Looks like we had a bit of a database outage. I blame Obama, specifically Obamacare.
Looks like we had a bit of a database outage. I blame Obama, specifically Obamacare.
(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)
… and in every year, suffer a million pains, as the old curse goes. Tailgunner Ted’s grandstanding has been a great argument — against his own party.
Here’s ‘The Fix’ in the Washington Post:
… “In an effort to help him run for president, he has done some stuff that’s really damaging to our country,” Reid told Univision, according to an advance transcript. “He’s been attempting to raise money. And who has he hurt? He has hurt average Americans. The government being shutdown for 14 or 15 days, that has been very hurtful to people. Not only the people that work for government, but the people who work around government.”…
Reid also said that if Republicans go down the same road again in future budget talks, they will imperil their House majority — which is otherwise considered relatively safe — in 2014.
“The American people will not put up with that” approach, Reid said. “And if this happens again — I don’t think it will, but if it does — I think the House of Representatives will go Democratic.”
And Greg Sargent:
… It’s easy to make fun of GOP Rep. Peter King, but he was one of the few to call out GOP insanity from the inside early in this process. Now, in an interesting and entertaining interview with Capital New York, he’s calling for Republicans to wage war on Ted Cruz. King predicts the Texas Senator will try do this all again in a few months, and crucially, he points out that it’s on the non-crazy Republicans to prevent this from happening… [Cruz] will claim that victory was at hand, if only the corrupt GOP establishment hadn’t gone all weak-kneed at the last minute. Remember, Ted Cruz’s strategy to liberate the country from Obamacare can’t have failed; it was failed…
But if the Cruzites do demand another round of crises, it will put rank and file Republican officials and candidates in a quandry. It’s unlikely that the Cruzian zeal for confrontation — or the anger at the insufficiently zealous GOP establishment – will have diminished. Rush Limbaugh is already excoriating the GOP for trying too hard to make people “like them.” (Dude, if that’s true, it ain’t working.) Erick Erickson is muttering darkly about primary challenges. As Francis Wilkinson explains: “The Republican Party is an object of contempt to many on the far right, whose adamant convictions threaten what they perceive as Republican complacency…they demand a higher level of fealty to their goals than pragmatic middle-of-the-roaders can bear.” …
And yesterday,(via Billmon) Democracy Corps is maybe just a little gleeful:
Keep in mind, Ted Cruz is mainstream in the Republican base. According to the latest national survey conducted for Democracy Corps and Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, which fielded just last week, Ted Cruz is right at the center of a Republican Party that is majority Tea Party and Evangelical. Combined, these groups make up over half of Republican partisans, and comprise over 60 percent of the GOP when you include the religious observants.
Cruz is immensely popular with Tea Party adherents. Among this group, 75 percent give him a positive rating and half give him an intensely positive rating (over 75 on our 100-point scale.) His average rating among this group is a stunning 81.8 out of 100. While he is less well known among Evangelical Republicans, he is no less popular among those who identify him—40 percent give him a positive rating, a third are intensely favorable toward him. On average, Evangelicals give Cruz a rating of 75.9 out of 100…[E]ven as pundits label Cruz as “fringe,” it is critical to remember that this is only true when talking about the national electorate. In his own party, there is nothing “fringe” about Ted Cruz. He is right at the center.
Apart from schadenfreude, what’s on the agenda today?
President Obama’s press conference this afternoon threw out a series of numbers concerning interest in subsidized health insurance on the Exchanges. What do these numbers actually mean from an insurer’s perspective?
So far, the national website, HealthCare.gov, has been visited nearly 20 million times. Twenty million times.
This means very little. For comparison’s sake, Balloon Juice has had slightly less than 10% of that traffic in the same time span. These hits are not particularly informative as they could be the curious bloggers, they could be people who are looking and then walking away, and they could be people who are interested.
We know that nearly one-third of the people applying in Connecticut and Maryland, for example, are under 35 years old.
If these numbers hold up and can be nationalized at scale, then the financing of the Exchanges works out very easily. I am slightly curious as to why these two states are examples as the demographic/actuarial concerns are national lack of interest in young people in these products. I would love to see what the age profiles look like in California (as it is the biggest), Texas, and Kentucky look like.
