Morning Action: Stephen Moore Cites Heritage Action as One Reason He Joined Heritage

STEPHEN MOORE.  The Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore is joining the Heritage Foundation as Chief Economist.  Moore says Heritage Action is one of the reasons he wanted to join the Heritage Foundation:

Heritage Action for America is another change — a sister organization that was created in 2010 to advance conservative policy ideas in Congress. Last year, Moore was critical of the tactics to defund Obamacare — a campaign spearheaded by Heritage Action — but he said the activist group is clearly a valuable addition.

“One of the reasons I wanted to come here is because of the presence of Heritage Action, which can help put these policies over the goal line,” he said.

MAKE DC LISTEN.  Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham explains conservatives are coming up with innovative ideas to reform and improve the Republican party:

The question is whether the Republican Party can break its cozy relationship with Washington’s Ruling Class of lobbyists, consultants and defenders of the status quo enough to embrace these bold policies, differentiate itself from the Democrat Party of Big Government, and appeal to the vast majority of Americans who have thrown up their hands in disgust.

There’s room for those of us in the reform conservative camp to debate what good conservative reform looks like. We all agree it centers around reinvigorating society’s core institutions – the family, community, and the private sphere. How active government can and should be in reinvigorating those institutions is an important debate.

What’s less debatable is that reform conservatives of all stripes should be on the same side of the question of whether and how to reform the Republican Party. Today’s Republican Party is too often not the party of Lincoln and Reagan but instead of consultants, lobbyists and rent-seekers. That’s why so many Americans – from the heartland all the way to Ross Douthat’s keyboard – feel shut out from having any interesting debates on the right.

OBAMA.  President Obama’s job approval average dropped in 2013:

President Obama’s average job approval rating dropped more than 2 percentage points last year, according to Gallup.

In 2013—his fifth year in office—Obama averaged a 45.8-percent rating, which is more than two percentage points lower than the one recorded a year earlier. 

His rating from last year is still higher than the 44.4-percent average he received for 2011, Gallup indicates.

OBAMACARE.   National Review Online has confirmed at least on convicted felon is working as an Obamacare navigator:

Late last year, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress it was “possible” convicted felons could be working as navigators, prompting concerns about privacy and identity theft. (When navigators help sign people up for health coverage under Obamacare, they have access to confidential information including Social Security numbers, financial information, and health records.)

Open records obtained from Connecticut show that one navigator for that state’s exchange was allowed to work despite a Class B Felony conviction (Connecticut’s Class B Felonies are punishable by 1 to 20 years in prison).

ADVERSE SELECTION.   The Wall Street Journal explains (sub. req’d) the Department of Health and Human Services is already rewriting rules to deal with adverse selection in the insurance market under Obamacare:

Insurance policies plunge into a “death spiral” when premiums don’t cover the cost of claims, causing rates to surge year over year and more and more beneficiaries to drop coverage. This “adverse selection” already appears to be underway in eight states including Maryland, Washington, Ohio, Texas and Indiana.

Humana disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission regulatory filing that the insurer expects its ObamaCare risk pool to be “more adverse than previously expected.” Expect managed-care organizations to start making writedowns on their ObamaCare business.

Yet liberals now claim that selection doesn’t matter because the law includes three temporary financial backstops that are meant to mitigate insurance losses. These so-called risk corridor, readjustment and reinsurance programs pay compensation if costs are higher than expected. The risk corridors punish insurers if they do too well in order to offset the losses of the poorer performers. Under the reinsurance program the feds pick up 80% of claims between $45,000 and $250,000, financed by a $20 billion tax on health plans.

The problem is that these backstops were intended to deal with relatively minor adverse selection problems. But if the problems affect too many health plans in too many states, these cross-subsidies may not be adequate. That possibility helps to explain why HHS is already unilaterally rewriting the rules.

The reinsurance was supposed to kick in at medical claims of $60,000, not $45,000, but HHS simply bumped the number down in a regulation last November. In a letter the same month HHS wrote that “we intend to explore ways to modify the risk corridor program final rules to provide additional assistance,” details to follow.

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