ObamaCare Architect: Premiums to Soar

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The math, including the so-called savings, didn’t add up. On October 14, 2011, in yet another Friday afternoon news dump that is becoming a regular affair with this administration, a letter was released to Congress by HHD Secretary Kathleen Sibelius. “Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time,” it read. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) didn’t mince any words. “I feel justified and vindicated,” he said at the time. “The bottom line is: As people start to understand this bill, you are going to see more and more of a domino effect.” Sherry Glied, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at HHS claimed CLASS was an isolated case. “There is a very clear difference between that kind of uncertainty and the rest of the law,” Glied argued.

Ms. Glied has a short memory. During a March 4, 2011 hearing on Capitol Hill, Kathleen Sibelius was asked by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) whether $500 billion in Medicare cuts were used to preserve Medicare or fund the health-care law. “Both” she answered. Yet despite what amounts to double-counting Richard Sorian, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, contended that the “scoring (CBO estimates) of the Affordable Care Act is entirely consistent with how legislation has been scored for the 30 years” and that “savings in programs like Medicare and Social Security are scored as improving the solvency of those programs and reducing the deficit.” Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) made far more sense. “The same dollar can’t be used twice, he said. “This is the largest of the many budget gimmicks Democrats used to claim Obamacare would reduce the deficit.”

There is also a “gimmick” that might be referred to as the Mother of All Variables with respect to the healthcare act. In their haste to pass the bill, Democrats didn’t bother with key details about how the new law would be implemented. Instead they left them up to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius. As a result there are 700 instances where the language of the bill says that she “shall” do something, more than 200 instances where she “may” do something, and 139 occasions where the “Secretary determines” something as well. Due to the general ambiguity, how much power yet another unelected official actually wields remains unknown. Perhaps such ambiguity is what prompted then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s immortal quote about needing to pass the healthcare bill “so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.”

As Jonathan Gruber reveals, the fog is still lifting. In backtracking on his original analysis Gruber noted that “even after tax credits some individuals are ‘losers,’ in that they pay more than before reform.” How much more?  Gruber was blunt in a presentation to Wisconsin officials last August. “After the application of tax subsidies, 59 percent of the individual market will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent,” Gruber reported.

Minnesota’s numbers were no better. In a November, presentation, Gruber estimated that 32 percent of Minnesotans would face hikes similar to those in Wisconsin. People in that state have already experienced a 15 percent premium hike because the state is spending $100 million to subsidize high-risk pools. In Colorado, where Gruber delivered his analysis in January, he noted that, despite tax credits contained in the healthcare bill, “13 percent of people will still face a premium increase even after the application of tax subsidies, and seven percent will see an increase of more than ten percent.” Gruber explained to the Daily Caller that his reports “reflect the high cost of folding state high risk pools into the [federal government’s] exchange–without using the money the state was already spending to subsidize those high risk pools.”

How far we have come since that day in 2009 when the president also said that “the Congressional Budget Office…says that as a consequence of this act, the deficit is going to be over a trillion dollars lower over the course of the next two decades than it would be if this wasn’t passed.”

A majority of Americans have long viewed such pronouncements regarding “savings” in the healthcare bill with a great deal of skepticism. According to the Daily Caller, Gruber’s email to them “framed this new reality in terms of the same human self-interest that some conservatives had warned in 2010 would ultimately rule the marketplace.” Rule the marketplace it has. Yet it is quite understandable why so many progressives, whose ideology is based on the the triumph of hope over experience, cannot understand the growing unaffordability of the misnamed Affordable Care Act.

Chances are, they never will.

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  • Bertram Cabot Jr.

    They hope that when the premiums soar that the people will cry out for "single payer" which was always their goal.

    • http://www.okcteaparty.org DMW

      Precisely. Create a Rube Goldberg machine that seems to be nothing but a legislated (and accompanying vast sea of written regulations — "shalls, mays, and determines") bunch of Monkey Wrenches for gears that were already hobbled by gubmint intervention. Then, of course, after inserting their Socialist crap, they yell: "There's turds in the swimming pool!" Their solution? More wrenches, shalls, and mays (maze?).

    • http://www.cobrahealth.com CraigJCasey

      And government underpayment will force medical providers to charge insurance carriers and the insured even more in cost shifting.

