Tag: Exchange

North And South Korea Exchange Artillery Fire (Video)

Tensions Rise As North And South Korea Exchange Fire – Reuters

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South Korea fired a barrage of artillery rounds into North Korea on Thursday after the North shelled across the border to protest against anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts by Seoul, moves that raised tensions on the divided peninsula.

Washington urged Pyongyang to halt any “provocative” actions in the wake of the first exchange of fire between the two Koreas since last October. Both sides said there were no casualties or damage in their territory.

North Korea did not return fire but warned Seoul in a letter that it would take military action if the South did not stop the broadcasts along the border within 48 hours, the South’s Defense Ministry said.

In a separate letter, Pyongyang said it was willing to resolve the issue even though it considered the broadcasts a declaration of war, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said.

North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, would put his troops on a “fully armed state of war” starting from 5 p.m. on Friday and had declared a “quasi-state of war” in frontline areas, Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency reported.

Such language is often used by North Korea in times of tension with the South.

A South Korean military official said the broadcasts would continue. Seoul began blasting anti-North Korean propaganda from loudspeakers on the border on Aug. 10, resuming a tactic that both sides had stopped in 2004.

South Korea said the North had fired one anti-aircraft shell followed by multiple shells on Thursday.

South Korea’s military, which said it fired “tens” of artillery rounds in response, raised its alert status to the highest level.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye told defense officials to “react firmly” to North Korean provocations, a spokesman quoted her as saying.

“Our military has stepped up monitoring and is closely watching North Korean military movements,” South Korea’s Defense Ministry said.

‘RECKLESS PROVOCATION’

The North Korean army said the South fired 36 rounds, six of which landed near its guard posts, in a “reckless provocation,” KCNA said.

The United States, which has about 28,500 military personnel in South Korea, said it was concerned and closely monitoring the situation.

“Such provocative actions heighten tensions, and we call on Pyongyang to refrain from actions and rhetoric that threaten regional peace and security,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Katina Adams said.

The Pentagon said it would “take prudent measures” to ensure the well-being of U.S. personnel, but did not elaborate.

The first North Korean shell landed in an area about 60 km (35 miles) north of Seoul in the western part of the border zone, the defense ministry said. Nearly 800 South Korean residents living nearby were ordered to evacuate and stay in shelters, officials said.

North Korea said the South’s military “invented a case of ‘shell fired by the North’,” according to KCNA.

The two Koreas last exchanged fire in October, when North Korean soldiers approached the military border and did not retreat after the South fired warning shots, the South Korean Defense Ministry said at the time. There were no casualties.

Tension between the two Koreas has risen since early this month, when landmine explosions in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) of the border wounded two South Korean soldiers. Seoul accused North Korea of laying the mines, which Pyongyang has denied.

The incident prompted Seoul to stage the propaganda broadcasts.

North Korea on Monday began conducting its own broadcasts.

Thursday’s exchange of fire took place during annual joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises.

The two Koreas have remained in a technical state of war since the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

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House And Senate Claimed Only 45 Employees Each, Then Signed Up 12,359 On Obamacare ‘Small Business’ Exchange

U.S. House And Senate Each Said They Had Only 45 Employees, Then Signed Up 12,359 For Insurance On Obamacare ‘Small-Business’ Exchange – CNS

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Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives certified that they had only 45 employees each in order to sign up for the District of Columbia’s Small Business Exchange. But 12,359 – or 86 percent of the exchange’s enrollees – are members of Congress, congressional staff members, and their spouses and dependents, according to an appeal filed with the D.C. Court of Appeals by Judicial Watch.

The public interest law firm announced Monday that it is appealing the February dismissal of its lawsuit challenging congressional participation in the Obamacare exchange even though the D.C. Exchange Act limits enrollment to small companies with 50 or fewer employees.

“Congress obviously has far more than 50 employees,” Judicial Watch attorney Michael Bekesha pointed out in his opening brief. “It has thousands of employees.”

Congress enrolled in the small business exchange when its previous coverage under the Federal Employee Health Benefits plan was terminated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and congressional employees stood to lose thousands of dollars in “employer contributions” if they enrolled in the District’s individual exchange.

According to documents obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives both certified that they “employ 50 or fewer full time equivalent employees.”

In October 2013, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a final rule that provides an “employer contribution” covering about three-quarters of the premiums of congressional employees enrolled in the small business exchange starting Jan. 1, 2014.

The OPM rule “allowed at least 12,359 congressional employees and their spouses and dependents to obtain health insurance through the Small Business Exchange… These 12,359 participants represent an astonishing 86% of the Small Business Exchange’s total enrollment,” the appeal states.

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit last October on behalf of Kirby Vining, a D.C. resident since 1986, who objected to the expenditure of municipal funds to insure congressional employees in an exchange that was established specifically for small employers in the District.

“Congress authored the law [ACA], and is going to rather questionable lengths to avoid compliance with the law it drafted,” Vining said.

Although the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority conceded that D.C. law limits participation in the exchange to small employers, it argued in court that “the local statute must yield to the extent the federal statute or regulation applies.”

In its motion to dismiss the case, the authority also stated that the exchange “has been funded exclusively by federal grants awarded to the District to establish its Exchange, and more recently, an assessment imposed on health carriers doing business in the District.”

In dismissing the lawsuit, D.C. Superior Court Judge Herbert Dixon ruled that Vining had no standing to challenge the OPM rule because he “has not demonstrated a reasonable inference that municipal taxpayer funds have been appropriated to defendant exchange authority to establish a cognizable injury to maintain standing to bring his underlying complaint.”

However, in a budget report submitted to Congress, the Exchange Authority’s actual budget for Fiscal Year 2013 ($10.9 million) and FY 2014 ($66.1 million) was identified as ” ‘municipal monies’ as originating from the District’s General Fund. No monies are identified as Federal Funds, Private Revenue, or Intra-District Funds,” according to the appeal.

“In Fiscal Year 2015, the Exchange Authority’s budget was reclassified from the General Fund to a newly created fund, separate and distinct from ‘Federal Funds’,” it continued.

