Leftist Nightmare Update: The Hidden Failure Of Obama’s Health Care Overhaul

The Hidden Failure Of Obama’s Health Care Overhaul – Roll Call

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At least 2.9 million Americans who signed up for Medicaid coverage as part of the health care overhaul have not had their applications processed, with some paperwork sitting in queues since last fall, according to a 50-state survey by CQ Roll Call.

Those delays – due to technological snags with enrollment websites, bureaucratic tangles at state Medicaid programs and a surge of applicants – betray Barack Obama’s promise to expand access to health care for some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

As a result, some low-income people are being prevented from accessing benefits they are legally entitled to receive. Those who face delays may instead put off doctors appointments and lose access to their medicines, complicating their medical conditions and increasing the eventual cost to U.S. taxpayers.

Democratic lawmakers who have promoted the law’s historic coverage expansion are wary of acknowledging problems that hand opponents of the Affordable Care Act another rhetorical weapon, said Robert Blendon, a professor at Harvard University School of Public Health and Kennedy School of Government.

“Any problem plays against the Democrats,” Blendon said.

Meanwhile, Republicans usually eager to criticize the Obama administration or states for implementation problems risk looking hypocritical by showcasing the Medicaid waits. Many oppose expanding the program to people with incomes as high as 138 percent of the federal poverty line, as the law allows states to do, and are loath to demand more efficient enrollment to achieve that goal.

“It’s a total contradiction in terms to spend your public time castigating Medicaid as something that never should have been expanded for poor people and as a broken, problem-riddled system, and then turn around and complain about the length of time to enroll people,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a member of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, which advises Congress.

Medicaid is a joint federal-state health program for the poor seen as a linchpin to expanding health coverage under the 2010 law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152).

Eligibility for the program is determined by federal and state guidelines, with the administration of the program left to the states. People enroll for Medicaid through federal or state websites or use other avenues, such as filing paper applications.

Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the government tried to help states anticipate the workload from the coverage expansion through steps such as weekly data releases showing how many residents appeared to qualify for Medicaid. He said the agency is busy transferring remaining data to those states equipped to process the information.

“CMS is actively transferring accounts to all states that are ready to receive them,” Albright said in an email. “In the meantime, every state not receiving transfers can be enrolling people through alternative options CMS has made available.”

Variety of Problems

Forty-one states as of May 29 responded to requests from CQ Roll Call about the number of pending Medicaid applications, the number of individuals covered in the applications and processing times. The remainder, including Missouri and New Mexico, didn’t respond to CQ Roll Call’s emails and phone calls for enrollment data.

The problems are most acute in three states – California, Illinois and North Carolina – where almost 1.5 million Medicaid applicants remain in limbo. Though all three are experiencing high volumes of enrollment, problems vary from California’s balky electronic sign-up system to Illinois’ inability to predict a surge of applications.

The waits are linked in part to the troubled rollout of the federal insurance website healthcare.gov last fall. Alaska, Kansas, Maine and Michigan still are unable to receive applications their residents completed through the federal website. Others such as Georgia received applications submitted last fall in May.

“These people were encouraged to seek help, and they didn’t get it,” Blendon said.

Beyond the individuals, the delays have left doctors, hospitals and other health providers unsure whether they will be reimbursed for care they provide to people who appear eligible for Medicaid but haven’t received benefit cards.

“It’s a huge systemic issue right now,” said Rosenbaum.

The delays are caused by a mix of technical problems and a surge of applications, especially in states that cajoled their residents to sign up for newly expanded benefits. More than 900,000 Californians are waiting for their benefit cards or denial letters, say state officials. In Illinois, another 330,000 people are in limbo. In North Carolina, it’s 285,884, plus another 12,956 applications that may include more than one person.

Norman Williams, a spokesman for the California Medicaid system, said the situation is “not something we are satisfied with.”

He said people still waiting for coverage decisions could go to local hospitals that can expedite their enrollments and, in many cases, provide temporary benefit cards.

