Archive for Health Care

ObamaCareless?

So, did the long-awaited, much-anticipated court ruling(s) on ObamaCare actually decide anything? Not yet.

But let’s dismiss the idea that the intent of Congress was plain:

Some argued that the text of the law clearly permitted subsidies to flow to those who purchased plans on the federal exchange—this was the argument offered by the government in court. Others argued that while the text didn’t technically permit those subsidies, that was clearly the intent of the the law, and any textual omission was surely due to a “drafting error.”

That’s right: a drafting error.

Let’s take a step back to see how plausible that explanation is. There are two types of exchanges: state-established, and federally established. The statutory authority for state-based exchanges comes in section 1311 of Obamacare. The statutory authority for a federal exchange in the event that a state chose not to establish one comes from section 1321(c) of Obamacare. Right off the bat, we have two discrete sections pertaining to two discrete types of health exchange. Was that a “drafting error”?

Then we have the specific construction of section 1321(c), which allows for the creation of a federal exchange. Nowhere does this section say that an exchange created under its authority will have the same treatment as a state-based exchange created under section 1311. At no point does it say that section 1321 plans are equivalent. Why, it’s almost as though the exchanges and the plans offered by them were not intended to receive the same treatment. Was that another “drafting error”?

Most important, we have the sections of the law providing for tax credits to help offset the cost of Obamacare’s health care plans: sections 1401, 1402, 1411, 1412, 1413, 1414, and 1415. And how do those sections establish authority to provide those tax credits? Why, they specifically state ten separate times that tax credits are available to offset the costs of state health exchange plans authorized by section 1311. And how many times are section 1321 federal exchange plans mentioned? Zero. Was that yet another “drafting error”?

The specific phrase “established by the State under section 1311? can be found twice in the tax credit title of Obamacare. The first instances relates to the size and the second to the scope of the tax credit subsidy. How many times is the phrase “established by the Federal government/Secretary under section 1321? found? Zero. Was that also a “drafting error”?

The deliberate creation of a separate section to authorize a separate federal entity is not a drafting error. The repeated and deliberate reference to one section but not another is not a drafting error. The refusal to grant equal authority to two programs authorized by two separate sections is not a drafting error. The decision to specifically reference section X but not section Y in a portion of a law that grants spending or tax authority is not a drafting error.

The clear text of the law repeatedly demonstrates that plans purchased via federal exchanges were never meant to be treated the same as plans purchased by state-based exchanges. Despite its assertions, the IRS was never granted the statutory authority to hand out tax credits related to plans purchased via a federal health exchange.

The law expressly and intentionally omits HealthCare.gov from handing out subsidies—yet the IRS decides that it can.

How?

Obamacare was signed into law in March of 2010. It wasn’t until August of 2011 that the IRS decided to make tax credit subsidies available to plans purchased on federal exchanges. That’s a span of 16 months—an awfully long time to recognize and address a “drafting error.” Furthermore, actual “drafting errors” have to be corrected by new laws, not by executive fiat. Even when they are plainly obvious to everyone who sees them, that 3015 that should’ve been 2015 still has to be amended via a new law: passed by both Houses, and signed by the president. Yet, that’s not what this administration did.

In its May 2012 announcement of its official new rule which suddenly allowed subsidies to flow to federal exchange plans, the IRS never claimed it was a drafting error. It claimed the opposite: that the text clearly endorsed the IRS interpretation.

So why did the IRS wait nearly 16 months to spring this new interpretation on the public? That’s also an easy one. As of August 17, 2011, when its rule was first proposed, only ten states had passed laws establishing their own exchanges. Seventeen had outright rejected the Obamacare exchanges. All told, 40 states had by that point failed to do the administration’s bidding and set up state-based Obamacare exchanges.

Without exchanges in every state, Obamacare would surely fail as a policy matter. And without massive subsidies to offset the costs of Obamacare’s health plans, Obamacare would fail as a political matter. The IRS maneuver was a last-ditch attempt to paper over the law’s serious structural flaws.

Big government at work. Give me a sausage.

PS: And then there’s this.

According to the findings of an investigation conducted by the Government Accountability Office which were presented to Congress on Wednesday, some of those taxpayer-funded subsidies are not merely legally problematic but are also subject to extensive fraud.

The GAO found that 11 of 12 applications for federal assistance while applying for insurance provided through the ACA using “fictitious identities” were accepted.