Dixon also ruled that the OPM rule preempts the D.C. Exchange Act, noting that “allowing members of Congress and their staff to participate in the District’s small business health options program is authorized by federal regulations.”

But Judicial Watch argues in its appeal that the D.C. law cannot be preempted because it is “completely consistent and entirely compatible” with the federal law and in fact its “sole purpose is to implement various provisions of ACA.”

“In reality, the court ruled that a determination by a federal bureaucrat – in this instance, the director of OPM – trumps the 50-employee limit of the Exchange Act, at least with respect to Congress,” the group’s appeal brief stated. “No lawful regulation – much less a regulation that purports to delegate such authority to an agency head – can do that, and the Court cites no legal authority whatsoever for their astonishing conclusion that it can.”

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said that allowing Congress to enroll in an exchange meant for small businesses is both “unlawful and unethical.”

“It is an abuse of District taxpayers to use D.C. funds to subsidize illegal health insurance for Congress,” Fitton said in a statement. “It is unlawful and unethical for District officials to use local dollars to participate in Congress’s Obamacare fraud.

“The highest court in the District of Columbia must affirm the right of District taxpayers to protect their monies from being misappropriated by corrupt District officials.”

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Leftist Nightmare Update: Hawaii Shutting Down $205 Million Obamacare Exchange (Video)

Hawaii’s $205 Million Obamacare Exchange Shutting Down – TPNN

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Hawaii’s state legislature rejected legislation giving a $28-million cash infusion to its troubled Obamacare insurance exchange, making it impossible for the website to operate after this year.

The exchange will stop taking new enrollees on Friday.

Hawaii’s Connector Exchange released a statement saying:

“Now that it is clear that the state will not provide sufficient support for the Hawaii Health Connector’s operations through fiscal year 2016 (ending June 30, 2016), the Connector can no longer operate in a manner that would cause it to incur additional debts or other obligations for which it is unable to pay.”

“Staff reductions will commence immediately, with the executive director ( Jeff Kissel) exiting once the bulk of operational activities end.” The statement continued saying: “If the state cannot facilitate an orderly transition, the Connector’s operations will abruptly end, as the Connector does not have the resources to continue operations.”

According to Americanthinker, more states, including: Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Oregon – are having massive problems with their Obamacare websites, and are expected to close also. The cost? Almost a Billion dollars more of our money flushed down the drain.

Can any state exchanges continue to exist? With 36 states refusing to open their own exchanges and the Supreme Court ready to deal the death blow to subsidies, the future of the Obamacare exchanges appears uncertain at best.

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Shocker! California’s Obamacare Exchange Plagued By Incompetence, Mismanagement

Incompetence, Mismanagement Plague California’s Obamacare Insurance Exchange – Daily Signal

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California’s health insurance exchange, established under the Affordable Care Act, has been held out as a national model for Obamacare. In some ways – not all of them good – it is. Whether it’s falling far short of 2015 enrollment goals or sending out 100,000 inaccurate tax forms, Covered California is struggling with its share of challenges.

Now, several senior-level officials integral to the launch of Covered California – who enthusiastically support the Affordable Care Act – are speaking about what they view as gross incompetence and mismanagement involving some of the $1 billion federal tax dollars poured into the state effort.

‘Somebody Must Have Been Smoking Something’

Consultant Aiden Hill became a “foxhole convert” to Obamacare in July of 2010 when he lost his insurance, had a serious medical issue and couldn’t get a new policy.

“I lived through a health care nightmare. That’s one reason why I took a cut in my pay rate to work for Covered California.”

In March 2013, Hill was hired as project manager over Covered California’s massive $120 million call center effort. In just six short months, it would face an avalanche of customers seeking insurance mandated under the new law.

But five months on the job converted Hill from avid supporter to disenchanted whistleblower. He says the secretive and dysfunctional culture was more interested in cheerleading than real results. After he persistently raised concerns, Covered California abruptly terminated his contract. He says the experience drove him to raise allegations about waste and cover ups at a Covered California board meeting.

Covered California quietly launched an independent investigation into Hill’s grievances. Nine months later, the results were summarized in four sentences stating that evidence did “not support” Hill’s complaints. Hill calls the probe a sham and says the inquiry didn’t include interviews with many witnesses he suggested.

Today, Hill describes himself as disgusted by the process – and soured on Obamacare.

“I really believe that we’ve created a monster – and it’s an unaccountable monster,” Hill told The Daily Signal.

Covered California declined comment on Hill’s allegations.

Other officials integral to Covered California’s efforts concur with Hill’s assessment. One of them headed the largest call center.

“They started this way too late for what they needed to do,” says the official who was hired in April 2013, five months before the website’s launch. He has since left that position and asked not to be named to protect his current job status.

“This program had to touch 58 counties, 11 federal agencies, all medical carriers and all advocates. To have a system that would be integrated seamlessly – somebody must have been smoking something if they thought that was going to happen.”

Disappointing Enrollment

It’s against that backdrop that Covered California finds itself now grappling with a big disappointment: low enrollment growth. California ranked near the bottom in overall growth, with a scant 1 percent increase over last year.

“It’s a tiny fraction of the growth they were expecting,” says an official who helped implement the Affordable Care Act and examined California’s numbers.

As recently as last fall, the official says, California hoped to increase enrollment by 500,000 this year. But only an additional 7,098 have “selected a plan” for 2015.

“Their total enrollment is a step in the right direction but nowhere near what anyone thought it would be for the largest state in the country.”

Covered California would not answer our questions about enrollment figures.

Another telling statistic is Covered California’s poor retention rate. Even though people are required by law to have health insurance, only 65 percent of Covered California’s 2014 customers reenrolled in 2015. The rest dropped off.

Covered California would not address our questions about lackluster retention and growth.

Last month, the agency issued a press release touting a younger and more diverse mix of customers.

“New enrollment for 2015 coverage is strong and has brought in consumers who our marketing and outreach targeted,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee, overlooking the fact that his organization’s retention of last year’s customers was among the lowest in the country.

