Obama VA Illegally Spending $6 Billion A Year

Veterans Affairs Improperly Spent $6 Billion Annually, Senior Official Says – Washington Post

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has been spending at least $6 billion a year in violation of federal contracting rules to pay for medical care and supplies, wasting taxpayer money and putting veterans at risk, according to an internal memo written by the agency’s senior official for procurement.

In a 35-page document addressed to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, the official accuses other agency leaders of “gross mismanagement” and making a “mockery” of federal acquisition laws that require competitive bidding and proper contracts.

Jan R. Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, describes a culture of “lawlessness and chaos” at the Veterans Health Administration, the massive health-care system for 8.7 million veterans.

“Doors are swung wide open for fraud, waste and abuse,” he writes in the March memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post. He adds, “I can state without reservation that VA has and continues to waste millions of dollars by paying excessive prices for goods and services due to breaches of Federal laws.”

Frye describes in detail a series of practices that he says run afoul of federal rules, including the widespread use of purchase cards, which are usually meant as a convenience for minor purchases of up to $3,000, to buy billions of dollars worth of medical supplies without contracts. In one example, he says that up to $1.2 billion in prosthetics were bought using purchase cards without contracts during an 18-month period that ended last year.

He also explains how VA has failed to engage in competitive bidding or sign contracts with outside hospital and health-care providers that offer medical care for veterans that the agency cannot provide, such as specialized tests and surgeries and other procedures. Frye says VA has paid at least $5 billion in such fees, in violation of federal rules that the agency’s own general counsel has said since 2009 must be followed.

Frye alleges further violations in the agency’s purchase of billions of dollars worth of prosthetics and in the acquisition of a wide range of daily medical and surgical supplies. He says many products are bought without the competitive bidding and contracts essential to ensure quality care, effective use of tight dollars and proper government oversight.

“These unlawful acts may potentially result in serious harm or death to America’s veterans,” Frye wrote. “Collectively, I believe they serve to decay the entire VA health-care system.”

VA spokeswoman Victoria Dillon said in a statement that some of the care the agency pays for is not covered by federal acquisition law. She also said that the agency is trying to manage rapid growth in medical care administered by outside providers, with authorizations for outside medical care jumping 46 percent in the first four months of 2015 over the same period last year.

Dillon said VA officials are urging Congress to pass legislation that would allow an “expedited form of purchasing care” for veterans who need to go outside the VA system. She said the bill “would also resolve legal uncertainties that have arisen” regarding the use of purchasing agreements other than those required by federal acquisition regulations.

VA has been under intense pressure to provide adequate care to the surge of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Frye makes clear in his memo that the agency’s violations of purchasing law have been going on for years and that senior leaders have had many opportunities to revamp their practices.

He discloses his repeated efforts to raise his concerns with other senior officials at the agency but says he was consistently ignored. He also accuses top agency officials of deceiving Congress when they were asked about questionable practices.

VA operates one of the largest health-care systems in the country, spanning 150 hospitals and more than 800 outpatient clinics. The agency has been struggling to serve not only the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, but also a surge in veterans who served in the 1960s and 1970s.

VA has been rocked since last year by revelations about long wait times for veterans seeking treatment for health issues including cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder. McDonald’s predecessor, Eric K. Shinseki, resigned as VA secretary last year after a coverup of months-long hospital wait times became public, and Congress has given the system $10 billion in new funding to ramp up private medical care.

On Thursday, Frye will have a chance to explain his concerns directly to lawmakers. He is scheduled to testify before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee about waste and fraud in the purchase card program.

Frye, 64, is a retired Army colonel who has overseen VA’s acquisitions and logistics programs – one of the federal government’s largest – since 2005. In his role as the agency’s senior procurement executive, he is responsible for developing and supervising VA’s practices for acquiring services and supplies, but he is not in charge of making the purchases. A former Army inspector general, he has held senior acquisition positions over 30 years in government.

Some of his concerns were previously flagged by VA’s inspector general, who has reported for years that weak contracting systems put the agency at risk of waste and abuse. Thousands of pharmaceutical purchases were made without competition or contracts in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, often by unqualified employees, investigators found. And according to documents that have not been made public, the inspector general’s office has warned VA repeatedly that its use of purchase cards needs better oversight.

For the most part, Frye does not explain why the rules are so widely flouted. But he suggests, in this discussion of purchase cards, that the reason may be laziness. He calls these payments an “easy button” way of buying things. Frye told McDonald he became aware in 2012 that government purchase cards were being used improperly by VA. About 2,000 cards had been issued to employees who were ordering products and services without contracts, Frye recounts.

