There’s this. And then again, there’s this. One of these views is inaccurate. Which do you think it is? More: “who but a bunch of chuckleheads could have imagined you could rearrange the nation’s entire healthcare economy by putting up a single website? Only a politician who has never accomplished anything in the private sector.”
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“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” — something the administration knew was untrue — would almost certainly be a textbook case of deceptive advertising, punishable under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practice in or affecting commerce.” This includes a “representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer,” such that the consumer would be “likely to have chosen differently but for the deception”…
a recent CBS News investigation found that HealthCare.gov contains a pricing feature that tends to “dramatically underestimate” the cost of insurance. The website’s “shop and browse” feature divides users into two broad age categories: “49 or under” and “50 or older.” Price estimates for the first age group are based on what a 27-year-old could expect to pay, whereas as the latter group’s price estimates are based on what a 50-year-old would pay, a practice that inevitably produces wildly misleading results for individuals significantly older than the base age. In some cases, actual premiums are nearly double the projected amount. In the words of one industry expert, the feature is “incredibly misleading for people that are trying to get a sense of what they’re paying.”
The FTC requires companies to provide essentially every possible form of information about a given product up front, prior to the point of purchase. Private companies engaged in HealthCare.gov’s kind of behavior would face severe consequences…
Perhaps the most significant grievance the FTC, the CFPB, and, potentially, the Department of Justice (DOJ) would have with a private corporation following HealthCare.gov’s practices would be its apparent disregard for the security of sensitive personal information shared by users. The website, which has been targeted by a series of attempted cyber attacks, initially contained a serious flaw that left user accounts and personal information vulnerable to hackers…
According to an internal memo at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the administration had “only partly completed” a full assessment of the website’s security features ahead of the October 1 launch of the exchanges. The potential lack of security was determined to be “a risk that must be accepted” in order to meet that deadline…
if any of these companies had done this, they would almost certainly have faced serious legal action under Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits endangering consumers by “failing to maintain security for sensitive consumer information.” The FTC has pursued such action on 32 occasions since May 2011.
Let’s see. You can keep your plan and your doctor and everything you’ve got now, and it’s all going to be $2500 cheaper, while tens of millions of your neighbors get oodles of new, free stuff! Just how stupid and gullible do you have to be to believe such an obvious fraud and con job?
We blame the press, which is just now beginning to question their messiah. Were they innumerate all these years, or were they complicit in the fraud? Or had they become so out of touch that they believed you can fool (most) all of the people all of the time?
This fix, that fix. Too much analysis. Phooey! If you nothing about business, and business really isn’t all that difficult to understand, your latest tinkering with your insane Rube Goldberg contraption is only going to propagate more complex errors. Jonah Goldberg notes in the middle of this piece that the fantasists weren’t just in the WH. Thomas Lifson explains towards the end of this piece that it’s not only the basics of supply, demand and profit that elude the fantasists, but the concept of management itself. ‘Nuff said.
On the other hand, Paul Rahe’s piece was worth both reading and writing.
The split between lawmakers and the White House reflects the dilemma the president finds himself in as he seeks to follow through on last week’s acknowledgment about his incorrect promise on health care coverage. Hundreds of thousands of people have received cancellation notices from health insurance companies
The interesting thing about this is that it’s a news story, not an editorial. The editorial board used the word misspoke. Imagine the discussions among the editors and reporters to come up with “incorrect promise,” a phrase that apparently has never made it into the Times before. Good fun!
“I personally believe, even if it takes a change in the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they’ve got,” Clinton said
Of course that’s next to impossible to do, since insurance companies have spent the last three years revising their systems, their underwriting criteria, their pricing, and on and on. BTW, is this a parody or what?
neither the federal insurance exchange nor the federal subsidies paid to insurance companies on behalf of low-income people are “federal health care programs.” The surprise decision, disclosed last week, exempts subsidized health insurance from a law that bans rebates, kickbacks, bribes and certain other financial arrangements in federal health programs, stripping law enforcement of a powerful tool used to fight fraud in other health care programs, like Medicare.
Surprise decision? Apparently the NYT hasn’t been paying attention to the MO of these characters.