Hoping for a bump, California followed the lead of the federal HealthCare.gov effort and repeatedly extended this year’s enrollment deadline. The Feb. 15 cutoff was pushed back to Feb. 20 and then Feb. 22. Now, it’s been extended to the end of this month.

“I lived through a health care nightmare. That’s one reason why I took a cut in my pay rate to work for Covered California.”

In March 2013, Hill was hired as project manager over Covered California’s massive $120 million call center effort. In just six short months, it would face an avalanche of customers seeking insurance mandated under the new law.

But five months on the job converted Hill from avid supporter to disenchanted whistleblower. He says the secretive and dysfunctional culture was more interested in cheerleading than real results. After he persistently raised concerns, Covered California abruptly terminated his contract. He says the experience drove him to raise allegations about waste and cover ups at a Covered California board meeting.

Covered California quietly launched an independent investigation into Hill’s grievances. Nine months later, the results were summarized in four sentences stating that evidence did “not support” Hill’s complaints. Hill calls the probe a sham and says the inquiry didn’t include interviews with many witnesses he suggested.

Today, Hill describes himself as disgusted by the process – and soured on Obamacare.

“I really believe that we’ve created a monster – and it’s an unaccountable monster,” Hill told The Daily Signal.

Covered California declined comment on Hill’s allegations.

Other officials integral to Covered California’s efforts concur with Hill’s assessment. One of them headed the largest call center.

“They started this way too late for what they needed to do,” says the official who was hired in April 2013, five months before the website’s launch. He has since left that position and asked not to be named to protect his current job status.

“This program had to touch 58 counties, 11 federal agencies, all medical carriers and all advocates. To have a system that would be integrated seamlessly – somebody must have been smoking something if they thought that was going to happen.”

Disappointing Enrollment

It’s against that backdrop that Covered California finds itself now grappling with a big disappointment: low enrollment growth. California ranked near the bottom in overall growth, with a scant 1 percent increase over last year.

“It’s a tiny fraction of the growth they were expecting,” says an official who helped implement the Affordable Care Act and examined California’s numbers.

As recently as last fall, the official says, California hoped to increase enrollment by 500,000 this year. But only an additional 7,098 have “selected a plan” for 2015.

“Their total enrollment is a step in the right direction but nowhere near what anyone thought it would be for the largest state in the country.”

Covered California would not answer our questions about enrollment figures.

Another telling statistic is Covered California’s poor retention rate. Even though people are required by law to have health insurance, only 65 percent of Covered California’s 2014 customers reenrolled in 2015. The rest dropped off.

Covered California would not address our questions about lackluster retention and growth.

Last month, the agency issued a press release touting a younger and more diverse mix of customers.

“New enrollment for 2015 coverage is strong and has brought in consumers who our marketing and outreach targeted,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee, overlooking the fact that his organization’s retention of last year’s customers was among the lowest in the country.

Hoping for a bump, California followed the lead of the federal HealthCare.gov effort and repeatedly extended this year’s enrollment deadline. The Feb. 15 cutoff was pushed back to Feb. 20 and then Feb. 22. Now, it’s been extended to the end of this month.

Call Center Chaos

The devastating crash of Covered California’s website and call centers on Oct. 1, 2013 was “the canary in the coalmine, an early warning of deep dysfunction,” according to Hill.

Pre-launch testing had proven disastrous. As with the national HealthCare.gov website, “it was breaking at the first click of the button,” says the former call center manager who worked under Hill. “Behind the scenes, states were worried. I know we were worried.”

Covered California contractors projected 10,000 calls the first day. The call center manager says he knew they were way off. “I and my training manager, who had launched call centers before, projected 20,000. We had 21,000 on day one. Our contractors were wrong.”

The HealthCare.gov website was on a parallel trajectory. It, too, suffered under hasty development and failed performance tests days before launch – all while the Obama administration put on a positive public face.

“Everybody knew it wasn’t going to function,” says a third Covered California official. “Calls start coming in and within the first hour, the entire system went down – phone and web.”

“The train was coming off the rails,” adds Hill. “The call center was going into meltdown.”

The meltdown lasted for months and fixes proved costly. Covered California would not provide a tally of expenses, but the agency ended up asking the federal government for an extra $155 million. That put the cost of Covered California at more than $1.06 billion federal tax dollars.

Enrollment Exaggeration?

Covered California’s disastrous debut triggered a house of cards. When the website crashed, consumers were directed to fill out paper applications; they were 33 pages long and took at least an hour to complete. What’s more, they couldn’t be coordinated with the electronic version because of a major design flaw. The forms didn’t match.

But Covered California counted duplicate applications as if they were enrollments, giving the impression that more people had successfully signed up. (The Obama administration did the same with national HealthCare.gov applications.)

For example, Covered California’s Lee publicly touted 30,000 successful enrollments for the first month. Hill says the actual number was closer to 4,000.

“A lot of the information that came out of Covered California was misleading or outright lies,” Hill insists.

Another Covered California official agrees.

“There’s no way he didn’t know he wasn’t telling the truth,” says an official, who still works at the agency and asked not to be identified. “We were fully aware that those numbers were inflated. It was horrible… morale busting. Things were being said that were blatantly untrue.”

The Daily Signal asked for Lee’s side of the story, but Covered California declined to make him available.

Hill says misinformation was aided and abetted by an uninformed press. In the midst of Covered California’s fiasco, he was stunned to read a New York Times article claiming the Golden State was an Obamacare utopia: the crown jewel of the health care reform effort.

On Nov. 24, 2013, Paul Krugman of The New York Times gushed:

What would happen if we unveiled a program that looked like Obamacare, in a place that looked like America, but with competent project management that produced a working website? Well, your wish is granted. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you California… The California authorities have been especially forthcoming with data tracking the progress of enrollment. And the numbers are increasingly encouraging.

That assessment was far from the reality, say the Covered California officials who spoke to The Daily Signal.

Covered California declined to respond to our questions but issued this statement:

Covered California is proud that it has been the portal for nearly four million people to find coverage through one of our participating health plans or through low cost/no cost Medi-Cal; is helping more than a million people access financial assistance to lower their monthly health insurance premiums; through the Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of uninsured in California by half.