“It’s not an easy situation for them,” he said. “We certainly understand that. That’s why we have this sense of urgency to get this done and get them into coverage.”

Retroactive Benefits

Supporters of the law note that Medicaid benefits are retroactive. If an eligible person received care while waiting to be enrolled, the program would pay for services dating back 90 days before the person applied, although some states make applicants specifically request retroactive coverage. But people with applications in the queue may not be aware of that requirement and have no guarantee that states will agree they qualify for Medicaid.

States are supposed to process Medicaid applications within 45 days. Several reported that they are largely meeting those guidelines. Some, including Colorado, Iowa and New York, significantly sped up processing this year.

Others expect federal exemptions for “unusual circumstances.” In Virginia, which first got a trickle of applications from healthcare.gov in late February, 45 percent of applications are past the 45-day limit.

Many states that relied on healthcare.gov to handle applications as well as states that built their own websites are wrestling with backlogs.

In the 36 states whose residents signed up through healthcare.gov, at least 1.4 million people faced delays because the website was unable for months to transmit the information to states. Once it did, states complained they weren’t receiving all of the applications and that data was incomplete or riddled with errors.

The logjams were so bad that officials asked applicants to re-apply directly through the states, where workers often sorted the information by hand. That created duplicate applications for as many as half of prospective Medicaid enrollees in Idaho and Louisiana. Other states disagreed with federal eligibility decisions: Indiana approved only 5 percent of the healthcare.gov applications, Texas approved 17 percent and North Carolina approved 19 percent.

States that ran their own websites, including California and Illinois, also experienced troubles. The new California computer system has technical glitches, including difficulty sending information to counties that help process applications. Because California had a massive campaign urging people to enroll, workers were swamped.

“It’s a very big deal because millions of people are waiting for health care, and these people can’t afford health care,” said Rosenbaum.

Cynthia Carmona, the director of government and external affairs at the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, said that the group has “been having a hard time getting good answers from the state.” She said that some people who applied in October still haven’t heard whether they are enrolled.

“We’re disappointed,” Carmona said. “We’re trying to give them room to fix the issue but this can’t go on forever. We need resolution.”

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USDA Claims It Will Cost $3.2 Billion To Comply With Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Overhaul

Cost Of Complying With Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Overhaul? $3.2 BILLION! – The Blaze

As schools continue to grapple with the school lunch menu overhaul pushed by First Lady Michelle Obama, some are realizing their headache isn’t just from a lack of food.

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The program involves way too much green – and we’re not talking lettuce and brussel sprouts.

We mean the estimated $3.2 billion schools will have to find to implement the new federal regulations. Many schools are also losing money due the unpopular Obama menu.

“New school lunch regulations mean financial losses for Pittsfield Public Schools,” reported The Berkshire Eagle in Massachusetts.

The school district expects a program operating loss of more than $100,000 due to a required equipment upgrade, as well as fewer lunches and snacks being sold.

Congressman Todd Rokita, a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, noted at a recent hearing, “Because the law requires students to take fruits and vegetables for lunch, even if they have no intention of eating them, schools are struggling with increased waste. After implementing the new standards a year early, one Florida school district estimated students threw out $75,000 worth of food.”

“At Dedham High School in Massachusetts, providing the required vegetables in 1500 meals each week costs the district about $111 a day – but administrators report many students just throw the fresh vegetables right into the trash,” his statement read.

A New York district experienced a 50 percent decline in the number of student purchasing hot lunch.

“This decline in participation made it more difficult for the school to afford to serve lunches and breakfasts that met the federal meal requirements. As a result, the district’s food operation went $59,000 in the red and local leaders ultimately decided to opt-out of the National School Lunch Program,” Rokita said.

The USDA estimates implementation of the new guidelines will cost $3.2 billion over five years. Given that it’s a government estimate – and if Obamacare is any guide – the cost for schools will likely be much higher.

