Obamacare’s doctored coverage: destroying the private insurance market

**Posted by Phineas

"Quack medicine"

“Quack medicine”

I linked this in my last post, but it really deserves top-level billing of its own as a picture-perfect example of how Obamacare harms, not helps, the middle classes.

Redondo Beach resident Steve Duschene has bought his own insurance on the individual market for several years now and has had to deal with the problems of rising costs, often by cutting back on coverage he’d otherwise like to keep. So, he decided to try buying a policy on Covered California, our state exchange.

What he found was, to say the least, upsetting:

I have visited the state exchange, CoveredCA.com, and what I found is not encouraging. In fact, it’s frightening, with few policy choices, higher monthly premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs.

(…)

Relieved to see Anthem, which has provided my family’s health insurance policies for nearly 10 years, I was stunned by the $900 monthly premium, not to mention higher out-of pocket costs. Like our current plan, Anthem’s Obamacare policy would cover three doctor visits per person per year, but with a 35 percent increase in the monthly premium.

The sticker shock did not end at the premium. Our doctor office co-payment would double from $30 under our current policy to $60 under the Obamacare policy, and in the event of a trip to an emergency room, our co-pay would triple from $100 to $300. Our current policy includes no co-pay for an urgent care visit; Obamacare would hit us for a co-pay of $120.

Duschene then notes the dilemma of the individual policy buyer:

Under Obamacare, however, there appears to be no alternative to significantly higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs. If we want insurance, we will have no choice but to shop through the exchange.

But he’s also careful to note  the alternative, which is to not carry insurance, but buy it only at need, knowing that one cannot be refused. He correctly calls this, as I have in other posts on other facets of Obamacare, a “perverse incentive.” And his closing reveals that this isn’t a bug, but a feature:

Back in January, the Anthem representative could not predict Obamacare prices, but now we know. And the more we learn about the Affordable Care Act, the less affordable it becomes. It’s open season on individual health insurance consumers.

Per Congresswoman “Red” Jan Schakowski and President Barack Obama, that’s the whole point: the destruction of the private insurance market.

You can bet there are a lot more stories like Steve Duschene’s. It’s in the plan.

via Stuart Stevens

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Californians discover that -gasp!- Obama lied about their insurance costs

**Posted by Phineas

"Suckers."

“Suckers.”

The San Jose Mercury News ran an article a couple of days ago about “winners and losers” under Obamacare in the Bay Area, including individual buyers of health insurance who were shocked when faced with economic reality: when the government mandates higher costs on businesses, they will then pass those costs along to consumers.

And as some Obamacare supporters found, reality bites — their wallets:

But people with no pre-existing conditions like [Cindy] Vinson, a 60-year-old retired teacher, and [Tom] Waschura, a 52-year-old self-employed engineer, are making up the difference.

“I was laughing at Boehner — until the mail came today,”

Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.
“I really don’t like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family’s pocket each year, that’s otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy.”

Both Vinson and Waschura have adjusted gross incomes greater than four times the federal poverty level — the cutoff for a tax credit. And while both said they anticipated their rates would go up, they didn’t realize they would rise so much.

“Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”

It must be nice to live in their imaginary world, where government can wave its magic wand and and create wonderful new entitlements that are always paid for by The Other Guy. But, in the world we all live in, when Waschura whines about what amounts to a seizure of ten grand of his disposable income to pay for other people’s insurance, I want to scream “THAT’S WHAT WE’VE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT, YOU MORON!” Obamacare is not about health care; it is a gigantic wealth transfer program, and the “transfer from” part includes the middle class. Everything Obama and his comrades on the Left do is about wealth redistribution.

Do read the rest of the article. In fairness, it points out “winners” under the ACA, too. What it doesn’t do is mention how those winners, such as those with previously existing conditions, “win” by relying on the government to force those younger and healthier to buy more (and more expensive) insurance than they really need. And you need several of those losers for each beneficiary.

Again, wealth transfer is the key.

