Health insurance marketplaces signing up few uninsured Americans, surveys say.

Obamacare-Burning-589x442

Health insurance marketplaces signing up few uninsured Americans, surveys say

By , Updated: Thursday, March 6, 12:00 PM

The new health insurance marketplaces appear to be making little headway so far in signing up Americans who lack health insurance, the Affordable Care Act’s central goal.

A pair of surveys released on Thursday suggest that just one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private health plans through the new marketplace have signed up for one — and that about half of uninsured adults has looked for information on the online exchanges or plans to look.

Taken together, the snapshots shown by the surveys provide preliminary answers to what has been one of the biggest mysteries since HealthCare.gov and separate state marketplaces opened last fall: Are they attracting their prime audience?

One of the surveys, by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., shows that, of people who had signed up for coverage through the marketplaces by last month, just one-fourth described themselves as having been without insurance for most of the past year.

The survey also attempted to gauge what has been another fuzzy matter: how many of the people actually have the insurance for which they signed up. Under federal rules, coverage begins only if someone has started to pay their monthly insurance premiums.

And, the survey show, that just over half of uninsured people said they had started to pay, compared with nearly nine in 10 of those signing up on the exchanges who said they were simply switching from one health plan to another.

The second survey, by researchers at the Urban Institute and based on slightly older data from December, shows that awareness of the new marketplaces is fairly widespread but that lower-income Americans and those who are uninsured are less likely to know about this new avenue to health coverage than other people.

train tax insert

The surveys are not a perfect way of showing who exactly is gaining coverage, and whether the marketplaces are reaching parts of the U.S. population that need insurance the most. But they begin to fill in blanks that both advocates and opponents of the sprawling, 2010 health-care law all say are critical to understand.

“If there is one point to the law, it is to lower the number of uninsured,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy organization. “Ultimately, that has to happen for the law to be judged a success.”

With just over three weeks remaining in a six-month sign-up period, the question of how many uninsured people are gaining coverage so far is eluding both Obama administration officials and most of the private health plans being sold through the new marketplaces.

Inside the Department of Health and Human Services, staff analysts who have been producing monthly enrollment updates are confronted with a major hindrance to examining the question of people’s prior insurance status: the wording of the HealthCare.gov applications themselves.

The paper versions of applications, used by a small fraction of people who are signing up contain a multiple-choice question asking whether people in a household currently have insurance. “No” is one of the boxes people can check.

However, the online application, used by most people to enroll, asks whether people want to apply for coverage but does not give them a place to indicate whether they have insurance now or have had it in the past. As a result, HHS analysts have no way of assessing how many of the online enrollees were uninsured n the past.

“We are a looking at a range of data sources to determine how many marketplace enrollees previously had coverage,” said Julie Bataille, director of the Office of Communication in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the HHS agency overseeing the insurance marketplaces. “Previous insurance coverage is an important metric, and we hope to have additional information in the future.”

In the absence of information from people who have enrolled, Obama administration officials have drawn attention to recent outside polls, which suggest that the overall number of uninsured Americans is declining. It is not clear, however, whether the trend is because of the health-care law or other reasons.

call centers

So far, of 14 states that are operating their own insurance exchanges, instead of relying on the federal one, only New York has given any indication about how many uninsured people are signing up. Last month, the NY State of Health, the state’s marketplace, reported that 70 percent of the half-million people who had enrolled since it opened in October were uninsured at the time they signed up.

The McKinsey survey, its fourth since late November to measure the behavior of Americans in the new insurance marketplaces, is based on a national sample of about 2,100 people. It shows that 27 percent of people who had bought coverage by early February had been uninsured, compared with 11 percent a month earlier.

It defined uninsured people as those who qualify for private health plans sold through the exchanges. It does not include anyone who is uninsured and has an income low enough that they qualify for Medicaid, a public insurance program that is being expanded under the law in about half the states. The Urban Institute survey includes people eligible for Medicaid in its definition of the uninsured.

McKinsey’s survey also includes people who bought insurance outside the new marketplaces. Asked at a conference on Thursday how many Americans are buying insurance on their own, apart from the new marketplaces, Gary Cohen, the outgoing director of CMS’s Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said that federal health officials have not yet tried to collect such information. “I think it is a really important question because obviously the goal is to get as many people insured as possible,” Cohen said.

The McKinsey survey also found, as it had during the previous few months, that, of people who are uninsured and do not intend to get a health plan through the marketplaces, the biggest factor is that they believe they could not afford one.

White House co-hosts MIT workshop as part of project on ‘collecting, analyzing, and using’ big data.

Politics
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (C) shares a laugh with John Podesta (R) and Douglas Holtz-Eakin at the Center for American Progress in Washington, August 4, 2010.   REUTERS/Jim Young   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTR2H1LC

White House co-hosts MIT workshop as part of project on ‘collecting, analyzing, and using’ big data

1:39 PM 02/24/2014
Patrick Howley

Political Reporter

The Obama White House is co-hosting a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) workshop on “big data” as part of an administration effort to analyze how to collect and use complex data for public policy.

