The Affordable Care Act’s (Obamacare’s) Independent Payment Advisory Board has been heavily criticized for being an unaccountable body with the power to effectively ration Medicare services and many congressional Democrats no longer support it. IPAB’s partner—the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation—should also be abandoned.
According to a report on The Daily Caller.com, tax preparation firms in California are receiving fees from an ACA exchange to enroll individuals in Obamacare. This brings the total of such service providers in the Golden State to approximately 79. It includes branch offices of major companies like Liberty and Jackson Hewitt. The fee breakdown for Certified Enrollment Entities includes a flat fee of $58 per successful application and a $25 fee per successful annual renewal. In California, apart from tax preparers, such entities can also include: non-profit community organizations, labor organizations, as well as community clinics. Enrollment Entities also compensate individual enrollment counselors.
Jackson Hewitt is conducting a national survey targeting newer clients, asking them for feedback regarding the levels of service they received. Respondents are told, “For fully completing the survey you will be entered into a drawing to win one of 10 cash prizes worth $50 each!”
According to Richard Noyes, Research Director at Media Research Center, both ABC and CBS reserved a few seconds on two different broadcasts to bolster President Obama’s claims of success for launching the Affordable Care Act. David Muir of ABC news, in for Diane Sawyer, touted a “major milestone” – the government-released figure of 8 million enrollees for Obamacare.
The CBS Evening News with anchor Scott Pelley, said the enrollment figures are a “recent success” for the new healthcare law. Also, according to the MRC report, gone was the scrutiny that some reporters, like ABC’s Jon Karl, had previously shown sometime during the last weeks of March, 2014, when Karl asked, “How many of those have signed up were previously uninsured”. . . ”We don’t know how many people signed up here were simply – had their previous plans cancelled. Also, we don’t know how many have actually paid their premiums.”
MRC argues such lingering questions remain crucial to weighing newer claims with regard to the 8 million enrollees. MRC further asserts that neither ABC nor CBS refreshed collective viewer memories of the likely problems with accepting the administration’s figures at face value.
There is trouble ahead for President Obama’s nominee to replace departed HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed Sylvia Mathews Burwell is “probably going to be confirmed and probably going to have the worst experience of her adult life.”
McConnell added, “I think she’s a pretty capable person”. . . “The issue here to me is not the personnel. It’s the bill.”
Wynton Hall, in Breitbart.com, tells the story of Margaret Figueroa of New York, who frequently vomits and has lost 22 pounds. She suffers from chronic pain at intolerable levels. Medications assist her in coping. However, her healthcare plan denies the medications. The 49-year-old Staten Island woman has faced the harsh and stark realities of no doctor accepting her Obamacare plan.
Figueroa has Arnold Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia and only six doctors on Staten Island accept her health plan, yet she can’t secure an appointment with any of them. It took Figueroa’s Congressman, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), to intervene in assisting her in getting some of the prescription drugs she so desperately needs.
Figueroa is not the only one enduring ACA-related struggles. Others going through similar difficulties are part of narrow network stories. For example, narrow healthcare networks have also shut out afflicted cancer sufferers at top cancer centers nationwide. Some Obamacare customers attempt to use their ACA insurance plan and find their prescriptions are denied.
A corresponding narrative is that the new healthcare law is still currently unpopular across the U.S. A recent USA Today/Pew Research survey finds only 37% of Americans now support it.
CNN’s Money.com profiled citizens of Hidalgo County, Texas and their struggle to get healthcare coverage. Obamacare has long been touted as a rescue-all for those without health insurance. Hidalgo County residents interviewed prove you can still be too poor for it, even under auspices of the ACA. Some without coverage are forced to go to non-profit clinics for medical help which offer, at best, limited care. Other low-income earners travel 20 minutes away for their care in neighboring Mexico.
Besides not being unable to afford Obamacare, many of its provisions remain confusingly nebulous. Seeking insurance costing as low as $70 to $100 per month proves generally to not be an option and does not provide comprehensive coverage. Coverage of that sort would likely run approximately $227 per month.
