chief of staff, Denis R. McDonough, fielded questions on the issue for more than an hour at a lunch with Democratic senators. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, who is up for re-election next year, said, “We are hearing from a lot of small businesses in New Hampshire that do not know how to comply with the law.” In addition, Mrs. Shaheen said, “restaurants that employ people for about 30 hours a week are trying to figure out whether it would be in their interest to reduce the hours” of those workers, so the restaurants could avoid the law’s requirement to offer health coverage to full-time employees. The White House officials “acknowledged that these are real concerns, and that we’ve got to do more to address them,” Mrs. Shaheen said. Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on health care, said he was extremely upset with Mr. Obama’s decision to take money from public health prevention programs and use it to publicize the new law, which creates insurance marketplaces in every state. “I am greatly disappointed — beyond upset — that the administration chose to help pay for the Affordable Care Act in fiscal year 2013 by raiding the Public Health and Prevention Fund,” Mr. Harkin said. The administration said it had transferred $332 million from the prevention fund to pay for “education and outreach…Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Finance Committee, said last week that the administration deserved “a failing grade” for its efforts to explain the law to the public. “I just see a huge train wreck coming down,” Mr. Baucus said…
Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, said he told White House officials on Thursday that he was concerned about big rate increases being sought by the largest health insurer in his state. The company, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, has sought increases averaging 25 percent for individual insurance policies that will be sold in the state insurance exchange, and it is seeking increases of about 15 percent for small businesses. The company said the higher premiums reflected costs of complying with the new law. Senator Cardin said he was also distressed by the administration’s failure to require health insurers to provide affordable coverage of dental services for children. The law lists pediatric dental care as one of 10 categories of “essential health benefits” to be provided by all health plans. Under a rule issued by the administration, Mr. Cardin said, “there is no guarantee or requirement that families have pediatric dental coverage, and the coverage could be provided in a stand-alone plan with a separate deductible, so that a family with two children might have to pay as much as $1,400 in out-of-pocket costs for dental coverage.”
In paragraph one, Democratic senators wake up to what the numerate among us have known for years about this disaster: it’s unaffordable, it costs jobs, and removes the very coverage it claimed to increase. Paragraph two is much more interesting. The fellow from Maryland is all upset about the higher premiums brought about by this train wreck of a law. But then he pivots to being upset that there are not even more benefits from the gravy train. Train wreck and gravy train at the same time. Pity they don’t have time to teach adding and subtracting in school anymore.