pretty darn easy. Worse, we would have no idea at all that it was actually happening.

                          Undercover agents from the DOI tried to cast ballots as felons or dead people at 63 polling places last fall. Of the 63 attempts, 61, or 97%, were successful. Now, when they voted, they did so with a write-in for a fictitious “John Test” to keep from affecting the vote count. Ultimately, the DOI published its findings a few weeks ago in a 70-page report accusing the city’s Board of Elections of incompetence, waste, nepotism, and lax procedures.

                          Of the two attempts that failed, in the first case, a poll worker followed the agent outside and the “voter” was advised to go to the polling place near where he used to live and “play dumb” in order to vote. In the second case, the investigator was stopped from voting only because the felon whose name he was using was the son of the election official at the polling place. So basically, we’re talking about a 100% success rate, completely undetectable, with just a few changes in circumstances.

                          So the Board of Elections immediately got down to business and started coming up with ways to avoid this in the future. Heh, no, of course not. This is government we’re talking about! John Fund, who wrote the article I’m referring to, put it this way. “The Board approved a resolution referring the DOI’s investigators for prosecution. It also asked the state’s attorney general to determine whether DOI had violated the civil rights of voters who had moved or are felons, and it sent a letter of complaint to Mayor Bill de Blasio.”

                          Yup, they pointed fingers instead of fixing the problem. That’s why the legislature needs to deal with this, so entrenched bureaucracies don’t stick us with a broken system that’s easily gamed. And, as I’ve noted before, when Georgia got its voter ID law, minority participation went up, and higher than majority participation did. A win-win situation, and one that gets around a government board that is too busy with their little fiefdom to do the right thing. Who could be against that?

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                            Who Really Killed the Incandescent Light Bulb?

                            This year, the traditional incandescent light bulb is becoming extinct. There was a big push by environmentalists to force the change to higher efficiency bulbs, like Compact Fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs. The idea was that they light with less energy, and so everyone should use them. Never mind the market; coercion was necessary.

                            And one of the things they like to trumpet about this was that the light bulb industry supported this move. The thought is that if even they think it’s a good idea, government ought to force the issue. But not one of those environmentalists ever considered this:

                            Competitive markets with low costs of entry have a characteristic that consumers love and businesses lament: very low profit margins. GE, Philips and Sylvania dominated the U.S. market in incandescents, but they couldn’t convert that dominance into price hikes. Because of light bulb’s low material and manufacturing costs, any big climb in prices would have invited new competitors to undercut the giants — and that new competitor would probably have won a distribution deal with Wal-Mart.

                            Basically, with a low-cost light bulb, the major players in the market couldn’t just jack up the price on their wares. Someone else could step in and, with a low cost of entry into the light bulb market, build a better mousetrap, so to speak, and the world would beat a path to their door.

                            Unless. Unless the light bulb companies could push government regulations that would make the bare minimum light bulb incredibly more expensive. They’d get their price hike, and they’d further their hold on the industry by keeping out competition, because start-up costs are now much higher.

                            Now, you may be saying, “See, Doug? Eeevil corporations are to blame for this! And you’re always defending them!” Two things. First, the law itself is the problem, and the blame for that comes, not from corporations, but from a big government with the power to pass such a law, and which is more than willing to stick its hand into your wallet. Government did this, not corporations. And I’ll reiterate that, if you don’t like a corporation, you can stop buying from them immediately. If you don’t like your government, you’ll have to wait for the next election cycle, and hope there are enough people who agree with you.

                            Second, I don’t blame corporations at all for trying to lobby the government for things that will benefit them. If I did blame them, then I’d have to blame every single grassroots organization that does the same sort of lobbying, even those environmentalists. Is lobbying the government an evil thing to do? Not at all! But government should know its boundaries and should stay within them. That’s why we have a constitution. But these days, the Constitution has been reinterpreted to say, for example, that you must buy a particular financial instrument. If the government can force you to buy something, I think it’s gone far beyond what the framers of the Constitution ever intended, and that power is for sale to the highest bidder.

                            Oh, and consider this. If anyone claims that certain government policies are required because the free market has failed, just let them know that we really haven’t had a “free market” in decades. Light bulbs and ObamaCare are only the two most recent examples.

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                              Did Democratic Dominance Doom Detroit?

                              I posted something on my personal Facebook page about how one of the booming businesses in Detroit is photographing the dilapidated buildings. I labeled my link to the article, “Documenting decades of Democratic dominance.” Can you tell I like alliteration?

                              This bothered one of my Democrat friends who said that my bias was showing, and that blaming Democrats for Detroit was like blaming Republicans for the Katrina response. His contention was that both were unfair. I, and some other friends of mine, had to point out a few differences.

                              • The Republican administration wanted to come into Louisiana before the storm hit to be ready when it arrived, but the Democrats in the state capitol wouldn’t allow it.
                              • The Democrats at the city level in New Orleans failed to use the resources they already had to evacuate their own people.
                              • Democrats have been running Detroit for 50 years. To say that blaming their policies is unfair, is to make one wonder how long one party has to rule a city for their policies to actually affect that city.

                              So no, the analogy isn’t even close. And the devastation in Detroit wasn’t caused by Mother Nature, either.

                              This is yet another example of how Democrats seem to take the stance that it’s never their policies that failed, and in fact the best way to solve any problems they cause is to do the same thing with more money. That has always been Paul Krugman’s solution regarding stimulus spending. That has always been the solution for failing public schools, poverty programs, and every other idea that just isn’t panning out the way they thought it should.

                              Oh, and when ObamaCare drags down our economy, expect the same excuses, because we’re hearing them already. Republicans are being accuses of “sabotaging” it, when all they did was make the Democrats own it by not voting for it. As it is, the need to a revamp of the website, and delaying key parts of the law, are not sabotage by any means. But Republicans will get the blame while the Democrats will throw more money at a program that was sold as a way to reduce the deficit.

                              Blame is useful, if it is honestly applied. Using it, we can find our mistakes, and correct them. Democrats will never accept it, even after a half century track record. Does that give you confidence?

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