ObamaCare is heading toward a death spiral.
The Obama administration is having trouble selling insurance plans to healthy people. That’s a big problem: When the young and healthy don’t enroll, premiums have to be hiked to cover the costs of older, sicker people, discouraging even more young people from signing up.
Last Thursday, the administration predicted enrollment for 2016 will be less than half what the Congressional Budget Office predicted in March.
Despite subsidies to help with premiums and out-of-pocket costs, most of the uninsured who are eligible for ObamaCare are saying “no thanks.” Only one in seven is expected to sign up. That’s despite a hefty increase in the financial penalty next year for not having insurance.
The president sees the writing on the wall. You won’t be seeing the customary nationwide TV campaign to encourage sign-ups, as there were in previous years. Remember the young guy in plaid pajamas – “Pajama Boy,” to conservatives – well, he won’t be back this winter.
Bad enough that healthy people aren’t buying. Worse is that the administration is spending billions of your tax dollars covering up the problem, paying insurers to keep offering the plans, even though they’re losing their shirts. But facts are facts – and there’s no hiding these.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell predicts ObamaCare enrollment will inch up by 1 million or so, to 10 million people – half what the CBO forecasted. Open enrollment for the coming year, which begins Nov. 1, “is going to be a challenge,” she said.
David Wichmann, UnitedHealth Group’s president, announced higher premiums last week because enrollees will “require more medical services than original expectations.”
Many states (though not New York) are looking at premium hikes of 30 percent or more, according to a new Robert Wood Johnson/Urban Institute analysis. The Heritage Foundation estimates that insurers lost 12 percent selling ACA plans in 2014, with more losses this year.
Don’t shed any tears for the insurance companies. Though they’re losing money on exchange plans, overall they’re profitable and their stocks are doing well. It’s John Q. Public who’s bearing the brunt. Just as ObamaCare intended.
If you get insurance at work, you’re paying an extra tax to fund “reinsurance” for ObamaCare plans. It’s a fund to defray the cost of their most expensive enrollees.
So far, insurers have collected about $7.9 billion. Recent congressional testimony shows the payments kept ObamaCare sticker prices about 11 percent lower than they otherwise would have been. In short, you pay a tax to make ObamaCare look more affordable than it is.
But even with these hidden subsidies, ObamaCare isn’t working because the design is fatally flawed. The 5 percent of the population with serious medical conditions consume nearly 50 percent of the health care. When you try to sell insurance to sick and healthy people for the same price, the healthy don’t sign up. It’s too expensive.
New York state learned that in the 1990s, when one-price-for-all insurance laws pushed premiums to the highest in the nation, crushing the individual insurance market here.
ObamaCare repeats that mistake. Despite slapping the uninsured with penalties – which will jump to 2.5 percent of household income in 2016 – they’re not signing up. The need to coerce enrollment with penalties is proof the plans are a bad deal.
How long will big insurers play along? There are political considerations, and for most, ObamaCare losses are still just a dent in their overall business. Not so for the 23 co-op insurers set up under the health law. Eight state plans have already failed, including New York’s Health Republic, and most of the rest are bleeding money.
With ObamaCare enrollment floundering and losses mounting, the nation needs alternatives. The Republicans are coalescing around a reform plan, but Democrats are doubling down. Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to burden the existing, unpopular plans with more “free” goodies, and make it harder to dodge the mandate. That won’t work.
A real reform would cover the seriously ill – people with pre-existing conditions – in separate plans with separate pricing and subsidies to make them affordable.
Just like the high-risk pools many states used to maintain. That’s the lesson of the failing ObamaCare scheme.
One-third of the Obamacare health insurance co-ops have now failed, causing about 400,000 policyholders in 10 states to scramble for new coverage for 2016.
Seven of the 23 co-ops created by the Affordable Care Act in 2011 at a cost of $2.4 billion – including many launched by passionate but inexperienced health reform activists – have since closed their doors. An eighth, the Colorado Health Insurance Cooperative, appears on the brink of default as well.