It comes as little surprise that the White House is analyzing “big data” collection considering the effectiveness of the 2012 Obama campaign’s personality-tracking voter targeting database created through its “Project Dreamcatcher.” The information from that database is now held by Obama’s nonprofit advocacy group Organizing for Action.

White House counselor John Podesta, a left-wing operative who founded the Center for American Progress, and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will represent the Obama administration at the March 3 workshop, “Big Data and Privacy: Advancing the State of the Art in Technology and Practice” with MIT president L. Rafael Reif.

Even though they got the word “privacy” in there, the White House project makes clear that it is focused on “collecting, analyzing, and using” data for policy purposes.

“Last month, the President asked Counselor John Podesta to lead a comprehensive review of how ‘big data’ – data sets so massive, diverse, or complex, that conventional technologies cannot adequately capture, store, or analyze them – will affect how Americans live and work. Senior administration officials have since begun to look at the implications of collecting, analyzing, and using such data for privacy, the economy, and public policy,” according to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Additional workshops will be held at New York University and University of California-Berkeley.

MIT professor and Obama economic adviser Esther Duflo developed the theories that were employed to help build French Socialist president Francois Hollande’s successful voter-tracking database, which were then carried over to the Obama 2012 campaign.

NY Times’ whitewash of Benghazi attack aids Hillary Clinton in 2016.

hillary (1)

NY Times’ whitewash of Benghazi attack aids Hillary Clinton in 2016 

By Ben Wolfgang

The Washington Times

Sunday, December 29, 2013

One of the biggest hurdles in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s potential path to the White House may have become easier to clear.

An extensive report Sunday in The New York Times casts doubt on Republican claims that al Qaeda played a key role in last year’s deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. The article lends badly needed credence to the White House version of events and might remove some of the blame from the former secretary of state’s shoulders as she gears up for a 2016 presidential run.

A top House Republican went so far Sunday as to suggest that there may be a coordinated effort to help Mrs. Clinton — who is widely thought to be seeking the Democratic presidential nomination and leads her Republican counterparts in most polls — escape the shadow of Benghazi.

“I find the timing odd,” Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said of The New York Times piece and its political ramifications during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

Although he wouldn’t go much further, Mr. Rogers said, “I find it interesting that there is this rollout of stories” related to Benghazi.

obama_hillary_cash-thumb

The New York Times report says al Qaeda did not infiltrate Benghazi and backed up the initial White House claim that the event largely was spontaneous, wasn’t planned by al Qaeda’s central leaders and was fueled at least in part by outrage over anti-Islamic videos produced in the U.S.

The piece makes clear that the facts on the ground in Benghazi were murkier than what has been portrayed by both sides, and that neither Republicans’ nor the administration’s account is entirely accurate.

Democrats quickly used the report to dispute Mr. RogersRep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and others who have cited Benghazi as evidence that President Obama has not dismantled al Qaeda to the degree he claimed en route to winning re-election last year.

“I hope Chairman Issa and others have learned a lesson from this. Chairman Issa and members of that committee crusaded for over a year on what was really a fairy tale, claiming that the administration knew all along al Qaeda was involved and wouldn’t admit it,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, Texas Democrat and a member of the House Armed Services CommitteeMr. Castro appeared on NBC’s“Meet the Press” on Sunday.

As secretary of state at the time of the assault that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Mrs. Clinton has been a key target of Republicans who accuse the administration of failing to secure American assets and personnel in Benghazi and willfully hiding the truth for their own political benefit.

The reporting, to some degree, could shield Mrs. Clinton from charges that she participated in what critics have called a cover-up.

While not targeting Mrs. Clinton by name, Republicans on Sunday said parts of the article conflict directly with information in other reports and the sworn testimony of Americans on the ground in Benghazi.

“People from this administration, career professionals, have said under oath there was no evidence of any kind of reaction to a video and, in fact, this was a planned attack that came quickly. That’s the evidence we have,” Mr. Issa said on “Meet the Press,” referring to testimony from U.S. diplomats who described the anti-Islamic video as a nonevent in Libya at the time.

Other Republicans also disputed the notion that al Qaeda wasn’t involved. They noted that terrorist groups with clear connections to al Qaeda took part in the assault.

Even some lawmakers sympathetic to the administration say it’s misleading to suggest that al Qaeda had nothing to do with the incident.

Benghazi Massacre Blog copy

 

Intelligence indicates al Qaeda was involved,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and a member of the House intelligence committee.

Despite the latest report, Mr. Schiff said, he does not believe the State Department and Mrs. Clinton specifically are entirely absolved.

“I don’t think The New York Times report is designed to exonerate the security lapses within the State Department that left our people vulnerable,” he said in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

Budget deal allows for January federal pay raise.

Federal Eye

Budget deal allows for January federal pay raise

  •  
  • October 17 at 11:34 am

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The budget measure that ended the partial government shutdown allows for a 1 percent raise for federal employees in January in addition to providing back pay for those furloughed, according to two Democratic Maryland senators.

“The promise of a modest pay raise and back pay for furloughed government employees are good first steps in recognizing the value of federal workers,” said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee in a joint statement with Sen. Ben Cardin.