And all told, more than half a million consumers across the country have successfully submitted applications through federal and state marketplaces.
The actual number is 476,000 or more applications have been submitted for eligibility verification. This is an important number. These are the subscribers who have created an account, filled out the first round of applications with family size, birth dates, and income information and sent it in for verification. A very high percentage of these applications will result in added medical coverage. The question is what is the average number of people on an application and what is the conversion rate to Medicaid versus Exchange. As an insurance geek, 476,000 applications indicates 476,000 potential contracts, and probably 800,000 or more actual covered lives. Initial numbers out of states indicate a 40% to 50% Medicaid eligibility rate, so assuming a fairly high buy rate for Exchange eligible applicants, we’re looking at 5% to 7% of the Exchange goal population has already applied.
Trained representative, it usually takes about 25 minutes for an individual to apply for coverage, about 45 minutes for a family. Once you apply for coverage, you will be contacted by email or postal mail about your coverage status.
That actually is really impressive for initial intake and application.
Right now, the enrollment numbers are low as insurers don’t consider someone enrolled until either the check has been received or the credit card swiped for the first month’s premium. January 1st is the first day of coverage, and payment is not due until Dec. 15th, so quite a few people are making choices and getting in line to get on a plan but have not written the check or authorized the automatic charge against the credit card.
So, kiddies. It’s a still, slightly damp morning down here at the other end of the world – the light is yellowed and odd through the haze. The air is redolent of burning eucalypti and, sadly, a couple of hundred houses that went the same way, with more to come it seems. Spare a thought for those poor people, and the brave boys and girls of the volunteer Rural Fire Service.
But for the smoke, which is playing silly buggers with my asthma, I could be as far from the fires as you. My neighbour is pottering in her garden. A kookaburra is eying off the goldfish pond from his perch in the jacaranda. The kids next door are playing a bit too much hip hop for my taste, but it’s not too loud so I haven’t called down the wrath of the local constabulary upon them. (Ask for Constable Reilly – he’s the one with buttocks like a ripe, if slightly bruised, peach.)
I am reading, as I am wont, a scholarly work about healthcare reform, and the politics of healthcare reform. This one was linked to by Backwoods_Sleuth over at LGF. It’s a ripper.
I like to read all political books as if I knew nothing about the author (and let me tell you, with the amount I drink, I’m often not pretending). It’s wonderful. I read a book the other day by a young woman called Ann Coulter that was the funniest thing I had read in years. Who knew Americans could write satire that dark? Or Germans? Mein Kampf. Fucking. Hilarious.
Anyway, let’s see. A National Health System for America. Edited by Stuart M. Butler and Edmund F. Haislmaier. Good solid names, I thought. I imagined them as avuncular, charming types. Maybe a bit fusty, but a good night out if you got a few drinks into them early enough.
Published by the Heritage Foundation. Who doesn’t like heritage? I have a Louis Quinze armchair I’d sell my nephew to match, and that’s heritage. Heritage made me think that Stu and Ed are possibly a little more conservative than me and you, but so’s many of my friends. I imagined that the Heritage Foundation has a nice library, with lovely armchairs, where Ed and I could get happily shickered together on some of his undoubtedly fine scotch while we bantered about inpatient deductibles. It was all quite reassuring.
Now, being your dedicated blog-servant, I have read all 127 pages of Ed and Stu’s little book, and I am pleased to say that you pretty much only need to read the introduction, in which Ed and Stu quite helpfully summarise the whole thing.
Let’s see. Are you sitting comfortably?
Sounds familiar. Not many laughs in there though. Well, if you’re not a Republican, anyway. Then it might raise a few guffaws. A good start though – Our health system is fucked. And has been since at least 1988, apparently. More amazingly, people expected Congress to do something about it. Who would have thought?
And why, pray, is it fucked up?
Yep, that sounds about right. Ed’s actual chapter 1 is helpfully titled, “Why America’s Healthcare System is fucked”, so you get the basic idea of it. It takes 33 pages to say, “It was politics and greed what done it”.
50 years or so of political dysfunction and corporate avarice has left us with a medical system that is second to none, a medical insurance system that operates like a dickensian cheese dream, and a lot of people who can’t afford to access either one of them. This is considered quite odd in countries where people have guaranteed access to good healthcare at a reasonable price.
