You know cops aren’t supposed to do that, right?
The headline to the the story (above) pretty much says it all. But let’s go for some details:
The administration has finally announced the error rate for 834 transmissions, the data sent to insurance companies after applicants fill out their information on the Healthcare.gov marketplace. It’s not good: one in ten forms contain errors, a spokesperson told reporters during a press call today.
834 is short for “834 Electronic Data Interchange Transmissions” or “834 EDI Transactions,” the files that get passed to insurance companies so new enrollees can be added to their systems. This is a critical function of the federal marketplace: if it doesn’t correctly communicate with insurers, people won’t get the coverage they think they’ve signed up for.
One in ten? Better than I thought. Hell, it’s better than I think. I’m certain, given what we know for sure already, that the Administration is using some deceptive metric (put a plan in your shopping basket and they’ll count it as purchased) to seriously lowball the real figure.
And this isn’t like UPS or Amazon screwing up your order and you send the DVD back for the right one. This is your health insurance.
FWIW, UPS has lost exactly one of my Amazon packages and Amazon has sent me the wrong item exactly one time since I became a customer late last century. And I’ve bought a lot — a lot — of stuff from them over the years.
But buying books and stuff is easy. Buying insurance is hard.
Nobody likes the iOS 7 — it’s too popular.
Meanwhile, the adoption rate for Android Jelly Bean is at about 50%. That’s last year’s version, by the way.
Even on the weekends? Yep. The law of the land is so settled that it cannot sleep. So here you go:
Obamacare is in danger of being hit by a “perfect storm” of low enrollment and bad data being sent to insurers, experts are warning as a crucial deadline looms this month for the massive insurance sign-up effort.
And if that storm strikes, they said, consumers likely will face higher premium prices in 2015, insurers will face possible losses from Obamacare policies, and hospitals and other providers could face increased costs.
“I try to be an optimist, it’s just harder each day,” said Christine Vogel, associate director in Navigant’s health-care practice, and a former special advisor for health-care reform to Connecticut’s governor. She said she expects the cumulative effect will eventually hurt people providing and receiving care.
“We all knew that it was going to impact the insurance industry, and now it’s going to impact the provider and the consumer,” she said. “It’s difficult for me not to think that perfect storm that we’ve all been trying to avoid, and not plan for, may be approaching.”
But the important thing to remember is that Professor Wiggleroom has been taught the important life lesson that “insurance is complicated to buy.”
So let’s give the guy a mulligan on this one, OK?
Apple’s iBeacon seems to be off to a rough start:
Just like GPS points you in the direction of your chosen destination, iBeacon was developed to suggest a possible phone upgrade as you pass a table of colorful iPhone 5c handsets, or inform you of upcoming in-store events when you’re close to the neighborhood Apple retailer. Specific stores can also push notifications about deals or other promotions.
On paper, iBeacon sounds like a great way to stay informed and make easy purchases from inside a congested store. But in practice, it’s not quite as impressive. That’s because it didn’t actually work for me.
During a Friday visit to two different New York City Apple Store retailers, I was unable to activate any notifications, no matter how many times I shoved my phone into a pile of iPad Smart Covers.
At my first stop — Grand Central Station — I connected to the shop’s free Wi-Fi, turned on my iPhone 5′s Bluetooth setting, and ensured that push notifications were enabled, just as instructed. No luck.
iBeacon is — or someday will be — one of those nice-but-don’t-gotta-have-it features. So if it takes Apple some time to get it working, so be it.
These in-store tracking features tend to make my skin crawl, but iBeacon at least has several layers of opt-in. You have to have Bluetooth on, you have to have elected to use the store’s WiFi, you have to have the Apple Store app installed and give it permission to send you push notifications. Oh, and push notifications have to be switched on, too.
I think I could live with that — assuming they ever get it working.
If anyone ever tries to tell you David Lee Roth wasn’t once the best frontman in rock’n'roll, you just show them this — one of the best videos in rock’n'roll.