Who was the nimrod (fictitious nimrod) who didn’t get through? That guy wasn’t trying. Here’s a new slogan for EdselCare: 8.33% pure.

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Part Of ObamaCare Illegal

President vows to ignore ruling

In a potentially crippling blow to Obamacare, a federal appeals court panel declared Tuesday that government subsidies worth billions of dollars that helped 4.7 million people buy insurance on HealthCare.gov are illegal.
The 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia—not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov. The ruling relied on a close reading of the Affordable Care Act.

“Section 36B plainly makes subsidies available in the Exchanges established by states,” wrote Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion in the case known as Halbig v. Burwell, where he was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith.

“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up their own Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”

In his dissent, Judge Harry Edwards, who called the case a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut” Obamacare, wrote that the judgment of the majority “portends disastrous consequences.”

Indeed, the 72-page decision threatens to unleash a cascade of effects that could seriously compromise Obamacare’s goals of compelling people to get health insurance, and helping them afford it.

White House will ignore:

The Obama administration said it will ask the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reverse the panel’s decision, which for now does not have the rule of law.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the ruling—for now—”does not have any practical impact” on premium subsidies issued to HealthCare.gov enrollees now.”

“We are confident” that the ruling will be overturned, Earnest said. “We are confident in the legal position we have . . . the Department of Justice will litigate these claims through the federal court system.”

Earnest said “it was obvious” that Congress intended subsidies, or tax credits, to be issued to Obamacare enrollees regardless of what kind of exchange they used to buy insurance.

Our Tin-Pot-Dictator-In-Chief Has Spoken!

Also, Professor Larry Tribe of Harvard has this to say:

President Obama’s old Harvard Law professor, Laurence Tribe, said that he “wouldn’t bet the family farm” on Obamacare’s surviving the legal challenges to an IRS rule about who is eligible for subsidies that are currently working their way through the federal courts.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Tribe told the Fiscal Times. “But I wouldn’t bet the family farm on this coming out in a way that preserves Obamacare.”

- Aggie

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Fingers Crossed

Ruling on ObamaCare insurance subsidies expected soon

A federal appeals court might be on the verge of blowing a massive hole in the foundation of Obamacare.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is expected to rule any day now in a lawsuit that aims to block the law’s insurance subsidies in more than half the country. If the challengers ultimately prevail, the Affordable Care Act’s complex framework could begin to unravel as millions of people lose financial assistance.

For now, the stakes are a lot higher than the odds of success—challenges to the insurance subsidies have a 0-2 record in federal courts. But the pending D.C. Circuit ruling may be the one to break that streak, according to legal experts on both sides of the issue.

Go to the link for details, but the premise is that the federal exchanges are illegal. And, states representing roughly half the population have declined to set up exchanges.

A three-judge panel heard oral arguments in the case, Halbig v. Sebelius, in March. Two judges appeared to split along partisan lines, leaving Judge Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee, as the likely swing vote. Griffith seemed during oral arguments to at least be open to the challengers’ arguments, and perhaps leaning in their direction.

A ruling against the Obama administration wouldn’t immediately damage the Affordable Care Act, and it wouldn’t mean that the administration will ultimately lose. But it would give the challengers their first victory and ensure that the issue keeps moving through the courts.

I am not particularly hopeful, but Obama has been such a dreadful President that anything that makes his final days in office less pleasant is good by me. And to be clear, I am not calling him dreadful simply because the economy stinks, the health care law is a disaster, the Middle East has fallen apart, Russia is swallowing Ukraine, tens of thousands of illegals are rushing our southern border, etc. It’s not only that stuff. It’s the baseline disrespect that he has shown for those that disagree with him. America is comprised of something like 300 million people. If we cannot respect different perspectives, we cannot function. Furthermore, many of his critics knew what they were talking about.

- Aggie

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BREAKING: ObamaCare Hurts Economy, Workers

Who could have seen this coming?

[U]nlike Settles’s other experiments, this one hasn’t been great for his business. He put raises and expansion plans on hold as he figured out the cost and logistics of making the changes. To his surprise, his employees have not leaped at the chance to get health insurance. And he is still trying to figure some things out — for example, how to safeguard employee information that must now be reported to the Internal Revenue Service, such as the Social Security numbers of children who are covered under their parents’ health plans.