The failing Obamacare co-ops have canceled health insurance for largely poor and low-income customers in Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Vermont, New York and Colorado.
The co-op’s are falling like dominoes. In the last two months, the public has seen co-ops fail in Nevada, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and New York.
Including Colorado, taxpayers have lost $876 million in loan money that was supposed to last for 15 years. The failed co-op’s existed for only two years before suddenly closing their doors.
More co-op failures are expected. “There will be more closures,” said American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Thomas Miller, a health care expert. “The only question is when rather than whether.”
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which funded the co–ops, said this summer that six co-ops were under “enhanced oversight” because of poor financial reports. The Daily Caller reported in August that federal officials refused to identify the six that are in trouble.
The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in July that 21 of 23 operating co-ops faced staggering losses, some greater than the loans that were expected to last 15 years.
New York’s Health Republic, the largest of the co-ops, announced it was closing its doors last month, leaving 155,000 customers in the lurch.
The New York failure was not only the largest, but was the flagship of the co-op movement. It was created by liberal political activist Sarah Horowitz, who had previously worked with then-state Sen. Barack Obama.
The New York Department of Finance Services last month reported that Health Republic had the worst 2014 consumer record of all insurance companies operating in the state.
Horowitz was the only individual to be given federal loans to run three co-ops at the same time. Her other two co-ops are in New Jersey and Oregon.
Miller said there is growing apprehension among state insurance commissioners about the solvency of many of the other co-ops still hanging on.
Nov. 1 is the new date for open enrollment for the co-ops. The deadline is forcing state insurance commissioners to take a closer look at the co-0p’s prospects over the next year.
Miller said many state commissioners are asking, “do you cut your losses now or do it later? There’s a lot of apprehension among state regulators in terms of signing up for another year in light of results that have happened.”
Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute think tank, said, “everything is coming to pass. It was inevitable, given their inexperience.”
Kelly Crowe, CEO of the trade association that represents all of the co-ops has now turned against the Obama administration, which set up the programs.
She blamed “regulatory obstacles,” and said Obamacare – is “not working.”
Bleeding cash, the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) announced Friday that Louisiana’s Obamacare health insurance co-op will be closing its doors by the end of 2015.
It will be the second collapse of an Obamacare health care co-op this year and the third since the Obama administration rolled them out in 2012 as a competitor to commercial health insurance companies.
From the beginning, the Louisiana co-op was fraught with high-paid consultants who were not even from Louisiana, but Georgia. It also suffered from an apparent conflict of interest. George Cromer, its CEO, simultaneously served the Louisiana House of Representatives as chairman of that legislative body’s insurance committee.
Roughly 18 months into its existence, in September 2012, the Louisiana co-op received $66 million from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. By 2014, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reported that the co-op had burned through half of its cash and suffered a net operating loss of $23 million.
AM Best, the insurance rating company, reported in the third quarter of 2014 that the Louisiana co-op’s indebtedness was 198 percent, among the worst performing Obamacare nonprofits in the nation.
“The onerous burdens of Obamacare have shocked health insurance markets and caused instability in pricing and predictability, and as a result, we’ve seen premiums spike upward,” Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon wrote in a press statement July 24 when he announced closure plans for the co-op.
“Start-ups in insurance, especially health insurance, are always a tough row to hoe. Obamacare has made that even more difficult,” the commissioner noted in a press release.
The LDI’s Office of Financial Solvency will be examining the financial issues that led to its decision to close, and the commissioner has said that the department is “on-site at the co-op.”
The Louisiana Health co-op began with controversy over Terry Shilling, its first CEO. Shilling arranged a lavish contract with his own Atlanta-based consulting firm, Beam Partners, LLC, an arrangement approved by federal Obamacare CMS officials.
Federal officials also approved Shilling as original founder and “interim CEO” for the co-op, even though in 1998, the Securities and Exchange Commission sanctioned him for insider trading as a health executive. Shilling’s consulting firm received more than $3 million from the co-op in 2013 for “health plan development,” according to its IRS Form 990 filing.