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Maryland Obamacare Exchange Wrongly Billed U.S. Taxpayers $28M

MD’s Exchange Wrongly Billed U.S. Taxpayers $28M – Sweetness & Light

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From the United Press International:

Audit shows Maryland health exchange improperly billed $28.4 million

March 27, 2015

WASHINGTON (UPI) – Maryland’s health insurance exchange improperly billed the federal government $28.4 million, a Department of Health and Human Services audit reported Friday.

In another patented Friday evening news dump.

An inspector general’s probe found a lack of oversight and internal controls, not criminal wrongdoing, was the cause of the exchange’s problems since the marketplace opened in 2013.

Their incompetence seems to border on criminality.

The Maryland Health Connection was among the first state exchanges approved by the federal government, but its website crashed on its first day of operation and it experienced numerous software problems and feuds between contractors.

The entire technological infrastructure of the exchange was scrapped in 2014 and replaced by a platform used by Connecticut’s exchange.

In other words, it was a typical Obama-Care success story. By the way, wouldn’t Maryland’s governor make a great President?

The audit said the state used a 2013 and 2014 federal grant to cover the exchange’s costs when it should have used funds from a Medicaid program jointly financed by Maryland and the federal government…

We’re sure it was an innocent mistake. The state wouldn’t want to try to cheat the federal taxpayers in other states.

The audit found two accounting errors, a $15.9 million misallocation caused by out-of-date enrollment data, and $12.5 million through an unidentified contractor’s incorrect calculations.

It recommended Maryland pay back the $28.4 million, then apply for the actual amount due it from the federal government…

Don’t hold your breath.

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*VIDEO* House Foreign Affairs Committe Hearing On Bergdahl/Taliban Prisoner Exchange



……………………….Click on image above to watch video.

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*VIDEOS* House Armed Services Committee Hearing On Bergdahl/Taliban Exchange


Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Defense Department General Counsel Stephen Preston testifiy about the release of five Taliban terrorists in exchange for Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl.

……………………..Click on images below to watch videos.
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Part 1

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Part 2

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In 2011 Obama Argued That Terrorist He Subsequently Freed In Exchange For Bergdahl Shouldn’t Be Released

Unclassified Document Shows In 2011 Obama Argued In Court Taliban Commander He Freed In Exchange For Bergdahl Should Not Be Released – Weasel Zippers

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If he was a terror threat in 2011, he’s obviously still a terror threat in 2014.

Via Stephen Hayes:

While some top Obama administration officials are downplaying threats posed the five senior Taliban officials released from Guantanamo in the prisoner exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, not long ago the administration went to court to prevent one of those men from going free. In a decision on May 31, 2011, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled in favor of the government – and “Respondent Barack Obama” – in its effort to keep Khairulla Khairkhwa in detention. That decision, once classified “Secret,” has since been declassified and released.

Today, with these Taliban leaders free in Qatar and already looking likely to rejoin the fight against America, top Obama administration officials are seeking to reassure Americans that the threats are minimal–or, in the words of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, “sufficiently mitigated.” But just three years ago, the same administration argued in court against Khairkhwa’s writ of habeas corpus because of his senior position with the Taliban, his close relationship with Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and his support for Taliban forces fighting against the United States.

The case provides a window on the Obama administration’s concerns – concerns that many top intelligence and military officials continue to have. The court summarized the government’s case this way. “The government contends that the petitioner, a former senior Taliban official, is lawfully detained because he was part of Taliban forces and purposefully and materially supported such forces in hostilities against the United States,” the court wrote in the introduction to its opinion. […]

The court found persuasive the Obama administration’s argument that Khairkhwa helped lead Taliban fighters after the beginning of hostilities with the U.S. in the fall of 2001. Khairkhwa had a “long history of involvement with the Taliban’s military affairs” and was a “prominent and influential leader within the Taliban.”

Before he was released, the Obama administration argued that Khairkhwa’s long experience as a jihadist leader required his continued detention by the U.S. government. Now that Obama has chosen to transfer him to Qatar the administration would have the public believe that he and the other freed Taliban leaders do not constitute a threat to the United States.

Keep reading

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Leftist Nightmare Update: More Obamacare Workers Paid To Do Nothing – Nevada Dumps $72M Exchange (Videos)

Yet Another Obamacare Contractor Office Paid To Do Nothing – Daily Caller

Employees of an Obamacare contractor in a fourth state have now stepped up to admit that they’re doing no work while being paid taxpayer dollars, according to Missouri’s KOLR.

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Now Serco offices in Arkansas are being added to the list of states where Obamacare contractors are being paid to do nothing, including Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Serco is an Obamacare contractor being paid over $1 billion to process any paper Obamacare applications.

Anonymous workers, who wished not to be named to avoid retribution, told Chris Nagus of KMOV in Missouri that they don’t have enough work to fill their time and are required to stay on the clock after work hours.

One worker said that he processed just 40 Obamacare coverage applications over six months, a similar situation to the Missouri office. A Missouri Serco employee named Lavonne quit her job with the company over frustration at the lack of work.

“I think for the entire month of December I processed six applications and that was pretty good,” Lavonne previously told Nagus.

In the Rogers, Arkansas office, workers are required to be on the clock, getting paid, but aren’t allowed to do any work. One worker told Nagus that employees aren’t allowed to make any outbound calls after 9 p.m. – but are required to stay on the clock until midnight.

“So why even be there until midnight,” Nagus asked the anonymous employee.

“I don’t know,” the worker responded. “Good question.”

“So they make the calls stop at 9, so from 9 to midnight are the callers kind of bored?” Nagus asked.

“Yeah, there’s nothing going on,” the worker concluded. But the employees are required to stay for the entire shift.

Even worse, the Rogers, Arkansas office is still hiring.

Watch the video report here.

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Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Nevada Votes To Dump Its Disastrous State Obamacare Exchange, Move To HealthCare.gov – Weasel Zippers

$72 million in taxpayer funds down the drain.

