Obamacare: The Numbers Do Lie

Thursday, 03 Jul 2014 11:01 AM

By Michael Shannon

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During the buildup to the one-vote passage of Obamacare, most of the propaganda in favor of the bill involved numbers. The big one being the estimated — by Obamacare supporters — 20 million people that were desperate to have health insurance, but couldn’t afford it.
 
Mostly, because unlike the tattoos they already had, enjoying a health insurance policy required regular monthly payments before, during, and after the time one used the policy. This arrangement was OK for an automobile, but how can anyone drive an insurance policy?

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How the Obama-Pelosi-Reid brain trust was going to solve that problem was something of a mystery. Congress was going to have to pass the law before the nation could find out what was in it — making Obamacare strangely similar to an actual health insurance policy that few bother to read until their claim is rejected by some insurance company drone.
 
The other number was the $2,500 in savings Obama promised that responsible families would bank after the bill was passed.
 
Even with those numbers it was close. The law passed while newly elected Sen. Scott Brown — an Obamacare opponent — was held up in the capital security line. Coverage of the rollout of Healthcare.dud highlighted everything wrong with government at the state and local level. It was such a disaster that even the mainstream media had to deliver at least a few glancing blows.
 
Remarkably the situation was even worse than reported. The Department of Health and Human Services spent $667 million on Healthcare.dud more than was spent building Facebook and LinkedIn combined — and it was a steaming pile of failure.  
 
Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch was frustrated by the lack of verifiable information on signups and the media’s lack of interest in the numbers. He filed a FOIA request and now, eight months later, we learn that a total of ONE person signed up that first day.
 
This disaster meant only one goal was important: signups, to the exclusion of everything else. Low numbers would undercut the reason the law was passed and make it look like the unnecessary expansion of government that Obamacare actually was.
 
In the mad rush to get the numbers up, applications are approved in spite of incomplete and contradictory information. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., quoted by The Washington Post, explained, “They’ve allowed millions of Americans to enroll in a system that may be handing them the wrong subsidies . . . and they’ve left taxpayers vulnerable to fraud.”
 
That fails to express the magnitude of the problem. In many instances the recipients not only don’t qualify for subsidies; they aren’t even citizens.

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The HHS Office of the Inspector General found so-called “internal controls” in the words of the Post, “. . . were not always effective at verifying people’s Social Security numbers, their citizenship, and whether they are eligible to buy health plans through the marketplaces because they cannot find affordable insurance elsewhere.”
 
I suppose it’s good news that the wheezing, burping, coal-powered computers at HHS were able to identify 2.9 million applications with “inconsistencies,” defined as discrepancies between the fairy tale the applicant was trying to peddle and assorted federal databases. This could be something as simple as applying for insurance as "John Vincent" and discovering the INS has a detainer out for the same individual as "Juan Valdez."
 
The bad news is 2.6 million of the “inconsistencies” could not be resolved because the computer system “was not fully operational.” Resolving only 11 percent of the problems wasn’t even close enough for government work.
 
The Post describes California and Connecticut as states with successful exchanges, but only if accuracy and honesty aren’t the criteria. Connecticut confused insurance signups with the Witness Protection Program and failed to verify applicants' identities.
 
California, which may have outsourced the work to Chipotle management, often failed to compare citizenship claims with immigration records. Meanwhile the feds couldn’t be bothered to call its own E-Verify program to verify Social Security numbers.
 
The total cost to taxpayers of this fraud incubator is unknown, but it won’t be cheap. At the end of the initial signup period the Obama administration was jumping for joy after 8 million signups. We don’t know how many never had insurance or how many were thrown into the exchange because they failed to check the expiration date on Obama’s “if you like it, you can keep it” promise.
 
But we do know that 85 percent of these signups received a subsidy to pay for the insurance from taxpayers.
 
So the reward of Obamacare for responsible Americans who had health insurance without being ordered to by Uncle Sam is a double-whammy: Obamacare-mandated changes mean your premiums are going to increase as much as 17 percent. And your tax dollars will be paying for insurance subsidies that may be fraudulent.
 
Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.
 
 
 

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