In the years since the Massachusetts health care law went into effect nothing has changed my view that a plan crafted to fit the unique circumstances of a single state should not be grafted onto the entire country. Beyond that, had President Obama actually learned the lessons of Massachusetts health care, millions of Americans would not lose the insurance they were promised they could keep, millions more would not see their premiums skyrocket, and the installation of the program would not have been a frustrating embarrassment. Health reform is best crafted by states with bipartisan support and input from its employers, as we did, without raising taxes, and by carefully phasing it in to avoid the type of disruptions we are seeing nationally.
Forbes has a very blunt piece describing the fact that (so far) many more Americans have lost their coverage thanks to Obamacare than have gained coverage from the program. That’s sort of the opposite of how this whole thing was supposed to work. Of course in time that trend may be reversed, but the folks who got the boot from the coverage they had picked sure aren’t getting it back. Meanwhile, NBC has a shockingly investigative bit of investigative journalism showing that, despite all the promises over the years, the Obama administration has known damn well that this would happen. They wrote the caveat to “grandfather” in existing plans, and they they immediately undermined it. “If you like your plan, you can keep it” has been a lie since day one.
1. It’s a good thing someone managed to shut the Tea Party Republicans up so that they could stop obscuring the train wreck that is the ACA roll out. (Although if that had been GOP strategy from the start, I wonder if we’d ever have seen coverage this honest.)
2. This isn’t a conclusive proof that Obamacare is doomed or even a bad idea. It goes well beyond website “glitches”, but there’s still time for the current shock and horror to be forgotten as a mere historical footnote if the plan works over all. Now isn’t time for anyone to be counting chickens.
3. It is a pretty good illustration of what the Tea Party has hated and feared all along, however. The policy intricacies of Obamacare are beyond casual analysis, but the overarching themes of government incompetence, dishonesty, and intrusion could not possibly be more clear.
The President lied to the American people so that his party could ram through a law that drastically increased the reach of the federal government into the lives of ordinary citizens, and then they promptly screwed the implementation up with truly epic levels of incompetence. All for the greater good, of course.
As a matter of theory: ACA continues to make a lot of sense and could certainly be salvaged. The Tea Party thesis has never been about theoretical policy, but rather about practical institutional behavior. In short: bigger is badder. Current events seem to be lending credibility to their claims, despite their own poor decisions.
And I mean, it’s a mess. For $645m they managed to put together a site that doesn’t work, risks privacy, and apparently violates terms of service for a lot of the software that got used along the way. I’m pretty sure that if they’d given me half the time and 1% of the budget I could have had a functional site on line.
If the GOP had used this as the reason for trying to delay the individual mandate (not defund Obamacare) I think they might have had a shot at winning and coincidentally doing some good.
Everyone’s talking about Obamacare, but not so many folks are really aware of what the legislation entails. In this Bloomberg piece, Megan McArdle runs down 11 myths. Definitely informative and worth the read.
I think I might be fading into that fabled silent majority of American conservatives. Where I used to get into heated debates with folks in my cohort about their liberal beliefs, I mostly now just shake my head and try to get back to earning a living. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
But I still see stories, now and then, that just irritate me to no end. Here’s a collection. First, there’s all the journalists who jump back and forth between journalism and working for the Obama administration. The Washington Times gives us some numbers: “The current count of press turncoats varies from a low of 15 reported by The Daily Beast to a high of 24 as reported by The Atlantic.” Then there’s old battlehorses like Bob Woodward or, more recently, Seymour Hersh showing up as the only guys willing to go to bad against the Obama administration (short of conservative pundits, of course). Woodward is famous for covering Watergate and Hersh is famous for covering My Lai and Abu Ghraib. Now Hersh says Obama is worse than Bush and castigates the NYT for “carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would.”
So, America’s conception of Planned Parenthood is really, truly bizarre. This is an organization founded by a racist eugenicist which today has basically two reasons for existence: to prevent pregnancies or end pregnancies. And yet, with copious use of the color pink and little else, the organization has managed to pass itself off as some kind of women’s health organization, despite the fact that, you know, it doesn’t actually provide many medical services at all. Everyone went nuts when Komen temporarily pulled their Planned Parenthood donations because Where are poor women going to get their mammograms!? I don’t know, but since Planned Parenthood doesn’t offer mammograms it’s kind of a weird question. In face, they don’t do any cancer screening of any kind. Why was Komen giving them money again? Who knows, but here’s your pink ribbon.
Imagine if grocery shopping worked like health insurance. Let’s call it “food insurance”.
First of all, you’d better hope that you’re not self-employed or unemployed. You see, way back in World War II the United States created strict wage controls as part of the Stabilization Act of 1942. Since employers still wanted to compete for the best employees–even in wartime–they had to get creative. Instead of offering higher salaries (which was now illegal), they began to offer fringe benefits. The most important of these was healthcare insurance. Let’s pretend that food insurance started in the same way. That would mean that, today, if you get your food insurance through an employer-provided plan you not only get a nice tax advantage on your own premiums, but you can also rely on the employer to pay some of your costs as a matter of traditional expectations. But if you’re self-employed, you not only lose the tax-advantage, but also the ability to get the lower rates that come with buying insurance for bigger groups.
Now let’s imagine what actually shopping for groceries would look like.