Checking Up On Health: November 4, 2014

November 4th, 2014 by 1 Comment

Policy News and Views
Compiled by Benita M. Dodd


It’s Election Day in Georgia, so I’ll try to keep today’s post brief and election-related … or at least not stray too far!


In an Election-Day update e-mailed by Americans for Prosperity Georgia, Michael Harden, AFP’s Georgia State Director, wrote, “Under Harry Reid’s control, the current class of senators have done real harm to our economy and threatened American prosperity with their Big Government policies. They raised taxes on every single American, voted time and time again for more spending and debt, and voted for ObamaCare, a law that is wreaking havoc on the budgets and healthcare options of millions of families.”

Where’s Waldo? In a column in USA Today on October 13 headlined, “ObamaCare is hiding until after the election,” Robert Laszewski pointed out that the second Affordable Health Care open enrollment is scheduled to take place Nov. 15-Feb.15 and, “the Obama administration appears to be trying to silence potential critics. The administration has demanded that insurers who want to participate must maintain confidentiality about the testing of the enrollment system “with any person or entity, included but not limited to media …” This includes any “results of this testing exercise and any information describing or otherwise relating to the performance or functionality” of the ObamaCare enrollment and eligibility system. Laszewski also points out that in September, “the administration announced that 7.3 million people were insured under Obamacare as of mid-August. That was the first announcement of enrollment made by the administration since April. They provided just one number and no backup and admitted that they had been collecting enrollment data from insurers all along. They conveniently reported this figure just before enrollment is expected to take a big fall when thousands of people hit the deadline to clear up discrepancies in their income and legal resident status or risk losing subsidies or coverage altogether. We still don’t know how many lost coverage or are still in limbo.

Why not open their books and give us a good look at who is really enrolled in the program? Why not now let consumers know now what their 2015 ObamaCare health insurance rates look like?

For the same reason the administration delayed the start of the 2015 open enrollment from last year’s October 1st start date to November 15th this year.

There is an election on November 4th. Every administration spins the facts. But when it comes to a lack of openness and transparency about ObamaCare, this administration has no peer.

Working or not? “While good, affordable health care might seem like a fanged threat to the freedom of the American people on Fox News – it turns out it’s working pretty well in the real world,” President Obama said in a recent speech.

Which begs the question: If it works so well, why didn’t Democrats trumpet ObamaCare in campaigning? According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, a new Kaiser Family Foundation study shows that “only 14 percent of political ads aired since January have mentioned the Affordable Care Act, with most coming from Republicans.” The article notes that the most recent Gallup Poll figures show that just 38-43 percent of Americans approve of ObamaCare. Support is even lower when narrowed by state: 29 percent in Arkansas, 34 percent in Louisiana and 37 percent in New Hampshire.

GOP hot button: Republicans hammered home the problems with the Affordable Care Act, running nearly 13,000 anti-ObamaCare ads in Senate races during the week of October 20-26, the Weekly Standard reports. That’s after they ran nearly 12,000 anti-ObamaCare ads during the week of October 13-19 and over 11,000 during the week of October 6-12.  In each of those three weeks, Republicans ran far more ads against ObamaCare than they — or the Democrats — ran‎ on any other issue. Source: Weekly Standard.

Ebola update

I hope you read the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s commentary last week, “What Economics Can Teach Us about Ebola,” by John C. Goodman. He reminded us that most people in health policy take the social engineering approach and, “That is why there have been so many mistakes and so many failures of policy – ranging from Obamacare to Ebola control.”

Quotes of note

“My hospitalist colleagues and I are caring for patients in hospital beds in the exact same way as other patients in the hospital, but we are told that we must give them the designation called observation status. CMS recognizes observation status as outpatient care, like seeing a patient in a walk-in clinic. … We are being watched by people paid by our hospitals to make sure that no patient is given acute inpatient status who might possibly be called observation status by someone else.  That someone else is the recovery audit contractor (RAC) program.  The RAC auditors are paid by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) only if they find patients that we cared for in hospital beds just like all the other patients in the hospital who we ‘fraudulently’ called inpatients.” – Dr. Melinda Johnson

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