Preferring to look ignorant rather than irresponsible, President Obama said last week that he only recently learned of scandals at the Department of Veteran Affairs through news reports. He spoke of the problems at the department as if they had blindsided him, despite the fact that as a candidate in 2008 he railed against the “the broken bureaucracy of the V.A.” and decried outrageous delays in treatment for veterans.
He didn’t need news reports to inform him of the depth of the department’s flaws; he could have reviewed his own campaign speeches. His long familiarity with the department’s problems gave his press conference last week an air of adding insult to injury. Somehow he was at once aware of the department’s deplorable condition and unaware of it.
Obama doesn’t mind appearing as the hapless spectator on the sidelines of his government if that saves him from the charge of dereliction of duty about a known problem. Yet the plight of veterans at the hands of indifferent bureaucrats clearly lost its urgency for him once the 2008 campaign ended and only now resumes urgency for him as an annoying political problem.
He said last week that he won’t “tolerate” mistreatment of veterans but he managed to tolerate it easily enough since he gave those speeches over five years ago. His aides claim he is “madder than hell” about the scandal, but at last week’s press conference he implied that his anger was provisional. He is still not sure if the “allegations” of mistreatment are true and needs to wait for more investigations in order to determine whether or not “accountability” is required.
Learning about problems in his own government through random news reports has become one of Obama’s common refrains. Last year he said that he learned of the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups through glancing at the newspaper and he made a similar claim about his knowledge of various Justice Department scandals. Historians, looking for a simple snapshot of his administration’s fecklessness, can cite the frequency of Obama’s admission.
Obama also learns of non-events through news reports, as evident in his administration’s reliance upon fragments of reporting from the foreign press to claim that the Benghazi terrorist attack was a demonstration over an Internet video that turned violent. Former Obama administration spokesman Tommy Vietor commented to Fox News, “What I’ve seen is, in a number of outlets, reporters talked to people on the scene that night… who said they were there because they were upset about this video.” Vietor suggested that “guys quoted in newspapers saying that’s why they were there” was the reason for the bogus storyline.
All of this contributes to a picture of an administration that is hopelessly superficial, dishonest, and incompetent. It also exposes Obama’s ideology as false: the federal government is clearly too big to know and too dysfunctional to control if he can only keep up to date on its failures through news accounts.
Today it was Howard Dean (filmed a week ago, but seen on YouTube today). He was addressing a Democratic crowd in Colorado, and went off on a tirade against Republicans. Yes, he really did say that Republicans aren’t American. And that they should stay away from the United States, and go to Russia where they belong.
“These new emails show that the day before she broke the news of the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner was talking to a top Obama Justice Department official about whether the DOJ could prosecute the very same organizations that the IRS had already improperly targeted,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The IRS emails show Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is now implicated and conflicted in the IRS scandal. No wonder we had to sue in federal court to get these documents.”
In Denver, 2½ times as many people enrolled in the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program from October through the first quarter of 2014 as those who signed up for private insurance through the state exchange, state figures show.
And in Colorado and nationwide, Medicaid enrollments outpace private insurance registrants.
Colorado ranked 11th in the nation of states with the highest percentage of Medicaid enrollments compared with private insurance subscribers through marketplaces as of the end of February, a Denver Post analysis of federal numbers shows.
State Sen. Kent Lambert, a Colorado Springs Republican who serves on the Joint Budget Committee, said the Medicaid figures show that the Affordable Care Act was more about expanding government-funded health care than getting more people covered by private health insurance.
"It's a huge burden on taxpayers," Lambert said. "Colorado made a decision, the governor made a decision under Democratic leadership to expand the criteria for Medicaid to a much larger population, and the federal government also expanded Medicaid."
So we forced lots of folks onto a taxpayer-funded program, that is already overburdened. Obviously that means taxes will have to go up, to meet the new demands.
Nice program, Mr. President.
Even those that were willing to pay for their own coverage, were surprised to learn they get it for free:
Denver resident Patrick Jones tried to sign up for private health insurance through the state exchange after quitting his job to return to get more work training, but he said he was directed to Medicaid.
"I was shocked," said the 27-year-old who left an Internet marketing job to learn programming through an online course. "I was ready to pay for insurance, and I was shocked when I was told you are going to receive Medicaid."
But Jones is happy because he gets insurance coverage with no monthly premium at least until he starts a new job and gets employer coverage or makes too much to qualify for Medicaid.
The fourth Georgia hospital in two years is closing its doors due to severe financial difficulties caused by Obamacare’s payment cuts for emergency services.