Louisiana insurance documents obtained by the Washington Examiner in August 2013 showed that Beam would receive a separate $4 million contract from the start-up co-op. On top of the contract, the Atlanta firm would receive a 20 percent “performance fee,” according to the documents. Finally, Beam additionally reaped a “benefit payment services” that began at $66,667 per month in 2013, culminating in $72,917 in 2016, according to Louisiana co-op insurance filing documents.
Separate from the preferential contract with Shilling, the co-op represented a potential political conflict of interest. After Shilling’s relationship with the co-op went public, the Atlanta businessman stepped down as interim CEO, to be replaced by Louisiana Rep. George Cromer.
Cromer, a Republican, also was the chairman of the Louisiana House committee on health insurance. He did not step down from the position after assuming the co-op post.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Cromer’s office, but has yet to receive a response.
The Louisiana co-op is not the first to fold.
In February, the Iowa Insurance Department assumed receivership and closed the doors of Co-Opportunity Health, an Obamacare co-op that served more than 100,000 customers in Iowa and Nebraska. Co-Opportunity had a loss ratio of 140, which meant that for every dollar it received in premiums, it had to pay out $1.40 in benefits.
The first failure occurred in 2013, when the Vermont Insurance Commissioner refused to grant a license to a new Obamacare health co-op.
The Commissioner refused to license the co-op because the president had steered as much as $500,000 of the co-op’s money to his own firm. CMS had approved the loan to the Vermont co-op despite the conflict of interest.
She also said the co-op’s math was inadequate and failed to meet the state’s financial standards.
The Butcher of Benghazi, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has blood on her hands: the blood of Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Ty Woods, and Glen Doherty.
This according to a scathing report entitled “Breach of Duty: Hillary Clinton and Catastrophic Failure in Benghazi,” put together by Special Ops OPSEC, the same group that produced the viral documentary Dishonorable Disclosures.
Western Center for Journalism has analyzed this groundbreaking report and found that Hillary Rodham Clinton has indeed been implicated in murder.
Watch our exclusive video for all the details about “The Butcher of Benghazi Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
Most conservatives couldn’t care less what the world thinks of us (myself included), but for whatever reason the left is obsessed with the rest of the world “liking” us so this has to sting.
Worldwide approval of U.S. leadership dipped considerably during President Barack Obama’s fourth year in office – but it increased in some countries, including Mexico.
The median approval rating for U.S. leadership for 130 countries was 41 percent in 2012, down 8 percentage points from the 49 percent approval during Obama’s first year in office, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.
“This shift suggests that the president and the new secretary of state may not find global audiences as receptive to the U.S. agenda as they have in the past. In fact, they may even find even once-warm audiences increasingly critical,” Gallup’s Julie Ray wrote.
In Mexico, U.S. leadership had a 37 percent approval – an 11-percentage-point increase from 2011, according to Gallup.
“Some of the increase may stem from Mexicans’ optimism about future U.S.-Mexican relations after Obama welcomed then-President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto to the White House in late November 2012 and pledged cooperation on trade and immigration reform,” Ray wrote.
In Europe, U.S. leadership dipped from 42 percent in 2011 to 36 percent for last year.
Exactly one year ago today, President Barack Obama swept into the White House on winds of promised change. But a Newsmax look back at his first 365 days in office finds far fewer highlights than lowlights.
On the positive side, Obama no doubt raised the image of America abroad, as demonstrated by his selection as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and he drew praise by going to Dover Air Force Base to witness the return of some American soldiers killed in action.
He signed legislation in February to expand publicly funded insurance for children, reducing the number of uninsured youth by half.
He saw the Senate confirm his choice for the Supreme Court, (racist) Sonia Sotomayor, as the first Latino justice on the high court.
And he set a new record for getting Congress to vote a president’s way, clinching 96.7 percent of the votes on which he had clearly staked a position — breaking the record set by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, according to Congressional Quarterly.
Some would say that passage of the $787 billion stimulus package should also be viewed as an Obama success in that it may have staved off an even deeper economic meltdown.
