LA Senate: Mary Landrieu a no show at event promoting Obamacare

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited New Orleans yesterday to promote Obamacare, part of the administration’s final push to boost enrollment before the clock runs out on March 31.

Guess who decided to skip out on the event? Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), even though the Senate was not in session and no committee meetings were on the books, according to the chamber calendar. Bayou Buzz pointed out that Landrieu wasn’t mentioned on the official schedule sent out by HHS, nor was there any mention of her in The Times-Picayune’s coverage of the event.

Her brother, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, appeared alongside Sebelius to promote the unpopular law. He tweeted out this photo of him standing behind the HHS secretary, no Mary Landrieu to be found.

Landrieu avoided appearing with President Barack Obama when he visited New Orleans in November, claiming that she had another event scheduled. She did, however, travel with him in Air Force One.

Pelosi wants you to know that Obamacare is a winning issue — but don’t call it “Obamacare”

During her weekly press conference on Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) again told reporters that Obamacare will be a winning issue Democrats in the 2014 mid-term election. But don’t you dare call it Obamacare!

The ex-House Speaker was responding to a question about whether “Obamacare is a winner or loser” for House Democrats in swing districts. “You have to ask the member,” Pelosi replied, “but I believe that it’s a winner.”

Pelosi then began an odd rant in which she chastised the report for calling the unpopular law “Obamacare.”

“By the way, it’s called the Affordable Care Act. It’s called the Affordable Care Act. I know you didn’t intend any compliment or derogatory — it’s called the Affordable Care Act,” said Pelosi. “And the Affordable Care Act, when people know what it is and see what it means to them.”

The reporter who asked the question noted that the only reason he used the term “Obamacare” is because President Obama himself has embraced it. “And I tell him the same thing I told you,” she replied with an awkward laugh. “Affordable. Affordable. There’s a reason. Affordable. Affordable. Affordable. Affordable. Affordable.”

CBO director warns of “unpleasant” choices on federal spending

The growth of federal entitlements programs is the biggest fiscal issue facing the United States, says CBO Director Doug Elmendorf, and it’s one that is going to require Washington to make some “unpleasant” choices, preferably sooner rather than later:

“So we have a choice as a society to either scale back those programs relative to what is promised under current law; or to raise tax revenue above its historical average to pay for the expansion of those programs; or to cut back on all other spending even more sharply than we already are,” Elmendorf said.

“And we haven’t actually decided as a society…what we’re going to do. But some combination of those three choices will be needed.”

Elmendorf said there are various ways to proceed: “But they tend to be unpleasant in one way or another, and we have not, as a society, decided how much of that sort of unpleasantness to inflict on whom.”

Though there’s a lot of attention paid to short-term deficits, this is symptomatic of a much, much larger problem. It’s not a new crisis, and it’s one that most people in Washington realize exists. The CBO has been pointing out these concerns for some time, most recently its September long-term budget report.

This analysis anticipated that spending as a percentage of GDP would rise to 26.2%, based on current law, and federal revenues will come in around 19.5%. The budget deficit as a percentage would be 6.4% and the public’s share of the national debt will hit 100%.

Today in Liberty: CNN stoops to a new low, our insurance salesman-in-chief

“The proverb warns that ‘You should not bite the hand that feeds you.’ But maybe you should if it prevents you from feeding yourself.” — Thomas Szasz

— CNN apparently now run by Alex Jones: CNN has been following the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 almost nonstop for several days now, seeing it as ratings gold. But the cable network’s coverage, which had already jumped the shark, fell to a new low last night when host Don Lemon asked panelists “is it preposterous” to think a black hole caused the plane to crash? CNN is still relevant, they said. Give it a chance, they said. It’s like they’re not even trying anymore.

— Insurance Salesman-in-Chief: The presidency used to be considered a prestigious office with heavy influence and gravitas. But the influence of the office has been reduced to appearances on radio and television talk shows as President Obama tries to sell his healthcare law to a skeptical public, the latest of which will be a live interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The appearances are targeted to reach a certain audience and it’s probably a smart strategy to get a message to the crowd they’re trying to reach. At the same time, however, it’s just sad to see a president reduced to being a cheap insurance salesman. Well, that and a college basketball expert.

White House admits Obamacare “enrollment” numbers are inflated

The Obama administration boasted on Monday that 5 million Americans have enrolled in health plans through the Obamacare exchanges, putting the White House within reach of a revised CBO estimate with around two weeks to go before the end of the open enrollment period.

But when asked whether the number of enrollments being reported was accurate, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney admitted that the administration doesn’t know how many people have actually made a premium payment.

“[Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] is working to provide more detailed data on who has already paid their premiums — what percentage of the population of enrollees that includes,” Carney said cautiously. “We can point you to major insurers who have placed that figure at 80%, give or take, depending on the insurer.”

“But we don’t have specific data that is, you know, in a reliable enough form to provide,” he added.