Democratic, Massachussetts’ Congressman Stephen Lynch, cautions fellow Democrats are in real political trouble, so much so, they could lose both House and Senate seats in the upcoming mid-terms. It’s a scenario made possible thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Mediaite.com, the blog run by ABC legal analyst, Dan Abrams, reports Lynch told Boston Herald Radio: “Obamacare – well, you know – is about to hit the fan.”
“There are parts of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, that were postponed because they are unpalatable,” Lynch said. “As these provisions come into effect, the administration thus far is saying: ‘Gee, we really can’t handle this right now, so we’re going to delay it.’”
Lynch also added, “That is a huge tax. It’s the first time in this country’s history that we have actually taxed health care. We used to treat it like food that people would die without it. Well, we’re in a new day now.”
Some respected pollsters have urged Democrats to not defend Obamacare. These include Celinda Lake who strongly suggested to Democrats in March, after releasing her own in-depth survey for George Washington University, “Say it was flawed from the beginning, and we’re going to fix it.”
The Hill.com contends there is a strong likelihood of this strategy backfiring, it could be viewed “as an implicit rebuke of the 111th Congress, the Democratic Party’s leadership in the legislature, and President Barack Obama.” North Carolina-based political consultant Thomas Mills, of the firm Bates and Mills, sees things differently. “Democrats need to start making the case for Obamacare”. . . “They all voted for it, they own it, so they can’t get away from it. So they’d better start defending it.”
Those who figure may find figures don’t lie. The debate (at least on media outlets’ and think tanks’ web pages) continues about real Obamacare enrollment numbers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the RAND Corporation released one such study, entitled, “Changes in Health Insurance Enrollment Since 2013.” The Wall Street Journal on April 9, describes Obamacare cheerleaders such as Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, who said, “At least 9.3 million more Americans have health insurance now than in September, 2013, virtually all of them as a result of the law.”
The Journal claims the term “at least” is misleading. The actual findings by RAND: the number of uninsured Americans has declined by between 5.8 million and 12.8 million with only a 1 in 20 chance that the actual number is outside this range. Also according to RAND’s estimates, only 3.9 million have insurance through Obamacare exchanges. This is purportedly 3.2 million fewer than the 7.1 million “sign-ups” the Obama Administration took credit for last week.
The 3.2 million gap may be explained by the timing of RAND’s survey. Data was collected through March 28, says RAND, but the majority of participants, “responded earlier in the month, and some may have made new insurance choices since participating in our survey.”
A surprise is the biggest growth category was Employer-Sponsored Insurance (ESI).
The U.S. House rejected a bipartisan piece of legislation, one altering how expatriates and their insurance carriers adhere to ACA rules. This amid strong opposition from long-serving Democrats – who claim it establishes loopholes in Obamacare. Specifically, the Bill, H.R. 4414, failed to pass by 257-159. If passed, it would have eased rules for insurance companies who cover those who work outside of the United States, or alternately, foreigners who live in the U.S.
Included in the groups opposing the bill are both immigration and labor organizations, such as the AFL-CIO and the SEIU. Such opposition stemmed from concerns that companies would be encouraged to hire foreign workers, not Americans, simply because of the fact those businesses would not have to offer comprehensive health coverage.
Obamacare is increasingly becoming an episodic tale of websites, enrollments, and surveys. Yet another is poll is out. An April 11 article in Gannett’s USA Today by Robert Farley’s FactCheck.org, claims that premiums are up by 90 percent. Morgan Stanley, surveyed 148 insurance brokers. The purpose of this latest survey was to help in guiding investor decisions about stock purchases. Morgan said survey respondents: “[P]oint to significant acceleration in small group and individual market rate increases.” He also added, “We expect the increases are largely due to changes under the ACA.”
Robert Santos, “chief methodologist” at the Urban Institute and president of the executive council at the American Association of Public Opinion Research, was dismissive of the Morgan Stanley study, describing it as, “typical financial marketing material where they pull together some data and create insights.” Santos added that absent any details regarding methodology employed or margin(s) of error – the study does not have ‘scientific validity.’”
“Anyone would be on very tenuous ground in trying to make a state-specific inference,” Santos concluded.