But on the negative side, Obama’s first year has been marked by failures, gaffes, broken promises and other missteps, including:
* Within days of taking office, Obama broke his pledge not to raise any taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year by imposing a tax hike of 61 cents on a pack of cigarettes. According to Americans for Tax Reform, measures supported by the president would hike taxes by $2.1 trillion over 10 years.
* Just weeks after moving into the White House, Obama signed an executive order to shut down the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay and ordered it closed within a year. Nearly a year after he signed the order, the facility remains open.
* The administration decided to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other 9/11 terrorists in a civilian court in New York rather than in a military court, prompting critics to predict a “public show trial.”
* Obama traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, in an effort to convince Olympics officials to stage the 2016 games in Chicago. They chose Rio de Janeiro instead.
* Obama also traveled to Copenhagen for the much-ballyhooed climate change conference, but the bid to forge a broad alliance against global warming fell short, and the Obama-favored cap-and-trade legislation appears to be dead in Congress.
* The president dithered for months before finally agreeing to send additional troops to Afghanistan, then drew criticism for setting a date for U.S. withdrawal. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that less than half of respondents approve of Obama’s handling of the war overall.
* Obama said he would end the war in Iraq. In the year since he took office, 473 more soldiers have died there and elsewhere, and troops remain in Iraq.
* Obama’s efforts to seek a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program have produced no results and the Islamic Republic appears more determined than ever to acquire nuclear weapons.
* Diplomacy has also failed to rein in North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.
* When mass demonstrations against the Iranian government broke out in June, Obama angered and disappointed opponents of the regime by sidestepping any condemnation of Iran’s use of force against protesters, and said the Islamic Republic had time to regain “legitimacy” in the eyes of the Iranian people.
* Despite a campaign pledge to allow C-SPAN to televise congressional meetings, Obama and the Democrats have rebuffed a request from C-SPAN to air healthcare discussions and the final version of the healthcare bill will now be hammered out behind closed doors.
* Obama also pledged to usher in a new era of bipartisanship, then went more than six months without meeting with Republican leaders on healthcare.
* Obama stirred outrage when he appeared to bow to Saudi King Abdullah at a G-20 meeting in London, a move the Washington Times called an “extraordinary protocol violation.” Despite the criticism, the president also bowed to Japanese Emperor Akihito during a November visit trip to Tokyo.
* Candidate Obama vowed that no lobbyists would work in his White House. President Obama waived that rule in June for Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, who was a registered lobbyist for a defense contractor. Other lobbyists serving in the Obama administration include Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative, and Cecilia Munoz, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House.
* Obama angered ally Israel by calling for an end to new Jewish settlements in the West Bank, then backed down when Israel’s prime minister refused to halt new construction.
* The Obama White House launched an all-out attack on Fox News in an attempt to stifle opposition to its liberal policies, only to see ratings for the cable network soar.
* Obama had to accept ultimate responsibility when the so-called underwear bomber incident exposed serious gaps in the system for detecting and preventing terrorist plots.
* Security at the White House itself was shown to be porous when two uninvited guests crashed an event honoring the prime minister of India.
* Obama nominated former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Daschle withdrew his name amid a growing controversy over his failure to accurately report and pay income taxes.
* The confirmation of Hilda Solis as Secretary of Labor was stalled when it came to light that her husband had paid about $6,400 to settle numerous tax liens against his business dating to 1993.
* At his Senate confirmation hearings, it was revealed that Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner had not paid $35,000 in self-employment taxes for several years. He also deducted the cost of his children’s sleep-away camp as a dependent care expense, when only expenses for day care are eligible for the deduction.
* Annette Nazareth, who was nominated for Deputy Treasury Secretary to help Geithner, withdrew for undisclosed “personal reasons” following a month-long probe into her taxes and other matters.
* President-elect Obama designated New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson for appointment to the Commerce Secretary position. A month later, Richardson announced his decision to withdraw his nomination as a result of an investigation into improper business dealings in New Mexico.