He said his concerns grew after learning that a supervisor in New York had recorded more than $50 million in prosthetics purchases in increments of $24,999 – $1 under the charging limit on each card. In a response to a member of Congress who inquired about the purchases, Shinseki had few answers. “No contract files exist” and “there is no evidence of full and open competition,” Shinseki wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.

Purchase cards, Frye says in his memo, can be a sufficient means of acquiring goods and services for “micro-purchases” up to $3,000. Above that limit, the cards can be used for payment only if there is a certified invoice linked to a properly awarded contract.

Frye’s concerns about payments for outside medical services are rooted in the reality that VA hospitals do not have the resources or specialists to provide all the treatment veterans require, such as obstetrics and joint replacements. For these services, VA normally refers veterans to a list of doctors or labs in their area.

The agency, Frye says, is required to identify providers through a competitive process and contract with them to ensure that the government pays reasonable prices and gets the best value and quality. And contracts help ensure veterans are legally protected if they get poor care or if a medical procedure goes wrong.

But according to Frye’s account, VA spent about $5 billion on outside medical care in both 2013 and 2014 in the absence of contracts, and such practices “extend back many years.” “Based on my inquiry in January 2013, [the Office of the General Counsel] confirmed in writing the fact VHA was violating the law,” Frye says.

Large medical systems similar to VA order many supplies in bulk through a list of approved vendors, identified through a competitive process, to ensure quick delivery for the best price. But VA’s system for these “just-in-time” purchases is deeply flawed, and this is yet another way that the agency wastes money, Frye says.

He writes that there are many types of supplies that are not covered by these arrangements. Instead, they are ordered off the shelf, without competition and for higher prices, from a “shopping list” containing 400,000 items, “indiscriminately and not in accordance” with acquisition laws.

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Leftist Nightmare Update: Hawaii Shutting Down $205 Million Obamacare Exchange (Video)

Hawaii’s $205 Million Obamacare Exchange Shutting Down – TPNN

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Hawaii’s state legislature rejected legislation giving a $28-million cash infusion to its troubled Obamacare insurance exchange, making it impossible for the website to operate after this year.

The exchange will stop taking new enrollees on Friday.

Hawaii’s Connector Exchange released a statement saying:

“Now that it is clear that the state will not provide sufficient support for the Hawaii Health Connector’s operations through fiscal year 2016 (ending June 30, 2016), the Connector can no longer operate in a manner that would cause it to incur additional debts or other obligations for which it is unable to pay.”

“Staff reductions will commence immediately, with the executive director ( Jeff Kissel) exiting once the bulk of operational activities end.” The statement continued saying: “If the state cannot facilitate an orderly transition, the Connector’s operations will abruptly end, as the Connector does not have the resources to continue operations.”

According to Americanthinker, more states, including: Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Oregon – are having massive problems with their Obamacare websites, and are expected to close also. The cost? Almost a Billion dollars more of our money flushed down the drain.

Can any state exchanges continue to exist? With 36 states refusing to open their own exchanges and the Supreme Court ready to deal the death blow to subsidies, the future of the Obamacare exchanges appears uncertain at best.

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How Rand Paul And A Few Other RINO Douchebags Let Congress Keep Its Fraudulent Obamacare Subsidies

How Five Republicans Let Congress Keep Its Fraudulent Obamacare Subsidies – National Review

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The rumors began trickling in about a week before the scheduled vote on April 23: Republican leadership was quietly pushing senators to pull support for subpoenaing Congress’s fraudulent application to the District of Columbia’s health exchange – the document that facilitated Congress’s “exemption” from Obamacare by allowing lawmakers and staffers to keep their employer subsidies.

The application said Congress employed just 45 people. Names were faked; one employee was listed as “First Last,” another simply as “Congress.” To Small Business Committee chairman David Vitter, who has fought for years against the Obamacare exemption, it was clear that someone in Congress had falsified the document in order to make lawmakers and their staff eligible for taxpayer subsidies provided under the exchange for small-business employees.

But until Vitter got a green light from the Small Business Committee to subpoena the unredacted application from the District of Columbia health exchange, it would be impossible to determine who in Congress gave it a stamp of approval. When Vitter asked Republicans on his committee to approve the subpoena, however, he was unexpectedly stonewalled.

With nine Democrats on the committee lined up against the proposal, the chairman needed the support of all ten Republicans to issue the subpoena. But, though it seems an issue tailor-made for the tea-party star and Republican presidential candidate, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) refused to lend his support. And when the Louisiana senator set a public vote for April 23, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies got involved.