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Related article:

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Indiana School District Loses $300,000 When Students Stop Buying School Meals After They Switched To Mooch’s Food Regulations – Weasel Zippers

But it makes Mooch feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

INDIANAPOLIS – The carnage shifted from the students’ lunch plates to school budgets after Michelle Obama’s lunch regulations were voluntarily implemented last year.

Officials in the Carmel Clay, Indiana school district told JConline.com they lost $300,000 last school year when many students rejected the menu changes and stopped purchasing school meals.

Amy Anderson, the food service director for the school district, told the newspaper, “I’m a registered dietitian. I used to feel that I was an educator and part of the education system. I currently feel like I’m a food cop.

“I don’t get credit for the 98 percent of our kids who are within normal weight range. I only get slammed for the 2 to 3 percent who aren’t.”

She said the changes may “drive her into retirement,” according to the paper.

Students in another central Indiana district were equally displeased.

“Kids eat with their eyes. When they saw that smaller portion, that freaked them out,” said Jennifer Rice, food service director of Lebanon Community School Corp., where the popular Salisbury steak shrunk, the paper reported.

Keep reading

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U.S. Aircraft Carrier’s Refueling, Overhaul Delayed Due To Irresponsible Defense Cuts

Navy: Lincoln Refueling Delayed, Will Hurt Carrier Readiness – U.S. Naval Institute

The U.S. Navy will delay the refueling of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) for an unknown period because of the uncertain fiscal environment due to the ongoing legislative struggle, the service told Congress in a Friday message obtained by USNI News.


The aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are in port at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. US Navy Photo

Lincoln was scheduled to be moved to Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipyard later this month to begin the 4-year refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of the ship.

“This delay is due to uncertainty in the Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations bill, both in the timing and funding level available for the first full year of the contract,” the message said.

“CVN-72 will remain at Norfolk Naval Base where the ships force personnel will continue to conduct routine maintenance until sufficient funding is received for the initial execution of the RCOH.”

Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee released a statement denouncing the need for decision.

Forbes called the delay, “another example of how these reckless and irresponsible defense cuts in Washington will have a long-term impact on the Navy’s ability to perform its missions. Not only will the Lincoln be delayed in returning to the Fleet, but this decision will also affect the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) defueling, the USS George Washington (CVN-73) RCOH, and future carrier readiness.”

The move by the navy is the second this week involving funding for carriers. On Wednesday it announced it would delay the deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) to the Middle East do to the ongoing budget strife bringing the total number of carriers in U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) to one until funding normalizes.

“Canceling and deferring maintenance creates a significant backlog of deferred maintenance and affects future year schedules and cost, as well as future readiness,” said Lt. Courtney Hillson, a Navy spokesperson.

“The fiscal uncertainty created by not having an appropriations bill – and the measures we are forced to take as a result, place significant stress on an already strained force and undermines the stability of a fragile industrial base.”

The delay in the RCOH for the Lincoln translates into a carrier that will be undeployable for the foreseeable future. It is ‘not possible to restore,’ the carrier to active service without the $3.3 billion overhaul, Hillson said.

Under the current Continuing Resolution (CR), the Navy is $1.5 billion short on its accounts. Combined with coming sequestration in March the number grows to $9 billon for FY 2013, according to Navy documents.

The Navy had budgeted $92 million for the Lincoln refueling in its FY 2012 budget.

Each Nimitz-class carrier undergoes a refueling and complete overhaul at the halfway point in its 50-year service life.

HII said the company is, “disappointed with this turn of events,” and said the delay, “is the direct result of the lack of a defense appropriations bill,” HII spokesperson Christie Miller said in a statement.

“This is not a cancellation of the Lincoln’s RCOH at Newport News Shipbuilding,” Miller said.

“We intend to continue our efforts on the ship at the Navy base in Norfolk and will work to make as much progress as possible, as efficiently as possible, prior to its arrival.”

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