Now, Stu and Ed, it must be said, seem to have a thing about Big Government which, almost inevitably, means they don’t think much of socialised medicine.
And let’s be frank – they have a point. Big Government always leads to socialism, which leads to Communism, which eventually leads to all of us living in yurts and surviving on potato peelings and all the hooch we can drink. You start out planning a stable, vibrant, free, democratic, capitalist society with universal welfare and instead you end up living in the three feet of space between the yaks and the fish drying racks, and only having parades to watch on the telly.
Moreover, it is clear that socialised medicine doesn’t work, given the many studies which demonstrate that universal healthcare always results in private doctors and insurers being driven into penury, and medical care being reduced to the level of leeches and opening holes in people’s skulls to let the bad thoughts out. Not to mention the seven month waiting list for a good leeching.
We’ll put aside such silly (nay, un-American) thoughts and move on.
“This not only gives conservatives a reputation of insensitivity…”. That’s gold, right there. It’s another of those irregular verbs, Minister – I know my own mind; you are a grumpy old git who hates poors and blacks; they have a reputation of insensitivity.
Thankfully, dear Haislmaier and dear Butler have a strategy that will keep us all healthy and, almost as importantly, our society free of the socialist taint, which they intend to outline in exhaustive detail.
The remainder of the book looks at reform of Medicare and Medicaid, with a focus on state governments forming public-private partnerships to provide healthcare for the elderly, the poor and the chronically ill, before good ol’ Ed finishes us off with a rousing call to arms.
Works for me. A health insurance system where people (or their employers) are assisted to freely choose between a large number of competing providers to buy mandatory cover, backed up with price subsidies for some and guaranteed basic care for all.
I’m trying to remember where I read about something just like that over the last three years or so.
I am, of course exaggerating. Stu and Ed’s proposed system was different to the Affordable Care Act in many details. Despite the sweeping terms used in their introduction, the system they proposed was clearly aimed at protecting people from the costs of catastrophic injuries, based upon the primacy of the (almost) unregulated market, and enforced through tax breaks and vouchers.
Still, throw a few pre-existing condition protections, some minimum standards and a couple of bundled payments arrangements into Stu and Ed’s plan, and you’ve got … well, Obamacare. Even if it whiffs a bit of the gunpowder tang of socialism, it might, at worst and with a little bit of tinkering, form the basis of a future system more to their liking.
You would think, if you were as naive as I’m pretending to be, that while Ed and Stu might have concerns about the mechanics of the Affordable Care Act, they would would be broadly in favour of it.
I don’t think the ACA is perfect. I do think it’s a great stepping stone to an even better system. Something like this one. Or this. Or this. But that’s not going to happen for what, twenty years, the way we are going? In the meantime I will take what I can get.
Only dimwits, weasels or madmen would advocate digging our new system out, root and branch, returning us to the old one (which everyone one of us knows is helplessly broken), in the vain hope of then passing comprehensive health legislation through a fundamentally divided congress jammed full of dimwits, weasels and madmen.
Sadly, Ed and Stu have spent the last few years fulminating at length about how Obamacare will eat the souls of your little babies. Stu seems positively exercised that anyone might think that all this government mandate stuff might be his fault because that wasn’t what he meant, and even if it was he’s changed his mind and besides, he only came up with it in the first place to piss Hillary off.
Don’t Blame Heritage for ObamaCare Mandate
The confusion arises from the fact that 20 years ago, I held the view that as a technical matter, some form of requirement to purchase insurance was needed in a near-universal insurance market to avoid massive instability through “adverse selection” (insurers avoiding bad risks and healthy people declining coverage). At that time, President Clinton was proposing a universal health care plan, and Heritage and I devised a viable alternative.
Moreover, I agree with my legal colleagues at Heritage that today’s version of a mandate exceeds the constitutional powers granted to the federal government. Forcing those Americans not in the insurance market to purchase comprehensive insurance for themselves goes beyond even the most expansive precedents of the courts.
And there’s another thing. Changing one’s mind about the best policy to pursue — but not one’s principles — is part of being a researcher at a major think tank such as Heritage or the Brookings Institution. Serious professional analysts actually take part in a continuous bipartisan and collegial discussion about major policy questions. We read each other’s research. We look at the facts. We talk through ideas with those who agree or disagree with us. And we change our policy views over time based on new facts, new research or good counterarguments.