Via LVRJ:

The board of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange voted this morning to dump the contractor that botched the building of its Nevada Health Link website, and to move partly into the federal system for at least the next year.

The move would let the state exchange keep its autonomy and its member-based funding, and to allow the marketplace to switch to an operational website from another state for its 2016 enrollment period.

The change to a new system could cost as much as $57 million in addition to the $72 million contract the exchange already had with Xerox. But exchange officials said they’ve already applied for federal grants to cover the cost. Plus, the cost of buying another system may drop considerably by the time the exchange is ready to go forward in late 2015, state officials said.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Yes, Some People Will Have To Pay Back Their Obamacare Subsidies – The Foundry

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Obamacare offers subsidies to help pay for health insurance – if you are buying insurance through the federal exchange and your income qualifies. But now the word is out that at least 1 million people are probably getting the wrong subsidy amounts.

The Washington Post has inside sources providing all sorts of juicy details on this problem – but it didn’t take an investigative reporter to predict this was going to happen.

Heritage expert Alyene Senger warned that Obamacare’s subsidies are tied to income – and if your income changes at any point during the year, your subsidy is supposed to change, too. She explained in January:

if a person’s income fluctuates, which happens more frequently than many realize, the subsidy amount will change from month to month. Thus, when it comes time to file taxes in April, the amount of subsidy received over the past year must be reconciled with the final calculation of the total subsidy for which the individual was eligible—based on actual income for the entire tax year.

So if you qualify for more subsidy help than you receive during the year, you’ll get a tax refund. But if you were given more subsidy than your income qualifies you for, you will be required to repay the excess subsidy.

Now, the Post reports that the government is attempting to keep up with this – except that the part of Obamacare’s computer system that is supposed to match proof of income with people’s Obamacare applications is, well, not built yet.

Since taxpayers are funding the subsidies, it’s important to make sure the correct amounts are going to the correct people, right? Well, that does make the Obama administration “sensitive” these days, the Post says:

Beyond their concerns regarding overpayments, members of the Obama administration are sensitive because they promised congressional Republicans during budget negotiations last year that a thorough income-verification system would be in place.

This setup is a disaster. And it will ensnare a lot of people. Senger pointed to one analysis estimating that nearly 38 percent of families eligible for subsidies also experience “large income increases” at some point during the year – meaning they would have to pay back some or all of their subsidies.

“The issue is symptomatic of many problems that will plague the law in coming years,” Senger said.

Is it any wonder that 60 percent of voters in a recent poll said the debate about Obamacare is not over? And 89 percent said Obamacare will affect their voting decisions this fall.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is right – Obamacare is still not the answer for America’s health care needs. It’s time for Congress to look at patient-centered alternatives that would restore choice to American health care – and stop the unending tales of Obamacare disaster.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Party Of Fraud: CA Democrats Kill Bill To Ban Felons From Working On Obamacare Exchange

California Democrats Kill Bill To Ban Felons From Working On Obamacare Exchange – Breitbart

In a near party-line vote, California state Democratic legislators killed a bill on Tuesday that would have banned the state’s Obamacare exchange from hiring felons convicted of financial crimes.

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Critics of the bill said the legislation was overly restrictive and could be “discriminatory under federal civil rights law,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

The bill’s backer, Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Tulare), said she simply intended to help protect California Obamacare customers’ sensitive information from financial crimes.

“I believe in second chances but not giving those convicted of forgery or fraud access to people’s Social Security numbers or tax returns,” said Conway. “Today’s vote by the majority party means that consumers who sign up for a plan through Covered California will still be at risk of having their private information compromised by those who have committed financial crimes.”

California Health Line reports that between June 2013 and November 2013, 31 individuals convicted of felonies or misdemeanors were approved as Obamacare enrollment counselors, including crimes of battery, burglary, forgery, shoplifting, and welfare fraud.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Leftist Nightmare Update: Secret Report Details Utter Failure Of MA ObamaCare Exchange

Secret Report Details Utter Failure Of Massachusetts ObamaCare Exchange – Breitbart

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Everything about ObamaCare is wrapped in lies, evasions, and obfuscation. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully never had to go through this many layers of cover-up to get at the truth.

That’s true of the state exchanges as well as the federal operation. For example, the Boston Herald had to use a crowbar to pry a secret “not for public release” report out of the Massachusetts Health Connector… a report so carefully buried that even exchange board members were unaware of its existence. The Herald gives us a good idea of why this report had to be kept from the public, while a shorter, somewhat less damning – but still “blistering” – was released:

There was never any actual performance testing of the website before it went live Oct. 1 – a failure that “should have been enough to delay its launch,” said Joshua Archambault of the Pioneer Institute. “Yet the state moved forward anyway, and we have witnessed the anxiety and pain these problems have caused”;

There was no accountability for staffers for failing to perform;

The project wasn’t properly coordinated. “People that were supposed to be talking to each other weren’t,” said Bill Curtis, the chief scientist at CAST Software; and

Even early on in the project, MITRE analysts found, the site was displaying the same glitches that would later plague applicants when they tried navigating.

“To sum it all up in one word – amateurish,” Curtis said. “There’s a lot more
information, and some of it is fairly alarming. It really looks like the first report is an
executive summary. The second report really provides all the details… some of which makes you suspect they found even more things.”

So ObamaCare managed to be an epic disaster even in a state that already had RomneyCare up and running. Nobody involved with this clusterfark gave a second thought to the inconvenience, anguish, and waste of time they dumped on the public by pulling the trigger on a system that was nowhere near ready for launch – either in states like Massachusetts, or Washington D.C.

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Major Bitcoin Exchange Shuts Down After $380 Million Virtual Currency Theft

$380 Million Virtual Currency Theft From MtGox Sparks Debate: Bitcoin Or ‘Sh*tcoin’? – Big Peace

The world’s largest bitcoin trading exchange shut down on Tuesday, sparking a massive sell-off that calls into question the long-term viability of the nascent virtual currency trade.

