White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tried to downplay the “Lie of the Year” dishonor bestowed to President Barack Obama by PolitiFact for frequent claim and insistence that Americans could keep their health plans under Obamacare.
“[A]s you know, the President in an interview, earlier this fall took this question head on and expressed his concern for those individuals, those as Americans who received cancellation notices and were potentially adversely impacted by or affected by that and took action to encourage states and state insurance commissioners to allow those who wanted to stay on existing plans to stay on them longer,” Carney told reporters on Friday during his daily press briefing.
“So I think he’s, in a very honest way, addressed this question,” he said. “End-of-the-year categorizations like that are always fun, even when they don’t jive with past characterizations of the same exact statement. But, we’re focused on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”
Folks, there is going to be a minimum wage increase. Despite the fact that only a fraction of workers actually draw minimum wage, and despite the fact that folks are actually living better on minimum wage than they did 20 years ago, we are going to see the minimum wage increase.
One of the problems with democracy is that the rule by the masses means that those who feel they have a tough spot in life will automatically vote with anyone who offers to make it better, while those who feel sorrow for such people will often vote along the same lines out of either guilt or pity. This is why we have entitlement programs that, while having done absolutely nothing in the war on poverty, are here to stay.
Support for increasing the minimum wage is high. In a recent report from the Wall Street Journal:
Americans strongly favor boosting the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour but oppose raising it above that, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds. In the survey, 63% supported a rise to $10.10 from the current $7.25 rate. Senate Democrats have proposed an increase of that size and it is supported by President Barack Obama.
In the poll, 43% said they backed an increase to $12.50 an hour. Only 28% backed a $15 wage—the rate sought by union-linked demonstrators at fast-food restaurants across the country.
During congressional testimony on Wednesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave some insight into the cost to build the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov. The price tag for the dysfunctional website? $319 million, and that may only be the tip of the iceberg when it’s all said and done:
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday said the information technology costs for the HealthCare.gov website totaled $677 million through the end of October.
The HHS has only spent $319 million of that amount so far, Sebelius testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but commitments to contractors and government officials could reach $677 million if the agency makes good on all of its obligations.
Sebelius has hinted that the Health agency could seek to withhold some payments to contractors due to the poor performance of the website.
The problems with the website have been well-documented. The glitches and errors that users experienced was related to poor enrollment numbers, far below what the Obama Administration had predicted.
President Barack Obama and administration officials have been playing up Obamacare as part of the reason that healthcare costs have grown at its slowest rate in 50 years, which, they say, will be part of the legacy of the law.
“I’m not going to walk away from 40 million people who have the chance to get health insurance for the first time,” said President Obama on November 14 in a statement on Obamacare. ”And I’m not going to walk away from something that has helped the cost of health care grow at its slowest rate in 50 years.”
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made a similar claim during her appearance before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday, telling members that “costs have gone down based on the trajectory we would have seen absent [Obamacare].”
But doubt has been cast on that claim by many healthcare policy analysts. Bob Laszewski, President of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, has cast doubt on these claims, shooting down the rhetoric over Obamacare and the slowdown of health costs as “silly.”
“First, Obamacare is not a health care reform law; it is a health insurance reform law. No one on either side of the debate has ever argued anything different,” wrote Laszweski, who is frequently cited in mainstream media reports about the law, last week on his personal blog. “Does the law have some limited cost containment features in it? Yes. But these are either pilot projects or are years from being fully implemented.”
Could a Republican win the open Senate seat in Michigan? Weeks ago, most political observers would have said this is unlikely, and some may still say that Republicans face an unlikely path to winning what is a Democratic-leaning state.
But new survey by Public Policy Polling shows that, at the very least, Republicans will be competitive. The likely Republican nominee, Terri Lynn Land, holds a small, 2-point lead (42/40) over her likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI).
In June, Public Policy Polling found that Peters had a 5-point lead, 41/36, over Land.
The reason for the swing is (surprise!) Obamacare. The poll found that 63% voters in the state don’t believe the implementation of the law has been successful. Just 6% describe implementation as “very successful” and 24% say it has been “somewhat successful.”
Overall, 48% of Michigan voters disapprove of Obamacare, while 34% approve of the controversial law, which has caused an estimated 225,000 policy cancellations in the state, as of the end of November.
Land, who served as Michigan Secretary of State from 2003 to 2011, is viewed favorably by 34% of voters, just 23% view her unfavorably. Just 22% have a favorable view of Peters, 21% have an unfavorable view of the Democratic candidate.
