Archive for Liar

In for a Penny, in for a Pound

If you’re going to lie like a rug, you might as well lie like a bearskin rug:

The Republican chairman of a House panel that oversees the U.S. Census Bureau slammed the Obama administration on Tuesday over reports that extensive changes to the agency’s annual survey will make it virtually impossible to track how Obamacare has affected Americans.

“The census should not be political,” Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold told Newsmax in a statement. The two-term congressman is chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements.

“These reports do nothing but give more weight to Americans’ level of general distrust in the Obama administration, especially after the president’s failed promise that ‘if you like your health insurance, you can keep it,’ ” Farenthold said.

“We are expecting much lower numbers just because of the questions and how they are asked,” Brett J. O’Hara, chief of the Census Bureau’s health statistics operation, told the Times.

[B]ureau officials told the newspaper that the questions are so different that it will be very difficult to compare the results with data from previous years.

As such, the new findings will make it hard for officials to determine what changes in recipients’ health-coverage status might have resulted from Obamacare.

Which. Is. The. Point.

Seven million? 7.1? 7.5? 9.3? ObamaCare will cost less yet premiums will go up? It’s only numbers. NUMBers.

Exactly, Apollonia. “Monday Tuesday Thursday Wednesday Friday Sunday Saturday.” What difference, at this point, does it make?

The Census Bureau operated as an independent entity within the U.S. Commerce Department, answering to the Commerce Secretary, though its director is appointed by the president. The current director is John Thompson.

But that changed in 2009, when President Barack Obama moved the bureau under the Office of Management in Budget, which falls under the purview of the White House. Thompson now answers to Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

I’ll bet he does.

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Down Mexico Way

You know, like Maryland:

U.S. sheriffs are alarmed that securing the U.S. – Mexico border is no longer a concern for the law enforcement agencies near the boundary, with Mexico drug cartels infiltrating cities and towns across the country trading in human trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping and money laundering.

Sam Page – sheriff of Rockingham County in North Carolina, who oversees 94,000 residents – told The Washington Times that a Mexican cartel set up a drug warehouse one mile from his home.

He estimates hat cartels have infiltrated more than 3,000 U.S. cities and are recruiting local gangs, former prisoners and teenagers to join them.

‘If we fail to secure our borders, then every sheriff in America will become a border sheriff,’ he told The Times.

‘We’re only a two-day drive from the border and have already seen the death and violence that illegal crossings brings into our community.

‘These men are coming into our county with more firepower than I have. I’m literally outgunned.’

Since entering into an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in early 2008, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has detained 1,250 illegal immigrants, 50 of whom have had connections to Mexican drug cartels and organized crime, Sheriff Jenkins said.

‘The success of the program is not in the numbers – it’s who is actually getting arrested,’ he said.

‘Do I want Mexican gang members on the streets of Frederick County? Hell no.’

This ought to unite people to action, right?

Right…

Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said such programs waste federal money and are discriminatory.

‘The idea of deputizing local sheriffs as front-line immigration reformers is a catastrophic mistake,’ said Chris Newman, the network’s general counsel.

‘It distracts attention, chills people from reporting crime, encourages racial profiling and leads to the unconstitutional arrest and detainment of illegal immigrants.’

Isn’t it the job of local sheriffs to arrest people breaking the law? How can any such “detainment” be unconstitutional? Indeed, how does the US Constitution apply to Mexican nationals—especially those here illegally, especially those “trading in human trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping and money laundering”—at all?

Readers know my obsession with this particular Obama lie. Not once but twice has he flapped his gums to portray Mexico as Switzerland with chipotle. Among his myriad lies, this one is a lie not of opportunity (like his ObamaCare lies), but a lie of fancy. He doesn’t gain anything by quoting such Mexican luminaries as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Octavio Paz, and… uh…Octavio Paz. He just likes to. There’s nothing wrong with Mexico, he asserts, that fewer “sensational headlines” couldn’t fix.

So, why does he do it? Why try to portray Mexico in terms opposite of the facts of this sensational headline?

Drug cartel internal feud leaves 28 dead in Mexico

That was last week.

But of course the answer is easy. The “day laborer” activists quoted above tell us all we need to know. Obama flatters Mexico not to flatter Mexicans, but to flatter Mexicans (and Guatemalans, and Salvadorans, etc.) here illegally. When we lost our health care plans and our doctors, who but a few late-stage cancer patients was harmed (all of whom were liars anyway, according to Harry Reid)? At the very least, prostitutes and kidnapping victims have been harmed by this Obama lie. Where are their support groups and advocates?

