October 31, 2013

Okay, So Maybe the States With Their Own Obamacare Exchanges Have Their Acts Together

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:14 pm

Uh, no (video at link):

States’ insurance exchange websites cost taxpayers $1B; contractors often paid to do same job in different states

Sources tell CBS News that the 15 states that have set up their own insurance exchanges used more than $1 billion to pay for their own Obamacare websites. That huge price tag, CBS News’ Jan Crawford reported on “CBS This Morning,” is being paid for by the federal government — courtesy of taxpayers — and some of these websites have also struggled to get off the ground.

A CBS News analysis shows that the 15 states that opted to set up their own exchanges are spending more than $1.1 billion to launch and implement their own websites, often paying the same government contractors to do the same job in different states.

California has dedicated $359 million, while New York is spending $161 million. In Kentucky it’s $100 million, and in Oregon the price tag is $50 million. (That’s $670 million in just four of the 15 states with their own exchanges. The full sum, especially after all too predictable cost overruns, will probably be “way, way over $1.1 billion.” — Ed.)

The president has pointed to Oregon, which has enrolled 56,000 people in Medicaid – to argue things are working. “That’s 56,000 more Americans who now have health care,” the president has said. “That doesn’t depend on a website.”

And it’s a good thing, because Oregon’s website doesn’t work. The new Medicaid enrollments came through the mail. The state website has yet to enroll a single person.

And how are people reacting to what they see at their state exchange’s web site when they can actually get in? Pretty much the way those in states using HealthCare.gov are reacting (HT Hot Air):

Money quote: “Thus far, everybody’s taken a look at the rates and they’ve just walked out the door. It’s sticker shock. They just can’t afford it.”

Press Ignoring CNN’s Report of WH Pressure on Health Insurance Industry to Stay Mum on Obamacare-Driven Policy Cancellations

Tuesday evening (noted by Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters early Wednesday morning), CNN’s Drew Griffin reported on Anderson Cooper’s show that there is a “behind the scenes attempt by the White House to at least keep insurers from publicly criticizing what is happening under this Affordable Care Act rollout.”

Such a report occurring during a Republican or conservative administration would spread like wildfire. Sadly and predictably, that hasn’t happened with CNN’s bombshell. Using search strings which should have surfaced relevant results if present, I couldn’t find anything on the topic at the Associated Press, New York Times, the Politco, or Washington Post.

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Obama’s Advice to Those Whose Policies Were Cancelled: ‘Shop Around’ (But Only At My Store)

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:43 am

The trouble with President Obama’s “suggestion” for people whose individual plans have been cancelled is that there’s only one place to buy, and the law says you have to buy something from that place or face a penalty.

Obama’s statist brand of “shop around” advice is not what was rendered in this classic cover by the Captain the Tennille from back in the mid-1970s, complete with absolutely awful male outfits which would be pretty good modern-day Halloween costumes for those who would look good in them (present company definitely excluded):

Key line:

“… keep your freedom for as long as you can now”

That was good advice, wasn’t it? Now we have a long fight ahead of us to get it back.

Here’s the Smokey Robinson and Miracles original for traditionalists:

Initial Unemployment Claims (103113): 340K SA; Raw Claims Down 6.5% From Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:24 am

This report has been a source of frustration for several weeks, as California and sometimes other states have not consistently been turning in up-to-date data.

Perhaps that problem will finally be overcome today. Attempting to filter out that noise, and even after factoring in the negative effect of the 17 percent partial government shutdown, it’s still safe to say that weekly seasonally adjusted claims have been heading in the wrong direction.

Today *should* be different, one would think, because the week involved is the first full week of business after the partial shutdown ended.

Predictions:

Seasonal adjustment factors:

  • Week ended Oct. 26, 2013 — 93.5
  • Week ended Oct. 27, 2012 — 92.7

Raw claims:

  • Week ended Oct. 19, 2013 — 310,814 (before revision)
  • Week ended Oct. 27, 2012 — 339,917

For the prediction to come true, raw claims will have to be 316,000 or lower (316K divided by .935 is 338K, rounded). That seems eminently achievable, and I would hope that today’s news is of a result significantly better than expectations — muddied by the processing factors described above.

The report will be here at 8:30 a.m.

HERE IT IS (permanent link): Basically on target –

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending October 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 340,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week’s unrevised figure of 350,000. The 4-week moving average was 356,250, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 348,250.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 317,580 in the week ending October 26, an increase of 6,064 from the previous week. There were 339,917 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

I would tend to agree with Steve in the comments that we’re in a “new normal” of 340K-350K in claims, which I consider an unacceptable level.

