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Moderates. Sort Of.

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There were elections in the United States last night, what are called “off year” elections, meaning races in a year when there is no presidential contest.

I am usually pretty up on elections. They interest me in a lot of ways, and not only elections for President.

Last  night, though, I  was less than usually engaged. It was, after all, an off-off-year election cycle.  No federal offices were on the line at all except possibly in places where somebody had died and there had to be a special election.

In my own state, the races were all local. They chose new mayors in New Britain and New Haven.  My town voted for school board.

School board elections can be very dramatic in some places, but not where I live.  We tend to agree on the big issues (like creationism and evolution, and saluting the flag, and that sort of thing), and to hunker down over who’s going to go toe to toe with Hartford over mandatory pension contributions or how many teachers’ aides we really need.

This kind of thing can get very heated, but let’s face it.  It’s also local. If you care passionately whether we should have a piano teacher twice a week at the elementary school, you live here.

Part of the reason for the lack of my usual interest last night was the fact that so many of the races I might have been interested in were billed as sure things way in advance.

I don’t know anybody who expected anybody but Christie to win in New Jersey, although apparently the double digit blow out was something of a surprise.

The New York City mayoralty race wasn’t even that interesting.  It was billed as a blow out for de Blasio, and it was a blow out for de Blasio.

The only event of interest turned out to be the Virginia governor’s race, which had also been billed as a blow out, this time for the Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe.

It ended up being so close that people are wandering around shocked as hell this morning that the Republicans aren’t calling for a recount.  And the race would have almost certainly gone to the Republican if there had not been a Libertarian Party candidate in the race.

And this in spite of the fact that McAuliffe outspent Cucchinelli almost exponentially, and the national Republicans had pulled most of their money out a month before the voting happened.

If I was a Republican this morning, I’d be kicking myself for not giving Ken Cucchinelli the kind of support the party gave McDonald in years past.

But if I was a Democrat, I’d be terrified.

The blogs are full of the exit polling this morning, and what the exit polling makes clear is that almost everybody who voted against McAuliffe–and that was more than half the voters–did so because they were opposed to Obamacare.

Anger in the media isn’t the same thing as anger in the country, so I’ve been listening to the snap, crackle and pop of the Obamacare outrage with half a year.

But it’s  more and more clear that the “you can keep your plan” thing is Obama’s “read my lips” moment, and that if it had come before the 2012 elections, he would not have won that race.

And in the meantime, the spin from the Democrats is that 1) the plans that are being cancelled are just bad plans that nobody would ever want and 2) the Obamacare replacement plans are much better and provide better coverage and more coverage and 3) it’s not really about people having choice, it’s about are we going to let insurance companies sell “substandard” plans.

In other words, the Democrats seem to be incapable of dealing with what is actually the problem here.

So let me try:

1) “substandard” plans are only “substandard” by the definition of the ACA–and what the ACA calls “substandard” may be what I call absolutely great.

In fact, I guarantee it will be, since any plan that forces me to contribute to “mental health” services is substandard by every definition of the word I have.

2) It is not true that every Obamacare replacement plan means lower deductibles and lower out of pocket costs than the “substandard” plan it replaces.

In fact, of the 30 or so of us who have been talking about this lately–mystery writers tend to be freelance and to buy their own insurance–NOBODY has yet been offered a plan with lower deductibles and lower out of pocket costs.

Everyone who has actually managed to get a look at plans at all has seen nothing but higher deductibles, higher out of pocket costs, and higher premiums.

Of course, most of us have not been able to see any plans, so maybe that will straighten out.

But I’m not sanguine, and neither is anybody else.

3) The parts of the ACA that had to do with things like whether an insurance company would be allowed to cancel your policy if you got seriously sick are beside the point.

Yes, all of those things are very nice, but none of them required a 2000 page bill to get implemented.

Most states have afforded those protections to group plans for decades.  In Connecticut, before the ACA, every insurance company operating in the state was required to offer at least one guaranteed-issue (no turning you down for pre existing conditions) group-of-one plan for the self employed.

Meaning that, unlike a regular individual plan, they couldn’t cancel on you and the contract didn’t run out every year so that they’d have a chance not to renew.

And the premiums were part of a structure that kept them from getting ridiculous.

And we managed to do all that without massively overhauling everybody’s plan, requiring people to buy lots of insurance they didn’t want (mental health benefits!)

Those plans, by the way, are gone. And not because the insurance companies are being bad. They’re gone because Obamacare requires them to be gone. 

To be replaced by higher premiums and “mental health” benefits.

4) Circulating the stories of one person or another who was mistaken about her individual plan and found Obamacare better doesn’t negate the vastly more numerous stories about people who are getting screwed.  They’re really getting screwed. 

