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Bryan Preston


December 11, 2013 - 7:58 am

Sarah Kliff at the Washington Post buries the lead, in her second paragraph.

Just about 1.2 million people have gained health coverage through Obamacare, according to new federal data released Wednesday morning.

Approximately 365,000 of those people have purchased private insurance and 803,000 have been determined to be eligible for the public Medicaid program. These numbers count data from both October and November, and show an especially quick growth in enrollment.

Answering her first sentence: And about 5 million have lost their health coverage because of Obamacare. That’s a net loss.

Answering her second, is “determined to be eligible” the new “this person has enrolled and actually has health coverage now”? Are we grading Obama and his healthcare law on that steep a curve now? He gets a trophy just for showing up, even if he ruins everything?

It seems to me that the second sentence renders the first sentence wildly incorrect.

It also seems to me that Obamacare was not sold as a program to dramatically boost the number of Americans who were determined to be eligible for Medicaid. It was sold as a program that would make private healthcare more affordable and more accessible. Driving millions of Americans to Medicaid is not a victory, unless busting state budgets and driving federal spending to unsustainable new heights was the goal.

Kliff does her best to put a positive spin on things, but when government forces people to do things or face off with the IRS, they end up doing those things that government demands. The pro-choice party has removed this choice from consideration. But even with the threat of force lurking behind Obama’s smiley face, the number of people who have enrolled for private health care because of Obamacare remains pitiful, and well behind the number of people who have lost their healthcare because of Obamacare. Kliff doesn’t do the plus-minus thing.

There’s another bit worth looking at. Why does the number of Americans now “determined eligible for Medicaid” dwarf the number of Americans who have signed up for private health insurance via Obamacare? Does that not suggest a couple of things — mainly, that the weak economy is making private healthcare less affordable for more Americans? That possibility is left entirely unexplored, even though “why” is one of the basic questions journalists are supposed to ask and answer in their work.

Kliff also doesn’t look into this story about how is sending ineligible people to Medicaid. That might just blow a large hole in her entire post.

Additionally, many doctors have opted out of Medicaid over the past several years, as government reimbursement rates have declined. Obamacare doesn’t change that. What impact might this fact have on Obama’s “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” promise?

Again, Wonkblog doesn’t see fit to ask or seek an answer.


Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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What's not been reported is that State Medicaid programs are getting bad 834 data also:

The crux of the problem - issue first, verify eligibility later. And we all know how easy it is to take back government benefits once they've been handed out in addition to setting up a horrific volume of administrative appeals and probably a whole bar of attorneys (re - Social Security Disability) that will defend the Feds decision that someone should get Medicaid coverage versus a State that says they don't qualify. :

"On Nov. 29, Cindy Mann, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, sent a letter to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission outlining a temporary enrollment process for individuals and children deemed eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. The temporary process directs the state to enroll applicants with only preliminary information, such as a date of birth, Social Security number and modified adjusted gross income. If the state ultimately determines that the individual is not eligible for Medicaid, the enrollee would be given advance notice that his or her Medicaid coverage would be canceled and could appeal the state’s decision to terminate coverage."

Janek's reply:
"“Our review of the spreadsheets for Texas found individuals with addresses from other states — including as far away as New York, fields that were left blank and people who are already receiving Medicaid or CHIP,” wrote Janek. Although HHSC has been instructed to enroll these individuals in Texas Medicaid, as the federal government has notified them that they will begin receiving coverage on Jan. 1, Janek said the state has no way to validate that those individuals meet the state’s eligibility requirements."

Disclaimer: I generally give the Tribune and it's close ties to Battleground Texas a wide berth due to biased reporting - so, I would suspect that this article is understating how serious the issue is.
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