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Did He Say Open or Opaque?

For a regime so notoriously secretive (Benghazi, IRS, Fast & Furious, chilling prosecutions against reporters), they’re awfully public with this news:

Medicare paid a tiny group of doctors $3 million or more apiece in 2012. One got nearly $21 million.

Those are among the findings of an Associated Press analysis of physician data released Wednesday by the Obama administration, part of a move to open the books on health care financing.

Topping Medicare’s list was Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, whose relationship with Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., made headlines last year after news broke that the lawmaker used the doctor’s personal jet for trips to the Dominican Republic. Medicare paid Melgen $20.8 million.

AP’s analysis found that a small sliver of the more than 825,000 individual physicians in Medicare’s claims data base — just 344 physicians — took in top dollar, at least $3 million apiece for a total of nearly $1.5 billion.

Menendez, D-N.J., hasn’t been found guilty of anything. Why should the doctor?

I’m all for openness, but, again, I do not trust this occupting power farther than I can throw the White House.

The American Medical Association, which has long opposed release of the Medicare database, is warning it will do more harm than good.

The AMA says the files may contain inaccurate information. And even if the payment amounts are correct, the AMA says they do not provide meaningful insights into the quality of care.

“We believe that the broad data dump … has significant shortcomings regarding the accuracy and value of the medical services rendered by physicians,” AMA president Ardis Dee Hoven said. “Releasing the data without context will likely lead to inaccuracies, misinterpretations, false conclusions and other unintended consequences.”

I don’t know if Dr. Melgen is a crook or not, though I find his choice of company suspect. If he’s found guilty, I hope they soak him but good. But an ophthalmologist in South Florida would seem to be in position to make as much money as he wanted, it would seem to me. If he has a good Chinese buffet in his waiting room, so much the better.

Anyway, Obama has been slandering doctors from the beginning of ObamaCare. Rush is ranting about this as I type (transcript not yet up), but this Newsbusters post makes the point:

President Obama disgustingly said the following:

[L]et’s take the example of something like diabetes, one of — a disease that’s skyrocketing, partly because of obesity, partly because it’s not treated as effectively as it could be. Right now if we paid a family — if a family care physician works with his or her patient to help them lose weight, modify diet, monitors whether they’re taking their medications in a timely fashion, they might get reimbursed a pittance. But if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that’s $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 — immediately the surgeon is reimbursed.

The following day, the American College of Surgeons issued a statement harshly rebuking the President’s comments, but America’s media almost completely ignored it (h/t Jamie Colby):

Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation. This payment also includes the evaluation of the patient on the day of the operation plus patient follow-up care that is provided for 90 days after the operation. Private insurers pay some variation of the Medicare reimbursement for this service.

Three weeks ago, the President suggested that a surgeon’s decision to remove a child’s tonsils is based on the desire to make a lot of money. That remark was ill-informed and dangerous, and we were dismayed by this characterization of the work surgeons do. Surgeons make decisions about recommending operations based on what’s right for the patient.

These were some of the earliest lies of ObamaCare, contemporaneous with the you-can-keep-your-doctor porkies (pork pies rhymes with lies, hence porkies). But they still reverberate. Doctors make money off treating the sick. If that’s not parasitism (according to Obama), he don’t know what is.

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More Good ObamaCare News!

Insurance rates have skyrocketed!

I am actually smiling here. Why? Because I. Told. You. So. Not nice, not pleasant, but very affirming of reality. Here’s the deal – again. ObamaCare is based on RomneyCare. Due to RomneyCare, we in Massachusetts have the highest insurance rates in the country – or had. We at BTL wrote and wrote about this, about the fact that the average rates would have to rise to something close to what we have here, because the policy is similar, although ObamaCare turns out to be much worse. So, for example, we formerly had a $4000.00 cap on out of pocket expenses for a couple. Now it appears to be $10,000 BUT rates are higher. Neat trick.

Anyway, who cares, right? Let’s look at the numbers compiled by the insurance industry:

Health insurance premiums are showing the sharpest increases perhaps ever according to a survey of brokers who sell coverage in the individual and small group market. Morgan Stanley’s healthcare analysts conducted the proprietary survey of 148 brokers. The April survey shows the largest acceleration in small and individual group rates in any of the 12 prior quarterly periods when it has been conducted.

The average increases are in excess of 11% in the small group market and 12% in the individual market. Some state show increases 10 to 50 times that amount. The analysts conclude that the “increases are largely due to changes under the ACA.”