“For whatever reason, leadership decided they wanted that vote to be 5-5, all Republicans, to give Senator Paul cover,” one high-ranking committee staffer tells National Review. “So they worked at a member level to change the votes of otherwise supportive senators.” Four Republicans – senators Mike Enzi, James Risch, Kelly Ayotte, and Deb Fischer – had promised to support Vitter, but that would soon change.

Senate staffers, according to a top committee aide, reported seeing Missouri senator Roy Blunt make calls to at least two Republican committee members, lobbying them, at McConnell’s behest, to vote no on subpoenaing the exchange. By the time the committee was called to quorum, Enzi, Risch, Ayotte, and Fischer voted no.

To many observers, it was curious that any Republican would move to put the brakes on an investigation into Obamacare fraud, and particularly curious that they would pull back in an instance where the federal government was actually defrauding itself, one that so clearly illustrates Obamacare’s flaws by exposing the bureaucratic jujitsu and outright dishonesty required of federal employees themselves to navigate the law.

Conservative health-care experts can’t understand the reasoning behind the GOP senators’ opposition. They see politics and self-interest at play, and they allege that Republican leaders are as invested as their Democratic counterparts in maintaining their subsidies, fraudulently obtained, while avoiding scrutiny from an overwhelmingly disapproving American public.

“We deserve to know who signed that application, because they are robbing taxpayers,” says Michael Cannon, director of health-policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. The staffers who signed the fraudulent application, he says, “know who was directing them to do this. And so we have to follow the trail of breadcrumbs. This is the next breadcrumb, and whoever is farther up the trail wants to stop Vitter right here.”

The story of the ill-fated subpoena can be traced back to the debate over the Affordable Care Act, when Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) insisted that lawmakers and congressional staff join a health-care exchange set up under the bill. For government employees, that meant giving up government-subsidized health-care contributions of between $5,000 and $10,000 per person. The White House scrambled to find a way to allow congressional employees to keep those subsidies. In Washington, D.C., only the small-business exchange allowed them to do so. After secret meetings with House speaker John Boehner in 2013, President Obama instructed the Office of Personnel Management to allow Congress to file for classification as a small business, despite the fact that the law defines a small business as having no more than 50 employees and the House and Senate together employ tens of thousands.

When Vitter’s staffers tracked down the application and discovered obvious signs of fraud, Vitter requested approval to subpoena an unredacted copy of the application. The value of that document, says Cannon, is that it would reveal the name of the person who filed it. “Now you’ve got someone to call to testify,” he says, predicting that testimony would precipitate a congressional vote on whether to end the congressional exemption altogether.

“I think it makes sense to find out what happened,” says Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs, a noted conservative health-care voice and a National Review contributor. “It would be pretty interesting to see whose name is on the forms,” he says. “It has to go beyond mid-level staffers.”

But some congressional Republicans, it seems, are also resistant to getting to the bottom of the mystery – or, at the very least, they are content to let sleeping dogs lie.

Committee rules for a subpoena require either the consent of the ranking member or a majority of the group’s 19 senators. Because Democrats quickly made their opposition clear, Vitter needed the approval of all ten Republicans. Nine of them quickly consented via e-mail; one senator was strangely unresponsive.

Senior committee aides say that Rand Paul’s staff didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail requesting the senator’s consent and, when they did, they refused to provide it. When Vitter attempted to set up a member-to-member meeting, his overtures were ignored or put off. Paul’s policy staff refused to take a meeting. When Vitter tried to confront Paul on the Senate floor, they say, the Kentucky senator skirted the issue.

It wasn’t until after the vote that Paul shared his reasoning. “Senator Paul opposes allowing Congress to exempt themselves from any legislation,” an aide told the Conservative Review. “To that end, yesterday, he reintroduced his proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit Congress from passing any law that exempts themselves. Senator Paul prefers this option over a partisan cross-examination of Congressional staff.”

But a constitutional amendment is a longshot that would take years, and it hardly precluded an investigation of congressional corruption here and now.

“That’s absurd,” says Robert Moffit, the director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “You don’t need a constitutional amendment to get a subpoena… I don’t know where he’s coming from.”

“The answers he has given do not make sense,” Cannon says of Paul. “And when someone with his principles does something that is so obviously against his principles, and does not give an adequate explanation, you begin to think that politics is afoot. It would have to be someone very powerful that made him a powerful pitch – or threat – to keep him from doing this.”

Paul’s press secretary tells National Review that the senator “examines every opportunity to [oppose Obamacare] individually, and does not base his vote on requests made by other senators, including the majority leader.”

Asked whether McConnell pushed Paul or any other senator on the subpoena, a spokesman for McConnell says the majority leader “didn’t make any announcements when that committee voted.”

The flip-flopping Republicans justified their change of heart. Risch said in the April 23 committee meeting that legal wrangling with the D.C. exchange could take time away from the committee’s small-business work. Enzi said he saw little wrong with the application as is.

“Each of us has our own budget, each of us has our own staff,” he said. “I don’t know about everybody else, but I’m way under 50 [employees]. So my staff qualifies as a small business.”

Enzi was one of the original sponsors of Vitter’s 2013 amendment to end the congressional Obamacare exemption, but his press secretary tells National Review he felt the probe “could inadvertently target staff who simply completed paperwork as part of their job.” He insists that Enzi “made up his own mind.” Risch, Ayotte, and Fischer declined to comment.

A spokesman for South Carolina senator Tim Scott, who voted for the subpoena, says that nobody lobbied him one way or the other, while a spokesman for Florida senator Marco Rubio, who also voted in favor of the measure, declined to comment.

Health-care experts dismiss Enzi’s claim that each member’s office is its own small business, and not just because the health exchange application was filed for Congress as a whole. “These congressional offices that think they’re small businesses, are they LLCs?” Cannon asks. “Are they S-Corps? Are they shareholder-owned? Are they privately held? What is the ownership structure of this small business that you’re running, senator? It’s just utterly ridiculous.”

“They’re transparently absurd,” says Moffit of Senate Republicans claiming small-business status. “Who made the determination that Congress is a small business and is therefore eligible for subsidies that do not legally exist? How did that happen?”

No one quite knows what’s behind leadership’s apparent push to kill the subpoena. The move baffled some committee staffers. “The amount of blood that McConnell and Paul spilled to prevent [the subpoena] from happening makes me wonder [if] maybe that isn’t all that there is to it,” the high-ranking staffer says. “Maybe other people signed it… They’re clearly afraid of something bigger than a person’s name getting out there.”

Others, however, think the motives behind GOP leadership’s apparent obfuscation are clear. “If there’s one thing that absolutely drives Americans fundamentally crazy, it’s the idea that Congress can set one set of rules for themselves and another for everybody else,” says Moffit. “That’s political poison, and that’s why they have been so desperate to avoid the issue.”

“The most powerful interest group in Washington D.C., is not the Chamber or the unions or anyone else,” Cannon says. “It is members of Congress and their staffs. And when it comes to their benefits, they are all members of the same party.”

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Contrary To Democrats’ Promises, Emergency Room Visits Surge Under Obamacare

Contrary To Goals, ER Visits Rise Under Obamacare – USA Today

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Three-quarters of emergency physicians say they’ve seen ER patient visits surge since Obamacare took effect – just the opposite of what many Americans expected would happen.

A poll released today by the American College of Emergency Physicians shows that 28% of 2,099 doctors surveyed nationally saw large increases in volume, while 47% saw slight increases. By contrast, fewer than half of doctors reported any increases last year in the early days of the Affordable Care Act.

Such hikes run counter to one of the goals of the health care overhaul, which is to reduce pressure on emergency rooms by getting more people insured through Medicaid or subsidized private coverage and providing better access to primary care.

A major reason that hasn’t happened is there simply aren’t enough primary care physicians to handle all the newly insured patients, says ACEP President Mike Gerardi, an emergency physician in New Jersey.

“They don’t have anywhere to go but the emergency room,” he says. “This is what we predicted. We know people come because they have to.”

Experts cite many root causes. In addition to the nation’s long-standing shortage of primary care doctors – projected by the federal government to exceed 20,000 doctors by 2020 – some physicians won’t accept Medicaid because of its low reimbursement rates. That leaves many patients who can’t find a primary care doctor to turn to the ER – 56% of doctors in the ACEP poll reported increases in Medicaid patients.

Emergency room usage is bound to increase if there’s a shortage of primary care doctors who accept Medicaid patients and “no financial penalty or economic incentive” to move people away from ERs, says Avik Roy, a health care policy expert with the free market Manhattan Institute.

“It goes to the false promise of the ACA,” Roy says, that Medicaid recipients are “given a card that says they have health insurance, but they can’t have access to physicians.”

Complicating matters, low-income patients face many obstacles to care. They often can’t take time off from work when most primary care offices are open, while ERs operate around the clock and by law must at least stabilize patients. Waits for appointments at primary care offices can stretch for weeks, while ERs must see patients almost immediately.

“Nobody wants to turn anyone away,” says Maggie Gill, CEO of Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga. “But there’s no business in this country that provides resource-intensive anything and can’t even ask if you’re going to be able to pay.”

Some people who have been uninsured for years don’t have regular doctors and are accustomed to using ERs, even though they are much more expensive. A 2013 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says going to an ER when a primary care visit would suffice costs $580 more for each visit.

Damian Alagia, chief physician executive for KentuckyOne Health, says he’s seen the trend play out in his large hospital system. There are more than a half-million people in the state newly insured through Obamacare. Many who put off care in the past now seek it in the place they know — the ER. “We’re seeing an uptick pretty much across the system in our ERs,” he says, calling the rise “significant” in both urban and rural hospitals.

Gerardi acknowledges that some people come to the ER for problems that would be better handled in a primary or urgent care office. But he says the ER is the right place for patients with vague but potentially life-threatening symptoms, such as chest pain, which could be anything from a heart attack to indigestion.

ER volumes are likely to keep climbing, and hospitals are working to adapt. Alagia says his ERs have care management professionals who connect patients with primary care physicians if they don’t already have them. Gill says her Georgia hospital has a “whole staff in the emergency room dedicated to recidivism,” who follow up with patients to see whether they’ve found a primary care doctor, are taking their medications or need help with transportation to get to doctors.

Still, seven in 10 doctors say their emergency departments aren’t ready for continuing, and potentially significant, increases in volume. Although the numbers should level off as people get care to keep their illnesses under control, Alagia says, “the patient demand will outstrip the supply of physicians for a while.”

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Hillary Speaks To Women About Women At Women’s Summit – Ed Responds


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The following quotes were taken from the above-embedded speech by Hillary Rotten Clinton at the 6th annual Women in the World summit. After each one, I have posted a response in the hopes that every leftist in America will take a few moments out of his or her (or its) utterly pointless day to write me some hate-mail.

Let’s begin.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a student or an artist, a journalist, an ambassador, maybe even a future president. We all have our stories.”

Fortunately for America, you’re none of those things.

“Some of you, I know, were with me in Beijing back in 1995 at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. Representatives from 189 countries came together to declare with one voice that human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”

I wonder how many Islamic countries were involved in that event. No matter, I’m sure that by now every Muslim-run nation on Earth has fully embraced women’s rights. After all, wasn’t it you who once said that Islam respects the fundamental dignity of all human beings?

“All the evidence tells us that despite the enormous obstacles that remain, there has never been a better time in history to be born female.”

Especially if you’re born in the United States, and your last name is Clinton.

“Yes, we’ve cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive healthcare, and safe childbirth.”

Yes, and while the maternal mortality rate has surely been cut substantially over the decades, leftists like you have worked overtime to help dramatically increase the mortality rate of unborn infants. How proud you must be.

“All the laws we’ve passed don’t count for much if they’re not enforced.”

You mean like the various Obamacare laws that you claim the president has every right to amend whenever he sees fit? And don’t even get me started on the immigration laws he habitually ignores or rewrites whenever the mood strikes him. By the way, I’m not holding my breath waiting for you to express outrage over any of Barack’s numerous, impeachable offenses. If you had any genuine respect for the law, you wouldn’t have intentionally destroyed untold thousands of emails belonging to the American people from your illegally-employed, private computer server in Chappaqua.

“Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will, and deep-seeded cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

Are you referring to the deep-seeded cultural codes and religious beliefs of genuine Christians and Jews who don’t just pay lip-service to them in order to win elections, but actually live them every day? Just curious.

“As I have said, and as I believe, the advancement of the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of their societies is the great unfinished business of the 21st century. And not just for women, but for everyone.”

Well then, it’s a good thing there’s a section of Obamacare that forces single men to pay for maternity coverage that they can’t possibly use, don’t you think?

“If we closed the gap that remains in the workforce between men and women, our economy in the United States would grow by nearly 10 percent by 2030.”

It’s too bad that leftist policies – like the ones you’ve spent your entire adult life promoting – encourage women to have children out of wedlock, and then reward them with taxpayer dollars for sitting on their asses and watching ‘The View’. That’s got to be disappointing.

“The lack of quality, affordable childcare, unequal pay, work schedules that are not only far from predictable but often simply unfair, fall disproportionately heavily on women.”

It seems to me that there are only two realistic ways to make childcare more affordable. A.) Force childcare facilities – which are mostly run by women – to charge less for their services, or B.) force women to stay home and take care of their own kids while their husbands work. Beyond that, the notion that there is any real inequality in pay between men and women who work equal numbers of hours at equally difficult jobs is just another leftist myth invented by politicians like you. By the way, what is it about unpredictable work schedules that makes them less fair to women than men?

“It is outrageous that America is the only country in the developed world that doesn’t guarantee paid leave to mothers of newborns.”

So, not only should companies be expected to hire an equal number of women and men – even though only women take maternity leave – but now they should be forced to pay women who’ve chosen to have kids wages for not working? How is that fair to all the other employees who still have to put in a 40-hour workweek before receiving a paycheck?

“It’s hard to believe that in 2015 so many women still pay a price for being mothers.”

What, you mean that after all this time people are still expected to incur the costs associated with the decision they make? I am fucking shocked beyond words.

“It is also hard to believe that so many women are still paid less than men for the same work, with even wider gaps for women of color.”

That truly is hard to believe, mostly because it isn’t so. Think about it, if such an absurdity were true, what employer in his right mind would ever hire a white man again?

“Now, when I talk to men about this – which I frequently do – I remind them, if it was your wife or your sister or your daughter or your mother getting taken advantage of at work, you would suffer, your kids would suffer, your family would suffer, and you’d want to do something about it.”

I sure would, and it’s a damned good thing that’s never happened to any woman I know.

“America moves forward when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own healthcare choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby.”

What rights or choices were taken away from women by that company, exactly? Are you suggesting that Hobby Lobby’s female employees are no longer allowed to use contraceptives? As far as I’m aware, the only thing its owners have ever asked for is that they not be forced by the government to add contraception coverage to their employees’ health insurance policies, because their religious faith does not allow them to disseminate birth control – especially the abortion-inducing drugs included in the infamous Obamacare mandate. Since when does anyone have a right to force the people they work for to provide them with contraceptives that they can easily and cheaply buy on the open market themselves? For that matter, when did products designed to prevent people from conceiving children get redefined as elements of health care?

“when we deny women access to retirement that is secure; when we continue – as we do – to discriminate against women in the Social Security system, we are leaving too many women on their own.”

How are “we” denying women access to a secure retirement? Is there some law I haven’t heard about that prevents American citizens of the female persuasion from saving money in a private account for that purpose? As for Social Security, payments from that system are based on lifetime earnings figures, so the more you make and pay into it over the years, the larger your S.S. checks will be when you retire. A person’s gender has nothing to do with that equation, and the truth of the matter is that women generally live longer than men by several years, so they actually receive a larger percentage of S.S. funds overall.

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced as our colleagues and friends, not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are.”

What exactly is a transgender woman? Do you mean a man who wears dresses and pretends to be a woman? And when was the last time you heard of someone being fired simply because they weren’t heterosexual? Just what decade are you living in, anyway?

“We move forward when women who came to this country in search of a better life can earn a path to citizenship.”

That’s been going on since this nation was founded. So, unless President Obama drafted an executive order recently that prevents women from legally immigrating to the U.S. and doing what is required under the U.S. Code to become a naturalized citizen, what’s the problem?

“There are those who offer themselves as leaders who even play politics with the nomination of our nation’s chief law enforcement officer…”

Yes there are. That’s because the Attorney General of the U.S. is a political appointee, and the most recent nominee for that office will be replacing the most politically biased AG in the history of the republic. Of course, I wouldn’t expect someone like you to understand partisan bickering over presidential appointments. Why, you’re as pure as the wind-driven snow when it comes to such things, right? I mean, you’ve never spoken out politically about a Republican president’s choice for – say – the federal judiciary, have you?

“Here in the United States, just last week we saw fast-food workers marching in the streets, asking for nothing more than a living wage and a chance at the American dream.”

What they were actually doing was calling for the unionization of the entire fast-food industry, and insisting that their employers pay them $15 an hour to do entry-level jobs that most well-trained chimpanzees would do for a bunch of grapes and a ripe banana. Then they went on to threaten larger protests in the future if their unreasonable demands weren’t met. But then, who cares about little things like facts when you’re committed to demonizing American businesses for purely political gain, right?

Sincerely,

Edward L. Daley

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Shocker! California’s Obamacare Exchange Plagued By Incompetence, Mismanagement

Incompetence, Mismanagement Plague California’s Obamacare Insurance Exchange – Daily Signal

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California’s health insurance exchange, established under the Affordable Care Act, has been held out as a national model for Obamacare. In some ways – not all of them good – it is. Whether it’s falling far short of 2015 enrollment goals or sending out 100,000 inaccurate tax forms, Covered California is struggling with its share of challenges.

Now, several senior-level officials integral to the launch of Covered California – who enthusiastically support the Affordable Care Act – are speaking about what they view as gross incompetence and mismanagement involving some of the $1 billion federal tax dollars poured into the state effort.

‘Somebody Must Have Been Smoking Something’

Consultant Aiden Hill became a “foxhole convert” to Obamacare in July of 2010 when he lost his insurance, had a serious medical issue and couldn’t get a new policy.

“I lived through a health care nightmare. That’s one reason why I took a cut in my pay rate to work for Covered California.”

In March 2013, Hill was hired as project manager over Covered California’s massive $120 million call center effort. In just six short months, it would face an avalanche of customers seeking insurance mandated under the new law.

But five months on the job converted Hill from avid supporter to disenchanted whistleblower. He says the secretive and dysfunctional culture was more interested in cheerleading than real results. After he persistently raised concerns, Covered California abruptly terminated his contract. He says the experience drove him to raise allegations about waste and cover ups at a Covered California board meeting.

Covered California quietly launched an independent investigation into Hill’s grievances. Nine months later, the results were summarized in four sentences stating that evidence did “not support” Hill’s complaints. Hill calls the probe a sham and says the inquiry didn’t include interviews with many witnesses he suggested.

Today, Hill describes himself as disgusted by the process – and soured on Obamacare.

“I really believe that we’ve created a monster – and it’s an unaccountable monster,” Hill told The Daily Signal.

Covered California declined comment on Hill’s allegations.

Other officials integral to Covered California’s efforts concur with Hill’s assessment. One of them headed the largest call center.

“They started this way too late for what they needed to do,” says the official who was hired in April 2013, five months before the website’s launch. He has since left that position and asked not to be named to protect his current job status.

“This program had to touch 58 counties, 11 federal agencies, all medical carriers and all advocates. To have a system that would be integrated seamlessly – somebody must have been smoking something if they thought that was going to happen.”

Disappointing Enrollment

It’s against that backdrop that Covered California finds itself now grappling with a big disappointment: low enrollment growth. California ranked near the bottom in overall growth, with a scant 1 percent increase over last year.

“It’s a tiny fraction of the growth they were expecting,” says an official who helped implement the Affordable Care Act and examined California’s numbers.

As recently as last fall, the official says, California hoped to increase enrollment by 500,000 this year. But only an additional 7,098 have “selected a plan” for 2015.

“Their total enrollment is a step in the right direction but nowhere near what anyone thought it would be for the largest state in the country.”

Covered California would not answer our questions about enrollment figures.

Another telling statistic is Covered California’s poor retention rate. Even though people are required by law to have health insurance, only 65 percent of Covered California’s 2014 customers reenrolled in 2015. The rest dropped off.

Covered California would not address our questions about lackluster retention and growth.

Last month, the agency issued a press release touting a younger and more diverse mix of customers.

“New enrollment for 2015 coverage is strong and has brought in consumers who our marketing and outreach targeted,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee, overlooking the fact that his organization’s retention of last year’s customers was among the lowest in the country.

Hoping for a bump, California followed the lead of the federal HealthCare.gov effort and repeatedly extended this year’s enrollment deadline. The Feb. 15 cutoff was pushed back to Feb. 20 and then Feb. 22. Now, it’s been extended to the end of this month.

“I lived through a health care nightmare. That’s one reason why I took a cut in my pay rate to work for Covered California.”

In March 2013, Hill was hired as project manager over Covered California’s massive $120 million call center effort. In just six short months, it would face an avalanche of customers seeking insurance mandated under the new law.

But five months on the job converted Hill from avid supporter to disenchanted whistleblower. He says the secretive and dysfunctional culture was more interested in cheerleading than real results. After he persistently raised concerns, Covered California abruptly terminated his contract. He says the experience drove him to raise allegations about waste and cover ups at a Covered California board meeting.

Covered California quietly launched an independent investigation into Hill’s grievances. Nine months later, the results were summarized in four sentences stating that evidence did “not support” Hill’s complaints. Hill calls the probe a sham and says the inquiry didn’t include interviews with many witnesses he suggested.

Today, Hill describes himself as disgusted by the process – and soured on Obamacare.

“I really believe that we’ve created a monster – and it’s an unaccountable monster,” Hill told The Daily Signal.

Covered California declined comment on Hill’s allegations.

Other officials integral to Covered California’s efforts concur with Hill’s assessment. One of them headed the largest call center.

“They started this way too late for what they needed to do,” says the official who was hired in April 2013, five months before the website’s launch. He has since left that position and asked not to be named to protect his current job status.

“This program had to touch 58 counties, 11 federal agencies, all medical carriers and all advocates. To have a system that would be integrated seamlessly – somebody must have been smoking something if they thought that was going to happen.”

Disappointing Enrollment

It’s against that backdrop that Covered California finds itself now grappling with a big disappointment: low enrollment growth. California ranked near the bottom in overall growth, with a scant 1 percent increase over last year.

“It’s a tiny fraction of the growth they were expecting,” says an official who helped implement the Affordable Care Act and examined California’s numbers.

As recently as last fall, the official says, California hoped to increase enrollment by 500,000 this year. But only an additional 7,098 have “selected a plan” for 2015.

“Their total enrollment is a step in the right direction but nowhere near what anyone thought it would be for the largest state in the country.”

Covered California would not answer our questions about enrollment figures.

Another telling statistic is Covered California’s poor retention rate. Even though people are required by law to have health insurance, only 65 percent of Covered California’s 2014 customers reenrolled in 2015. The rest dropped off.

Covered California would not address our questions about lackluster retention and growth.

Last month, the agency issued a press release touting a younger and more diverse mix of customers.

“New enrollment for 2015 coverage is strong and has brought in consumers who our marketing and outreach targeted,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee, overlooking the fact that his organization’s retention of last year’s customers was among the lowest in the country.

Hoping for a bump, California followed the lead of the federal HealthCare.gov effort and repeatedly extended this year’s enrollment deadline. The Feb. 15 cutoff was pushed back to Feb. 20 and then Feb. 22. Now, it’s been extended to the end of this month.

Call Center Chaos

The devastating crash of Covered California’s website and call centers on Oct. 1, 2013 was “the canary in the coalmine, an early warning of deep dysfunction,” according to Hill.

Pre-launch testing had proven disastrous. As with the national HealthCare.gov website, “it was breaking at the first click of the button,” says the former call center manager who worked under Hill. “Behind the scenes, states were worried. I know we were worried.”

Covered California contractors projected 10,000 calls the first day. The call center manager says he knew they were way off. “I and my training manager, who had launched call centers before, projected 20,000. We had 21,000 on day one. Our contractors were wrong.”

The HealthCare.gov website was on a parallel trajectory. It, too, suffered under hasty development and failed performance tests days before launch – all while the Obama administration put on a positive public face.

“Everybody knew it wasn’t going to function,” says a third Covered California official. “Calls start coming in and within the first hour, the entire system went down – phone and web.”

“The train was coming off the rails,” adds Hill. “The call center was going into meltdown.”

The meltdown lasted for months and fixes proved costly. Covered California would not provide a tally of expenses, but the agency ended up asking the federal government for an extra $155 million. That put the cost of Covered California at more than $1.06 billion federal tax dollars.

Enrollment Exaggeration?

Covered California’s disastrous debut triggered a house of cards. When the website crashed, consumers were directed to fill out paper applications; they were 33 pages long and took at least an hour to complete. What’s more, they couldn’t be coordinated with the electronic version because of a major design flaw. The forms didn’t match.

But Covered California counted duplicate applications as if they were enrollments, giving the impression that more people had successfully signed up. (The Obama administration did the same with national HealthCare.gov applications.)

For example, Covered California’s Lee publicly touted 30,000 successful enrollments for the first month. Hill says the actual number was closer to 4,000.

“A lot of the information that came out of Covered California was misleading or outright lies,” Hill insists.

Another Covered California official agrees.

“There’s no way he didn’t know he wasn’t telling the truth,” says an official, who still works at the agency and asked not to be identified. “We were fully aware that those numbers were inflated. It was horrible… morale busting. Things were being said that were blatantly untrue.”

The Daily Signal asked for Lee’s side of the story, but Covered California declined to make him available.

Hill says misinformation was aided and abetted by an uninformed press. In the midst of Covered California’s fiasco, he was stunned to read a New York Times article claiming the Golden State was an Obamacare utopia: the crown jewel of the health care reform effort.

On Nov. 24, 2013, Paul Krugman of The New York Times gushed:

What would happen if we unveiled a program that looked like Obamacare, in a place that looked like America, but with competent project management that produced a working website? Well, your wish is granted. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you California… The California authorities have been especially forthcoming with data tracking the progress of enrollment. And the numbers are increasingly encouraging.

That assessment was far from the reality, say the Covered California officials who spoke to The Daily Signal.

Covered California declined to respond to our questions but issued this statement:

Covered California is proud that it has been the portal for nearly four million people to find coverage through one of our participating health plans or through low cost/no cost Medi-Cal; is helping more than a million people access financial assistance to lower their monthly health insurance premiums; through the Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of uninsured in California by half.

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Who Is Dennis Michael Lynch?


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Dennis Michael Lynch (born August 28, 1969) is an American entrepreneur, documentary filmmaker, and conservative commentator. He is the founder and CEO of TV360Media, a company specializing in the production and distribution of digital film, and often appears as a guest on Fox News and TheBlaze. He is currently running for President of the United States as a conservative Republican.

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SPEECH AT NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN PARTY LEADERSHIP SUMMIT

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