Saturday, January 18, 2014

Just the Facts, Mr. President

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963),  Notes on Dogma

Next week the House of Representatives will introduce a bill, Health Exchange #3362,  to force the Obama administration and CMS to release weekly updated information on health exchange enrollments.  

The information requested will include number of visits to the, the number of people applying, their ZIP codes,   the number of unique visitors,  level of health plans enrolled in,  and  number who pay to be enrolled.

To date, the administration has only supplied monthly figures and has pleaded ignorance  or has been vague about the demographic mix of how many were young and how many were previously insured, what kind of plan they planned to enroll, and how many paid their first premium.

The House request for more timely and frequent information is tied to the growing suspicion that the administration is fudging the numbers ( it has announced that 2.2 million have visited the site and 4 million have joined Medicaid but has disclosed little else) and that ObamaCare enrollment is falling far short of expectations (the 2.2 million is nowhere near the 7 million projected by the end of December).  

This suspicious is reflected in conservative media reports.

·         January 18, “Coverage Expansion Fails: Less Than one-Third of ObamaCare Exchange Enrollees Were Previously Uninsured,Forbes
·         January 18,  “Little Progress on Uninsured for Exchanges, “ Wall Street Journal

This skepticism also results from the failure to persuade uninsured the young and healthy and minorities, especially Hispanics, to sign on the exchanges.  Only 11% of consumers who bought new coverage were previously uninsured.  Higher premiums and deductibles in health exchange plans are perceived at a “bad deal” and have discouraged enrollment among young invincibles, minorities,  and the middle class earning less than 4 times the poverty level.

The administration may be withholding precise information in hopes that their six-month celebrity-linked multimillion dollar ad campaign will pay off in better numbers, and the unconvinced and unpersuaded will flock to enroll.  

These better numbers, they believe, will encourage more of the right people, i.e. the young and healthy, to enroll.    CMS says it "does not know” the true numbers or the demographics of those who are enrolling.  Believe that , given the $684 million the administration have already invested and the millions more it already is investing,  and I have a bridge to sell you.  

The U.S. government is no helpless, hapless health information giant.   It simply has an unpopular product the public is not buying.  The reasons for the unpopularity are apparent:  ObamaCare has not lived up to its goals of expanding coverage for the uninsured, cutting costs, improving quality, expanding access, reducing waiting lines, allowing Americans to keep their plan or their doctor,  or improving affordability for the middle class.   

Indeed, many of the previously insured middle class, whose plans have been cancelled or dropped  because of the unaffordability for employers or health plans, feel they have been sacrificed on the altar of big government and its failed promises to erase inequality.

The House of Representative, with its bill forcing the Obama administration to release accurate weekly figure is saying:

Please, Mr. President,
No more stonewalling,
No more apalling stalling,
Please be more transparent
Just give us facts concurrent.
We're all grown adults.
Please, just the results.

Tweet:  House of Representatives will pass a bill forcing the Obama administration to release accurate weekly enrollment figures.

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