I should note that “covered employment,” the number of people who would be eligible for unemployment benefits if they were to be laid off, ticked up slightly a few weeks ago to 130.4 million from 129.8 million. That’s still 2.7 percent below the 133.9 million peak seen five years ago, and is one of the more obvious indicators that this “recovery” has been painfully and historically awful.

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UPDATE: In a welcome bit of news from Ohio, where the news outside of Metro Columbus has been mostly not good for some time, weekly claims declined by 2,164 and 1,115 during the weeks ended Oct. 12 and 19, respectively, to 9,152. That’s a 19% drop from the 11,303 seen during the same week last year.

That said, the Buckeye State’s covered workforce, which dropped a bit a few weeks ago to 4.940 million, is still 5.8 percent below its 5.243 million mid-2007 peak — over twice the national shortfall.

UPDATE 2: Zero Hedge says that California finally caught up with its claims backlog a week ago.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (103113)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:00 am

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

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Marc Thiessen: “Obama lied and the individual market died.”

Charlie Martin at PJ Media: “The Arithmetic Absurdity of Obamacare”

Matt Hadro at NewsBusters: “CNN anchor Carol Costello thinks Hallmark is ‘homophobic’ for changing the word ‘gay’ to ‘fun’ on its “Holiday Sweater” ornament.” CNN anchor Carol Costello needs to get a life.

Fun Healthcare Fact: In fiscal 2013, health care spending in Massachusetts, home of RommeyCare, ate up over half of the state’s budget.

At Anderson Cooper’s place at CNN: “Did the Obama administration pressure insurance companies?” Watch the video. There is absolutely no need for the question mark.

Mind-Boggling Attempts at Blame Shifting

Hardened leftists, including Journolister Ezra Klein, really believe that Obamacare has been “sabotaged.”

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This column went up at PJ Media late Monday night and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Tuesday morning.

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During the Bush 43 administration, leading lights on the left arrogantly christened themselves “the reality based community.”

Many of the same people who claimed at the time to base their assertions and beliefs “more on observation than on faith, assumption, or ideology” have hysterically concocted reasons why HealthCare.gov, surely in size and scope the most disastrously incompetent website rollout ever, cannot possibly be more than partially the Obama administration’s fault. Other nefarious people and shadowy forces, particularly Republicans and conservatives, who in reality “didn’t cast a single vote in favor of the ACA and had no control over its 42-month rollout,” somehow deserve the lion’s share of the blame.

On Thursday, the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein promulgated perhaps the longest list of ways Republicans did “everything possible to sabotage” Obamacare. He considers them hypocrites for criticizing the HealthCare.gov debacle, and believes that “their plan to undermine the law worked too well.”

As he blusters about this non-existent conspiracy, one thing about which Klein can claim legitimate expertise is orchestrating one. In 2008, he founded Journolist, a private and intensely secretive Google Groups forum of 400 left-leaning journalists he coordinated from his blog perches, first at the far-left American Prospect and then, beginning in May 2009, at the Post.
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Positivity: Costa Rica court: Church has right to speak on social issues

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:00 am

From San Jose, Costa Rica:

Oct 30, 2013 / 04:09 pm

Costa Rica’s Electoral Supreme Court has said that the Church has the right to speak about social and moral issues, proclaiming its teaching freely in order to inform the nation’s voters.

The Catholic Church has the right to “take stances on the country’s social problems, as well as to preach the faith with authentic freedom, teach its social doctrine, exercise an earthly mission without interference and issue moral judgments, even on issues related to public order and others of interest to it,” the ruling said.

In an Oct. 25 decision, the court rejected a lawsuit filed against the Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica over a recent document on the electoral process and democracy, which was accused of being detrimental to the freedom of voters.

The court said that what Costa Rican law prohibits “of Catholic clergy (and of the laity as well)” is engaging in religiously-motivated political propaganda or using religious beliefs as a means for such.

Such restrictions are intended to protect the free will of voters, the court explained.

However, after a careful reading of the bishops’ document issued on Oct. 7, the court found that nowhere does it favor any one political tendency or group.

On the contrary, the justices explained, “The reflections of the bishops are limited to explaining their positions regarding fundamental issues of the national reality, which they base on quotes from documents related to the social doctrine of the Church.” …

Go here for the rest of the story