5) Stop, already, with that thing about “plans were grandfathered in unless they changed.”

The grandfathered in thing was a bait and switch.   Kathleen Sebelius, who seems to believe she’s inherited the divine right of kings, defined “changed” so narrowly that virtually no plan qualified. 

And it is Sebelius, not Congress, who determines what is in this law. 

The law contained a provision requiring Congressional staffers to buy insurance on the exchanges just like everybody else. 

This was NOT a place where the law said “the secretary will decide.”

But, no permission to decide or not, Sebilius…just changed it.

And that, I think, pretty much does away with even the pretense of representative government.  Our elected leaders can pass any law they want, but the regulatory agencies get to ignore it at will and substitute their own decisions.

6) The next tsunami on the horizon is going to be the problem of doctors, a fair number of whom are already refusing to sign on with plans offered through the exchanges.

  This is partially an issue of money (they don’t think they’ll be paid enough) and partially an issue of regulations about things like record keeping, staffing, and compliance burdens that seem to be designed to drive doctors out of private practice and into hospital employment or larger and more bureaucratized practices.

The reason that’s going to be a tsunami is that it’s going to start to hit when the employer mandate does.

Which is in 2014.

Which is an election year. 

I suppose they could delay the employer mandate yet again.

But it would definitely look peculiar.

Written by janeh

November 6th, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses to 'Moderates. Sort Of.'

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  1. I am not going to comment of the idea of a national health insurance scheme. But a 2000 page law sounds like a national income protection scheme for lawyers.

    Computers have been around for over 50 years and the industry has learned a good deal about how to manage large projects. One of my email friends in the US is a specialist in Software Testing. She says the testing blogs are full of comments that the design of the web site (including the parts not visible to the public) makes every mistake in the book!

    jd

    6 Nov 13 at 3:09 pm

  2. Why keep jumping on Sebelius, and not the person who appointed her, at whose pleasure she serves, and who has never reversed any of her decisions? When you’re insulted by Charlie McCarthy, surely your quarrel is with Edgar Bergen?

    Obama delivered exactly what he promised. At the least, this was all agreed to in 2009, and I don’t have much sympathy with the people who are now surprised by it.

    As for the freelancers, may I at least be spared the complaints of all the ones who’ve spent the last 20 years using church attendance or conservatism as markers for their villainous and stupid characters? They may whine now, but they’ll be back in the tank for the next “progressive” in 2016.

    Cranky? Yes, of course–but mostly because I’m right.

    robert_piepenbrink

    6 Nov 13 at 7:26 pm

  3. Go, Robert, you rollicking good thing, you!

    I just love watching the usual suspects rationalising their continuing love-in with the most corrupt and incompetent President and administration in living memory. They make Nixon look like a boy scout.

    Just about every stinking pile of political ordure necessary to condemn Obama and his gang as the thugs they are was as visible and noisome long before the last Presidential elections as it is now. Obamacare was obviously a crock from the outset for those with any experience of actually functional, if not entirely cost-effective, government-mandated health schemes.

    VDH once again enumerates the long list of sins of commission and omission of this administration in this ode to Hilary. http://victorhanson.com/wordpress/?p=6713#more-6713

    None of the above stopped liberals from voting Obama a second term to complete the job of reducing the US to Putin’s and the Middle East’s “bitch”. And, just watch, come 2016, Hillary will romp it in. Stupid is as stupid does.

    Mique

    6 Nov 13 at 8:13 pm

  4. I maintain my determination to ignore US politics. But as a retired IT professional, I can’t help looking at Obamacare with the horrified fascination of a helpless spectator watching a run-a-way train.

    The report that “we are bringing in the best and brightest” is know as throwing warm bodies at a problem. A typical response of desperate managers. It almost never works and usually makes the problem worse!

    jd

    6 Nov 13 at 9:44 pm

  5. What’s the old saying? “Just because one woman can make a baby in 9 months, that doesn’t mean 9 women can do it in 4 weeks.”

    Software is kinda like that. Perhaps granting the job to a Canadian company (and who thought THAT was a good idea?) that had failed at a major project previously wasn’t the way to go. They would have done better with a small team, perhaps 20 or so, of world-class talents in each necessary field, co-opted the Massachusetts team that already had a successful site up, and rolled out one state at a time instead of one massive glob of crap.

    Oh, and while they were at it, not stolen crappy code and neglected to even file off the serial numbers. :/

    This is what happens when you throw TOO much money at a problem. Nothing gets done, except the money disappears.

    Lymaree

    6 Nov 13 at 11:49 pm

  6. Lymaree, how right you are. Taking the ACA law as a job description, a 2000 page law almost guarantees failure!

    But they had political types making the decisions and leaving the IT people to hold the can.

    jd

    7 Nov 13 at 1:09 am

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