Chaos and Confusion as enrollment begins in ObamaCare’s “exchanges”

By Dave Andrusko

A woman looks at the HealthCare.gov exchanges. (AFP/Getty)

A woman looks at the HealthCare.gov exchanges. (AFP/Getty)

The Obama administration and its legion of defenders always bounced between predicting that today’s first day enrollment in the health-insurance marketplaces around the country (“exchanges”) would be smooth as silk or filled with (the magic word) glitches. As anyone who’d followed this at all, or read any of the explanations of ObamaCare offered by places like today’s Washington Post would know, the most likely scenario was exactly what happened: problems galore. We will get to that momentarily.

First, a quick but hugely important aside. Remember how President Obama

said unequivocally, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan”? It’s been pointed out since before ObamaCare passed into law three years ago that wasn’t—couldn’t—be so.

As a number of sources have pointed out over the last 24 hours, the Associated Press finally got around to doing a kind of “Fact Check” on claims made by supporters and critics yesterday. In one instance AP’s Calvin Woodward quoted Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) from a few days ago quoting the President’s promise. According to Woodward:

“THE FACTS: McCarthy is correct, Obama said exactly that. It was an empty promise, made repeatedly. [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius picks her words more carefully but still offers misleading assurances.

“Nothing in the health care law guarantees that people can keep the health insurance they already have. Costs can rise, benefits can change and employers can drop coverage.

“Insurance policies that are offered must now meet minimum standards, covering more preventive services, for example, and larger employers that don’t offer insurance to workers will face penalties when that provision of the law, delayed by Obama, comes into effect. But that doesn’t mean the status quo goes on for those who like what they’ve got now.”

At 2:03, under the headline, “Obamacare site goes live, with some glitches,” we’re learn from the Washington Post that a lady from my neck of the woods came in and that “Center staff told her the Web site was down and that they could not yet enroll her or tell her how much it would cost. ”

After a few “success” stories, we’re told, “[A]s late as 11 a.m., many people who were trying to sign up on Healthcare.gov were getting error messages, including one warning the “system is down” and another saying that too many people are flooding the site.

In another Post story we read

“State-operated sites also experienced glitches. Rhode Island’s site opened as scheduled, but was quickly overwhelmed by visitors and went down. A spokesman for the New York Department of Health blamed problems with the 2 million visits to the website in the first 90 minutes after its launch. Washington state’s marketplace used Twitter to thank users for their patience.

“Exchange officials in Colorado said their website would not be fully functional for the first month, although consumers will be able to get help applying for government subsidies during that time. Hawaii’s marketplace wasn’t allowing people to compare plans and prices.”

And so forth.

By the way, speaking of truth-telling, one of the Post’s longest stories today is “Everything you need to know about life under ObamaCare” in which two writers answer what they assume would be representative questions. As you would expect from a newspaper that strongly supported Obama and ObamaCare, potential (and already real) problems are minimized; many questions are answered, “It depends…”; and there is a joke about “death panels” (there aren’t any, even if the imaginary questioner “wants” one).

This is very cute except it avoids a number of disturbing truths. One is that an unelected 18-member Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) has been given sweeping powers to limit what people are allowed to spend for health care. Not the government’s money, but THEIR money.

As documented with specific quotes from the legislation, the Obama Health Care Law specifically directs the board to make “recommendations to slow the growth in national health expenditures” for private – not just governmentally fund– dollars devoted to health care. These recommendations are supposed to limit what ordinary citizens and their health insurance coverage can pay for medical treatment to force it below the rate of medical inflation.

To implement these recommendations, the federal Department of Health and Human Services is empowered to impose so-called “quality” and “efficiency” measures on health care providers. Doctors who violate a “quality” standard by prescribing more life-saving medical treatment than it permits will be disqualified from contracting with any of the health insurance plans that individual Americans, under the Obama Health Care Law, will be mandated to purchase. Few doctors would be able to remain in practice if subjected to that penalty.

This means that treatment that a doctor and patient deem advisable to save that patient’s life or preserve or improve the patient’s health, but which exceeds the standard imposed by the government, will be denied even if the patient is willing and able to pay for it!

There will be other stories tomorrow about Day One, Plus One. But for today be sure to also read “National Right to Life Blasts Obama Administration’s Final Rule, Charging that the Government is ‘Falsifying” what the Law Says.’”

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