Meanwhile, to those ACA-supporters now finding out just how badly shafted they are by this bill, give me some time. It will take me a while to generate any sympathy.

via Uncommentari

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#NewTone Watch: communications lessons from an expert, Allan Brauer (D). Updated, Brauer apologizes. Update 2, Brauer resigns

**Posted by Phineas

This was an interesting morning on Twitter. After the House voted to pass a continuing resolution that funds the government but provides no money for Obamacare, conservative journalist Amanda Carpenter wrote the following:

Reasonable people can of course disagree on the merits of this move and post their thoughts on Twitter in reply. Which is what Allan Brauer did:

See? That’s a professional handles disagreement on sensitive issues. In fact, Brauer is a Democratic Party official, the Communications Chair for the Democratic Party of Sacramento. So you can bet he knows the fine art of messaging and marketing. In fact, the tag line on his blog reads:

“It matters how you say it!”

Indeed, Allan. Indeed.

Here are some more examples of a professional Democratic communications expert’s concern for a civil tone in politics:

…and…

Actually, yes, Allan. You are.

I’m sure there’s more, including at least one example of the way not to respond to him, but Sacramento County Democratic Party Communications Chair Allan Brauer has blocked me, so I can’t see them.

Darn. I guess I’ll just never be popular with tolerant progressives who wish death on children.

PS: The Chair of the Democratic Party in Sacramento County is Kerri Asbury. If you have a Twitter account, you might want to let her know well her comms guy is doing his job. Politely, of course.

UPDATE: Brauer has apologized, and Amanda Carpenter has accepted:

However, the California Democratic Party doesn’t quite seem to get it:

Sigh. Shouldn’t be surprised. This is the state party of Bob Filner, after all.

UPDATE 2: Brauer resigns:

The Democratic Party of Sacramento County (DPSC) Friday called for and accepted the resignation of its volunteer communications chair following of series of personal twitter comments directed at GOP staff after Republicans voted to defund President Obama’s health care law.

DPSC chair Kerri Asbury said the personal twitter comments made by Communications Committee chair Allan Brauer were “appalling and inexcusable.” She accepted his resignation Friday, and issued the following statement:

“The comments by our volunteer communications chair are appalling and inexcusable. No matter what our political disagreements may be, wishing harm is never an acceptable response during heated public debate or any other time. Mr. Brauer has apologized for his comments and expressed his remorse.”

via Legal Insurrection

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Questions for @RepSpeier (D-CA 14) about Bob “Filthy” Filner #WarOnWomen

**Posted by Phineas

Dear Representative Jackie Speier,

In an article excerpted today in the California Political Review, you are quoted as saying Bob Filner should resign as Mayor of San Diego:

“In [Filner’s] case, I think he was abusing his power, and I find it disgusting that he would hit on sexual assault victims in the military or veterans, I should say,” Speier said.

You’ve served as part of the California delegation to the House and as a member of the Democratic caucus there since since 2008. Filner was in the House from 1993-2012, also as a member of the Democratic caucus. So you overlapped for four years. It’s been widely reported that Bob Filner was harassing women during his time in the House. Indeed, that’s where he got the nickname “Filthy,” as well as a few others. The former head of the California Democratic Party flew to Washington to speak to Bob about his “issue.” There’s no way this stayed secret from the caucus leadership and, given the number of women complaining about Filner’s behavior in the House, it’s difficult to believe you didn’t know.

And so some questions come to mind:

When did you first hear of Bob Filner’s disgusting behavior in the House? Why did you not complain about it then? Why did you not demand his resignation or expulsion? Since you had to have known about it then, why are you only denouncing it now? Are you concerned your caucus leadership was apparently engaged in a cover up of a sexual predator who preyed on veterans? Were you part of that cover up? Will you denounce Nancy Pelosi’s involvement in a cover up and her effective enabling of Bob Filner’s abuse of women?

And, if you truly didn’t know what was going on, if you didn’t notice what so many women were complaining about and you weren’t “read in” by your caucus leadership, are you concerned about what that says about your job performance and place in the caucus and the California delegation?

Will you resign for your failure as a feminist to protect the women of the House?

Kind Regards,

–A California Voter

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

(Video) Hello, I’m from California. Please nuke my state, now.