“I’m proud we were able to fulfill our promise to make them whole again with back pay and finally break through the pay freeze with a modest adjustment for next year,” said Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Federal employee salary rates have not been increased since January 2010. Some employees have had their pay frozen that entire time while some have received raises due to promotion, performance, or on advancing up the steps of their pay grades.

President Obama proposed a 1 percent raise for January 2014 in his budget plan released in the spring. Over the following months, Congress drafted spending bills for fiscal year 2014 that mostly were totally silent regarding a raise or that said that if one is paid, agencies would have to absorb the cost out of other spending. One Senate measure, however, specifically endorsed a 1 percent raise.

In late August, Obama announced his intent  to set a 1 percent January raise by default, as is allowed by federal pay law, if no other figure, including zero, were enacted into law by the end of the calendar year.

The budget measure that ended the partial government shutdown and lifted the federal debt ceiling extends agency funding roughly at prior levels through Jan. 15. It “would permit the President to implement his plan for a 1 percent pay raise in January, 2014,” according to the joint statement.

A  presidential order would be needed in December to finalize the raise, which would take effect with the first full pay period of January, sometime early in the month depending on agency pay cycles.

An effort could yet be made in Congress to continue the salary rate freeze but the underlying presumption now is that the increase will be paid and supporters would fight strenuously to preserve it, a Capitol Hill official said.

OFFICIAL OBAMACARE FACEBOOK ERUPTS WITH CITIZEN STICKER SHOCK

OBAMACARE FACEBOOK ERUPTS WITH CITIZEN STICKER SHOCK

countdown-to-obamacare INSERT

On Thursday, the government’s official Obamacare Facebook page was riddled with people expressing sticker shock over the government’s high cost premiums after struggling for hours to wade through the technical failures vexing Obamacare exchanges all across the country.

“I am so disappointed,” wrote one woman. “These prices are outrageous and there are huge deductibles. No one can afford this!” The comment received 169 “likes.”

“There is NO WAY I can afford it,” said one commenter after using the Kaiser Subsidy Calculator. “Heck right now I couldn’t afford an extra 10$ [sic] a month…and oh apparently I make to [sic] much at 8.55/hour to get subsidies.”

Another person shared a link found on the federal government’s main Obamacare page listing premium estimates for small business employers:

The information is not very complete as I don’t see anything about deductible or other detailed info, but it does given an actual price as to the “Premium.” It is VERY SCARY!! For example, my insurance plan right now for my spouse and I costs $545 a month with 100% coverage after my $2500 deductible. We are both 32 years old. When I looked at this site for 80% coverage it says it will be $954.78 a month!!!! So compare my old Plan: 100% coverage for $545 a month To New Plan: 80% Coverage for $945 a month. This is only only an estimate but it is VERY Scary for me to see this kind of increase in rates and reduction in benefits!

A single mother of two said she is in school and working full-time while living “75% below the poverty level.” She said she was shocked to learn she did not qualify for a healthcare subsidy. “Are you F’ing kidding me????” she wrote on the government’s Obamacare Facebook page. “Where the HELL am I supposed to get $3,000 more a year to pay for this ‘bronze’ health insurance plan!?!??? And I DO NOT EVEN WANT INSURANCE to begin with!! This is frightening,” she wrote.

Amid scores of comments expressing frustration with technical failures, one woman said she is “just amazed you could even get to the point of seeing pricing” and that she had been trying to access the system for three days to no avail.

Obamacare sticker shock will not affect millions of low-income Americans; a New York Times analysis published on Wednesday found that Obamacare “will leave out two-thirds of the poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the low-wage workers who do not have insurance, the very kinds of people that the program was intended to help.”

Obamacare will cost taxpayers an estimated $2.6 trillion over the next 10 years.

Obama: “Raising the Debt Ceiling…Does Not Increase Our Debt”

Obama: ‘Raising the Debt Ceiling…Does Not Increase Our Debt,’ Though It Has ‘Over 100 Times’

September 18, 2013 – 3:54 PM

Subscribe to Craig Bannister RSS
Follow Craig Bannister on Twitter

Raising the debt ceiling doesn’t increase the nation’s debt, Pres. Obama declared in a speech today.

In a speech at the Business Roundtable headquarters in Washington, D.C., Obama dismissed concerns about raising the debt ceiling by noting that it’d been done so many times in the past:

“Now, this debt ceiling — I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up — raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy.  All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress.  It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.”

Obama went on to suggest that “the average person” mistakenly thinks that raising the debt ceiling means the U.S. is racking up more debt:

“It’s always a tough vote because the average person thinks raising the debt ceiling must mean that we’re running up our debt, so people don’t like to vote on it, and, typically, there’s some gamesmanship in terms of making the President’s party shoulder the burden of raising the — taking the vote.”

But, isn’t the fact that the U.S. has hit its debt ceiling “over a hundred times” – and, thus, has had to keep raising it – proof that raising the limit does, in fact, lead to increased debt?

– See more at: http://cnsnews.com/mrctv-blog/craig-bannister/obama-raising-debt-ceilingdoes-not-increase-our-debt-though-it-has-over#sthash.eIkvP2rr.dpuf