WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration Friday pulled the plug on a major program in the president’s signature health overhaul law – a long-term care insurance plan dogged from the beginning by doubts over its financial solvency.
Targeted by congressional Republicans for repeal, the long-term care plan became the first casualty in the political and policy wars over the health care law. The program had been expected to launch in 2013.
Although sponsored by the government, it was supposed to function as a self-sustaining voluntary insurance plan, open to working adults regardless of age or health. Workers would pay an affordable monthly premium during their careers, and could collect a modest daily cash benefit of at least $50 if they became disabled later in life. Beneficiaries could use the money for services to help them stay at home, or to help with nursing home bills.
But a central design flaw dogged CLASS from the beginning. Unless large numbers of healthy people willingly sign up during their working years, soaring premiums driven by the needs of disabled beneficiaries would destabilize it, eventually requiring a taxpayer bailout.
After months insisting that problems could be resolved, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, finally admitted Friday she doesn’t see how that can be done.
“Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time,” Sebelius said in a letter to congressional leaders.
So it turns out bureaucrats in Washington really don’t know everything. No matter how smart they think they are they simply can’t design the perfect system, or even a system that works better than what we have.
Remember how strange it was for the Democrats to nominate someone running as an anti-war candidate despite having voted to authorize the war he now opposed? Remember how Kerry spent most of the campaign talking about that rather than moving on to his other issues (whatever those may have been)? Remember how Kerry’s repeated explanation – that he supported the war until George Bush flubbed it up – never really caught on because it was plainly nothing more than political opportunism?
Anyone else see the problem with this idea? By “repealing” Obamacare through an executive order, you allow the next Democrat president to, um, unrepeal it through an executive order. Smooth move, Romster.
Whether or not this would be an appropriate use of the executive order, why wouldn’t a Republican president try to get the law repealed for reals? I understand that going to Congress is no longer in style, but I bet if there’s a Republican president in 2013, there will also be a Republican Congress that is open to suggestions.
Alter: If you look at social legislation, the health care bill is the biggest piece of social legislation since Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
Stewart (joking): Well, It’s a government take over of healthcare. It’s socialism.
Alter: (laughing): That’s right. We’ve been told. But, you know, insuring 30 million Americans and ending discrimination against sick people is not a minor thing. I think we will look back and say “Can you believe that we used to live in a country where if you got cancer, you used to have to sell your house?“ We’re not going to live in that country anymore and that’s a good thing.
Via Peter Suderman, some 200+ organizations representing half a percent of then total US workforce have successfully applied for waivers to ObamaCare’s mandate for all-bells-and-whistles employee health insurance. In other words, these companies don’t need to insure their part-time workers like the rest of us do and can continue to use older systems that provide less-than-awesome health insurance for their employees. Good news for those companies and their part-time employees, who likely would have been laid off otherwise.
Conservative commentary about ObamaCare — e.g., Gov. Palin’s “death panel” comments — presumes that the previous health care regime was free of any picking of winners and losers. This is nonsense, of course; insurance companies have picked winners and losers from time immemorial, often deciding when to pay benefits based on cold, heartless financial calculation.† Sometimes this was fair, and sometimes it was grossly unjust. But all ObamaCare ever will do — at the cost of adding 2,000 pages to the Federal Code — is transfer that power from private enterprise to the Federal Government. So rather than have Big Evil Insurance ration our care based on a profit motive, we now have HHS do it based on political patronage.
That’s progress for you.
* On the assumption that one more shock can do no harm, the HHS website this was posted on only displays this information is a horrible, horrible HTML table; to crunch the numbers, I had to open the page in iE (cringe), paste it into Word, then paste that into Excel. You keep things snazzy Sec. Sebelius.
† Which, by the way, is the way capitalism works. If it didn’t work that way, everyone would be very moral and equally poor (which sort of sucks for everyone, right?). Of course, smart companies also factor in the cost irate customers and negative media coverage so though the process is messy and causes people to fall through the cracks, it’s hardly unchecked.
That federal mandates threatened perfectly respectable health care programs insured hundreds of thousands of low-skill, low-income workers? Or;
That the only companies able to get exemptions on such mandates were those big enough to throw around their weight in Washington.
It’s a rhetorical question, as both happened thanks to the Glory and Wonder™ that is ObamaCare. Here’s hoping every single congressman who voted for that wretched bill is thrown to the dogs this November and forced to find a normal job. Too bad most of them have options besides working for small companies without McDonald’s ability to lobby their successors.
People don’t know what’s in Obamacare and don’t like what they do know. So the cabinet secretary in charge of the program has a solution: “Reeducation“! Fantastic.
As Moe Lane points out, I think it’s fairly obvious that Sebelius isn’t being threatening when she uses that word, she’s being “inarticulate and stupidly insensitive.” Perhaps she needs to be reeducated regarding leftist totalitarianisms of the 20th Century?
Lane, on the real importance of the word: “Use of a term like ‘reeducation’ indicates that the user of it has decided that there’s nothing wrong with his or her argument; the flaw lies in whoever is not being persuaded by it. So there’s no need to fix the argument itself, obviously.”
I think the non-partisan lesson that should be emerging from Obamacare is the danger of passing big (i.e. physically large) bills without bipartisan support. I agree that there’s tons of misinformation out there, and it comes from all sides. I don’t have a clue what the law does to me, and I challenge anybody to produce a comprehensive list of what the law does to them. That’s what happens when you pass a two-thousand page bill: absolutely nobody knows what it really means.
