8:06 AM, Jul 29, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Publicly, President Obama loves to demonize insurance companies. But behind the scenes, Big Government and Big Insurance maintain a cozy alliance that the Obama administration actively nourishes, often at taxpayer expense. Indeed, as emails recently obtained by the House Oversight Committee show, Big Government and Big Insurance have worked together to promote Obamacare. They’ve also worked together to make sure taxpayers will help bail out insurance companies who lose money selling insurance under Obamacare — that is, unless Republicans stop this from happening. Moreover, Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett is among the prominent White House officials who’ve been in the middle of this collaboration between insurers and the administration — between those driven by the profit motive and those driven by the power motive.
As is detailed in the Oversight Committee’s report, shortly after the disastrous Obamacare rollout began, White House communications director Tara McGuiness and Chris Jennings, Obama’s deputy assistant for health policy, “traded talking points with numerous insurance company CEOs.” According to the report, “Ms. McGuiness and Mr. Jennings collaborated closely with Florida Blue Cross and Blue Shield CEO Patrick Geraghty. After a CBS Evening News appearance on October 11, 2013, Ms. McGuiness emailed Mr. Geraghty, ‘You were great! I watched. Thanks for the help.’”
Twelve days later, Geraghty and the respective CEOs of Aetna, Humana, the Health Care Services Corporation, Centene Corp., Wellpoint, Kaiser Permanente, Tufts Health, Health Net, CareFirst, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) all met with Jarrett and Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough at the White House.
A few days after that, the report reveals, Jennings emailed Geraghty in advance of an appearance on Meet the Press, writing, “Pat: Tara McGuiness will probably reach out to you directly today to give you latest info and suggestions for press prep. Please advise if you need anything from me. I may call you later to make sure all is ok. Thanks so much for all.” Both McGuiness and Jennings then followed up with specific advice. After Geraghty’s appearance aired, Jennings emailed him and said, “Pat: You were extraordinary.…We were all impressed. Thank you so much! Would like to talk soon….”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration was coming under increasing political pressure — as millions of Americans found out that (contrary to Democratic messaging across the years), if they liked their health plan, that didn’t necessarily mean they could keep their health plan. After Obama lawlessly empowered himself to un-ban the plans that Obamacare had banned by law, insurers weren’t happy, so the administration responded by paying them off.
It did so by changing the rules regarding two programs buried in the bowels of Obamacare — its risk-corridor and reinsurance programs. As Jay Cost and I wrote this spring, the administration changed the rules “to funnel more money to insurers. Put simply, the administration lowered the threshold at which insurers become eligible for reinsurance money, and it made more generous the formula by which insurers get paid under the risk corridors.” In the process, Obama effectively turned the risk-corridor program into his own personal slush fund.
Hosted by Michael Graham.5:48 PM, Jul 28, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on President Obama's track record on the rule of law, Israel, Immigration, and more.
7:01 AM, Jul 28, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
The New York Times has described M.I.T. economist Jonathan Gruber as “a card-carrying Democrat” whose “position as an adviser to the influential Congressional Budget Office also left him perfectly positioned to advise the White House on health reform.” Moreover, the Times writes, “After Mr. Gruber helped the administration put together the basic principles of the [Obamacare] proposal, the White House lent him to Capitol Hill to help Congressional staff members draft the specifics of the legislation.” Now it turns out that, as the Competitive Enterprise Institute has unearthed, Gruber told audiences as far back as early 2012 that Obamacare’s taxpayer-funded subsidies couldn’t flow through federally established exchanges, but only through state-established ones. More recently, Gruber has been singing a different tune, as legal challenges on that aspect of the law have proceeded.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:55 PM, Jul 22, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with frequent contributors Adam J. White and Jeffrey H. Anderson on the conflicting court rulings over the legality of the IRS's interpretation of Obamacare subsidies for those participating in the federal Obamacare exchange.
The pen is mightier than the Freud.Jul 28, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 43 • By P. J. O’ROURKE
To what will Obamacare lead? If the administration’s health policies continue on their present trajectory, Obamacare will lead to some form of European-style single-payer national health system.
Jul 28, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 43 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON and WILLIAM KRISTOL
This fall, voters will get another chance to register their opinion on Obamacare. President Obama’s signature legislation is causing health costs to spike, federal spending to soar, doctors to leave their profession, millions of Americans to lose their health plans, and millions more to be coerced into buying overpriced insurance against their will.
Nine in ten heard from clients again with post-enrollment problems.
8:33 AM, Jul 17, 2014 • By WHITNEY BLAKE
During the open enrollment period for the state and federal health care exchanges, each staff member and volunteer worked with an average of 1.8 people per day, according to a survey of assister programs released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
10:05 AM, Jul 15, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
In March 2010, Obamacare was about to be voted upon by the House of Representatives, and the Democrats were in the process of deciding whether to ignore public opinion at their peril. At that time, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that Obamacare would cost $938 billion over a decade and would reduce the number of uninsured people by 19 million as of 2014 (with a reduction of 1 million prior to 2014 and 18 million in 2014 alone). Unimpressed, the American people overwhelmingly opposed the intrusive overhaul — with 20 of 21 polls taken that month showing it to be unpopular, most of them by double digits. The Democrats willfully passed Obamacare anyway and lost 63 House seats that November.
Even the sign in button is broken.7:01 AM, Jul 3, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Colorado's 9News reviews its state's Obamacare exchange and finds that it's "clunky, counterintuitive, and confusing." The site was built with a $179 million grant from the federal government, but even the sign in button doesn't work.
2:14 PM, Jul 1, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Obama administration has violated federal law in its implementation of Obamacare. Specifically, it has violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a law passed (almost unanimously) twenty years ago by a Democratic House and Senate and signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton. Adam White provides a nice overview and analysis of the ruling. I just wanted to highlight a few aspects of it.
7:04 AM, Jun 27, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Most Americans don’t think it’s their job to bail out insurance companies who lose money under Obamacare, but that’s exactly what’s poised to happen. Obamacare’s risk-corridor program — which President Obama has been using as a slush fund to placate his insurance allies and keep them quiet about his lawlessness — shifts financial risk from insurers to taxpayers. According to the House Oversight Committee, health insurers expect Obamacare’s risk corridors to net them nearly $1 billion, at taxpayer expense, this year alone.
In Case of 'Last Minute Delays or Issues'12:08 PM, Jun 25, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
In June 2013, even before the launch of Healthcare.gov, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded a contract to Hewlett-Packard to replace Verizon's Terremark subsidiary as host for the Obamacare website and related Data Services Hub (DSH).