Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Kathleen Sebelius’

Obamacare Campaign Highlights Sports Injuries to Enroll Young People.


With the clock running down on Obamacare enrollment, the administration sought to persuade young people to sign up for health coverage on Tuesday by telling them how much it hurts not be insured – that is, how much it can hurt the wallet.

Take the humble ankle sprain, one of the most common injuries among young adults under the age of 25. Treating it can cost $2,290. Then there’s the broken arm: On average $7,700. And people without health insurance get to pay full freight.

Or as U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius put it in a government blog: “This can be a huge financial blow to young people and families alike.”

That is the message the administration hopes will be heard by college-age kids and others who do not have health insurance, but could qualify for federal subsidies to help purchase coverage. Some could also qualify for the Medicaid health program for the poor.

Open enrollment ends March 31.

In a promotion aimed at fans of the annual college basketball playoff series known as March Madness, Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition released data looking at the economic costs of common sports injuries like sprains and fractures – just the sort of thing to send a young person to the emergency room.

Young people are vital to the success of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. Obamacare prevents insurance companies from penalizing people who are sick or older. And so the new marketplaces need young people who are cheaper to insure to make up for the higher financial risks posed by others.

But so far, the administration’s target audience of people aged 18 to 34 have not been signing up in such large numbers, a trend that could lead to higher insurance costs down the road if it continues.

More than 5 million people have enrolled in private health insurance under Obamacare, according to the administration. But the latest breakdown shows the number of younger adults stuck at 25 percent of the enrollment population, versus the 38 percent target that the administration laid out before last October’s botched rollout.

Administration officials say younger people could sign up in huge numbers in the final days of the open enrollment period.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Advertisements

GAO to Probe Flawed State Obamacare Exchanges.


Image: GAO to Probe Flawed State Obamacare ExchangesRep. Greg Walden

Spurred on by House Republicans, the investigative arm of Congress is looking into problems with state health exchange websites around the country. The U.S. Government Accountability Office will try to determine how $304 million in federal grants was spent on the Cover Oregon website, which has yet to enroll a single person online without special assistance.

The agency said due to similar requests from several members of Congress and congressional committees related to the rollout of online health care exchanges, it would broaden the investigation and issue several separate reports on its findings.

GAO spokesman Charles Young said just which states will be included with Oregon will be determined as the investigation goes forward. But 14 states and the District of Columbia opted to create their own exchanges and accepted federal funding to do so.

Republicans have been stepping up their attacks on troubled health exchanges during this election year, but Rep. Greg. Walden, R-Ore., said it was a non-partisan issue.

He noted Oregon Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley made their own requests for the GAO to investigate a day after the Republicans — Walden, House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, and Reps. Joe Pitts and Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania — filed theirs last month.

“The politics will play out where they may, good or bad,” Walden said. “That doesn’t mean you don’t ask questions. We need to get answers.”

Merkley said in a statement that he looked forward to the GAO’s recommendations “about how to fix the system and avoid this happening in the future.”

Cover Oregon spokesman Michael Cox said, “We will participate fully with the GAO as they conduct their work.”

Walden added that the probe of state websites would “piggyback nicely” on another GAO look at the federal health exchange website, which has already begun.

Separately, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has asked for an inspector general’s investigation into problems with the rollout of the health care law.

Some of the state exchanges have outperformed the federal exchange website, but others have trailed behind and faced significant challenges, including expensive fixes to glitches and lower projected enrollments.

In addition to Oregon, where residents on their own still can’t sign up for coverage in one sitting, the exchanges in Maryland, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Minnesota have faced major problems.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, called the investigation a political stunt.

“With House Republicans voting today for the 50th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it is disappointing but not surprising that Republicans are now using federal government resources to investigate state health exchanges instead of finding a productive way to help Americans access health care,” Schatz said in an emailed comment.

States with successful exchanges include Connecticut, Rhode Island, Kentucky and New York. Connecticut, which has far exceeded its enrollment goals for the open enrollment period, is setting up a consulting business and marketing an “exchange in a box” to other states.

Cover Oregon’s online enrollment system was supposed to launch in October, allowing individuals and small businesses to compare insurance plans and qualify for federal tax credits to subsidize the premiums. It wasn’t ready, however, forcing people to fill out a lengthy paper application that would have to be processed by hand. Pieces of the website are now working and some portions of the processing are automated, but significant problems still exist.

Republicans have contended problems were known for months before the launch. Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, has acknowledged mistakes were made but denies having prior knowledge of problems that kept the website from launching on time.

Other questions raised by the Republican request, crafted in consultation with the GAO, include:

  • What capability does the federal government have to reclaim those funds if Oregon abandons the state-run exchange and joins the federal one?
  • What other costs has Oregon incurred because of the website’s failure?
  • Did Cover Oregon’s status as a state organization play a role in its failure?
  • What steps could federal agencies have taken to assure state and federal oversight of projects like this in the future.

The Wyden-Merkley request asks more questions:

  • How were the federal funds used, including job creation, public and private contractors, software developers, and consumer education?
  • What efforts to enroll people outside the website have been successful, and what can be done to expand enrollment ahead of the March 31 deadline?
  • If taxpayer funds were mismanaged, can the federal government reclaim grant funds from contractors?
  • Was there anything in the Affordable Care Act that Cover Oregon did not respond to in its creation?
  • What can Oregon do to most quickly and efficiently overcome Cover Oregon’s problems and enroll more people?

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Obama to O’Reilly: Fox News Reason for My Problems.


