Monday, December 16, 2013

Dishonest distortions of Obamacare from the New York Times editorial board.

As has already been documented here on previous occasions,  the New York Times editorial board, in a number of editorials praising Obamacare have either been badly out of touch with reality or instead choose simply to distort it. And they remind us again to consider the source -- a group of people whose medical insurance is taken care of by the New York Times Company and so will never have need of Obamacare while pontificating on how good it is for everyone else.

In it's most recent editorial in praise of Obamacare and its "success", this is how the editors of the NY Times chooses to frame the most recent set of facts: 

"At the current rate, more than a million people may (italics mine) select private health plans by Jan. 1, the earliest date the new policies can take effect. That’s fewer than the administration had originally hoped, but surprisingly robust given the start-up troubles."    

Characterizing the sign ups of more than a million "at the current rate" as "fewer" than the administration had hoped  is an understatement so preposterous as to reduce the editorial to a PR release.

What the administration had hoped for was 7 million sign ups by the end of the year.  Even with the glitches in the web site, calling one million sign ups out of a hoped for number of 7 million simply "fewer"  is not journalism. It's not even opinion anyone can respect. It is propagandizing, distorting facts, and in essence leaving out or sugar coating inconvenient facts that reveal just how badly Obamacare is doing.  As Warren Buffet predicted it would. And justifying Howard Dean's calling for Democrats to "junk" the bill that became Obamacare and pass the public option.

As for their editorializing that the sign ups are "suprisingly robust" that too is pure distortion. What the Times editorial fails to point out is that while boasting of 803,000 expanded Medicaid sign ups  out of the total 1.2 million sign ups at the Obamacare web site, Medicaid sign ups are in no way a reflection or barometer of success for Obamacare. And for three reasons.

 First and foremost,  for Obamacare to succeed at all, it is entirely dependent on signing up all 32 million uninsured into private healthcare insurance policies that they must buy -- not Medicaid enrollments.  The 365,000 non-Medicaid enrollments represents only 1% of the number needed to make Obamacare successful on its own terms. Which, even then, wouldnt produce real healthcare reform.

Medicaid enrollments, while expanding Medicaid eligibility to a more reasonable qualifying income (133% of the poverty line), will do nothing to make Obamacare successful. Only all of the 32 million uninsured purchasing health insurance can do that. And right now  the number of enrollments based on all applications filled out is less that 3%.And, as pointed out earlier only 1% of what's needed, based on the most recent figures of 365,000 plans purchased nationwide.

Based on every indication, signing up all 32 million uninsured is never going to happen. In fact Obama will be lucky to get 10% of that number, which would still be a disaster for Obamacare. And no surprise given the low end polices being offered by insurance companies  offering skimpy coverage for exorbitant premiums and high deductibles and co-pays, and offers very little government help by way of subsidies for people making $40,000 a year or more.  Based on what's been offered, it is almost a certainty that people who do not have health insurance now because they cant afford it will never buy into this mess. And the numbers show it.

Without the young, healthy uninsured putting their money into the pool to offset the costs for the elderly and chronically or catastrophically ill, insurance premiums will sky rocket in the future for those who already had insurance prior to Obamacare,  to pay for the mandates involving pre-existing conditions and eliminating the cap on coverage. And the vast majority of the 32 million will remain uninsured, adding to the cost of healthcare.

The second reason Medicaid sign ups do not contribute to any success of Obamacare is that Medicaid expansion would have been unnecessary under the public option, the healthcare plan a vast majority of Americans wanted, that Obama and the Democrats had the votes to pass, but which Obama sold out to the health insurance lobby in perhaps the most egregious sell out of a public policy and cave in by a publicly elected official to a lobbying group in American history.
 Under the public option,  those who are now qualifying for Medicaid would have gotten the same free healthcare coverage without expanding Medicaid while everyone else would have had the option for Medicare-like coverage for a fraction of what they're paying now, something that would have lowered health care costs,(something Obamacare doesn't even touch) and would have been a boon to business whose skyrocketing health care costs are paid for by consumers in the cost of goods and services. 

The third reason Medicaid expansion is no indication of success for Obamacare is that the same Medicaid expansion could have been passed as a standalone without Obamacare whose entire reason for being is to get the uninsured to buy insurance from the health insurance companies who are the ones who set the premiums and conditions. Given that less than 3% of people who do get to the web site and fill out applications sign up for insurance company polices once they see what's being offered, more access to the web site will not mean a higher percentage of enrollments. 

The NY Times editorial board have consistently been out of touch with the healthcare debate,as well as reality and the gross flaws and failures of Obamacare that go far beyond its web site as evidenced by a quotation from one of its past editorials which  cited that "the premiums being offered through Obamacare  may not be bargain basement prices, but it is like shopping at Filene's".

That's something sure to give comfort to a family of four in Mississippi with an income of $40,000 a year looking at premiums of $1,069 a month under Obamacare. Or the single person making $40,000 a year in New York City looking at  a silver plan, the next to cheapest plan on the exchanges, offering health insurance for $611 a month with a $6,000 deductible and 40% co-pay.

What the Times editorial board ought to do is tell the truth about the serious endemic failures of Obamacare, its almost certain demise and to tell the truth about Obama's cave in on the public option. And point out the price Democrats have paid and are still paying for going along with the Obama-Pelosi sell out,  and to start advocating for the public option, the healthcare reform that would have had none of the current and future problems of Obamacare and would have constituted real reform.  And they could start rallying Democrats to promise to pass the public option if they gain control of the House in 2014.  Because if they don't , and can't get out from under Obamacare as they need to, they could get wiped out of congress in 2014 just like they did in 2010. And for the same reason -- Obamacare instead of the public option.

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