If I could make one reform in the rules of Congress, it would be this: any law longer than 50 pages must pass with 60% of each house. If a matter is controversial, good republicanism demands that the voters at least be able to understand it and act accordingly in the next election. The Obama administration’s “people’d-love-it-if-they-only-understood-it” defense is lame beyond belief – we’ve gone from “Change You Can Believe In” to “Change You’re Too Dumb To Understand” – and, when examined in the light of how they handled the legislative process, is in fact no defense at all.
I somehow found myself on this stupid Newsweek (forgive the redundancy) slide show of “Dumb Things Americans Believe.” You know, Obama=Muslism, witchcraft is real, no evolution, etc., etc. #4, though, is striking.
“According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, four in 10 Americans mistakenly believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [I believe that's the secret code name for Obamacare--ed] creates a panel that makes decisions about end-of-life care.”
Is it really dumb that Americans don’t know what was and wasn’t in Obamacare? We spent months debating various proposals for what should be in there, with the president’s budget adviser recommending panels to determine when people were no longer worth saving (aka “death panels”). I think, thanks to the much derided Mrs. Palin, those didn’t make it into the final bill, but I honestly don’t know. There were so many proposals, spread out over so many months, with different drafts of the bill popping up in different committees in different houses, and then one version got scrapped after Scott Brown’s election, and then something passed and got signed. But, speaking as someone who paid a moderate amount of attention last year, I’m not positive what that something was.
We’re talking about a complex bill containing thousands of pages of statutory writing, that delegated hundreds of decisions to administrative agencies. Not even the sponsor of the bill read the damned thing. The snoots at Newsweak can call it dumb for Americans to believe the law contained death panels, but whose fault is that? When you make an unpopular law so long that normal people will never read the damned thing and so complicated that only a small handful of experts would actually grasp the full import if they did read it, people will tend to believe inaccurate things about it. To me, that’s an argument in favor a different style of law-making: smaller, simpler bills that do things that are easily explained. To Newsweak, it’s a reason to make fun of people as believing “dumb” things. If Mr. Harmon intends to make his $1 back, I suggest he get writers more interested in explaining thing than in looking down their noses.
P.S. Want to talk about people believing “dumb” things? A majority of both houses of Congress and the president believed that their 2,000 page administrative monstrosity would reduce healthcare costs. When all the administrative agencies get done with their rulemakings, there may well be something like death panels. But there’s no possible scenario where this is going to reduce costs. Now that was a dumb belief.
In what sort of bizarro world does it make sense that a popularly elected president and Congress need to “sell” a trillion-dollar society-altering law they’ve already passed?
Also, it’s neat that the president, after spending a year telling us that we need this law NOW NOW NOW NOW!!!!!!! is now entering “it’s-only-a-first-step” mode. Not only has change come to America, change will come to America again, and, presumably, change the change that’s already changed us. When he signed the law, he said, “This is what change looks like.” But I guess now it’s what the status quo looks like, and whatever it is that he wants to do next will be “what change looks like.” Those who thought George Bush to be a foundationless dunderpate and saw Obama as our coming Philosopher President should take note.
I’m not the biggest Sarah Palin fan, however the recent attacks on her for this quote are laughable:
My first five years of life we spent in Skagway, Alaska, right there by Whitehorse. Believe it or not — this was in the ’60s — we used to hustle on over the border for health care that we would receive in Whitehorse. I remember my brother, he burned his ankle in some little kid accident thing and my parents had to put him on a train and rush him over to Whitehorse and I think, isn’t that kind of ironic now. Zooming over the border, getting health care from Canada,” Palin said a speech Saturday night, according to the Calgary Herald.
OMG – this obviously means that SarahPalin LOVES socialized medicine. What a hypocrite! What a Liar.
Turns out Canada didn’t have Socialized Medicine until well into the 80s. Properly understood Sarah’s quote can be read as “Yeah I used to use Canadian Health Care when it was free from government control and awesome, but I wouldn’t think of using it today.”
Note to my liberalfriends: Next time learn history before making an ass of yourself.
Jamie posted this at 5:26 PM CDT on Monday, March 8th, 2010 as Health Care
That expanding legal abortion is now the single most important issue to the Democrat Party? If they are willing to sacrifice nationalizing health care if it doesn’t involve making it cheaper for women to get abortions, I’m not sure there’s any other conclusion to draw. Health care! This is a target they’ve been aiming at for over sixty years. But they’re willing to let it slide yet again simply because Senate Democrats couldn’t let this bill pass without using it to further a pro-abortion agenda. Justice is a strange thing.
Two things are worth noting as this farse continues to unfold. First, if the anti-abortion Democrats actually do stand firm, I will be flabbergasted. Honestly, I’m flabbergasted that they’ve stood firm to this point. This debate shows how deeply ingrained pro-abortion sentiment is among Democrats; that these ostensibly “pro-life” politicians were willing to have a D after their name made me believe they weren’t really that firm in some of their beliefs. I’m pleased to be wrong.
Second, all the libertarians who spent all eight of the Bush years griping about social conservatives should take note. Government takeover of 1/6 of the economy is being thwarted not by eloquent libertarian arguments about economic freedom, but by a strange coalition of those who object to using the government to promote abortion.