“We don’t want to be liable for that,” he said. “What if we get hacked?”

In recent weeks, criticism of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate — one of the law’s most controversial components — has intensified, as employers such as Settles complain publicly and even some Obama administration allies acknowledge that the mandate has harmed some workers.

A number of businesses, including Regal Entertainment and SeaWorld, have reduced hours for part-time workers to fewer than 30 a week — the law’s definition of full time — to avoid having to offer them health insurance. Other companies say they are holding back on hiring to avoid the insurance requirement. Seasonal employees and low-wage workers, such as adjunct professors and cafeteria staffers, have been hit especially hard.

You’ll pardon Aggie and me, I hope, for laughing at Democrat stalwarts, “low-wage workers”, as the “law of the land” targets their asses. It’s more than we could have hoped for.

Did I say “law of the land”? Hardly:

“We’ve never thought [the employer mandate] was particularly good policy, and while people have probably screamed too loudly about the effects on employment, there is some of it that’s certainly true, and it’s not worth the price we seem to be paying,” said John Holahan, a fellow at the Urban Institute and a co-author of the recent paper “Why Not Just Eliminate the Employer Mandate?”

Am I the only one troubled by the concept of an optional mandate? It’s like asking your calculator to divide by zero. And the media pretend to discover these collateral damages as if they weren’t there all along.

See you in November.

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You Wanna Know Why We’re Such Dolts in Massachusetts?

Course you don’t.

But I’m going to tell you anyway:

The strong public support for the Massachusetts health care law has not wavered, despite the well-publicized troubles of the state’s new health insurance website, a new poll has found.

Sixty-three percent of adults said they support the law, which is intended to ensure that almost everyone has health insurance — the same percentage as in a similar survey conducted in 2011.

Fine. Whatever.

But get this:

Fewer than half the people questioned in the latest survey knew anything about the difficulties with the state’s health insurance website after it was retooled to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act, starting last October. The site often was down, and when it worked, consumers could not determine their eligibility for government-subsidized coverage and experienced other problems, forcing some to go without coverage temporarily and use paper workarounds.

Of course we like the law—we know nothing about it! It works, we love it. It sucks, we love it. We just love it. It’s ours and we love it.

Except it’s not our law. We had a law, called RomneyCare (love it or loathe it), but ObamaCare came along and kicked sand in its face. And everyone knows what a morsel of excrement that was.

But so what?

Ann Hurd is among the supporters, despite her firsthand experience with the balky website when she applied for health insurance in December.

“You weren’t able to get through to anything,” said Hurd, a poll respondent who agreed to answer follow-up questions from a reporter. “You’re just stuck there. You try like a week or two later and they get you to the next step. Then you were stuck there.”

Eventually, Hurd was able to learn the premium prices, which approached $500 a month, more than she said she could afford from her pay as a baker. Hurd, 39, of North Attleborough, joined the shrinking group of Massachusetts residents who are uninsured.

But still, she approves of the law. “I support it,” she said. “I don’t support the price.”

A law that was shoved down our throats (or up another orifice) to cover everybody ends up not covering Baker-Americans—and they’re cool with that! Unbelievable!

Aggie and I were talking the other day about the group-think mentality of this place. They listen to NPR and take the New York Times (two of the more propagandistic organs to exist since Joseph Goebbels left the business) and fancy themselves informed. Aggie suggested we start conversations at social events with “I was listening to NPR today, and…”, but instead of actually citing the taxpayer-financed drivel, switch to what Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage said. See how long the mindlessly-nodding heads continue to nod. I would try another tack. “I heard on NPR today that if you drink your own urine, your butt will get smaller.” “I read in the New York Times that Angela Merkel has a mole the shape of a groundhog on her left breast.” “Frontline had a program about how alien DNA means we’re de-evolving into pus in the next million years.”

If we were only dangerous to ourselves, maybe we could be ignored. But we’re like the Taliban. No matter how far removed we are from you, we can make your lives miserable.

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Things We Can Do!™

BTL, why haven’t we played this game before?

Can we rewrite the law through executive order (The Pen™) and invite tens of thousands of unaccompanied children into holding pens in Texas and Arizona?

YES WE CAN.

Can we stupidly withdraw from Iraq, and watch as lunatics line their highways with beheaded corpses of civilians?

YES WE CAN.