Now gimme something to write on, man.
A longtime reader sent this in, and while they’d like to remain anonymous, I’d like to share it:
Went out West for Thanksgiving to visit the wife’s family. My In-Laws flew out too. Just a reminder: he is 88, and pretty robust. She is 86 and very demented. She is mostly confined to a wheelchair, and has full-time, around-the-clock care. It takes 2-3 people to get her to and from the restroom, into and out of a car, etc. You get the point.
They flew back home yesterday. While going through security before boarding their flight, apparently my mother-in-law’s make-up triggered something with TSA. One of their sensors got triggered. Sooo … they pulled her out of line, wheelchair and all, took her to a back room, and proceeded to waste almost an hour performing a full search of her, her wheelchair, purse, etc.
My father-in-law is still pissed beyond measure. He feels violated to his core, given how protective he is of my mother-in-law. Words can’t describe how upset he is. My wife vacillates between shear horror and absolute hysterics. The ineptitude and complete lack of grace demonstrated by TSA has her totally flummoxed.
On the one hand, I just shrug my shoulders and say “told you so.” On the other, I so totally share my father-in-law’s upset. It really is incomprehensible how we’ve allowed this system to persist.
The real crime here is that these stories no longer shock us, do they?
The conventional wisdom was that Apple’s former retail chief, Ron Johnson, is to blame for Penney’s recent woes. That’s certainly what I thought. Johnson seemed to be a one-idea guy. Focus on upscale-style customer service and reasonable, and people will come back for that without having to resort to superdoorbuster sales gimmicks. It worked at Target, it worked for Apple Stores, but his One Big Idea just seemed to a bad fit for JCP.
JCP’s losses for 2012 totaled $992 million. Tantalizingly close to a perfect billion.
How was that possible? If Ron had such a brilliant plan, the support of the board and the endorsement of Wall Street, why did he fail on such a spectacular scale?
Put simply: he did too much too soon. He scared away the old customers instead of bringing them along for the ride.
It’s a story of “the best of intentions.” Inspired by the retail philosophy of James Cash Penney, Ron believed that respect for the customer was the key to success — and manipulating prices to create a false sense of bargain was not respectful. But he changed the pricing policy before he could change the stores (which would require a 2-3 year effort).
It might have been Ron’s only mistake, but it was a doozy. It sent customers running in the opposite direction, and the mass exodus sent JCP into serious crisis mode.
Johnson’s semi-boutique plan for JCP might have worked, had he not gotten rid of the continuous superdoorbuster sales until after he’d finished upgrading all the stores.
It’s a shame we’ll never know.
This full-strength dose comes courtesy of NYT:
Mike Horrigan is a lifelong Democrat with heart problems who supports President Obama’s health care law because he expects it will help many people obtain better insurance, including himself.
But under the new law, the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Horrigan’s coverage by a state high-risk insurance program was eliminated, then replaced by a more expensive plan. His wife’s individual plan was canceled for being substandard, then suddenly renewed — also at a higher price.
So while Mr. Horrigan, 59, believes the law will improve health care in the long run, its short-term effect has been chaotic and trying for him and his wife, Kay. “It’s more stressful than it needed to be,” he said.
Judging by his current belief that ObamaCare will all somehow magically work better, Mr. Horrigan is what political experts call “an idiot.” However, his painful lessons are sure to continue until morale — and intelligence — improves.
UPDATE: On second thought, the Horrigans do seem to live in an awfully nice house. They shouldn’t mind spreadin’ the wealth around a little bit.
It’s a good thing, I’m told.
Andrew Malcolm has the details:
Obama easily won the state’s 55 electoral votes twice, with 61% in 2008 and 60% last year. He was there again just last week, fundraising naturally, sucking up to movie moguls and, believe it or not, strangely bragging of his ability to racially-profile obvious immigrants walking around.
