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Monday, February 24, 2014

Paul Krugman, "Health Care Horror Hooey": As California Goes, So Goes the Nation?

"Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.

. . . .

It’s clear what kinds of things the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators want, and it’s really the job of policy intellectuals and politicians to fill in the details."

- Paul Krugman, "Confronting the Malefactors" (
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/opinion/krugman-confronting-the-malefactors.html), October 2011

Do you remember "Occupy Wall Street"? Do you remember how Krugman suggested that OWS would prove a "turning point" in a populist war against American financial institutions? My goodness, Krugman really hit the mark with that prediction. Well, Krugman, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Health Care Horror Hooey" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/24/opinion/krugman-health-care-horror-hooey.html?ref=opinion), would now have us believe that Obamacare is in fact succeeding by observing its "success" in . . . California:

"I’m not sure whether conservatives realize yet that their Plan A on health reform — wait for Obamacare’s inevitable collapse, and reap the political rewards — isn’t working. But it isn’t. Enrollments have recovered strongly from the law’s disastrous start-up; in California, which had a working website from the beginning, enrollment has already exceeded first-year projections. The mix of people signed up so far is older than planners had hoped, but not enough so to cause big premium hikes, let alone the often-predicted 'death spiral.'"

Of course, you remember the old saying, "As California goes, so goes the nation." Wait a second! California? I thought the saying referred to Maine. Well, during various times in American history, "Maine" was replaced by Delaware, Missouri, Kentucky, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Ohio in this adage, but never by California.

But let's forget California for the moment. Vice President Biden last week informed us that Obamacare was off to "a hell of a start" and further explained, "We may not get to seven million [enrollees], we may get to five or six." Heck, that's just a 15%-30% shortfall, depending how the cookie ultimately crumbles.

Strange as it may seem, I am not a conservative, and I believe in universal health care, but Krugman might still want to consider Kathleen Parker's Washington Post opinion piece entitled "The poetry of bad news around Obamacare" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-the-poetry-of-bad-news-around-obamacare/2014/02/14/15aa9b3c-95c5-11e3-8461-8a24c7bf0653_story.html?hpid=z4). Parker cogently concludes:

"In the meantime, what the economy needs least is a federal program that prompts lower- and middle-class workers to drop out of the workforce. This is in addition to the many who are losing their jobs involuntarily or having their hours cut by their employers who want to avoid the mandate to buy insurance or the fine for failing to do so.

Again, this is a simple matter of incentives and survival, which President Obama seems to have recognized in postponing the mandate for midsize businesses until 2016. Or perhaps he is trying to head off another health-care controversy before the midterm elections? Shucks, do you suppose?

Add to the above the CBO’s report in May that 31 million people will not have health insurance in 2023.

Any one of these things would be bad news. Combined, they boggle the well-ordered mind. If I may invoke our Fairy Godmother again, Pelosi was the most honest of all when she warned us that 'We have to pass the bill [Obamacare] so that you can find out what is in it.'

Today, knowing what we know, we are left with what we used to call a million-dollar question, though it is much more expensive now: How does one defend spending $1.2  trillion for a health-care overhaul that disincentivizes people to work and that leaves us with 31 million uninsured?

One writes poetry."

Delays in implementing Obamacare? As reported by Fox News (I know, Obama doesn't like Fox) (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/02/21/tracking-obamacare-as-enrollment-deadline-nears-law-endures-28-delays-and/):

"Since its inception, provisions of the law have been delayed a total of 28 times; the average delay was six months and three weeks. Put another way, the cumulative delays add up to an astonishing 15 years and three months.

The administration has been announcing changes to the law at a fairly steady clip.

The White House's latest delay was rolled out on Feb. 10, and allowed companies with between 50 and 99 workers to skirt the mandate to provide health care until 2016.

Of the White House's 28 delays to the law, 13 have been set to last at least one year. Eight revisions last a month or more. The shortest delay, announced in December 2013, gave Americans one extra day to purchase coverage that would begin on Jan. 1, 2014 through HealthCare.gov. Ultimately, that delay was extended to a vague 'more time.'"

Health care horror hooey? Yeah, right. Obamacare is showing all the promise of Krugman's beloved OWS, which is perhaps why the Obama administration is seeking a new legacy (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/02/bill-keller-crime-and-punishment-and.html).

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