**Posted by Phineas

"Even the monkey is embarrassed"

“Even the monkey is embarrassed”

A noted 9-11 Truther circulates a petition to help Obama streamline government by eliminating the Bill of Rights… and people sign it!

The Blaze describes the man with the mission:

Well, to put it plainly, he’s … interesting.

A noted 9/11 truther and Illuminati enthusiast, Dice has been featured in documentaries including Invisible Empire, The 9/11 Chronicles, and has been featured on the History Channel’s Decoded, Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, and the Sundance Channel’s Love/Lust: Secret Societies.

So, your garden-variety activist… if it happens to be a garden in Venice  or San Francisco.

As the writer notes, some people will sign anything to get rid of the petition taker, or because they think the idea is so outrageous, it would be funny to sign.  But… eliminate the Bill of Rights? Dude, put down the bong and back away.

It may surprise you, but there are times when my faith in the Golden State is shaken. At least a bit. smiley headbang wall

via birthday boy William Teach

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

New #IRS scandal? Agency sued over stealing 60 million medical records — Updated

**Posted by Phineas

We’re in the best of hands:

The Internal Revenue Service is now facing a class action lawsuit over allegations that it improperly accessed and stole the health records of some 10 million Americans, including medical records of all California state judges.

According to a report by Courthousenews.com, an unnamed HIPAA-covered entity in California is suing the IRS, alleging that some 60 million medical records from 10 million patients were stolen by 15 IRS agents. The personal health information seized on March 11, 2011, included psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual/drug treatment and other medical treatment data.

“This is an action involving the corruption and abuse of power by several Internal Revenue Service agents,” the complaint reads. “No search warrant authorized the seizure of these records; no subpoena authorized the seizure of these records; none of the 10,000,000 Americans were under any kind of known criminal or civil investigation and their medical records had no relevance whatsoever to the IRS search. IT personnel at the scene, a HIPPA facility warning on the building and the IT portion of the searched premises, and the company executives each warned the IRS agents of these privileged records,” it continued.

You know, we may just be a lowly state, and they may be a mighty federal agency, but it would take only a few angry superior court judges to make life miserable for the regional IRS office…

Meanwhile, what are we up to? Five scandals in the last two weeks? Six? Am I bid seven?

via Drew M.

UPDATE: Lawyer Gabriel Malor is “calling BS” on the Healthcare IT News story, describing the suit as “vague” and “lurid.” See his tweets beginning at 3/15/13 at 10:12 AM.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Shock and surprise: Diane Feinstein’s husband’s company lands big high-speed rail contract

**Posted by Phineas

"Train wreck"

“Train wreck”

Because, at nearly $35,000,000 per mile, they surely had to be the cheapest:

Out of the entire universe of those who could have won the first phase construction contract for California’s high speed rail boondoggle, who would stand out as the last person who would win it if there were no political patronage.

Put another way, who is the most likely person to win it if there is political patronage?

Both questions have the same answer: Richard Blum, the husband of California senator Diane Feinstein.

So, who won the contract? Blum, of course, as the principle owner of Tutor Perini, the lead firm in the three-firm consortium selected by the California High Speed Rail Authority.

Yes, Diane, it really does look that bad to us little people.

The group lead by Tutor Perini bid $985,000,000 to build the initial 29-mile stretch, roughly from Fresno to Madera, which doesn’t include the costs for electrification and land purchase. And, as Laer points out at Crazifornia, they started with this section because it’s the cheapest. (I can’t wait to see what the bids are to lay track through the mountain passes…)

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the principle owner of the company is husband to a powerful United States senator, who happens to be from the state building said rail system. I mean, it’s not as if there have been any allegations of self-dealing before.

I’m about as shocked as Louis was in Casablanca:

via Katy Grimes

UPDATE 01/30/2014: It appears Blum divested himself of Tutor-Perini stock in 2005, calling into question much of the Crazifornia article. The rail deal still stinks like a fish left out in the sun, however.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Quote of the Day: Doing business in Texas vs. California edition

**Posted by Phineas

An observation on why Texas might have more appeal to business owners, from John Harrington, owner of Shield Tactical, who recently relocated his company from Orange County, California, to Austin:

In Texas, he said, “it’s an iota of bureaucracy.” In California, “it’s like before you put up your range you have to be worried about whether the noise level is going to bother the 10-headed duckmouse.”