The analysts conducting the survey attribute the rate increases largely to a combination of four factors set in motion by Obamacare: Commercial underwriting restrictions, the age bands that don’t allow insurers to vary premiums between young and old beneficiaries based on the actual costs of providing the coverage, the new excise taxes being levied on insurance plans, and new benefit designs.

The prior survey conducted in January also showed rates rising during the fall of 2013, but the new increases will come on top of those hikes and are even sharper. That prior survey of 131 brokers found that December 2013 rates were rising in excess of 6% in the small group market, and 9% in the individual market.

The hikes in the small group market, on average, have been largest for the Blues plans, which reported average rate increases of almost 16% year-over-year for renewing contracts. In the individual market, the publicly traded health plans had higher increases than the blues, at an average of more than 11%, and private and not-for-profit plans had the highest average increases overall at 13%.

For the individual insurance market (plans sold directly to consumers); among the ten states seeing some of the sharpest average increases are: Delaware at 100%, New Hampshire 90%, Indiana 54%, California 53%, Connecticut 45%, Michigan 36%, Florida 37%, Georgia 29%, Kentucky 29%, and Pennsylvania 28%.

For the small group market, among the ten states seeing the biggest increases are: Washington 588%, Pennsylvania 66%, California 37%, Indiana 34%, Kentucky 30%, Colorado 29%, Michigan 27%, Maryland 25%, Missouri 25%, and Nevada 23%.

So, let’s see the small group plans… Washington 588%.. But you voted for him – twice! Pennsylvania 66% and I believe that you voted for him twice. California 37%, voted for him twice, overwhelmingly. Of all the states hardest hit, I believe that Indiana only voted for Obama the first time, and Kentucky and Missouri never did. So sucks to be them. Looking at individual plans poor Indiana shows up, along with Georgia and Kentucky. The rest of these dolts deserve this.

- Aggie

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Why is This Man Smiling?

Correction: That should read “Is This Man Smiling?”

Even if you take every signer-up under ObamaCare as a genuine enrollee (which we don’t), it turns out that the celebrated “law of the land”—which is enforced under financial penalty—is barely even the law of Massachusetts (7.1 million vs. 6.7 million). It’s not hard to gather seven million sign-ups when you cancel the plans of millions more.

Isn’t this rather Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” moment?

Where have I seen that expression on Biden’s face before?

Look, I’m sure the media anointed Obama the winner of the news cycle for April 1st. Let’s see how ironic that is on November 4th.

Which is why these people are not smiling:

[W]hile Obama administration officials popped champagne to celebrate the enrollment figure, Democrats on the ballot this year continue to tread cautiously.

Vulnerable incumbents who voted for the Affordable Care Act but have distanced themselves have no plans to suddenly embrace it. They plan to continue emphasizing the ways they want to “fix it” and “make it work.”

“If we had endless news cycles like we did in November and December, we were gonna get wiped out,” said a Democratic strategist actively involved in the effort to hold the Senate.

Added a prominent Democratic pollster, “It is helpful but it’s not going to fundamentally change the playing field. The less we’re talking about Obamacare, the better off we are. Since good things are now happening, we may be talking about it less and that’s a good thing.”

Good luck with that.

PS: Champagne? When so many have been hurt by this law? Surely a rhetorical flourish.

Surely not:

At 12:01 AM, White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park acknowledged to QSSI, the Columbia, Maryland firm tasked with fixing Healthcare.gov that the ACA enrollments have surpassed the 7 million mark.

Park and QSSI employees celebrated with champagne after the early morning announcement in the lobby of the building as they are not allowed to drink alcohol in the offices at QSSI.

I understand Joseph Stalin and the missus celebrated with shots of Stoli when the seven-millionth Ukrainian died of starvation. Of course, those numbers were genuine, and merely a step along the way.

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Saved or Created Health Insurance Policies

The Obama regime can claim to have “saved or created” millions of jobs in congressional districts that don’t exist (anybody found the North Dakota 99th yet?), so why not claim 7.1 (love the 0.1!) enrollees in ObamaCare?

Like the media are going to check?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: [T]his is a phony number and it’s wonderfully precise. You know, these guys go six months without any idea what the numbers are, and all of a sudden, it’s to a decimal point. 7.1, not 7.2. But of course, it’s meaningless because, a, we don’t know how many of them have paid. And it’s an enrollment number that’s not enrollment, but the more important one is how many were previously uninsured?

Such a cynic.