Millions of people are facing cancellation letters. Ideally, we could just say, never mind –– let these people simply stay on their current policies. But here’s maybe the biggest irony in this whole mess. The administration may not be ready for the ACA but the insurance industry is. The health insurance companies spent the last many months rolling their old policies off the books and replacing them with the 2014 ACA compliant products…
Cancellation letters have been sent. Their computer systems took months to program in order to be able to send the letters out and set up the terminations on their systems. Even post-ACA, the states regulate the insurance market. The old products are no longer filed for sale and rates are not approved. I suppose it might be possible to get insurance commissioners to waive their requirements but even if they did how could the insurance industry reprogram systems in less than a month that took months to program in the first place, contact the millions impacted, explain their new options (they could still try to get one of the new policies with a subsidy), and get their approval?
The administration told the carriers to be ready on October 1 and they are ready. You just can’t waive a magic wand and put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
And then we need to remember that these cancelled policies –– over 4 million and counting –– are in two distinctly different classes: 1. Policies written since March of 2010 that by statute cannot be grandfathered. The grandfather provisions of the new law apply only to people who had a policy in force on the day the law was passed in 2010. This makes up about half of the policies being cancelled. 2. Policies in force the day the law was passed are the only ones subject to the very narrow administration’s grandfather rules. Any policy, for example, where the consumer chose to raise the plan’s deductible in order to avoid a rate increase –– a very common thing –– from something like $1,000 to $1,500, has lost its grandfather status. That is almost certainly the majority of this class of policies and why so many are being cancelled…
all of the 50% of policies in the first class and most of the policies in the second class likely total about 80% of the existing individual health insurance market that have received, or are going to receive by the end of 2014, cancellation letters.
In 1963 Sukiyaki was a big hit in the US. A couple of years later so was Hogan’s Heroes. These things happened only two decades after the end of WWII. Two bad ideologies had been defeated. Life moved on. We’re now a dozen years after 9-11 and the ideology that led to it is still mostly untouched. Not a good sign. It would be a very strange thing if the US’s fecklessness on Iran produced Sunni-Israeli cooperation that resulted in a change in a vile ideology. Probably impossible, but we’re looking for the pony in there somewhere.
In other news, Pigalle is apparently being ruined “by the banal globalization of hipster good taste, the same pleasant and invisible force that puts kale frittata, steel-cut oats and burrata salad on brunch tables from Stockholm to San Francisco.” Have a pleasant Sunday!
the caller sounded so official that she agreed to meet him the next day at her home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He told her the law meant she would have to update her Medicare card. Ms. Mirzayans, a retired small-business owner, was grateful that the government was taking such interest in her insurance coverage. Over glasses of pomegranate juice last month, Ms. Mirzayans divulged to her visitor crucial Medicare, Social Security and personal information.
Not to worry. Such things affect 5% of Americans at most.
Fraud is a serious federal felony, usually punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment — with every repetition of a fraudulent communication chargeable as a separate crime. In computing sentences, federal sentencing guidelines factor in such considerations as the dollar value of the fraud, the number of victims, and the degree to which the offender’s treachery breaches any special fiduciary duties he owes…
Justice Department guidelines, set forth in the U.S. Attorneys Manual, recommend prosecution for fraud in situations involving “any scheme which in its nature is directed to defrauding a class of persons, or the general public, with a substantial pattern of conduct”…
For a fraud prosecution to be valid, the fraudulent scheme need not have been successful. Nor is there any requirement that the schemer enrich himself personally. The prosecution must simply prove that some harm to the victim was contemplated by the schemer. If the victim actually was harmed, that is usually the best evidence that harm was what the schemer intended.
To be more illustrative, let’s say our schemer is the president of a health-insurance company, and that it was clearly foreseeable to him that his company’s clients would lose their current insurance plans if the company adopted his proposal of a complex new health-insurance framework…
The concept of fraudulent deception, like the concept of perjury and other forms of actionable false statement, often entails not only affirmative lies — e.g., the general manager who tells a baseball player, “I will not trade you if you sign the contract,” and then proceeds to trade the player after he signs; the concept also commonly involves the omission of material facts (what’s called “material omission”)
McCarthy’s piece has a political slant, but there’s potentially another, if we’re reading him correctly. By the middle of 2010, the CEO’s of publicly traded insurance companies must have known that up to tens of millions of their customers would be canceled by their companies. Arguably, the willful concealment of this information affected the price of their stock. Was their silence about material facts affecting share prices and their own compensation permissible under SEC disclosure rules? We don’t know. Just asking.