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“This is extremely destructive,” risk-management expert and former Federal Reserve Bank Examiner Mark Williams told the Los Angeles Times. “What we’re seeing is a lot of the flaws. It’s not only fragile, it’s fragile as eggshells.”

The halt in trading occurred when reports hit the Internet that the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange suffered the theft of 744,000 bitcoins worth an estimated $380 million.

Internet currency forums are now asking the question whether “bitcoin” has morphed into “shitcoin.”

Others expressed optimism that the crisis will spawn better measures.

“I think it’s a significant event, but I think there’s a decent chance that it is part of what we would call this sort of shaking out of the industry as it matures and slowly becomes a little more regulated,” New York state’s top financial regulator Benjamin M. Lawsky told the New York Times.

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As California Obamacare Exchange Launches Multi-Million Dollar Ad Campaign, Website Crashes

California Obamacare Exchange Launches Big Ad Campaign, Website Promptly Crashes – Weasel Zippers

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Too damn funny.

Via LA Times:

Amid a big marketing push, California’s enrollment website for Obamacare coverage has suffered an unexpected outage due to software glitches.

The website problems come at a crucial time as the Covered California exchange tries to persuade more uninsured people to sign up ahead of a March 31 deadline.

The state exchange unveiled new TV commercials and radio ads this week aimed in particular at Latinos, who have been slow to enroll so far. The exchange is also urging more people to visit enrollment counselors, who rely on the state’s online system.

Covered California took its enrollment system down for scheduled maintenance and upgrades for 24 hours this past weekend. But problems have persisted and Thursday consumers were greeted by a message saying “the enrollment portion of the site is being worked on.”

Covered California said website errors began occurring Wednesday and it hopes to restore online enrollment by Thursday afternoon.

Covered California’s enrollment portal has been temporarily taken offline because of software malfunctions that were affecting the consumer experience,” the exchange said in a statement.

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Leftist Corruption Update: Colorado Obamacare Exchange Director Indicted For Fraud, Theft

Colorado Health-Exchange Director Indicted For Fraud, Theft – National Review

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The director of Colorado’s health exchange has been placed on administrative leave after the state discovered she had been indicted for stealing from a non-profit, the Denver Post reports:

[Christa Ann] McClure, 51, pleaded not guilty Feb. 6 in federal District Court in Montana to eight counts of theft and fraud from a nonprofit housing agency in Billings.

She was indicted Jan. 16 and notified her current Denver employer, the state-sponsored health exchange, on Monday, a few days after the story broke in Montana media, Connect for Health spokesman Ben Davis said in a telephone interview.

Connect for Health performed a criminal background check and checked references before hiring McClure in March, Davis said.

“She was completely clean,” he said. Her position as executive director of Housing Montana of Billings, he said, made her well-qualified for her post as Connect for Health’s director of partner engagement – she was liaison with state and federal partners, such as Medicaid officials. The job pays $130,000 a year.

…McClure, who has not been convicted of any charges, should have informed Connect for Health much earlier of the accusations she was facing, Davis said.

McClure was released pending trial, now scheduled for June. Each of the counts in the indictment against her carry potential penalties of five, 10 or 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

The 12-page indictment alleges that, while serving as executive director of the federally funded Housing Montana, McClure, between 2008 and 2010, paid herself “significant sums” for consulting services, although she was already on the payroll as a full-time employee.

She also made payments to her family and used federal money for personal travel, to pay family bills and to buy consulting services, the indictment alleges.

She also is accused of charging homeowners for a $750 warranty that did not exist, converting a laptop for personal use, inflating the hours she was to be compensated and writing herself a $21,000 check to which she was not entitled.

The indictment did not specify the total amount she allegedly embezzled.

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Leftist Nightmare Update: MA Obamacare Exchange Granted Federal Extension As Director Weeps

Massachusetts Obamacare Exchange Granted Federal Extension As Director Gently Weeps – Daily Caller

The Massachusetts Obamacare exchange has been awarded a three-month extension from the Obama administration to fix its broken website and get customers enrolled, exchange officials announced Thursday.

Jean Yang, head of the flailing Massachusetts Health Connector, wept at a Thursday board meeting over her staff’s demoralizing struggle to prevent residents from losing coverage in the face of a broken website and mountain of paper applications to be processed, the Boston Globe reports.

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The state had requested a six-month extension from the Affordable Care Act’s requirements. Massachusetts already had an exchange-based health care system similar to Obamacare.

Staff is working on a backlog of 50,000 paper applications, exchange officials announced at the board meeting, which Yang said would take two hours each to process.

The stress left Yang in tears at the board meeting as she described her staff’s malaise.

“These people came here to lead and innovate, and instead they’re doing manual workarounds, and they are embarrassed to tell friends and family that they work for the Health Connector,” Yang cried.

“We have to work harder,” Yang concluded. “That means I need to tell the staff members they’re not doing a good enough job and I’m telling them that, even though they have been doing this tirelessly for months, and they’re exhausted.”

Getting through the 50,000 application pile-up will be vital for Massachusetts official to bring their exchange up to snuff. Through the end of January, just 8,000 individuals signed up for health coverage through the Massachusetts Health Connector, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) latest report Wednesday.

Massachusetts’ original target was 155,000, putting the state at only 5 percent of their goal.

Thanks to the federal extension, Massachusetts’ enrollment for Obamacare coverage will remain open for another three months, while the exchange attempts to create a functioning online exchange.

The waiver also extends deadlines for programs that would be canceled after Mar. 31, such as the state-funded insurance program Commonwealth Care. The 124,000 program participants will keep their plans through June 30, along with another 31,000 new applicants will receive temporary coverage as well, according to the Associated Press.

The Obama administration extension didn’t, however, apply to individual private plans that will expire before Mar. 31. Those customers must purchase a new, Obamacare-compliant plan before that date in order to avoid the individual mandate penalty. Exchange officials hope to offer a “fast path” to coverage for those individuals.