Let Jay Carney explain it all for you:

ED HENRY: At the beginning of all of this, when the website was having so much trouble, and there were only hundreds and thousands of people signing up in the first month you were saying then, ‘I’m not going to cherry-pick numbers and we’re going to put out the numbers monthly, of the people who are signing up.’ So now when you have records number of people coming into the website, how can you turn around with these numbers in 24 hours and tell us with accuracy –

JAY CARNEY: Because our system has gotten a lot better, which I think anybody who went on Healthcare.gov in October and went on it in the last week can attest.

HENRY: [inaudible] that you know it’s an accurate number?

CARNEY: I think that we’ve got better and better at compiling and collecting the data…

Does he kiss Claire Shipman with that mouth? The very system that crashed—twice—yesterday is better? It can tell you how many signed up, but nothing about them?

I know why they lie, but I wish they were better at it. This crap is just an insult.

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So… Did You Sign Up For ObamaCare?

And did your costs go up or down? Because the CEO of Cleveland Clinic says that for 75% of us, costs went UP.

No. Wait. What? Obama promised that costs would go down. To the tune of $2500 per year per family. I want my money back.

The CEO of the Cleveland Clinic says that a majority of Americans who signed up for Obamacare have seen their premiums rise.
“About three-quarters of them find that their premiums are higher than they had been previously with other insurance,” Toby Cosgrove told Fox News.
Cosgrove explained that the Affordable Care Act is having a “major effect” upon health care providers.
“We know for example that we’re going to get paid less for what we do,” Cosgrove stated. “Hospitals are going to be paid less for what they do. We also know that insurers are paying less for what we do.”
Cosgrove said providers need to “become more efficient” in how they deliver health care.

More efficient, eh? The most efficient thing to do is to deny treatment.

- Aggie

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Shocked—Shocked!!—to Learn of Mandate Delay

You know who was most appalled by the administration’s delay of the individual mandate (as we posted earlier today)?

The administration:

Dan Pfeiffer, a top White House advisor, told David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” that the end of March is, in fact, the deadline for the open enrollment period, noting that those who haven’t yet secured a plan should do so as soon as possible.

“That will not happen,” Pfeiffer said, when asked if the individual mandate would be delayed.

On March 12, Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary, testified on Capitol Hill before the House Ways and Means Committee that the open enrollment would not be extended…

Specifically:

Sebelius also said there would be no postponement of this month’s deadline for enrolling in coverage through new private health insurance marketplaces or the Medicaid program for the poor.

“No, sir,” was Sebelius’ categorical answer when asked about both prospects by Representative Kevin Brady of Texas at a hearing of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee.

Yeah, but…uh…that was two weeks ago. Two weeks is an eternity in politics. And Pfieffer’s comment from March 16th? Well, that’s 5/7ths of an eternity—no small fraction of forever.

How long can they keep the plates spinning? It’ll all come crashing down in November.

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If You Like Your Premium Increase, You Can Keep Your Premium Increase

Period.

The worries from the industry come less than a week after HHS Secretary Sebelius downplayed the problem, telling Capitol Hill that increases would grow more slowly than in the past.

From the piece:

“The increases are far less significant than what they were prior to the Affordable Care Act,” the secretary said in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee.

But, but, Sebelius said…


I swear…

Her comment baffled insurance officials, who said it runs counter to the industry’s consensus about next year.

“It’s pretty shortsighted because I think everybody knows that the way the exchange has rolled out … is going to lead to higher costs,” said one senior insurance executive who requested anonymity.

(Insurers) point out that the administration, after a massive public outcry, eased their policies to allow people to keep their old health plans. That kept some healthy people in place, instead of making them jump into the new exchanges.

Federal health officials have also limited the amount of money the government can spend to help insurers cover the cost of new, sick patients.

Perhaps most important, insurers have been disappointed that young people only make up about one-quarter of the enrollees in plans through the insurance exchanges, according to public figures that were released earlier this year. That ratio might change in the weeks ahead because the administration anticipates many more people in their 20s and 30s will sign up close to the March 31 enrollment deadline. Many insurers, however, don’t share that optimism.

These factors will have the unintended consequence of raising rates, sources said.

Those aren’t “unintended” consequences—at least not to anyone with an abacus or a slide rule. Insurance companies can’t function if all they insure is sick people. That’s elementary school arithmetic. So, the consequences must be very much intentional.

I wouldn’t worry, though. Obama promised Americans would save an average of $2,500, so that windfall should help defray the costs.

Wait, what?

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Your One-Size-Fits-All Republican Campaign Ad for the Fall

Just add water:

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Irreconcilable Differences

How do you reconcile these two statements?

O’REILLY: You’re saying no corruption, none?

OBAMA: There was some bone-headed decisions.

O’REILLY: Bone-headed decisions. But no mass corruption?