Thanks to this good process, I’ve altered my views on many things. The individual mandate in health care is one of them.
Meanwhile, dear old Ed really does have his knickers in a twist, telling everyone who he can make listen that Omamacare is a vile distortion of his beautiful words. Including Neil Cavuto, who I swear thought was fictional, like Damocles or William of Ockham.
No Way Out: How Conscience Gets Trapped in Obamacare’s Little Box of Horrors
Thus, however this particular issue is eventually resolved, the root problem will still very much exist. Given the enormous amount of discretion the law grants to unelected bureaucrats in numerous places, there are likely many other ways that Obamacare can conflict with religious freedom. We have yet to see, for example, how the essential benefits package rules will affect issues related to reproduction, end of life, and parental authority over medical care and testing for minor children.
Indeed, when it comes to religious freedom, the most fundamental problem with Obamacare is that it empowers an overweening federal government—often through a vast regulatory system administered by unelected bureaucrats—to micro-manage every corner of the health care system and everyone who participates in it. Furthermore, from the perspective of the legislation’s authors, this result is, in the parlance of software developers, not a bug but a feature.
When a building is so badly designed and built that no amount of renovation can fix it, the only solution is to call in the bulldozers and start over—preferably with different architects and engineers. The same is true of Obamacare.
Dimwits, weasels and madmen – it’s all the Republican party has left.
All picture quotes:
My internet connection has been ten pounds of suck in a five lb bag all day, and on top of that my work email migrated to Outlook365 this weekend, so I have that going for me, too.
Once again, Beth S. has most graciously agreed to assemble the Balloon Juice Pet Calendar for 2014, with all profits going to Cole’s chosen rescue group MARC (Marion Animal Resource Connection). Beth’s specifications:
I’m looking for the highest resolution images possible. The photos themselves won’t be that large, but the largest and highest resolution images people can send the better. I have photoshop and can do some remediation on images as necessary.
Send your pics (don’t be shy, neither your art nor your pet(s) need to be ‘show quality’) to [email protected]. Any problems, you can also send them to me at [email protected] (or click on my name under ‘Contact’ in the right-hand column). Deadline is Thursday, October 31, so Beth has time to put the whole massive project together and get it into print in time for year-end gift-giving.
Questions, ideas, suggestions — leave a comment below.
ETA: Stories are not required. Only photos will appear in the calendar, but if you do send a story, I may use it here on the blog as a mood-booster…
And here’s the story that goes with the picture at the top, one of the photos already submitted, from commentor Summer:
A little over a month ago I was walking my dogs at night when this tiny kitten came barreling out from under a car and stood in the middle of the street WAILING at us. When we walked toward her, she shot back under the car and continued crying in the particularly heart-wrenching manner of lost baby kittens. I sat next to the car and talked to her, and my dogs lay down near me. After a few minutes she crept out from under the car and sniffed at the smaller of my two dogs, the one to whom she’d seemed to directing her wails from the middle of the street.
Then she ran back under the car.
Two hours, part of a can of dog food, and the enlistment of my friend (who at one point scaled an eight-foot high fence dividing two yards) later, she was hiding underneath and in back of a shed near the car. Still crying. It was 1 a.m. And we gave up for the night.
The next day I messaged my neighbor that there might be a kitten under his car when he started it for work, and got his permission to try to catch her. Then I borrowed another neighbor’s trap and baited it with delicious canned dog food. No luck. But at 5 p.m. my neighbor showed up wearing heavy-duty gloves carrying a yowling, spitting kitten barely old enough to eat solid food.
My cat George disappeared three months ago, along with three other cats in the neighborhood. He was 15 and I’d had him for 14 years. I swore I’d never get another cat. I love birds and hate litter boxes. And I’d loved George.
But then, just like that, Gemma Pumpkin Sparkles joined the household. As she grew a little older, she clearly became Prince Harry Pumpkin. This photo captures a rare moment of quiet. Often she’s too busy attacking the dogs’ tails or feet to let them have a moment of rest. But when she’s not — he’s not — then he creeps close to them and falls asleep, purring as loudly as he is in my lap now. And all is well.