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ObamaCare Catastrophe Update: MN Exchange Failing As Panel Recommends Scrapping System

MN ObamaCare Exchange Failing, Panel Recommends Scrapping System – Hot Air

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Oregon and Maryland have attracted most of the attention for failures within state-based ObamaCare web portals, but Minnesota may challenge for the bronze medal at the very least. Despite repeated assurances from Governor Mark Dayton on down, the MNSure system is failing, its management structure is “non-existent” according to an independent panel, and the best option might be trashing the whole mess:

An independent consultant has issued a damning report of the state’s troubled online insurance marketplace.

MNsure’s management structure is “non-existent” according to Optum, a subsidiary of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group, which recently performed a week-long analysis of the more than $100 million website.

MNsure executives have been making decisions in a “crisis mode,” the report states.

MNsure’s board members called for the end-to-end review after the website continued to experience major technological issues three months after it launched.

The report found the agency’s ambitious enrollment goals will suffer as a result.

“While MNsure will fall short of achieving its original enrollment goals and consumer satisfaction levels, continuous improvements can be made in both the short-term and long-term,” the report states.

Those problems, however, won’t be fixed quickly and the state should consider scrapping the system altogether and starting over, the report said.

The MNSure target was 70,000 enrolled in private plans by April 1, according to the metrics laid out by the state. Only 28,000 have done so at this time, even though nearly 50,000 have enrolled in public assistance programs through the MNSure portal, and they have less than two months left to make up the remaining 60% of the goal (April 1 enrollments have to be registered by mid-March). And the website won’t be fixed in time to allow for that kind of boost, KARE 11 reports:

A “large gap exists between required functionality and what has been delivered,” the report states. Technological testing was inadequate, and schedules took precedent over quality.

In particular, Optum faulted IBM Curam for more than 100 defects in its software – more than twice as many as any other vendor on the MNsure project.

In December, Gov. Mark Dayton blasted IBM, which responded that improvements were underway.

But it’s not just the Curam software that has contributed to the site’s technical problems.

There’s a “significant gap” in program management at MNsure, which has made software development, testing and readiness difficult.

People can call into MNSure to get assistance in sign-ups, but that’s also a problem. Wait times are averaging 50 minutes in the call center, which is another area in which management is non-existent. The independent panel recommends hiring another 100 operators, but that will take time, plenty of training, and one hopes no small amount of background investigation before allowing access to that kind of private identity data. Speaking as someone who ran specialized call centers for 15 years in the context of highly-sensitive data, I can attest that there is no way to get that many operators up to speed in that short of a time frame, even if you could hire them all today.

As predicted, MNSure is crashing and burning as we speak. Insurers here expecting a windfall of healthy, young enrollees are going to rethink next year’s premium schedules – and Minnesotans will get the bill just as we go to the voting booth in the midterms.

Addendum: Even when I briefly ran a health-sector call center in the mid-90s, where wait times weren’t a big focus of customer service, a 50-minute average would probably have gotten me fired.

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Obamacare Catastrophe Update: 185 Times More Health Plans Canceled Than Selected On Exchange

Congressman: 185 Times More Health Plans Canceled Than Selected On Federal Exchange – Daily Caller

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Republicans are continuing to hammer the point that vastly more people have lost their health care than gained new health insurance coverage under Obamacare.

In a Friday memo, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp emphasized that the number of people who have had their individual health insurance plans canceled due to Obamacare is 185 times the number of people who have selected an insurance plan on the federal Obamacare exchange.

Camp’s memo – released a day after President Obama announced his “fix” to allow people to retain their current coverage until after the midterms – pointed out the 5 million Americans who have had their plans canceled due to Obamacare and the mere 106,185 people who have actually signed up for the exchange, with just 26,794 people enrolling through the federal exchange.

“What they didn’t say was that the data represents not just those who purchased a plan, but also those who have selected a plan – aka placed in their ‘shopping cart,’” The memo explains of the enrollment data. “This inflated number (what the Administration calls pre-effectuated enrollment) still falls well below the Administration’s month-by-month projections included in a memo obtained by the Ways and Means Committee.”

In a state-by-state comparison of the Obama administration’s projections for the first month of October and the recently released enrollment data, just New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut exceeded their expectations.

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The House is set to vote on a Republican plan to allow insurance providers to continue to provide and sell plans that do not meet the Obamacare requirements.

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Meanwhile, The ObamaCare Insanity Continues

Report: Illegal Immigrant Hired As Obamacare ‘Navigator’ – Daily Caller

An illegal immigrant in New York is serving as an Obamacare navigator, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, a non-profit limited immigration group.

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According to a CIS report, Maria Marroquin – identified as an illegal immigrant as recently as March 2013 – from Peru is also the “Health Education Organizer” for the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY).

ROC-NY is listed as a subcontractor for the “New York Health Benefit Exchange: In-Person Assistors and Navigators.”

“IPA/Navigators will provide in person application assistance to individuals, families and small businesses and their employees at initial enrollment and when renewing coverage. IPA/Navigators remove barriers to the application process by providing assistance in multiple languages, in community based settings during non-traditional hours such as evenings and weekends,” The New York health care exchange explains.

When reached by The Daily Caller for comment Marroquin would not speak about her immigration status or Obamacare position, instead telling TheDC she would “call back.”

Multiple attempts to reach Marroquin after the fact were unsuccessful. She reportedly applied for President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program in September 2012.

Monday, Michael Volpe – writing for TheDC – highlighted another Obamacare outreach worker in Lawrence, Kansas with an outstanding arrest warrant.

Rosilyn Wells was certified to assist Obamacare signups as well – thanks to an HHS grant – despite a 2003 bankruptcy, a 2007 civil charge from Midwest Checkrite, and the aforementioned outstanding arrest warrant.

As Volpe pointed out, the House Oversight Committee recently issued a report highlighting the personal security risks involved with handing over sensitive consumer information to such workers – who are not required to undergo background checks.

“[T]he main concern for consumers is the heightened risk of identity theft and financial loss from a poorly managed outreach campaign,” the Oversight Committee report read. “Navigators and Assisters will come into contact with a plethora of personally identifiable information (PII), including an applicant’s Social Security number, date of birth and income, as well as the PII of everyone in an applicant’s household.”