  • sedoanman

    For the first time in her life, Pelosi was right: they had to pass it before we could find out what was in it.

  • http://www.cobrahealth.com CraigJCasey

    Why didn't the secretary of HHS simply certify CLASS as self sustaining for the next 150 years? This WH will do anything, say anything to forward its socialist nightmare on us. One of the many reasons I hate Obamacare: http://www.slideshare.net/CraigJCasey/reasons-why

  • BS77

    Please support VOTER ID laws. We must show a valid ID to board aircraft, to make major purchases, to cash checks, to buy medications, to get a passport. I have to show an ID to rent a rug shampoo machine!!! Why not show a valid ID to vote in the US?

    • frustratedRN

      show an ID to rent a rug shampoo machine….ROFLMAO

  • Rifleman

    Back when they were buying (with other people's money, of course), lying, stealing, and cheating to get votes for obamacare I saw a video of some leftists following around and harassing barney frank. They were doing so because obamacare wasn’t single payer, and he was trying to get it through their thick skulls that it would result in the single payer system they wanted.

  • wiseone

    The increase has already started. The dirty little secret that no one is talking about is how the Payroll Tax debate is tied to this. The dems pushed through the payroll tax cut last year (while the repubs were tied up on the Bush tax cuts) because they new premiums were going up 1/1/2011. They wanted it again this year because they did not want people to see it in the election year. If you doubt it then look at year paycheck and compare the Payroll tax reduction with your increased premium. And this is just after the early stuff like kids until 26. Imagine what lies ahead.

  • Manny

    Well Duh! What kind of genius does it take to figure that out?

  • Christine

    I usually pride myself on my reading comprehension abilities, however, I comprehended very little of what was said in this article. At the moment, I am unemployed without insurance. The COBRA that was offered me was well over $1000 per month for a family coverage. Last year before I was laid off, I added my premium payments and copays and found that I was paying double what I would have paid out of pocket in medical expenses as I go. My doctor offers a discount for cash at time of visit, the pharmaceutical company has a discount plan that I could apply for and pay a drastic difference in what they normally charge insurance companies. My question is, why can't we just ask for price reductions and pay as we go? Insurance, for the most part is to make the brokers money, not doing us a favor 'paying' for our medical care.

    • Gena

      A high deductible catastrophic health insurance policy with a health savings account is really the way to go. Think about it this way: We don't expect our auto insurance to coverage oil changes in our cars, or our homeowners insurance to cover new paint for our walls. But we expect our health insurance to cover anything and everything from birth control pills to routine checkups to major medical care. If we paid cash for the routine stuff and just used insurance for major illness/injury, costs and prices would go down to realistic levels, plus the HSA is portable and cumulative and tax-deferred. Why can't politicians show some sense??

  • Jim_C

    And had Obama done nothing on health care, what do you think would have happened to premiums?

    The more you guys attack "Obamacare," the better it will look in relation to your "waaah socialized Marxist tyranny" histrionics. Just another feather in Obama's cap handed to him on a silver platter by the conservatives for whom reality isn't enough–ya just got to push it into krazytown (See "birth certificate," "death panels," and the more recent tempest in a teapot–"curtailing religious freedom" (LOL). Makes you wonder who the REAL "Alinskyites," are, eh? Keep it up!

    We should have taken "Obamacare" when it was first offered–by Nixon.

  • mjs

    “And had Obama done nothing on health care, what do you think would have happened to premiums?”

    Not go up nearly as high, if go up at all. That’s what.

    “ObamaCare is clearly going in the opposite direction, restricting choices, which is one reason why premiums are increasing faster under ObamaCare than if we had done nothing at all.”


  • CSOlson

    Most people overestimate the cost of a good long-term care policy. A healthy, married couple in their mid/late fifties, can share a policy that starts off with over a half million in benefits for about $100 per month per spouse.

    There’s a new type of government-approved long-term care policy that can protect your assets from Medicaid even after the policy runs out of benefits. Here’s an explanation of how these policies work:

  • Norbert

    Obama care is targeting families with autistic children who will likely need long term health care. They want to pretend they don't exist. They want to push them into a black hole where their delicate needs aren't considered. nevermind it will cost states upwards of a million dollars to place severely autistic individuals into state institutions or group homes. Never mind Obamacare doesn't have a clue what it takes to care for the most vulneralbe of autistic community.