Belmont Club

"It's On Me"

The Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff writes that Obamacare’s planned fix “is about to create a big mess”. “It’s just a big mess right now. . . . I don’t know what to tell people,” Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger told The Washington Post.” Apparently it’s about to get worse.

For insurance regulators and health insurance carriers, though, this supposed glide path is about to create a whole bunch of headaches. They have been expecting, for years now, that these insurance plans would be phased out of the market in 2014 — and have planned accordingly….

Here’s how Robert Laszewksi, an insurance consultant, put it in a note to clients earlier this morning:

This means that the insurance companies have 32 days to reprogram their computer systems for policies, rates, and eligibility, send notices to the policyholders via US Mail, send a very complex letter that describes just what the differences are between specific policies and Obamacare compliant plans, ask the consumer for their decision — and give them a reasonable time to make that decision — and then enter those decisions back into their systems without creating massive billing, claim payment, and provider eligibility list mistakes.

What happens when one sixth of the US Economy goes from Full Ahead for three years to all astern emergency? A Napoleonic era military maxim gives a hint. “Order, counter-order, disorder.”

Kliff’s essential argument is that the insurance companies, having spent three years scrambling an egg, must now unscramble said egg. They will have to revive contracts they canceled, pursuant to a law which required their cancellation, yet without any legal leg to undo the do. Hence the lawsuits that will arise, the confusion which will ensue, the absolute chaos which will reign can only but be dimly imagined. It will probably be a humdinger, the Chinese Fire Drill to end all Chinese Fire Drills, the Goat Rope Maximus, the Mother of all Snafus.  And that’s only for openers.

Nor is the return fire coming only from insurance companies. Kliff describes how the Left has declared war on any attempt to withdraw a single inch; to make any concessions which might erode their progressive “gains” in another article.

I covered the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for about two years really closely. … One thing you quickly learn covering the NAIC is that it has a wing of really progressive, liberal insurance commissioners, about five or six regulators who regularly work together…. It does feel a bit weird to have one of the most liberal regulators be the first out of the gate to oppose Obama. At the same time, it also makes sense: What Kreidler is doing is a full-throated defense of the Affordable Care Act.

The whole reason insurance policies are getting cancelled right now is because the Affordable Care Act wanted these plans – which have less robust benefit packages – to go out of business. [itals mine]

That’s why Washington is among a handful of largely Democrat-led states that specifically bar insurers from offering “early renewals”: Plans that start in December 2013 and dodge health law requirements. This includes some really big states, too, like California and New York.

The president probably knew — though he may once again declare himself to have been misinformed — that the liberal commissioner’s game plan all along was to cancel existing health care plans.  And he went along until public outrage forced him to backtrack. Now he’s caught between an irate public, an irate insurance industry and an irate Left Wing.

He lied to somebody. Maybe he lied to everybody. Where have we heard this before? In foreign policy. Only a few days ago Haaretz reported that “Israeli officials say U.S. misrepresented the concessions offered to Iran and that the current direction of talks would undermine sanctions while allowing Iran to proceed with nuclear development.” Perhaps Obama had been playing the same game with Saudis; telling them one thing about Syria while telling Iran another.  That would account for why they are so wroth with him that they’re buying nukes from Pakistan. Obama has put himself in the position of a groom who has promised to marry three different brides on the same day and is wondering how to weasel out even now.

Can it get worse? Yes it can! Think Progress reports there are now four different plans to save Obamacare.

At least the President will have the consolations of his foreign policy achievements. What laurels may he rest on you may ask? Today the Telegraph reported that Russia is sending a mission to Egypt to try and pry it from Washington. “Russia is launching a new front in its attempt to wrest power in the Middle East away from America, dispatching a high-level delegation to sell arms and influence in Egypt.”

Up for talks are the “possibility of establishing a Russian naval base in Egypt.” Obama’s achievement may consist in undoing Jimmy Carter’s one legacy, the governor’s pride and joy, the work of many sleepless nights, the single bright spot in Jimmy’s otherwise dismal presidency. Jimmy Carter’s shining glory — gone faster than a donut at a cop convention. If that don’t beat all then what does?

Obama can make up for it by reaching an agreement with Iran. But recently the president issued a warning to himself not to threaten Teheran.

Rejecting charges of appeasing Iran, President Barack Obama cautioned Thursday that tightening the economic vise on Tehran could be counterproductive and bluntly warned that going to war will never guarantee that the Islamic republic abandons its suspect nuclear program….

The notion might seem heretical in Washington, where successive presidents including Obama have professed that “all options are on the table” (including war) to force Iran to abandon what the United States and its partners regard as a covert effort to get the ability to build a nuclear weapon.

Iran now knows the Obama administration’s limits. Obama cannot even bluff, having pre-emptively forbidden himself from doing so. Of course he can always say, “I lied about not bluffing”. Full Ahead, Full Astern, Full Stop. Full Ahead. Hard a-Port. Hard a-Starboard. Damn the torpedoes! Full impulse power Scotty!! Who knows but something may work?

Iran is not bound by these limits. Recently Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened war in the region if Washington failed to strike a deal with Teheran.

The Telegraph attempts to explain somewhat unnecessarily that “the rapprochement between Egypt and Russia, four decades after President Anwar Sadat threw out the Soviet advisers cultivated by his socialist military predecessor, Col Gamal Abdul-Nasser, is part of a crunching shift in the geopolitics of the Middle East.”

And what caused this crunching geopolitical shift?  The White House isn’t saying. However, the president did say of Obamacare’s shortcomings in his press conference that “it’s on me.” He must be mistaken. It can’t be on him. It is never on him, except metaphorically. He’s not going to pay for it. Somebody else always does.

Those who are interested can watch the Laurel and Hardy insurance company try to deliver Obamacare.

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