In 1959, the federal government spent $92 billion, of which $40 billion was military spending. President Eisenhower warned of the corruption danger inherent in the military industrial complex with that $40 billion in spending.
The corruption is rampant and it is bi-partisan. James DeLong gives many nasty details about how healthcare policy and lobbying work. Peter Schweizer describes how DC politicians with modest salaries become rich through practices that are legal for them but would get businessmen thrown in jail. That’s the government today.
I have been in this business for 40 years. I know junk health insurance when I see it and I know “Cadillac” health insurance when I see it. Right now I have “Cadillac” health insurance. I can access every provider in the national Blue Cross network––about every doc and hospital in America––without a referral and without higher deductibles and co-pays. I value that given my travels and my belief that who your provider is makes a big difference. Want to go to Mayo? No problem. Want to go to the Cleveland Clinic? No problem. Need to get to Queen’s in Honolulu? No problem.
So, I get this letter from my health plan. It says I can’t keep my current coverage because my plan isn’t good enough under Obamacare rules. It tells me to go to the exchange or their website and pick a new plan before January 1 or I will lose coverage. First, the best I can get in a Blue Cross network plan are HMOs or HMO/Point-of-Service plans. In the core network those plans offer, I would have to go to fewer providers than I can go to now in the MD/DC/VA market. And, the core network has no providers beyond my area. I can go to the broader Blues network but only if I pay another big deductible for out-of-network coverage.
Now, my plan covers about everything. Never had a procedure for either my wife or myself turned down. Wellness benefits are without a deductible. It covers mental health, drugs, maternity, anything I can think of. The new plan would have a deductible $500 higher than the one I now have and a lot more if I go “out-of-network”
More: “Less than 2% of the existing health plans in the individual market today provide all the Essential Health Benefits required under the Affordable Care Act.” More: “A survey of 409 doctors by the Medical Society of the State of New York found that 44 percent weren’t participating in any health plan offered on the state’s exchange.”
If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan, period
if you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed
The president had already made up his mind, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to be candid. Obama wanted his health policy team — led by Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform — to be in charge of the law’s arduous implementation. Since the day the bill became law, the official said, the president believed that “if you were to design a person in the lab to implement health care, it would be Nancy-Ann.” Three and a half years later, such insularity — in that decision and others that would follow — has emerged as a central factor in the disastrous rollout of the new federal health insurance marketplace, casting doubt on the administration’s capacity to carry out such a complex undertaking. “They were running the biggest start-up in the world, and they didn’t have anyone who had run a start-up, or even run a business,” said David Cutler, a Harvard professor
The NYT is still happy, though concerned that their man “misspoke” two dozen times or so. The AP is running news that was unthinkable five years ago, and ABC is mocking their erstwhile messiah. A line has been crossed, the line demarcating the limits of political BS.
So now we have a world where Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia, Iran, Israel, Germany, England, and most of the rest of the world don’t believe a word the BS-er in chief says, along with at least the half of the USA that is paying attention — and that number seems likely to grow. Only the NYT and its followers, parts of the Washington press corps, and faculty lounges take the college professor seriously now. Everyone who wants to know now knows that a bright line has been crossed, and as a consequence we live in perilous times for the next three years or so.
Harry Reid claims there isn’t “a single shred of evidence” regulations cause big economic harm…”In the first six months of the 2011 fiscal year, 15 major regulations were issued, with annual costs exceeding $5.8 billion and one-time implementation costs approaching $6.5 billion…Overall, the Obama administration imposed 75 new major regulations from January 2009 to mid-FY 2011, with annual costs of $38 billion”…the Federal Register shows over 4,200 new regulations soon to hit an already battered economy — not including impending Environmental Protection Agency clean air rules, new derivative rules, the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rule, fuel economy mandates, ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank financial restrictions. Yet Reid claims regs are harmless
Construction of the world’s tallest building, the Empire State Building took 14 months in 1930. The Pentagon, the world’s largest office building, took 16 months in 1941. 26 months from the beginning of construction, the World Trade Center became the tallest building in the world in 1970. It is 148 months since September 11, 2001 and its replacement is only now nearing completion. We need 10x the time to do things that were done a century ago.