Can we plan the same for Afghanistan?

YES WE CAN

Can we take the greatest health care system in the world, and wreck it to the point that even a doctor can’t tell the difference between your ass and your elbow?

YES WE CAN

Can we leave tens of thousand of veterans on endless hospital waiting lists?

YES WE CAN

Can we strip American citizens of their right to free speech using the taxing authority of the IRS?

YES WE CAN

Oh yeah.. Can we double minority and youth unemployment?

YES WE CAN

CAN WE EXPECT ALL OF THIS to bite us in the ass in a very big way one of these day?

YES WE CAN.

Remember how vapid these people are?


Hey O-bots? That list above? It’s your list. Yes. You. Did.

I’m sure I’ve left stuff out. So join with me in a hearty Yes. We. Can. and send along your suggestions.

- Aggie

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The New Normal

OUT: You can keep your doctor, period.

IN: “Network restructuring is the new normal.”

National insurance giant UnitedHealthcare plans to cut up to 700 Massachusetts doctors from its physician network for seniors enrolled in its private Medicare plan as a way to control costs, according to company officials.

For elderly patients enrolled in the plan, the cuts mean they will have to find a new doctor or eventually switch to a new health plan that covers their current doctor.

UnitedHealthcare is the country’s largest provider of privately managed Medicare Advantage plans, and the ongoing cuts have prompted lawsuits by doctors, state investigations, and recent federal policy changes to better protect consumers. There is also pending legislation in Congress to prevent health plans from cutting physicians mid-year.

“This phenomenon is nationwide and needs to be addressed,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said in an interview. “I’m reviewing possible legislation that would prevent this kind of draconian discharge of providers from networks serving Medicare Advantage patients.”

The changes come amid a gradual reduction of reimbursements to private insurers that offer Medicare Advantage plans as a way to offset costs associated with President Obama’s health reform law.

Right. If we had an independent press, instead of a gang of cheerleaders, we would have known this was coming. It’s the law of the land—what’s more, it’s Constitutional, bitches.

UnitedHealthcare officials say they hope that streamlining the pool of doctors will not just save money but ultimately improve the quality of patient care — and thus improve its chances of receiving bonus payments under a new federal rating system.

Cost savings could translate into more affordable care for patients, the insurer said, with the potential for lower out-of-pocket costs for prescription and office visit co-pays.

“Network restructuring is the new normal. It’s not just UnitedHealthcare, but that’s the way health plans will be operating in the future,” said Dr. Sam Ho, UnitedHealthcare’s chief medical officer, in an interview. “Healthcare is going through so many significant changes that it’s no longer a matter of doctors providing services and health plans paying claims, but a focus on the quality and cost effectiveness of those services.”

I think that’s nonsense, too, but what did people expect when Obama tipped over the health insurance apple cart?

A better metaphor:

“We’re really opposed to their actions because it’s going to limit access to care,” said Dr. Richard Pieters, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. “We think the decisions on how they are eliminating physicians may well be arbitrary and not based on quality. It’s very unsettling. Potentially, this is just another domino starting to fall.”

Another domino. That’s it exactly. And Obama toppled the first one.

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”

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I Do Think at Some Point You’ve Spent Enough Money

Remember ObamaCare? That’s like asking if you remember your hemorrhoids: how exactly can you forget?

But with all the other governmental toothaches and gout attacks—Bowe Bergdahl the VA system most recently—it doesn’t hurt quite as much.

Ouch:

According to the Wall Street Journal, states need some $240 million to fix their sites or transition to using the federal exchange. That’s on top of the $700 million in federal money these states have already spent or committed to spending on the exchanges. And whatever amount of new money they spend from the feds will have to be added to the already $4.7 billion in grants the feds made to states overall.

Even when states actually managed to start successfully enrolling people in their exchanges, the number of enrollees has made the systems look remarkably expensive. The per-enrollee cost of the state exchanges is much higher than what it is on HealthCare.gov, which was an already steep $647 per person. Here is a summary from Kaiser:

As rocky as its rollout was, it cost the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, an average of $647 of federal tax dollars to sign up each enrollee, according to a new report. It cost an average of $1,503 – well over twice as much – to sign up each person in the 15 exchanges run by individual states and Washington, D.C.