* Obama appointed Van Jones to be the administration’s “green jobs” czar in March. But he became embroiled in controversy over his past political activities, including his 1990s association with a Marxist group and a public comment disparaging Congressional Republicans, and resigned in September.
* Nancy Killefer stepped down from consideration to become the government’s first chief performance officer when it was learned her past performance included failure to pay taxes for her household help.
* In July, Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., was arrested at his home by Cambridge, Mass., police officer Sgt. James Crowley, who was responding to a report of a break-in, and charged with disorderly conduct. Obama created a furor by commenting that the Cambridge police acted “stupidly” in arresting the African-American teacher. That led to the Obama-moderated “Beer Summit” between Gates and Crowley, which Townhall.com called “the most demeaning moment of any president in recent memory.”
* When the administration announced that the U.S. Census would be directed by the White House under the auspices of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Republicans warned that will politicize apportionment of House seats, redistricting, and distribution of federal aid.
* Obama appointed as his Secretary of Commerce Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who had voted in 1995 to abolish the Commerce Department. In the face of reports that the administration would move the Census, typically run by the Commerce Department, out of Gregg’s jurisdiction, he withdrew his name from consideration.
* When British Prime Minister Gordon Brown became the first head of government to visit the White House, Obama let word out that the bust of Churchill that Prime Minister Tony Blair had presented to the U.S. as a gift from the British people had been returned to the British Embassy.
* Obama also canceled a joint news conference with Brown and excluded British reporters from covering Obama’s press conference, an act the London Daily Telegraph called “rudeness personified towards Britain.”
* A month later he gave a gift to Queen Elizabeth: An iPod full of his own speeches.
* Obama eased travel and remittance restrictions on Cuba. But Fidel Castro later said Obama “misinterpreted” what his brother Raul had said. Cuba would not be willing to negotiate about human rights, Castro insisted.
* Obama and his staff vacillated on whether to prosecute those who carried out “enhanced interrogations,” first saying that CIA operatives carrying out orders were in the clear, then later saying it would be up to Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether some officials should be prosecuted.
* The stock market hit a seven-year low, with the Dow dipping below 7,000, after Obama likened the market to political “tracking polls,” suggesting they’re unimportant.
* In the first appearance ever by a sitting president on late-night television, Obama remarked to Jay Leno that his bowling ability is “like Special Olympics, or something.” He soon issued an apology for his insensitive remark.
* Obama betrayed allies Poland and the Czech Republic by canceling plans to build a missile defense shield in those nations to guard against an attack from Iran. Obama reportedly wanted Russia’s help in resolving the nuclear weapons issue in Iran, but Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said he would not “haggle” over Iran and the missile shield.
* In his inaugural address, Obama called on Americans to adopt a spirit of sacrifice. But the $49 million cost of his swearing-in ceremony was triple the cost of Bush’s first inaugural.
* Obama said in February that approval of his $787 billion stimulus package was urgent. Congress got its work done on a Friday, but Obama and his wife Michelle flew off on Air Force One to Chicago for the Valentine’s Day weekend and dined at a romantic restaurant before flying back to Washington on Monday to sign the bill.
* Obama promised workers at Caterpillar Inc. that his stimulus bill would save their jobs. Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens later said there would be more layoffs at the company.
* Obama pledged during his campaign to slash earmarks to no greater than 1994 levels, which would be 1,318, according to the Washington Times. Then he signed into law some 9,000 earmarks, totaling about $5 billion.
* Obama promised in February to crack down on executive pay for companies that take “exceptional” amounts of bailout money. But he did nothing to stop 73 executives from AIG, which has received $170 million in bailout funds, from taking home bonuses of up to $6.4 million.
* Obama’s promise of a public option in the healthcare reform plan — a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers — has died in the Senate. His plan to allow lower-cost drug imports into the U.S. was also defeated.
Looking at the high and low points of Obama’s first year, it is no surprise that his job approval rating has plummeted from around 70 percent when he took office to below 50 percent today. And the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 62 percent of Americans now say the country is on the wrong track, the most in 11 months.