Regulation certainly isn’t the whole story, but it’s a part of the story of America’s cultural decline. Look what happens when you incentivize performance and cut red tape — a project done in half the allotted time. So it can be done, but rarely these days. Daniel Greenfield comments that in today’s culture competence is denigrated and DC and its lawyers substitute the magic of government:
Competence is the real modernity and it has very little to do with the empty trappings of design that surround it. In some ways the America of a few generations ago was a far more modern place because it was a more competent place. For all our nice toys, we look like primitive savages compared to men who could build skyscrapers and fleets within a year… and build them well.
Those aren’t things we can do anymore. Not because the knowledge and skills don’t exist, but because the culture no longer allows it. We can’t do them for the same reason that Third World countries can’t do what we do. It’s not that the knowledge is inaccessible, but that the culture gets in the way.
It’s our very hollow modernity that gets in the way of our truly being modern. We can no longer build big things because the ability to implement vision on a large scale no longer exists. We can still do impressive things as individuals, but that’s also true of Kenya or Thailand. And in China, they can carry out grandiose projects, but those projects have no vision or competence.
We used to be able to combine the two by competently implementing grandiose visions, but our “modern” culture is the roadblock that prevents us from working together to make the great things that we can still envision individually.
Our modernity is style rather than substance. It’s Obama grinning. It’s the right font. It’s the right joke. It’s that sense that X knows what he’s doing because he presents it the right way. There’s nothing particularly modern about that. In most cultures, the illusion of competence trumps the real thing. It’s why so many countries are so badly broken because they go by appearances, rather than by results.
The idea that we should go by results, rather than by processes, by outcomes rather than by appearances, was revolutionary. For most of human history, we were trapped in a cargo cult mode. We did the “right things” not because they led to the right results, but because we had decided that they were the right things. There were many competent people, but they were hamstrung by rigid institutions that made it impossible to go from Point A to Point B in the shortest possible time.
And it’s not just the lawyers who are destructive kibitzers. The pundits and journalists, who also by and large couldn’t repair a toaster, are also believers in magic. Here they sit with the president, as Wretchard describes:
the great columnists of Washington. At these klatches, with the buzz of traffic and bustle of the grimy world held to a hum in the distance, the world lies spread before them malleable, fresh and new. And the great men can feel, even if lesser mortals cannot, that all that is is required to transform that dull universe into something extraordinary is the right phrase, the correct sales pitch, the perfect sound bite. Then the stars will vibrate to the idea and the multitudes will Get It. And so the search continues among the wordsmiths for the Spell, who believe in it with the conviction of zealots. Only try this. Try that. Try again. For they know the dictum: always be closing. Even if there is nothing to sell. The Founders, in rejecting the spell of aristocracy, were in their way rejecting magic. They seemed to say ‘trust in no king, no great leader’ — and that the highest and best thing we could aspire to was to simply be ourselves and make things work. In place of sorcery they trusted in the sanctity of the ordinary, in the immanence of truth; that a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”, while not on Obama’s imagined level would neveretheless never perish from the earth. But magic would; for even if Greenfield fears the sorcerers will return, their day is done. Their time is done because the wooden computer will not boot. Because the sums are in rebellion. Because reality, which is the real source of all true magic, was never consulted, let alone invoked.
In many ways, America was a better country back when there were shotgun weddings and almost everyone knew a farmer or a soldier. Now almost no one knows such earthy characters. However, a harsh future is coming to the US at some point, due to (1) QE infinity and (2) too much debt plus unfunded liabilities. Probably a bad day to have been one who preached that government was magic. We’ll see.
no one in the administration has been willing to tell us how many policies have been purchased…the government said there were 4.7 million unique visits in the first 24 hours. But at a meeting Wednesday morning, the war room notes say “six enrollments have occurred so far.”
Things are going much better in SF, where 40 or so people signed up.
It wasn’t sufficient to say people who like their plans will be able to keep it, which is narrowly untrue.
the number of people facing cancellations, 51 percent of the employer-based market plus 53.5 percent of the non-group market (the middle of the administration’s range) amounts to 93 million Americans.
And so the rhetoric is now getting a little choppy:
if you had one of these substandard plans before the Affordable Care Act became law and you really liked that plan, you’re able to keep it. That’s what I said when I was running for office. That was part of the promise we made. But ever since the law was passed, if insurers decided to downgrade or cancel these substandard plans, what we said under the law is you’ve got to replace them with quality, comprehensive coverage — because that, too, was a central premise of the Affordable Care Act from the very beginning.