Even while Obama’s support crumbled elsewhere, Californians held tight to their hope for change. Despite the state’s stubbornly high and enduring unemployment rate (still at 8.7%) and emptiness of Obama’s repeat pivots to creating jobs.
But now comes a brand-new statewide Field Poll. Guess what, dude? The Illinois guy is sliding. Bad. Especially among his traditional core supporters, such as independents, youths, women and union members.
In February, 62% of Californians approved of the job performance of the White House’s top golfer. During Obama’s entire presidency his California approval was higher only once, 65% just 60 days into the job, Field reports.
Today, barely a majority of California’s registered voters approve (51%). In February, 33% disapproved of Obama’s job. Today, 43% disapprove. That’s the worst since 44% in autumn of 2011.
One of the reasons I’ve always felt Professor Wiggleroom’s floor of support is a relatively lofty 30% is California. Californians, even the bright and otherwise sane ones, tend towards political idiocy and political lunacy — and there are a lot of them. Enough to provide Wiggleroom with a national-level buoy.
But if Wiggleroom is already testing 50% with the Left Coast’s super-cool froods…
It’s a long way down, folks. A long way down.
A while back I wrote that Melissa and I had given up our expensive and ultimately unfulfilling fling with CFL lightbulbs. We must have spent a couple thousand dollars putting them all over the house, but as soon as the ones in the outdoor sconces die off, we’ll be done with them completely. I’ve been experimenting with different brands of LEDs, and Glenn Reynolds’ mention this morning of Cree’s bulbs reminded me to finally write up what I’ve learned.
The first lesson is: Brand counts. When it comes to incandescent bulbs, your better brands tend to last longer but they all produce the same high-quality light we all know and love. LEDs however vary widely. For the purposes of this column, I’m putting halogen bulbs in their own category, even though they too produce incandescent light. We’ll get to them shortly.
We’ve tried four brands of LEDs, with extremely mixed results.
My least favorite — and keep in mind, these are subjective observations but I am very picky about the quality of light in my home — are the bulbs produced by Philips. They look super-modern, which is what drew me to their reflector bulbs for the ceiling cans in my studio. The R30 size looks like the Pan Am spaceship from the orbital transit sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Everything else about them represents the worst of LED lighting. The light they produce has that sickly feeling that screams “cubical” instead of whispering “warm and comfy living room.” The light doesn’t emit evenly from lens, which might not be so annoying if the bulb didn’t stick out from below the can — but it does and so it is. There’s also a good half-second delay between flicking the light switch and when the light can be bothered to come on. It seems to have a very broad dimming range, but the light simply becomes fainter and sicklier and less pleasant the lower you dim it. (We’ll talk more about LEDs and dimming problems in a minute.) The Philips bulbs were also the most expensive. I have one in the studio and two (R20 size) in the bedroom and I can’t wait to ditch them all.
Next up is Feit, which produces a astounding range of LED bulbs. If there’s a size, wattage, or application you can even just imagine, they probably make it. That part is great. The reflector bulbs light perfectly evenly (unlike Philips), and the light is more pleasant. Of all the brands I’ve tested, theirs seem to have the longest power-up delay. But the R20 reflectors produce good-enough quality light for the kids’ rooms, which is nice because little boys don’t always remember to turn off the lights. In fact, this one time one of them might even have remembered. Anyway, Feit’s bulbs are moderately priced and their performance is acceptable — if you can live with that on-delay.
We’ve put EcoSmart bulbs in the garage and in a couple of other rooms, and I’m happy with them. Screwed into fixtures with that mock alabaster glass cover, the light they emit is almost indistinguishable from incandescent bulbs. They come on instantly, too. They dim as well as any LED is able to. At full brightness, they produce a lot of light. We have two of those alabaster-type ceiling fixtures in our laundry room, which used to hold two 60-watt incandescents each. The LEDs are so bright, that I replaced them with two 60-watt equivalent bulbs and two 40-watt equivalents — and then still had to put the whole shebang on a Lutron dimmer. And then I rarely turn the dimmer up more than halfway. So instead of running 240 watts in there, we’re now running maybe 20 watts — did I mention they produce a lot of light? That’s some serious savings, especially for moderately-priced bulbs.