OBAMA: Not even mass corruption. Not even a smidgeon of corruption.

And:

On the advice of counsel, I respectfully exercise my Fifth Amendment right and decline to answer that question.

The Fifth Amendment, to remind you, declares:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Congress is not the Grand Jury and Ms. Lerner is not in the Navy, so she may not be “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against [her]self”. There’s some debate over whether she waived her right in her first appearance by making a statement before clamming up, but that’s not my point this time.

Isn’t she implying—even admitting—that there is a criminal case? Regardless of her role in it, why cite the right against self-incrimination if there’s no crime?

So, there’s a big, fat smidgen of corruption all over this story—as the facts themselves speak to. Don’t Democrats remember Watergate? It’s the cover-up, stupid.

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Die, Mommy, Die!

That infected pustule, ObamaCare, was passed with myriad anecdotes about poor oppressed people crushed under a cruel, inhuman system.

Okay…:

When my mother was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer in 2005, when she was 49, it came as a lightning shock.

We, as a family, were scared and angry, but from the beginning we knew we would do all we could to fight this disease. We became involved with fundraising for research, through the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation in Boston; we blogged; we did triathlons (my mother’s idea) and cherished our time together as never before.

Carcinoid, a form of neuroendocrine cancer, is a terminal disease but generally responds well to treatment by Sandostatin, a drug that slows tumor growth and reduces (but does not eliminate) the symptoms of fatigue, nausea and gastrointestinal dysfunction.

She has an indomitable will and is by far the toughest person I’ve ever met. But she wouldn’t still be here without that semimonthly Sandostatin shot that slows the onslaught of her disease.

And then in November, along with millions of other Americans, she lost her health insurance. She’d had a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan for nearly 20 years. It was expensive, but given that it covered her very expensive treatment, it was a terrific plan. It gave her access to any specialist or surgeon, and to the Sandostatin and other medications that were keeping her alive.

Because the exchange website in her state (Virginia) was not working, she went directly to insurers’ websites and telephoned them, one by one, over dozens of hours. As a medical-office manager, she had decades of experience navigating the enormous problems of even our pre-ObamaCare system. But nothing could have prepared her for the bureaucratic morass she now had to traverse.

The repeated and prolonged phone waits were Sisyphean, the competence and customer service abysmal. When finally she found a plan that looked like it would cover her Sandostatin and other cancer treatments, she called the insurer, Humana, to confirm that it would do so. The enrollment agent said that after she met her deductible, all treatments and medications—including those for her cancer—would be covered at 100%. Because, however, the enrollment agents did not—unbelievable though this may seem—have access to the “coverage formularies” for the plans they were selling, they said the only way to find out in detail what was in the plan was to buy the plan. (Does that remind you of anyone?)

With no other options, she bought the plan and was approved on Nov. 22. Because by January the plan was still not showing up on her online Humana account, however, she repeatedly called to confirm that it was active. The agents told her not to worry, she was definitely covered.

Then on Feb. 12, just before going into (yet another) surgery, she was informed by Humana that it would not, in fact, cover her Sandostatin, or other cancer-related medications. The cost of the Sandostatin alone, since Jan. 1, was $14,000, and the company was refusing to pay.

It sounds like the health insurance companies are co-defendants—not least because they supported ObamaCare as it passed through Congress like a kidney stone.

But the author is clear on who is at fault:

This is a woman who had an affordable health plan that covered her condition. Our lawmakers weren’t happy with that because . . . they wanted plans that were affordable and covered her condition. So they gave her a new one. It doesn’t cover her condition and it’s completely unaffordable.

Then he veers wildly off the rails:

I understand that the intention—or at least the rhetorical justification—of this legislation was to provide coverage for those who didn’t have it.

No, that was clearly not the intention, whatever the rhetoric. The intention was to exert government power into a social and economic realm where it did not exist. People are naturally concerned with their health, hence health care is an exploitable issue. It didn’t matter that the overwhelming majority of Americans were satisfied with their coverage (as was the woman above), it was their coverage, not the government’s. And that had to change, consequences be damned.

But he recovers nicely:

But there is something deeply and incontestably perverse about a law that so distorts and undermines the free activity of individuals that they can no longer buy and sell the goods and services that keep them alive. ObamaCare made my mother’s old plan illegal, and it forced her to buy a new plan that would accelerate her disease and death.

The “Affordable” Care Act is a brutal, Procrustean disaster. In principle, it violates the irreducible particularity of human life, and in practice it will cause many individuals to suffer and die.

Feature, not bug. We had to pass it to find out what was in it!

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