James R. Edwards Jr., a CIS fellow and the author of the report on Marroquin explained to TheDC that the main concern with having an undocumented immigrant as a navigator is identity theft.

“If you are illegally present then you might be inclined to use some of those folks who you are supposedly helping, use their information for your own or somebody else’s benefit,” Edwards explained to TheDC.

A spokesperson for HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Related articles:

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Bad News For Barry: Website Traffic For Obamacare Exchange Plummets 88% Since October 1st – Weasel Zippers

And yet the website still isn’t working properly. I guess the reason for the site’s horrific performance wasn’t traffic related as the White House has been claiming.

Via WaPo:

The number of visitors to the federal government’s HealthCare.gov Web site plummeted 88 percent between Oct. 1 and Oct. 13, according to a new analysis of America’s online use, while less than half of 1 percent of the site’s visitors successfully enrolled for health insurance the first week.

The new numbers on the Affordable Care Act – released by Kantar US Insights, and based on an assessment conducted by the nonpartisan research firm Millward Brown Digital – provide a snapshot of how the federal health-care exchange has fared since it launched at the start of the month.

Based on a sample of two million users – or 1 percent of all online users in the U.S. – which Millward Brown Digital has permission to track, it suggests that the rush of traffic administration officials cited as the cause of the site’s problems trailed off within a matter of days.

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Just One Person Attends South Carolina ObamaCare Enroll Event – Big Government

Two weeks after the ObamaCare exchanges were opened for business, a photo received by the Washington Free Beacon depicts only one person in a room at an event in South Carolina intended to educate the public about the benefits of enrolling in ObamaCare.

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The two-hour event in North Charleston was listed on the Get Covered America website and was hosted by Ve Ja Manigault, who explained how Americans can enroll in the healthcare exchanges implemented by ObamaCare.

Acknowledging the serious problems with the rollout of ObamaCare, USA Today referred to the exchanges as a “nightmare” and an “inexcusable mess.”

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Related video:

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Pathetic… Less Than 1% Of Visitors To Obamacare Exchange Websites Signing Up For Health Insurance

Report: Less Than 1% of Visitors To Obamacare Exchange Websites Are Signing Up For Health Insurance – Weasel Zippers

I’m guessing this is the reason the White House is refusing to release the number of people who signed up for Obamacare.

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Via Daily Mail:

As President Obama’s signature health insurance overhaul effort began to enroll new participants on Monday, some states running their own insurance exchanges saw huge levels of website traffic but paltry interest in signing up.

California, the ultimate blue state whose federal lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in support of Obamacare, turned less than 1 per cent of its Web visits into ‘Covered California’ participants on Tuesday.

‘We had over 5.7 million hits to our website as of 3 p.m. yesterday,’ Covered California spokeswoman Kelsey Caldwell told MailOnline Wednsday.

’7,700 consumers began their application process yesterday. … 4,143 applications are pending,’ she added. ‘We received 23,269 calls yesterday to our service center.’

Caldwell couldn’t say how many of the 5.7 million website hits were from unique Californians. But assuming 712,500 online visitors saw eight different Web pages each, the sign-up rate was 0.58 per cent.

Connecticut saw a similarly low rate of interest. Democratic Congressman Jim Himes tweeted after 8:30 p.m. Monday that his state’s health exchange had ‘received 28k visitors, and took 167 applications for health insurance. Day 1.’

That indicates just 0.59 per cent of Connecticut residents who sought information about their state’s Obamacare program on Monday decided to become part of it, according to Access Health CT spokeswoman Kathleen Tallarita.

Keep reading

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Obamacare Exchange Leaks Personal Data Of 2,400 Unsuspecting Customers

Obamacare Exchange Leaks Data Of 2,400 Unsuspecting Customers – Daily Caller

An employee of Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange, MNsure, sent an unencrypted file to the wrong person and left 2,400 people’s private information at the mercy of a nearby insurance agent.

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One exchange staffer’s simple mistake gave insurance broker Jim Koester access to an Excel document of Social Security numbers, names, addresses and other personal data for whole a list of insurance agents. Luckily for the 2,400, Koester was cooperative – and unnerved.

“The more I thought about it, the more troubled I was,” Koester told the Minnesota Star Tribune. “What if this had fallen into the wrong hands? It’s scary. If this is happening now, how can clients of MNsure be confident their data is safe?”

While MNsure officials called Koester and ensured the data was deleted from the insurance company’s hard drives, such an easy breach of confidentiality before the Obamacare exchanges have even gone live heighten the security concerns many have already raised about the law.

Obamacare’s Federal Services Data Hub has received heavy criticism for insufficient security and delayed testing. The data hub will centralize and route private information of every Obamacare participant through an endless list of federal and state agencies and related businesses, but lawmakers are worried about privacy as the deadline approaches.

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Pat Meehan, who has been leading the charge to delay the data hub, criticized the security breach. “Obamacare’s data hub hasn’t even gone live yet, and already there are massive data breaches,” Meehan said in statement. “What more has to happen to convince this administration that the data hub is not ready for prime time?”

Obamacare exchange officials aren’t the only agents that will have access to private consumer data in the data hub. Along with any federal or state officials working with Obamacare, program “navigators” will have access to consumer information in order to help them make decisions about what insurance plan is the right choice.

Navigators will only receive 20 hours of training before having access to consumer data, a policy which turned heads at a tense congressional hearing. Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry pointed out, “It takes 1,250 hours to become a barber in Pennsylvania, but to navigate insurance, these folks are going to be advising us with 20 hours?”

The data sent in the Minnesota email did not have any increased cybersecurity efforts attached to it. “The gorilla in the room is that they sent me something that’s not even encrypted. It’s unsecured, on an Excel spreadsheet,” Koester told reporters. “They’ve got to realize they have a huge problem.”

The completion date for cybersecurity testing on the data hub has been delayed until September 30, the day before Obamacare exchanges open for business.

MNsure issued a statement maintaining that “MNsure has a data privacy policy in place, and this employee’s action was a violation of this policy.”

But Meehan was not convinced. “It’s time to delay the data hub, now,” the congressman concluded.

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