The report, released Wednesday, was compiled using data from federal enrollment figures and federal exchange funding for both the federal and state exchanges. It was written by Jay Angoff, a former Missouri Insurance Commissioner and one-time director of the Health and Human Services office in charge of implementing the health exchange program.

Even California, the most efficient of the state-run exchanges, at $758 per enrollee, still spent more than the average in the federal exchange. And California was the only state-run exchange with a per-person average under $1,000.

Hawaii, with a combination of a poorly-functioning website, a small population overall, and a small population of uninsured, brought up the rear in the study. It cost the Aloha State an average of $23,899 per enrollee covered. Washington D.C. came in next to last at $12,467 per person.

To take your mind off this particular owie, just consider that most employer-provided insurance is about as endangered as the white rhino. We’ll all be in the exchanges—think wildlife safari parks—soon enough.

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Philosophical Inquiry

Is it still a lie if you say something false under the following conditions?

a) It was obviously and irrefutably false to anyone and everyone who thought about it.
b) It was claimed during a campaign for passage, so veracity was irrelevant.
c) The liar in question meant well (or claimed to, another lie).
and
d) He lied to everyone, equally and without prejudice:

Across the political spectrum, analysts now say that 80 to 90 percent of employer-provided insurance, the mainstay of American health coverage for decades, will disappear as ObamaCare takes hold.

The research firm S&P IQ predicts less than 10 percent of those who get insurance at work will still get it there ten years from now.

“The companies will really be hard pressed to justify why they would continue to have to spend the kind of money they spend by offering insurance through corporate plans when there’s an alternative that’s subsidized by the government” said Michael Thompson, head of S&P IQ.

Even a former adviser to President Obama, Zeke Emanuel, predicted less than 20 percent who now get employer-provided insurance will still get it ten years from now. He wrote in his book “Reinventing American Health Care” that “By 2025 few private-sector employers will still be providing health insurance.”

“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing health insurance separated from employment. The linkage distorts both health insurance and employment. But I believe in the marketplace (with reservations). Pay me more in salary, and let me pick the best health insurance plan (including “bad apple” plans, from many competitors) for me.

Emanuel and Obama want to free insurance from employment—only to bind it irrevocably to government. Not the same thing. And I wouldn’t lie to you to.

PS:

Premiums would increase 13 percent next year for Ohioans who buy health coverage through the federally run insurance exchange, the Ohio Department of Insurance said yesterday.

Ohio voted for Obama in ’08 and ’12. Ohioans get what they deserve.

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The RICO Administration [UPDATED]

For President Obama’s criminal enterprise to be brought down by the VA scandal is a bit like Al Capone going away for tax evasion. After the Benghazi massacre and cover-up, the IRS hit-job on the Tea Party, Fast & Furious gun-running, government by whim and fiat, and myriad other scandals reaching all the way back to fundraising irregularities in his ’08 campaign, it’s a little anticlimactic to see this racketeering-influenced and corrupt organization brought low by an atrocity not of their own making.

Or is it?

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid at least $11.4 million to 174 nurses, mental-health specialists, therapists, and other health-care professionals who, instead of caring for veterans, worked full-time doing union business.

The list of these taxpayer-funded union representatives at VA offices around the nation and their salaries was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Georgia representative Phil Gingrey’s staff and provided to National Review Online.

“So many health-care providers were on that list — nurses or physical therapists or whatever they may be — when so many veterans are falling through the cracks,” a Gingrey aide tells me. “It’s kind of shocking that these paid employees wouldn’t be fully dedicated to patient care.”

In total, the VA spent at least $13.77 million on 251 salaried employees performing full-time union work. Others, who were not included on the list provided by the VA, work part-time for unions at the taxpayer expense. In fiscal year 2011, the latest on record, the VA used 998,483 hours of this “official time,” costing taxpayers more than $42 million.

The newly released records show that in Baltimore, which has the nation’s longest wait times for veterans’ claims, taxpayers covered $372,674 in salary costs in 2012 for a clinical dietetic technician, a patient-services assistant, a health technician, a medical-support assistant, and two nurses to spend all their time at work on union issues and none of it working with veterans.

What difference, at this point, does it make?

Let’s ask someone who knows:

Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served in over 400 combat missions. He suffered from fibromyalgia and PTSD and killed himself last year after he received treatment from the Phoenix VA hospital. He wrote that his body had become “nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems.”