That made me laugh, but it’s also so very true. One company found the regulatory environment here so burdensome, it wrote California a “Dear John” letter.

Oh, and if you think “duckmouse” was a joke, consider that Sacramento would rather let Central Valley farms die of thirst than fight the EPA over a two-inch bait fish.

BTW, the first linked article is a good one on how Texas is working to encourage firearms manufacturers to move to Texas from states that are imposing more and more restrictions. Smart man, that Governor Perry.

via Moe Lane and Rick Wilson

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

You’re welcome, America: California’s high-speed rail will need a federal bailout

**Posted by Phineas

"Train wreck"

“Train wreck”

I just knew it would come to this:

When California finishes tapping out the taxpayers in its state to pay for its nonsensical high speed rail, it will ask the taxpayers of other states to chip in, according to a new Government Accountability Office report requested by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). The GAO report found that the federal government will have to give California an astonishing $38.7 billion in order for the state to complete the idiotic project, footing more than half of the total cost.

Not that California will ever see much, if any, of that money; with Republicans controlling the House and the public increasingly concerned over ludicrous levels of federal spending (and borrowing), there’s going to be heavy pressure not to give Sacramento a dime.

And I call that a good thing.

My fellow Californians passed Prop 1A in a fit of bong-born enthusiasm in 2008, but, since then, public opinion has soured to the point that a majority would just cancel it, largely due to skyrocketing costs. Here are five good reasons this boondoggle should be tossed in dumpster, including the fact that rider numbers –and thus the ticket sales needed to pay off the debt we’re incurring– will never match projections.

(Which is surprising. You’d think millions would flock to ride that opening stretch from Bakersfield to Madera.)

Thankfully, Representative McCarthy and his Republican colleagues are working to block any federal aid to this folly. It’s sad when a federal representative has to work against his state government, but, in this case, call it “tough love.” If Governor Brown and the dreamland progressives in the legislature can’t see the need to kill this lunatic project, someone will have to do it for them. Sadly, my guess is this will only happen after we’ve taken on tons more debt pursuing it.

Why is the left so obsessed with fixed rail? Or does “progressive” really mean “the future as seen from the 1930s?”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

This is why California can’t have nice things: taxing email

**Posted by Phineas

"Shakedown"

“Shakedown”

Not yet, but a Berkeley (natch) city councilor thinks it’s a grand idea:

Gordon Wozniak, a Berkeley city councilman, proposed taxing email messages during a recent city council meeting in an effort to reduce the spread of “spam,” or unwanted emails.

Wozniak also said an email tax could raise money to keep the U.S. Postal Service functioning.

“There should be something like a bit tax … [it] could be a cent per gigabit and they would make, probably, billions of dollars a year,” he said.

First question for Mr. Wozniak: are you taxing the senders or the recipients? If the former, how do you plan to get Nigerian scammers and Chinese porn spammers to comply? If the latter, then how…. Wait, I know: “It’s for the good of the community.”

Can you imagine how fast businesses would leave California if email messages (or data transfer) were to be taxed? Hint: hard to believe, but even faster than they are, now. And what about people who rely on email for their small or micro-businesses, or their hobbies? The Internet has been a fabulous engine for wealth creation, so naturally progressive Luddites want to kill it through taxation.

And what is it with the leftist obsession with preserving dying institutions? The Postal Service is collapsing, in large part due to the efficiency and convenience of email. It can’t compete, so let it go and let other, better services take its place. Just like their obsession with railroads, “progressives” boldly look to the past, when the future is staring them in the face. And because the future frightens them, their reaction is to tax it to prevent it.

Meanwhile, a suggestion to Councilman Wozniak: If spam email so annoys you, stop whining and get a service or software with a good spam filter.

And keep your grasping paws off my wallet.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)