The cheapest bulbs we’ve used are also my favorite. Cree is a longtime producer of commercial LED lighting, but is moving into residential in a big way. Their bulbs produce the closest I’ve seen to honest-to-God warm-feeling light, they come on instantly, and seem to have the best dimming range. I have one in my studio ceiling, just a few feet away from a traditional incandescent, and the two are virtually indistinguishable from one another at full brightness. The difference being that the Sylvania bulb is using 65 watts and the Cree is sipping a mere 9.5. Needless to say, it won’t be long before I replace the rest of the lights in my studio. Cree’s bulbs also look almost exactly like your traditional incandescents, at least from above the ballast. They also have a rubberized coating for a nice grip when you’re installing them — that grip is reassuring when you’re up on a ladder with a couple of ten-dollar bulbs. Cree’s only real drawback is that they produce a very limited range of bulbs.
But I won’t be replacing any of the traditional reflector bulbs in the ceiling of our kitchen or living room, or in the dining room fixture. Because the second lesson is: LEDs aren’t for every room in the house.
When an incandescent bulb is dimmed, it produces a softer, warmer light. It’s welcoming. It’s comforting. When you dim an LED bulb, even Cree’s best-in-class, they simply emit less light. That’s no way to serve dinner or enjoy cocktails in the living room.
For those purposes we’ve switched to halogen bulbs. They won’t give you all the savings of LEDs, since they typically use 2/3rds the equivalent wattage of traditional bulbs. The big BR40 bulbs I like for the kitchen run almost eight dollars apiece, and consume 40 watts compared to one of those 9.5 watt LEDs. But the light they produce is even nicer than traditional incandescent bulbs, especially when dimmed. They probably won’t save you any money in the long run, and you’ll still have to replace them every 2,000 – 4,000 hours — but for quality of light they can’t be beat.
But everywhere else, my mantra is: Out with the CFLs and in with the LEDs.
ObamaCare’s exchanges need people — preferably young, healthy people — signing up and forking over cash to avoid a “death spiral” spike in premiums for older, sicker people. The good news is, people in Washington state are actually signing up. Now for the bad news:
Obamacare’s defenders often point to states like Washington to prove that the law is succeeding. However, the Evergreen State is signing up vastly more people for Medicaid than for private insurance.
Through the first two months of enrollment, Healthplanfinder, the state’s health-care exchange, has enrolled 176,468 Washingtonians in coverage. Over 91,000 are newly eligible for expanded Medicaid and more than 66,000 were currently eligible but were not enrolled. That leaves only 18,131 residents who purchased private policies.
Altogether, that means that eight-and-a-half times as many people have signed up for Medicaid as have enrolled in private insurance.
Yeah. They’re signing up for the dole, and not to become paying customers.
Colorado is supposed to be another one of ObamaCare’s success stories, but at last count only 6,001 had signed up here. And they won’t reveal the Private Insurance:Medicaid ratio, either.
Tick, tock. Still three million enrollments, out of slightly more than three million enrollments, to go by the end of the year.
Good — and it can’t happen soon enough. There’s real value to be unlocked in Lands’ End, but they’ve got to bring the quality back.
LE used to be a great place to go for inexpensive, decent-quality clothes. You were never going to set the fashion world on fire wearing their stuff (most especially their women’s stuff which seems to get more boring every year), but if you needed a pair of khakis and a plaid shirt, you could do a lot worse somewhere else — and spend more money, too.
I used to have some of their flannel, but the last couple shirts were so poorly made they shrunk to my wife’s size on first washing. And, yes, I’d followed the instructions. The last khakis I bought from them were also the last straw. They arrived an inch or so too short, which would have been easily fixed by an exchange. But they were unevenly too short, which gives one pause. Worst of all, the material was an insult just to look at and even worse to touch. If there’s a place China outsources to, these were made in that country’s outsourcing destination. That’s a long way from LE’s original business model.
Sears, which bought the company in 2002, has not been a good manager of the brand. I hope the shareholders demand — and get — some big changes.
If Republicans get the chance to repeal and/or replace Obamacare, they need to take into account exit, voice and loyalty.
Where Obamacare seeks to prevent exit except for the politically well connected, a Republican plan should seek to maximize the opportunity for exit, an essential feature of any free market.
This probably can’t be done on the cheap. Current tax law provides an enormous preference for employer-provided health insurance, a preference whose benefit goes mostly to the affluent.
A freer market in health insurance means eliminating this tax preference, presumably through a tax credit for those purchasing health insurance on their own. That will cost real money.
Republicans also need to account for loyalty. People are not mechanical profit-maximizers; they may be reluctant to switch policies for only marginal possible gain. That means not including features that will phase out familiar employer-provided insurance rapidly.
And of course politicians should never plug their ears to voice, as the architects of Obamacare have done. That means avoiding things like the Obamacare regulation requiring contraception and abortifacient coverage. Let people decide these things on their own.
Those last eight words are what Democrats claim to be about, while they plan their top-down, one-size-fits-all, superregulatory schemes for every man, woman, child, and beast in the country. Turns out, people don’t like that very much. But are Republicans willing to embrace — really embrace — those eight little words?
Today’s Trifecta is the last of Bill Whittle’s weeklong series on our lost rights, and today it’s the 10th Amendment. Tammy Bruce is sitting in for Scott Ott, but this one is just for the members.
I don’t beat the SUBSCRIBE! drum very often — but this one is so good you don’t want to miss it.
Russia still has problems with the Bulava SLBM:
The latest Russian SLBM (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile) design, the Bulava (also known as R-30 3M30 and SS-NX-30), was almost cancelled because test flights kept failing. But the government believes there is no better option than to keep trying to make Bulava work. It was recently revealed that the September 6th Bulava test launch failed because one of the engine nozzles was incorrectly manufactured. The nozzles have been replaced in the three remaining Bulava’s from that batch. The investigation into the September 6th failure concluded that the Bulava design was sound but that there continued to be problems with manufacturing components and that current quality control measures are not catching the flaws. So five more test launches are scheduled for 2014, and as many more as needed after that.
This is a step back because the Bulava was declared to have successfully completed its test program on December 23rd, 2011.
You know Putin is fuming.
Above is Gal Gadot, recently cast as Wonder Woman in the next big-budget, big-spectacle Superman movie.
Below is Lynda Carter from the cheesy ’70s TV show.
I know which one I buy as an Amazon warrior princess.
Whatever the opposite of fabulous is, it might include Randy Forbes:
Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes, a senior House Republican eyeing a powerful committee chairmanship, is causing friction with some of his colleagues by pushing the House GOP campaign arm to deny support for some of the party’s gay congressional candidates.
Forbes has waged a lengthy crusade to convince his colleagues and the National Republican Congressional Committee brass they shouldn’t back some gay candidates. His efforts on Capitol Hill were described to POLITICO by more than a half-dozen sources with direct knowledge of the talks.
The issue is particularly acute because House Republicans have two promising openly gay candidates in 2014 vying for seats held by Democrats. Richard Tisei, who narrowly lost to Democratic Rep. John Tierney in 2012, is running again in northeastern Massachusetts. And in San Diego, Carl DeMaio, a former city councilman, is trying to knock off Democratic Rep. Scott Peters.
When asked if he would withhold political contributions to the NRCC if they backed DeMaio, Forbes said, “I’m not going to be hypothetical on what we would or wouldn’t do at this particular point in time because you’ve got a lot of scenarios. I don’t think we’ve had primaries and nominations to nominate people. So I don’t want to prejudge.”
The NRCC is right not to get involved in picking primary winners — that’s for the voters to decide. Period.
But the NRCC’s job is to get the nominees elected. Period. So when Forbes says he won’t say whether the NRCC would support a particular nominee, he’s hinting that the voters had best “chose wisely” if they want their candidate to receive NRCC support.
So the way I read this is, Forbes wants to post a “No Gays Allowed” sign in front of the House GOP caucus.
Rather than go on and on about how stupid that is, I’ll just borrow Stacy McCain’s formulation again: You don’t build a winning coalition by a process of subtraction.
While the federal enrollment website HealthCare.gov appears to be improving by the day, polls show the “young invincibles” key to making the law work are becoming less likely to enroll.
Younger people were skeptical of the healthcare reform law even before its troubled rollout, despite their support for President Obama.
But polling indicates the problems facing HealthCare.gov — a site the administration initially touted as a hip, tech-friendly experience — have reinforced their doubts about the need to have health insurance at all.
“The trend is daunting for the White House but not necessarily surprising,” said Pew Research Center Director Michael Dimock.
“Younger folks are part of Obama’s base … but the rollout confirmed concerns that were already in their minds.”
A poll released Wednesday by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found that more than half of 18- to 29-year-olds disapprove of ObamaCare and believe it will raise their healthcare costs.
I realize this wasn’t exactly a tough call, but who’s been telling you for ages that young people simply wouldn’t buy something they don’t need or want and can’t afford at a website which doesn’t work?
That’s right — your friendly neighborhood VodkaPundit.
The collectivists can run all the “brosurance” ads they want, but they’ll never make insurance cool.
In December 2011, Leon Panetta, then secretary of defense, said that if Iran were seen “proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon” or had decided to do that, the United States would “take whatever steps are necessary to stop it.” In March 2012, Barack Obama said: “Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” His “red line” was the weaponization of fissile material.
Yet in his Nov. 23 statement celebrating the new agreement, Obama spoke of wanting to be able to “verify” that Iran “cannot build a nuclear weapon.” If so, he rejects not only containment but allowing Iran to stop near — “a screwdriver’s turn away from” — weaponization. But Pollack, writing many months before the recent agreement ratified Iran’s right to enrichment, said:
“As long as Iran is left with the capacity to enrich uranium, the right to perform some enrichment activity, and a stockpile of LEU (low-enriched uranium) . . . then Iran will have a breakout capability. It could be a breakout window as wide as many months, perhaps even a year, but Iran will have the capability to manufacture the fissile material for a nuclear weapon.”
The Saudis and the Turks are watching closely — the Iranians and the US.
OK then. Let’s skip the personal stories — even if the President is so fond of them — and look at the big picture.
• 5.5 million cancellation notices.
• Tens of millions more to come.
• Shrinking hospital staffs.
• Doctor shortage increasing.
• The norming of the 29-hour workweek.
• Higher premiums.
• Higher deductibles.
• Higher copays.
• Reduced service selection.
• Arbitrary and illegal execution of the law.
It seems almost unfair at this point to mention that increasing likelihood of a premium “death spiral” in the individual market, where those receiving cancellation notices are being sent. Or the resulting exploding deficits.
Ana Marie Cox might not care for some of the people fighting against this law, but that hardly makes it a good or effective law.
Part II of Bill Whittle’s Trifecta series on the erosion of our liberties.
BONUS: Tammy Bruce is sitting in this week.
And, yep, they’re from both parties:
The USA Freedom Act, authored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the original author of the Patriot Act, has 107 co-sponsors in the House. The Senate version, authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has 18 co-sponsors.
The bill would reform sections of the Patriot Act to end the federal government’s mass collection of phone records and Internet activity — essentially ending the spy programs leaked by Edward Snowden.
“The days of unfettered spying on the American people are numbered,” Amash said when the bill was introduced.
“Unfettered” is kind of a weasel word in this context, but it’s better than nothing.
I’m aure Boehner will hold a vote in the House, but what will Harry Reid do in the Senate?