Get ready for the ObamaCare bailout
The new word from ObamaCare's IT gurus and their freshly appointed crisis manager, Jeff Zients, is that everything should be up and running by the end of November. That's still several weeks beyond the point where insurance companies will...
... wait a second. Jeff Zients? Formerly of Bain Capital? (Cue the Mordor theme from "Lord of the Rings," as Glenn Beck was wont to do when Bain Capital was under attack by the Obama campaign.) I thought Barack Obama told us Bain Capital was the focus of evil in the world. Then again, he told us he could launch a working website, and we could all keep our health care plans if we liked them, and our premiums would go down by over $2000 a year, and ObamaCare was going to create jobs and reduce the deficit...
So anyway, Zients says things will be up and running by the end of November, but that's several weeks past what has been largely seen as a crisis point for insurance companies. Reuters explained it back on October 10:
Up to 7 million Americans are expected to enroll in health plans for 2014 under the law, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Insurance executives, policy experts and former administration officials said the federal government's technical problems need to be largely sorted out by mid-November.
That would help ensure that large numbers of enrollees - especially healthy young adults needed to make the program work financially - can be processed by a December 15 deadline for January 1 coverage.
"Mid-November would be a time where folks who are getting online or accessing in other ways should really see things move pretty efficiently," Dan Hilferty, chief executive of Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross, said in an interview. "As we get closer to January 1st, if in fact some of these glitches are not fixed, then I think people will become more and more concerned, and maybe panic about it."
Well, I guess it's time for people to "maybe panic" then, because even the highly improbably promises of the A-team to fix the B-team's mess by the end of November aren't going to meet that deadline. Which is why talk of delaying the individual mandate is in the air.
And I don't want to jinx the efforts of Mr. Zientz and his little band of miracle workers, but I strongly doubt he's going to be able to deliver on his promise. He might be able to get the front-end crapware steamed clean by then, although I'm even skeptical about that, but the core IT problems of the ObamaCare system go much deeper. Frankly, at this point there's no reason for anyone on the ObamaCare team to offer anything but the rosiest scenario. Painful honesty could cost the Administration dearly right now; false promises will leave them roughly where they are right now, with no great political price to pay. The time they might buy by promising to fix Healthcare.gov in five weeks is far more valuable than the admonitions they'll face five weeks from now, if they can't deliver.
But the other problem with the website launch is that ObamaCare's structural problems run even deeper than the worst of its information technology failures. The evidence continues to mount that the vast majority of people "enrolling" in ObamaCare this month have been going onto Medicaid, not purchasing insurance policies. Of course, since this titanic fraud of an Administration refuses to release the actual enrollment figures, there's a lot of guesswork going on.
The hard numbers we do have are "surprising" to Medicaid officials and state administrators, according to CBS News: "In Washington, of the more than 35,000 people newly enrolled, 87 percent signed up for Medicaid. In Kentucky, out of 26,000 new enrollments, 82 percent are in Medicaid. And in New York, of 37,000 enrollments, Medicaid accounts for 64 percent. And there are similar stories across the country in nearly half of the states that run their own exchanges."
Holy cow. That's not only going to break the already broken Medicaid system even further, it's going to bankrupt the insurance companies, which not only must sell millions of ObamaCare policies, but must rope in healthy young suckers to pay sky-high premiums to support the rest of the system.
Of course, a lot of those high premiums were supposed to be looted from the taxpayer's pockets through subsidies - ain't socialism grand? - but we might be on the verge of seeing Obama demand an even more obvious bailout of the insurance companies, which are going to be submitting some terrifying Q4 financials if these trends continue. We'll be told we must authorize higher taxes and/or more deficit spending to cover the insurance industry's losses, and anyone who refuses is just a greedy SOB who wants poor people to die.
That's how the most far-Left anti-capitalist President in U.S. history is going to push a billion-dollar bailout for the same big corporations he demonized when explaining why the government had to seize control of the health insurance industry. And it will all be done to save a scheme that was supposed to extend coverage to the uninsured, but in fact seems far more efficient at stripping insurance plans away from paying customers who were happy with them.