Somers’ parents read an excerpt of his suicide note on CNN Friday afternoon: “Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the State of the Union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic but rather by our system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.”

It took three months for Somers to receive initial treatment because the VA was confused over his status as a member of the National Guard. He was shuffled around the system, going from the Phoenix VA hospital to a Department of Defense hospital before the Phoenix VA finally agreed to give him care.

If he’d only joined the union, he might a stood a chance. But it’s not another person’s words, however heartbreaking, that damn President Obama,

It’s his own words:

Before Obama was president, he promised to end wait times at the VA and streamline services. But six years later he simultaneously claims that he’s been working on the problems, and that he knew nothing about the problems.

“How can the president say that the VA’s problems had not reached the White House, when the president himself says he’s been working on this for six years?” he said.

Krauthammer said the president is “trying to have it every which way…”

A point we’ve been making for about a week now, Dr. Charles. But thanks for playing.

The Obama regime didn’t invent incompetence and malfeasance at the VA, as everyone attests. But no one else claimed to have all the answers, as Obama did while campaigning to be the commander-in-chief of the very vets he would later betray. No one else pointed to his running of the agency as the model of government-provided health care—all the while Iraq and Afghanistan (and Vietnam and Korea and WWII) vets were waiting and suffering like Daniel Somers, quoted above.

Perhaps it is fitting after all that this disgrace be the end of this RICO mob. Above all, Obama promised Hope and Change™. He delivered neither, at least as far as our wounded veterans were concerned. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” was another slogan. Too many are still waiting. And dying.

UPDATE
Let’s not forget how “mad” Obama is about this state of affairs. Hopping mad:

President Obama today is playing golf with Wall Street banker Robert Wolf, a megadonor to Obama and other Democrats who is also reportedly a personal friend of the president’s.

The two are playing at Fort Belvoir along with White House aides Joe Paulsen and Marvin Nicholson, two of Obama’s usual partners.

It’s a beautiful and breezy 74 degrees here in the Washington area.

It’s Obama 17th time playing this year and the 174th trip to the greens since his presidency began.

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One Nation, Underwhelmed

If opposition to ObamaCare is racist (what else could it be?), we’re all racists now.

Or 86% of us, anyway:

About one month after the new healthcare exchanges closed with over 8 million new enrollees, there has been little substantial change in Americans’ perception that the healthcare law has helped them. Most Americans say the law has had no impact on their healthcare situation, while those who do perceive an effect are more likely to say it has hurt them rather than helped them.

I include even those who claim no effect among the racists. How dare they dismiss the president’s signature achievement? And the 3% who had no answer: they were just hiding their blatant racism. Only 14% of you are truly enlightened. Shame on the rest of us.

If this display of cynicism leads me to early dementia… what was I saying?

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Patients Without Patience

I’m still trying to figure out what President Obama meant when he said this:

And I think it is important to recognize that the wait times generally — what the IG indicated so far, at least, is the wait times were folks who may have had chronic conditions, were seeking their next appointment, but may have already received service. It was not necessarily a situation where they were calling for emergency services. And the IG indicated that he did not see a link between the wait and them actually dying.

Whatever that was supposed to mean (seriously, I haven’t a clue), I don’t think it means this:

Debbie Valle says her husband, Jerry, waited two months for chemotherapy, but died of prostate cancer.

Debbie Allen’s husband, Mel, endured a six-month wait before dying of bladder cancer.

Cindy Bordeaux’s husband, Jerry, had been waiting six weeks, when he died of liver cancer.

“And you never get over it because the proof’s right here of the lack of care,” she said. “These people didn’t care. He was a number.”

Yet the story continues incongruously:

None of the deaths in Phoenix has been formally linked to long wait times so far, but the Phoenix investigation has spread nationwide. The main allegation is that local VA officials have been hiding reports of when veterans cannot get doctors appointments within the goal of 14 days.

The delays cited above range from six weeks to six months. Unless my math fails me, that’s a whole lot longer than 14 days. And I’m guessing six months makes a big difference in the treatment of cancer.

In New Port Richey, Florida, Joseph Kramer is a Gulf War veteran. He was told two months ago of a cyst on his brain but since then nothing — no diagnosis and no treatment.

“Am I going to die?” he asked. “Is this treatable? Is this, I need to have an operation to take it out? What? I don’t know. I have no idea.”

At least you’re alive. What have you got to complain about?

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