Morning Action: The Ever Growing List of Problems with Obamacare
SECURITY RISK. The Heritage Foundation wrote an exclusive story on Justin Hadley, a North Carolina man who logged onto HealthCare.gov to attempt to purchase a new health insurance plan, but was surprised to find the eligibility information of individuals in a different state:
“I was in complete shock,” said Hadley, who contacted Heritage after becoming alarmed at the breach of privacy.
Hadley, a North Carolina father, buys his insurance on the individual market. His insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, directed him to HealthCare.gov in a cancellation letter he received in September.
After multiple attempts to access the problem-plagued website, Hadley finally made it past the registration page Thursday. That’s when he was greeted with downloadable letters about eligibility — for two people in South Carolina.
DEMOCRAT SEATS. Vulnerable red state Democrats are expressing concerns about how Obamacare will affect them in the upcoming election:
Democrats are clearly anxious to see the issue resolved because their most at-risk senators in 2014 voted for the measure on Christmas Eve 2009. Those Democrats — Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina — all have defended the law in the face of GOP attacks. But their frustration with the White House is showing, whether it’s Pryor and Hagan backing an extension of Obamacare’s enrollment period, Landrieu proposing legislation to ensure insurance policyholders won’t lose their existing coverage or Begich voicing his fury with the White House.
PREMIUMS RISING. Yet another new study indicates that premiums will rise on most states under Obamacare:
One of the fundamental flaws of the Affordable Care Act is that, despite its name, it makes health insurance more expensive. Today, the Manhattan Institute released the most comprehensive analysis yet conducted of premiums under Obamacare for people who shop for coverage on their own. Here’s what we learned. In the average state, Obamacare will increase underlying premiums by 41 percent. As we have long expected, the steepest hikes will be imposed on the healthy, the young, and the male. And Obamacare’s taxpayer-funded subsidies will primarily benefit those nearing retirement—people who, unlike the young, have had their whole lives to save for their health-care needs.
FALSE PROMISE. President Obama’s former press secretary, Robert Gibbs, conceded that it was “certainly” wrong for the president to continuously promise that people could keep their health care plans under Obamacare:
“But do you agree it was a wrong move?”
“Oh, well, certainly,” said Gibbs. “I mean, I don’t think anybody dealing with this today finds what was said. Now, I do think some explanation in terms of the fact that policies that were in place at the point at which the president signed them were grandfathered in for this.”
APPLICATION PROBLEMS. According to an internal administration memo, phone and paper applications are just as problematic as applying online:
Using those other outlets is not the “quick and easy fix that the White House suggested it would be,” ABC White House correspondent Jonathan Karl said.
Applications over the phone have the same problems as the website, because they use the same computer system. The same portal is used to determine eligibility no matter now an application for health coverage is submitted, according to one memo written by the team charged with fixing the website.
That memo describes filling out the paper application as a way to “buy time,” Karl said. It goes on to read, “The paper applications allow people to feel like they are moving forward … At the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue.”
SMALL BUSINESS. Conservatives have long warned of the negative impact Obamacare will have on small business and business owners, and now thousands of small businesses around the country and racing to renew their policies before December 1 to avoid the large premium increases they’ll be hit with January 1 when Obamacare takes full effect:
Some health insurance brokers also say 2014 may be the last year many of the companies even offer health insurance.
Insurance brokers from several states told USA TODAY that 60% to 80% of their small-business clients — those with 50 employees or fewer — are renewing their policies early to skirt the law. Companies with more than 50 employees aren’t allowed to adjust their renewal dates.
Many companies are still waiting to hear what rates they’ll be facing in 2014, as state insurance commissioners are backlogged with tasks related to ACA compliance.
The National Federation of Independent Business estimates 42% of the at least 7 million small businesses with 50 or fewer employees offer health insurance. On Friday, the group released a survey in which 64% of 921 small-business owners and operators reported they pay more for insurance premiums per employee in 2013 than they did in 2012.
IMMIGRATION. National Review points out that a discussion of how the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill would affect entitlement spending is rarely had, even among Republicans:
Republicans who are skeptical of the push for comprehensive immigration reform have been critical of their own party’s apparent unwillingness to draw attention to the alleged abuses by using the full weight of their congressional oversight authority. Investigating the Obama administration’s failure to enforce a law designed to strengthen the welfare system might seem like a natural choice for the GOP, but some critics think the party establishment is reluctant to engage the issue for fear of jeopardizing the passage of immigration reform, which is supported by powerful interest groups, including a large swath of the Republican donor base.
Generally speaking, the fact that the Gang of Eight bill calls for a substantial increase in the number of low-skilled immigrants — those most likely to become dependent on welfare programs — has been largely absent from the immigration debate, and mostly ignored by media reports, in which the issue is almost exclusively framed as a disagreement over whether or not to give illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship.