Leftist Incompetence Update: Yet Another Obamacare Health Co-Op Ends In Utter Failure

Another Obamacare Health Co-Op Ends In Failure – Daily Caller

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Bleeding cash, the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) announced Friday that Louisiana’s Obamacare health insurance co-op will be closing its doors by the end of 2015.

It will be the second collapse of an Obamacare health care co-op this year and the third since the Obama administration rolled them out in 2012 as a competitor to commercial health insurance companies.

From the beginning, the Louisiana co-op was fraught with high-paid consultants who were not even from Louisiana, but Georgia. It also suffered from an apparent conflict of interest. George Cromer, its CEO, simultaneously served the Louisiana House of Representatives as chairman of that legislative body’s insurance committee.

Roughly 18 months into its existence, in September 2012, the Louisiana co-op received $66 million from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. By 2014, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reported that the co-op had burned through half of its cash and suffered a net operating loss of $23 million.

The co-op had only enrolled 17,000 paid subscribers out of a total state population of 4.6 million, according to state census data.

AM Best, the insurance rating company, reported in the third quarter of 2014 that the Louisiana co-op’s indebtedness was 198 percent, among the worst performing Obamacare nonprofits in the nation.

“The onerous burdens of Obamacare have shocked health insurance markets and caused instability in pricing and predictability, and as a result, we’ve seen premiums spike upward,” Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon wrote in a press statement July 24 when he announced closure plans for the co-op.

“Start-ups in insurance, especially health insurance, are always a tough row to hoe. Obamacare has made that even more difficult,” the commissioner noted in a press release.

The LDI’s Office of Financial Solvency will be examining the financial issues that led to its decision to close, and the commissioner has said that the department is “on-site at the co-op.”

The Louisiana Health co-op began with controversy over Terry Shilling, its first CEO. Shilling arranged a lavish contract with his own Atlanta-based consulting firm, Beam Partners, LLC, an arrangement approved by federal Obamacare CMS officials.

Federal officials also approved Shilling as original founder and “interim CEO” for the co-op, even though in 1998, the Securities and Exchange Commission sanctioned him for insider trading as a health executive. Shilling’s consulting firm received more than $3 million from the co-op in 2013 for “health plan development,” according to its IRS Form 990 filing.

Louisiana insurance documents obtained by the Washington Examiner in August 2013 showed that Beam would receive a separate $4 million contract from the start-up co-op. On top of the contract, the Atlanta firm would receive a 20 percent “performance fee,” according to the documents. Finally, Beam additionally reaped a “benefit payment services” that began at $66,667 per month in 2013, culminating in $72,917 in 2016, according to Louisiana co-op insurance filing documents.

Separate from the preferential contract with Shilling, the co-op represented a potential political conflict of interest. After Shilling’s relationship with the co-op went public, the Atlanta businessman stepped down as interim CEO, to be replaced by Louisiana Rep. George Cromer.

Cromer, a Republican, also was the chairman of the Louisiana House committee on health insurance. He did not step down from the position after assuming the co-op post.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Cromer’s office, but has yet to receive a response.

The Louisiana co-op is not the first to fold.

In February, the Iowa Insurance Department assumed receivership and closed the doors of Co-Opportunity Health, an Obamacare co-op that served more than 100,000 customers in Iowa and Nebraska. Co-Opportunity had a loss ratio of 140, which meant that for every dollar it received in premiums, it had to pay out $1.40 in benefits.

The first failure occurred in 2013, when the Vermont Insurance Commissioner refused to grant a license to a new Obamacare health co-op.

The Commissioner refused to license the co-op because the president had steered as much as $500,000 of the co-op’s money to his own firm. CMS had approved the loan to the Vermont co-op despite the conflict of interest.

She also said the co-op’s math was inadequate and failed to meet the state’s financial standards.

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Obamacare: Now With 34% Fewer Providers!

Report: Obamacare Plans Have 34% Fewer Providers – Weasel Zippers

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But you can keep your doctor!

Via Newsmax:

Thirty-four percent fewer healthcare providers are available to Obamacare patients – backing up “anecdotal reports that exchange networks contain fewer providers than traditional commercial plans,” a new report says.

According to an analysis by Avalere Health, the Washington-based advisory firm, the Obamacare networks offer an average of 42 percent fewer heart and cancer doctors – along with 24 percent fewer hospitals and 32 percent fewer primary care physicians for patients to choose from.

But most importantly, the Affordable Care Act’s restrictions on out-of-pocket costs by patients do not apply to healthcare services outside the plan’s network.

Keep reading

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How Uncle Sam Plans To Cheat Granny Out Of Health Care (Betsy McCaughey)

How Uncle Sam Plans To Cheat Granny Out Of Health Care – Betsy McCaughey

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Everybody knows if you don’t pay to repair your car, you limit its life.

The same is true with people. We need medical care to avoid becoming clunkers.

For a half-century, Medicare has enabled seniors to get that care. But now the Obama administration is pressuring hospitals to skimp.

Last week, the administration announced the largest-ever change in how Medicare pays for care. It’s called “bundled payments,” and it’s the latest trick to squeeze care from seniors.

Bundling will make it financially risky for hospitals in New York and many other areas of the country to do hip and knee replacements. These two procedures have transformed the experience of aging, allowing seniors to stay active.

But President Obama says too many seniors are getting these operations.

When the subject of hip replacements came up in a 2009 town-hall meeting, he said “maybe you’re better off not having the surgery but taking the pain killer.”

Science proves the president is wrong. Seniors with severe arthritis who opt for a knee replacement are 50 percent more likely to still be alive seven years later than seniors who don’t. Pain and immobility are killers.

Medicare is moving from paying doctors and hospitals for each item and service they provide to the new bundling system in January 2016.

It’s being rolled out in New York City, Newark, Buffalo, New Haven and New London, Conn., and many other regions, including Los Angeles. About 100,000 seniors will feel the pain, one quarter of the number expected to get hip and knee replacements each year.

Hospitals in these areas will have to settle for a flat fee for all the care a knee- or hip-replacement patient might need – including surgery, pain killers, hospital stays, rehabilitation and home care – regardless of how things go.

If there are complications, the hospital and doctors lose out. Hospitals will have to cut corners, and avoid the costliest patients altogether. So if you’ve been considering getting a hip or knee replacement, do it before January.

Ezekiel Emanuel, the president’s health-care adviser, applauds the impending change, promising that “savings are immediate and guaranteed.” What savings? Not for you.

Bundled payments will force cuts in care, not necessarily “savings.” The new system will set up a conflict of interest between patients and the very people they need to trust.

Whatever the patient gets will come off the hospital’s bottom line and out of the doctors’ own pockets at the end of the year.

Seniors are guinea pigs in this new scheme. The RAND Corp. says there are no studies to show the impact on patients.

Isn’t that what health care is supposed to be about? RAND says the scheme risks putting “pressure on physicians to spend less time with patients or on hospitals to decrease amenities.”

Health-care analysts at Lewin Group predict hospitals will scrimp by sending patients directly home with only a part-time health aide instead of to full-time rehabilitation at a skilled nursing facility.

Another risk is that hospitals will use low-cost implants instead of allowing surgeons to opt for newer prostheses that give patients more range of movement.

Bundling payments is one of several ploys to shortchange seniors. In October 2012, Medicare began awarding bonus points to the hospitals that spend the least per senior, despite evidence that spending less results in higher death rates.

Americans know Medicare is running out of money.

But it’s better to have an honest conversation about how to extend its solvency, including raising the eligibility age and enlisting competition among private insurers, than to have the hidden incentives to cut care the Obama administration is using.

Rationing is invisible. Patients won’t know about the care they should have gotten or how much less they could have suffered.

Bundled payments, like other perverse incentives buried in ObamaCare, destroy Medicare as we’ve known it.

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Yes, Donald Trump Is A Douchebag Who Often Speaks Without Thinking…

And yes, when he said that John McCain is only considered a war hero because he got caught by the enemy, that was not only douchey, it was untrue. John McCain is a hero because he was offered a chance to be released early from captivity and refused to go, knowing that to do so would mean taking the place of another POW who had been there longer and deserved to be set free ahead of him.

What Trump said was petty and ignorant, and he owes McCain an apology for it, but that doesn’t mean he’s been wrong about practically everything else he’s said about McCain, nor does it mean he has gone out of his way to intentionally insult every POW in American history.

Let’s face it, the guy is a carnival barker who’s made his living in recent years firing people on television for fun and profit. To suspect that he thinks with greater depth than a mud puddle about most issues before commenting on them during an interview is unrealistic, to say the least. Furthermore, to suppose that he hates all POWs because he made an off-the-cuff statement designed to hurt John McCain’s feelings is a stretch, but if he has any brains in his head he will man-up and beg the forgiveness of every former POW still alive (except Bowe Bergdahl) for talking out of his ass about something he is completely unqualified to discuss.

If he does so, perhaps in time people will start to remember that the only things Trump has said about our veterans with any forethought at all is that they’ve been treated like third-class citizens by our federal government for decades, and that the V.A. health care system is a disgraceful joke. The Donald has said these things over and over again, so why aren’t most of the other GOP candidates talking about them? I mean, it’s not like these opinions aren’t firmly anchored in the truth!

Trump has also made illegal immigration a front-page news story again, something that I guarantee most of the other Republicans in the race want to ignore like Bruce Jenner’s twitter account. In fact, I can only think of a few of the current 15 who wouldn’t have put that issue on the back-burner this campaign season had it not been thrown in all their faces so forcefully.

So why did Donald Trump even bring these subjects up in the first place? I believe it’s because he’s a populist who will say pretty much whatever he thinks people want to hear to get elected, but then I’m a cynical bastard when it comes to the thought processes of politicians.

No matter what his motives may be, however, at least he’s talking about things that genuinely matter; things that the vast majority of conservatives have been begging their elected representatives to deal with since forever, only to have those issues dropped like hot potatoes over and over again.

Yes, Trump is a blowhard and a media whore, but the fact that he’s also the only GOP candidate who has repeatedly proclaimed Hillary Clinton to be an out-and-out criminal – which she clearly is – has caused many millions of people to perk up their ears and say: IT’S ABOUT FREAKIN’ TIME SOMEBODY SAID THAT!

When The Donald points out that America consistently loses untold billions of dollars to it’s trade partners year after year, and that we are essentially building China’s infrastructure and military while ours goes to hell in a handbag, people stand up and cheer because they know he’s right. And when he says he would do a lot better than the inept clowns we’ve put in charge of our trade policies since the 1980s, folks tend to believe him. Why? Because despite his arrogant public demeanor and mockable hair style, he probably would!

Moreover, when Trump gives a speech on practically any topic, his audiences take heart in the fact that, despite his many, MANY flaws, at least he won’t be another squishy, establishment Republican who will play Mr. Nice Guy when confronted by the Clinton political machine and Hillary’s leftist minions in the Jurassic press.

The main reason why Trump has gained so much momentum in recent weeks is because people don’t see him as a pushover or a loser, and the GOP base is sick to death of getting their heads handed to them by a pack of socialist dirtbags who are more than happy to arm Islamic terrorists while simultaneously disarming American citizens. They are tired of seeing their top political candidates fold like paper kites in a hurricane every time they are confronted by the left over some invented media controversy about something they said that no right-winger would ever consider controversial.

In essence, Republican voters are begging their candidates to grow some balls and tell these Marxist parasites to go pound sand once and for all, and the only one they see with a bulge in his pants right now is Donald Trump.

A lady friend of mine asked me the other day what I thought of The Donald, and my answer was basically this: I don’t like him very much at all. I think he’s a self-centered, loud-mouthed prick who probably knows a lot less about the issues he discusses than he wants you to believe. Yet, despite all his negative attributes, I’d still vote for him if he were to win the GOP nomination because at least he has some positive leadership qualities, and I don’t see him becoming the sock-puppet of any special interest group anytime soon. What does Hillary Clinton have to offer, other than a closet full of pantsuits and a long history of corruption and failure?

Would I rather see somebody like Ted Cruz or Scott Walker win the primary election? Of course, who in their right mind wouldn’t? That having been said, whoever becomes the Republican nominee had better damned well take a page from the Trump campaign handbook and start hammering Hillary relentlessly over genuine scandals like Benghazi and e-mailgate because if they don’t, you can stick a fork in this once-great nation of ours. It’s all done!

Edward L. Daley

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Leftist Nightmare Update: IRS Might Not Refund $38M In Overpaid ObamaCare Fines

IRS Might Not Refund $38M Overpaid ObamaCare Fines – Sweetness & Light

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Fines? What fines? Those are ‘shared responsibility payments.’

From the Washington Free Beacon:

300,000 Taxpayers Overpaid Obamacare Fine by $38 Million, IRS May Not Return Money

By Morgan Chalfant | July 15, 2015

Approximately 6.6 million U.S. taxpayers paid a penalty for not having health insurance imposed this year under Obamacare, and hundreds of thousands of them overpaid the fine.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the number of taxpayers paying the fine, which was put in place to encourage Americans to enroll in health coverage, exceeded the Obama administration’s initial estimate by 10 percent.

Funny how all of the ‘bad stuff’ about Obama-Care was underestimated. What are the odds?

According to a new report from the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the average fine paid by taxpayers was $190. The penalty, however, can reach up to 1 percent of one’s income.

The report also discovered that about 300,000 taxpayers, most of whom should have been deemed exempt because of low income, overpaid the fine by $35 million. The average amount overpaid by each individual was $110.

So Obama-Care even fined the poor. What a surprise.

The IRS has yet to decide whether or not it will return the funds to those who overpaid…

According to the report, approximately 10.7 million U.S. taxpayers filed for exemption from the penalty…

And never mind that most of these people getting exemptions are the very people Obama-Care was supposed to get to pay their ‘shared responsibility.’

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Assurant Health Insurance Company Fined For Charging Healthy Customers Less Money

Health Insurance Company Fined For Charging Less For Healthy Customers – Weasel Zippers

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No fines for charging smokers a higher premium. Single payer here we come.

Via Helena Independent Record

A health insurance company will refund roughly $1.7 million to Montana customers who have been forced to pay what the state calls unfairly high prices.

Wisconsin-based Assurant Health finalized a settlement with the state this week agreeing to pay the restitution and a $25,000 fine.

An investigation by Montana’s Insurance Commissioner found Assurant charged lower prices for healthy customers and higher prices for about 1,600 sicker customers with the same coverage.

State law prohibits health insurance companies from imposing higher prices based on any factor other than age.

“Our allegation is that they discriminated against people who were in poor health,” said Jesse Laslovich, deputy state auditor.

The commissioner’s office found Assurant subsidiaries John Alden Life Insurance Co. and Time Insurance Co. offered a “healthy discount” of 10 percent off premiums to Montana policyholders who claimed less than $500 the previous year and completed a questionnaire.

“That $1.7 million, that represents the amount that the other people who didn’t get the discounts should have gotten,” Laslovich said. “These folks don’t know they’re getting a check in the mail, so that’s something we’re excited about.”[..]

The company announced in April that it will be leaving the national health insurance market amid declining revenue. Montana customers were notified last month.

Assurant Health’s profit began dropping when the Affordable Care Act was implemented in 2010. The company attributed its projected first-quarter losses of $80 million to $90 million to higher customer claims under the ACA and a reduction in what Assurant could recover through the health law’s risk mitigation programs.

Keep reading

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Woman With Rare And Dangerous Form Of TB May Have Exposed Hundreds In Three U.S. States

Report: Patient With Rare & Dangerous Form Of TB Sent To NIH, May Have Exposed Hundreds In 3 States – Big Government

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An unidentified female patient with an extremely rare and drug-resistant form of tuberculosis is being treated at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and authorities are reportedly attempting to track down hundreds of people who may have been in contact with her and exposed to the dangerous form tuberculosis.

According to an NBC report, the unidentified woman flew from India to the United States and “traveled to at least three states before she sought treatment from a U.S. doctor.” The patient was reportedly “isolated in a suburban Chicago hospital before she was sent to the NIH.”

“The patient traveled in April from India to the United States through Chicago O’Hare airport,” the CDC said in a statement to NBC. “The patient also spent time in Missouri and Tennessee. Seven weeks after arriving in the United States, the patient sought treatment for and was diagnosed with active TB.”

The CDC said it “will obtain the passenger manifest for that flight from the airline and will begin a contact investigation.” The agency said that though “the risk of getting a contagious disease on an airplane is low, public health officers sometimes need to find and alert travelers who may have been exposed to an ill passenger.”

But the unidentified woman does not have a normal case of tuberculosis.

She has what is known as XDR-TB (extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis), which is so rare and dangerous that the CDC reportedly “got reports of 63 cases between 1993 and 2011″ and “only about a third to half of cases can even be cured.”

Though ordinary TB is “hard to treat and requires, at a minimum, weeks of antibiotics,” XDR-TB “resists the effects of almost all the known TB drugs” and patients sometimes “have to have pockets of infection surgically removed.” In fact, XDR-TB is reportedly “so dangerous that health officials will have to make a concerted effort to warn anyone who may be at risk.”

According to the CDC, “TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, shouts, or sings,” and “these bacteria can float in the air for several hours, depending on the environment. Persons who breathe in the air containing these TB bacteria can become infected.”

The NIH said that “the patient was transferred to the NIA via special air and ground ambulances” and is staying in an isolation room that is “specifically designed for handling patients with respiratory infections, including XDR-TB.” The special isolation rooms reportedly “control air flow to prevent germs from escaping into the rest of the hospital or outside.”

The woman reportedly “may face months or even years of treatment,” and, according to NBC, “the average cost of treating multidrug-resistant TB is $134,000, compared to $17,000 for a normal case.” The cost can even “shoot up to $430,000 for an extensively resistant case.” NBC noted that it is not yet clear at the moment who will pay for the patient’s extensive treatment.

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