Cancer patient struggles to pay for Obamacare plan

 Tony Angran

An Iowa pastor and Stage 3 cancer patient has determined that Obamacare isn’t unaffordable. He and his family are trying to figure out how to cover the cost of an $850 monthly premium for health plan they purchased, and they’re asking those who hear their story for prayers:

Pastor Tony Angran of Centerville was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus in January. He had insurance, but it did not cover certain things, like chemo. Since then, he has racked up $50,000 in medical bills and emptied his savings account.

So Angran signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchange. But with premiums of $850 per month, Angran says it isn’t affordable either, and he can’t get the treatment he needs until he has the right insurance. “I’m struggling here with stage three cancer and they’re sending me to the financial person to find out how are you going to pay for this?” Angran says.

Under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, Pastor Angran also has to wait two weeks before the coverage will kick in, so he has to put off his cancer treatments until then.

Unlike other horror stories we’ve heard, this one is unique because it shows the problems of the pre-Obamacare system and very real concerns being expressed by many families about the cost of these plans. It’s not your average Obamacare horror story, but it’s a horror story, nonetheless.

CO Senate: Republicans competitive as Obama, Obamacare hang over Udall

Once thought to be a relatively safe bet for reelection, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) has found himself racing a tough race against Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) as the map of competitive Senate races expands into Colorado, a state that President Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012.

A poll released by Public Policy Polling on Tuesday found that Udall holds a 2-point lead, 42/40, over Gardner. Udall’s lead is within the poll’s 4.1% margin of error, meaning that the race is statistically tied.

Gardner, a two-term Congressman, entered the race late last month and is seen as the strongest candidate Republicans have to taken on Obamacare. Ken Buck dropped out of the race a day after Gardner announced. Owen Hill, a state senator with Tea Party backing, announced his exit from the race this week, leaving no serious primary challenge to Gardner.

Though Udall’s approval rating is slightly above water, 41/40, those numbers are concerning for any politician entering an election year. Making the Colorado Democrat’s problems worse are President Obama’s underwater approval rating, 43/53, and tepid support for Obamacare.

ObamaCare Is Doomed Without the Youth

The fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act seems bleak and who will end up undoubtedly losing because of that?


By now, 4.2 million people have picked their plan through the ObamaCare exchange website, a figure that is not even close to the administration’s original 7 million goal.

The Obama administration estimated that by the end of the open enrollment season for health coverage through the exchange program, which ends in one month, at least 38.5 percent of enrollees should consist of young men and women under the age of 35.

According to the latest reports, however, only 25 percent of enrollees happen to be in the “invincible” age group. At this rate, the Obama administration might not be able to get at least 1.8 million people to sign up until the end of March, which could trigger costs to exceed premiums. Once that happens, insurance companies will break even only with the help of hefty federal subsidies.

Because the program cannot stay solvent without the participation of young players, the Department of Health and Human Services has been insisting that a greater number of young enrollees will eventually sign up just before the deadline expires. It might still be early to know whether the HHS will be able to obtain the number of enrollees it needs. At the moment, many questions concerning the real number of paying enrollees linger, as the percentage of those who have picked a plan through the ObamaCare exchange website and have also made their payment hasn’t been disclosed.

Insurers: Obamacare premiums will skyrocket

Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tried to downplay the expected rise in health insurance premiums last week, telling a House committee that premiums would ”go up at a smaller pace than what we’ve seen since 2010.”

Those comments are already questionable. Obamacare caused the average individual health plan premium to increase by 39% between 2013 and 2014 and the average family plan to increase by 56%, according to data provided last month by eHealthInsurance.com.

These increases surpass the average of the previous eight years combined, a consequence of the law’s actuarial requirements, taxes and fees, as well as the mandated essential benefits.

For their part, insurers are disputing Sebelius’ claim, The Hill reports. They’re expecting premiums to rise sharply in some areas of the country, perhaps double or triple, which is partially blamed on the botched rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange:

Health industry officials say ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country, countering claims recently made by the administration.
“It’s pretty shortsighted because I think everybody knows that the way the exchange has rolled out … is going to lead to higher costs,” said one senior insurance executive who requested anonymity.

Today in Liberty: NSA watchdog left in dark about spying, Dem pundits see writing on the wall

“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” — P.J. O’Rourke

— House GOP Obamacare alternative still missing: Republicans have made Obamacare repeal a central part of their campaign platform, but they’ve yet to coalesce around a single set of specific proposals to pitch to voters, even though there’s been a lot of talk about rolling out a plan this year. “Republicans aren’t even convinced they will find consensus on any specific set of new health care bills. The ideas they’re discussing — the ability to buy insurance across state lines, wider use of health savings accounts and cutting federal regulations — are the same principles they have kicked around since 2009,” wrote John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman. “But the party is not much closer to finding a proposal — or set of proposals — that would garner enough Republican support to pass the House.”

— Who’s watching the watchers?: The Defense Department’s internal watchdog was left in the dark about the NSA’s most controversial domestic surveillance program. “The bulk of that is in reviews that we have done, and in the collaborative work that we have done with the NSA IG,” Anthony Thomas, who is charged with oversight over the NSA, told The Guardian. “From my own personal knowledge, those programs, in and of themselves, I was not personally aware.” Oh, and he’s not investigating the NSA over the programs either, despite the ongoing controversy. That’s comforting.


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