Michigan voters aren’t too thrilled with President Barack Obama, who won the state by 9 points last year. His job approval in among voters is underwater, at 47/51.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is humorously trying distance herself from Obamacare, a law that she has twice said she would support again if it came back up for a vote, in her first campaign ad of her re-election bid.
The 30-second ad, titled “Keeping the Promise,” focuses on the millions of health insurance policies that have been canceled because of narrowly written Obamacare regulations and legislation she has introduced that would require insurance companies to continuing offering the plans:
Cool story, but that’s not how it went down and to say otherwise, as Landrieu has done, is blatantly ignores her own words and votes.
The Obama Administration reported yesterday that 364,682 individuals have selected health plans through the state and federal Obamacare exchanges in October and November, the first two months of the open enrollment period.
While administration is touting the numbers as some sort of momentum after a disastrous rollout, it’s important to remember that an enrollment is not actually counted until the enrollee has paid their first month’s premium.
In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that she couldn’t provide any insight into how many customers have made payments to insurers. But a report yesterday from Charles Ornstein noted that some insurers have seen only a fraction of enrollees make a premium payment (emphasis added):
[A]mid the rush to enroll as many people as possible by the Dec. 23 deadline, there’s a huge caveat that isn’t getting much public attention: In order for coverage to take effect on Jan. 1, enrollees must pay their first month’s premium on time. (The deadline varies somewhat by state and by insurer.)
That’s slow going, according to consultants and some insurers, raising the prospect that actual enrollment will be far lower than the figures HHS is releasing.
The troubled rollout of Obamacare remains a point of contention between North Carolina voters and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), according to the latest survey from Public Policy Polling, and President Barack Obama’s unpopularity may also be hurting her.
Just 38% of North Carolina voters approve of Obamacare, while 50% disapprove of the law. The poll found that 65% voters in the state don’t believe the implementation of the law has been successful. Just 4% describe implementation as “very successful” and 26% say it has been “somewhat successful.”
Hagan is statistically tied with each of her five potential Republican opponents, confirming last month numbers, which found the led she once held over the GOP field entirely wiped away after the botched Obamacare rollout began.
Hagan leads state House Speaker Tom Tillis by a 2-point margin, 44/42, though, that’s within the poll’s margin of error. She is in a 43/43 tie with Mark Harris and Heather Grant. Hagan trails two of her potential opponents, Bill Flynn and Greg Brannon, 43/45.
Brannon, who has been endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), was the only Republican candidate to hold a lead over Hagan in last month’s Public Policy Polling survey. His lead was inside the margin of error.
The Department of Health and Human Services reported yesterday that 258,497 individuals selected health plans through the federal and state Obamacare exchanges in November, bringing the total of selected plans to 364,682 in the first two months of the open enrollment period.
These figures don’t necessarily represent the actual number of enrollments. HHS has included those who have selected a plan but haven’t completed the enrollment process in the numbers. That artificially inflates the numbers because not everyone who has chosen a plan will purchase coverage through the exchanges.
The numbers do show improvement for enrollment on the federal Obamacare exchange as 110,410 individuals selected a plan through Healthcare.gov in November compared to the 26,794 reported in October. In total, 137,204 individuals have selected a plan through the federal exchange.
State-based Obamacare exchanges reported 148,087 selected plans last month. Combined with October, 227,478 individuals have selected plans on state exchanges. Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island are bright spots for the administration as those three states have hit 21%, 35%, and 22% of their open enrollment estimates.
The administration reported that 406,816 individuals were deemed eligible to enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in November, bringing the two-month total to 803,077.
A new poll out of Arkansas shows that Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) now trails his Republican challenger, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), in the aftermath of the disastrous Obamacare rollout and news stories covering a wave of millions of health plan cancellations caused by the law.
The poll — conducted on behalf of the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, a conservative political action committee — found Cotton with a 7-point lead over Pryor, at 48/41. Cotton also leads Pryor among independent voters by a 21-point margin, according to the poll, which was first reported by Politico.
This race is a must-win for Republicans if they hope to take control of the Senate in the 2014 mid-term election. Pryor is considered to be the most vulnerable Senate Democrat up for re-election and has been trying to distance himself from President Obama, despite his support for much of the White House’s agenda.
The poll also found tepid support for Obamacare, as just 29% of Arkansas voters have a favorable opinion of law. Sentiment against the Obamacare is strong, however, as 62% have an unfavorable view. That is an ominous sign for Pryor, who has sought to justify his votes and constant support for the law.