The (Obamacare) Fix Is In

The (Obamacare) Fix Is In
November 18, 2013

Ross Kaminsky

Ross Kaminsky received his Bachelor's degree from Columbia University in 1987 before embarking on... (read full bio)

President Obama’s Thursday press conference about a proposed “administrative fix” to the disaster that is Obamacare had the feeling of the last air leaking out of the “hope and change” party balloon.

Giving typically rambling and somnolent answers to simple questions, President Obama dodged and stink-faced while offering the occasional “it’s on me” — by which he meant “Please accept my half-hearted apology so that I can get back to blaming straw men and misleading voters.”

The president’s remarks highlight his disconnection with reality and his perception of Obamacare’s failure as primarily a political risk for himself rather than a policy disaster for millions.

After spending a few minutes talking about a new White House web page about helping victims of Typhoon Haiyan (a simple page which represents the limit of what the administration should attempt in web design), the president offered a litany of data points whose only real purpose must have been to make him feel better.

What ordinary American cares about “1 million Americans who successful made it through the website and now qualify to buy insurance but haven’t picked a plan yet”? Who gives a rat’s posterior that “more than a hundred thousand Americans successfully enrolled in new insurance plans” when fifty times as many have lost coverage they liked and could afford?

Obama made clear how little he understands the average American — and how in tune he is with rent-seekers, poverty pimps, union thugs, and special interests — with this assessment of the nation he has so little true connection with: “People look at what’s taking place in Washington and say ‘not enough is being done that helps me in my life.’” Perhaps the president should see a psychologist for his projection issues.

Obama continued whinging: “We always knew that (the operation of the exchanges) would be complicated.” The president used the word “complicated” six times during his remarks, leading one to believe that Michelle is in charge of buying insurance for the Obama family.

The federal government is not good at procuring or developing IT, Obama told us. And in case you forgot, “We’re also discovering that insurance is complicated to buy.”

So why, exactly, did he think it would be a good idea for the federal government to take control of the health insurance industry and force Americans into a website whose development was managed by unqualified Medicare and Medicaid bureaucrats? (Answer: Because his will conquers all. Just ask the planet and the oceans.)

 
Meanwhile, the number one company on the InformationWeek 500 list of companies making the best use of information technology, UPMC, is “one of the country’s largest integrated healthcare companies.” Online auto insurance company Esurance and life insurance company CUNA Mutual also made the top 30. In short, insurance is too complicated for the federal government and much too complicated for Barack Obama, but the private sector can handle it just fine when left alone to do so. Everyone sees this but the president.

The ostensible purpose of Thursday’s press conference was for Obama to announce a proposed “fix,” namely a doomed-to-fail CYA measure that would allow state insurance commissioners to allow insurance companies to continue, for one year, plans which would otherwise be prohibited by Obamacare.

In typical petty dictator style, the administration would also require insurers “to inform their customers about…what protections these renewed plans don’t include” and to suggest to people that they shop on the federal exchange. Imagine the federal government requiring McDonald’s to tell its customers they may want to consider Burger King.

The real purpose, however, was laid bare when Obama said, “the key point is that it allows us to be able to say to the folks who received (cancelation) notices, ‘I, the president of the United States and the insurance model of the Affordable Care Act is [sic] not going to be getting in the way of you shopping in the individual market that you used to have.’”

In other words, the Obama fix is aimed primarily at shifting blame from government to the insurance companies — as has always been this administration’s strategy. Indeed, one of the notable aspects of the Obamacare melodrama is that the American public, no big fans of health insurers to begin with, are not being fooled by Obama’s misdirection.

The Obama fix can’t and won’t work — not that it was actually designed to, since a true fix would gut the mandatory nature of Obamacare required for its massive income redistribution to succeed.

Some states’ insurance regulators say they will try to comply with the administration’s wishes to allow a one-year extension for policy-holders who have already received cancelation notices, but other states say they will not — including states run by Democrats. So far, the majority seem to just be confused.

Because the administration’s goal with their “fix” is to be able to blame insurance companies for Obamacare-caused turmoil, it’s not surprising that the chief executive of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said that his group had not been asked for input on, nor warned about, the president’s proposal; they learned about it Thursday when the rest of the nation did. Now they know how President Obama feels, learning everything important from TV.

But since insurance is indeed complicated, Obama’s fix will have little or no impact: most insurance companies will not accept the extra cost of keeping people on plans that are already in the process of being canceled, particularly since those plans have only been given an extra year to live.

Additionally, the fix is, as Andy McCarthy put it, “insouciantly lawless.” The job of the president is to faithfully execute laws passed by Congress, not modify them on an ad hoc basis to save his own political skin.

The Obama proposal is almost worse than that: it does not actually change the law, but rather is a wink and a nod to insurance companies that if they break the law, they will not be prosecuted. Beyond the shameless despotism of such an approach, what corporate counsel would allow his organization to take such a risk? Who would rely on an unstable administration with a reputation for mafia-like efforts to punish its enemies — among whom health insurers definitely should consider themselves.

The fix is indeed in, but not the way Obama wants you to believe. His promise that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period” remains utterly and completely broken.

While no Republican will go to court to challenge this particular bit of presidential malfeasance, American voters (other than stubborn Democrats who still mindlessly give President Obama high approval ratings) are seeing ever more clearly that our president is better suited for political office in Venezuela than in the United States.

Indeed, what is the real difference between the mindset behind Obamacare and that of Hugo Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver — as qualified to run a country as a community organizer might be — confiscating the inventory of a chain of electronics stores as part of his “economic war,” and promising everybody a plasma television? No, I’m not making this up.

President Obama’s press conference and temporary Band-Aid on the gaping wound that is the Affordable Care Act mark the low point of this administration…so far.

The media (other than the New York Times) has turned on him. The public sees through him. In what the president’s cheerleaders at NBC called a “mild rebuke to Obama,” 39 House Democrats voted on Friday for legislation to allow a similar fix, though the measure will not see the light of day in the Senate (which is a good thing for a several reasons.)

The administration is in a hole too deep to climb out of, but they are petrified — not least by Bill “Much better than Barack” Clinton’s criticism — of appearing to do nothing, so they just keep digging. At this point, it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

Ross Kaminsky

Ross Kaminsky received his Bachelor's degree from Columbia University in 1987 before embarking on... (read full bio)