The Lower Oconee Community Hospital is, for now, a critical access hospital in southeastern Georgia that holds 25 beds. The hospital is suffering from serious cash-flow problems, largely due to the area’s 23 percent uninsured population, and hopes to reopen as “some kind of urgent care center,” CEO Karen O’Neal said.
Many hospitals in the 25 states that rejected the Medicaid expansion are facing similar financial problems. Liberal administration ally Think Progress has already faulted Georgia for not expanding Medicaid as Obamacare envisioned.
I attended a conference this week, and learned that many of the hospitals my Company works with have discovered that it works out favorably for them to pay the premium for an uninsured person's Obamacare, than to simply treat the patient as uninsured.
In the old days, an uninsured person would come in to the ER, get treatment, and leave. The hospital would them hope for cash from the Feds to help offset the loss. Today, they now pay for that uninsured person when they check in, and then bill the insurance carrier for the services provided. We aren't really bending the cost curve that that point, only taking the money from a differnt pocket in the same pants.
Hundreds of indigent HIV/AIDS patients are dependent on Ryan White payments for Obamacare because they fall into a gap. They are not eligible for Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor, because Louisiana did not expand the low-income program, and Obamacare federal subsidies don't kick in until people are at 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
Before Obamacare, the 1990 Ryan White Act offered people with HIV/AIDS federal financial help in paying for AIDS drugs and health insurance premiums, especially in state-run, high-risk pools.
Obamacare, which bans insurers from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions, was designed to replace these high-risk pools.
Starting on October 1, AIDS advocates and others in Louisiana "were enrolling anyone and everyone we could" through the Obamacare exchange, said Lucy Cordts of the New Orleans NO/AIDS Task Force.
Last month, her clients and those of other AIDS groups began to hear from Louisiana Blue that their enrollments were in limbo because the company would not accept the Ryan White checks for premium payments.
The only other carrier that is refusing to accept such payments is Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, according to a CMS official.
North Dakota Blue "restricts premium payment from third parties including employers, providers, and state agencies," said spokeswoman Andrea Dinneen, but "is currently reviewing its eligibility policies with respect to recipients of Ryan White Program funding."
Smells like discrimination by the Obama Administration, doesn't it?
Healthcare advocates are worried that the refusal to accept Ryan White payments is an effort by insurers to keep AIDS patients from enrolling in their plans and last month began pressing the issue, including with the office of Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu.
In an email reviewed by Reuters, a healthcare expert on Landrieu's staff wrote, "BCBS LA told me their decision was not due to the CMS guidance or any confusion (as we thought before) but was in fact due to adverse selection concerns. I have also recently learned North Dakota's BCBS plan has implemented the same policy."
Jessica Stone, the Landrieu staff member, declined to elaborate on the email further or to discuss her interactions with Louisiana Blue.
Adverse selection refers to the situation where an insurer attracts patients with chronic conditions and expensive care. Louisiana Blue's action "sure looks to us like discrimination against sick people," said John Peller, vice president for policy at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.
Hard to believe that legislation that no one read, and was jammed through the system, would have so many surprises, isn't it?
The Obama administration announced Monday it would give medium-sized employers an extra year, until 2016, before they must offer health insurance to their full-time workers.
Firms with at least 100 employees will have to start offering this coverage in 2015.
By offering an unexpected grace period to businesses with between 50 and 99 employees, administration officials are hoping to defuse another potential controversy involving the 2010 health-care law, which has become central to Republicans’ campaign to make political gains in this year’s midterm election.
Even the nation’s largest employers got a significant concession: They can avoid a fine by offering coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent starting in 2016. Under an earlier proposal, employers with at least 50 employees would have been required to offer insurance, beginning 2015, to 95 percent of those who work 30 hours or more a week, along with their dependents.
The regulation finalized by the Treasury Department involves one of the biggest issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act: how the law’s employer mandate plays out in practice. The mandate has enormous ramifications for how businesses classify their employees and how much these men and women work.
Initially, these requirements — which affect firms employing 72 percent of all Americans — were supposed to take effect this year, at the same time that most individuals faced a new obligation to obtain health insurance or risk a tax penalty. Last July, the administration announced it would delay the regulation for a year after many employers and some unions complained about the law’s reporting requirements and classification system for workers.
A senior administration official, who briefed reporters on the proposal on the condition of anonymity because the rule was not yet public, said the Treasury Department decided to allow medium-sized businesses more flexibility because they “need a little more time to adjust to providing coverage.”
Businesses that fail to offer coverage face a fine of up to $2,000 for each employee that is not covered, though workers are not required to sign up for the benefits.
Laws are for the little people.
When will someone on the Hill have the guts to challenge this fraud in the White House?