President Barack Obama twice blamed Fox News Channel for misinforming the public on issues that have bedeviled his presidency in the past year during a pre-Super Bowl interview with the network’s Bill O’Reilly.

The two sat down in the White House on Sunday for a live pregame interview that started about 4:35 p.m. and aired for about 10 minutes.

Story continues below video.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

O’Reilly first noted that Obama’s detractors believe he did not initially say the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya, that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead was terrorism because it happened in the heat of an election.

Obama had just weeks earlier said al-Qaida was on the run after U.S. Navy SEALs assassinated its leader, Osama bin Laden.

“That’s what they believe,” O’Reilly said of Obama’s detractors.

“And they believe it because folks like you are telling them that,” Obama said in the often testy interview.

“No, I’m not telling them that. I’m asking you whether you were told it was a terror attack,” O’Reilly countered.

Obama said it was “inaccurate” to say that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told him the attack was terrorism when he first gave him the news. O’Reilly noted that Gen. Carter Ham, head of operations in Libya, has testified he immediately told Panetta the attack was terrorism, and not the result of a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Muslim video.

“But it’s more than that because of Susan Rice,” O’Reilly said, noting that Rice, who was then U.N. ambassador, used the video explanation days later on the Sunday talk shows.

“Just as an American, I’m just confused,” he said.

“Bill, I’m trying to explain it to you if you want to listen,” Obama countered.

The president also turned on Fox News when questioned about the IRS scandal, in which conservative groups were scrutinized more heavily when seeking tax-exempt status.

“These kinds of things keep on surfacing, in part, because you and your TV station will promote them,” Obama said.

O’Reilly asked if Obama was saying there was no corruption in the IRS scandal.

“No,” Obama said.

“There was some boneheaded decisions out of a local office,” adding that there was “not even a smidgen of corruption.”

O’Reilly also asked why Obama didn’t fire Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over the botched rollout of the Obamacare website in October.

Obama argued that while glitches had been anticipated, no one expected a complete failure of the site. He said everything had been fixed, and the site is now running as it should.

O’Reilly noted that only 8 percent of Americans agree with Obama, and again pressed about firing Sebelius.

“I’m sure that the intent is noble,” O’Reilly said, “But I’m a taxpayer, and I’m paying Kathleen Sebelius’ salary, and she screwed up. And you’re not holding her accountable.”

“Well, I promise you that we hold everybody up and down the line accountable,” Obama said. “But when we’re midstream, Bill, we want to make sure that our main focus is, how do we make this think work so that people are able to sign up, and that’s what we’ve done.”

O’Reilly asked if Obama considered the biggest mistake of his presidency telling “the nation over and over, if you like your insurance you can keep your insurance?”

“Oh, Bill, you’ve got a long list of my mistakes in my presidency,” Obama said.

But he did admit he regretted that the “grandfather clause” written into the Affordable Care Act didn’t cover everyone.

“That’s why we changed it,” he said.

“You gave your enemies a lot of fodder for it,” O’Reilly said.

The interview was scheduled to continue after the live broadcast. The recorded interview is set to air Monday night on “The O’Reilly Factor.”

“I know you think maybe we haven’t been fair,” O’Reilly noted near the end of the live interview, “but I think your heart is in the right place.”

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Related Stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Healthcare Official Linked to Obamacare Website Woes Retires.


The woman who congressional leaders called out after the meltdown of the Affordable Care Act‘s website retired from public office Tuesday.

Michelle Snyder, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services‘ chief operating officer, has worked in the sector for 40 years and had planned to retire at the end of 2012, said agency head Marilyn Tavenner, who told staff members Snyder agreed to stay for an extra year to “help me with the challenges facing CMS in 2013.”

“Michelle’s accomplishments over her career have been numerous and wide-ranging,” Tavenner wrote, listing a long series of programs and projects Snyder had worked on.

Snyder headed development of HealthCare.gov, which started freezing soon after it debuted in the beginning of October, then crashed altogether. The site temporarily was removed, underwent a rebuild and was re-introduced in November.

CMS Chief Information Officer Tony Trenkle was the first to leave the agency after  Obamacare’s series of pitfalls.

“Michelle Snyder is the one responsible for this debacle,” U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Capitol Hill during oversight hearings.

Sebelius countered, “Michelle Snyder is not responsible for the debacle. Hold me accountable for the debacle. I’m responsible.”

In a recent statement, House Government Reform and Oversight Chairman and California Rep. Darrell Issa had harsh words for Snyder.

“Documents and interviews indicate Michelle Snyder’s involvement in bypassing the recommendation of CMS’ top security expert, who recommended delaying the launch of HealthCare.gov after independent testers raised concern about serious vulnerabilities from a lack of adequate security testing,” Issa said.

“Americans seeking health insurance,” he said, “are left to shoulder the risk of a website that’s still an all-around work in progress because of the cult-like commitment officials had to the arbitrary goal of launching on Oct. 1.”

Related Stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Amy Woods

Obamacare Adviser: 7 Million Was Never ‘Magic’ Enrollee Number.


White House healthcare policy adviser Phil Schiliro denies that attracting 7 million enrollees to Obamacare by March was ever the administration’s goal.

That figure was put out by the Congressional Budget Office in March, and was “never our target number,” Schiliro told NBC News Monday.

Story continues below video.

Schiliro, who returned to the Obama administration in December to oversee healthcare policy after he’d been on hiatus for nearly three years, said there is no “magic” significance to signing up 7 million new customers, although that number has widely been seen as the administration’s goal for months.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in June that the Obama administration was “hopeful that 7 million is a realistic target,” The Washington Times reported.

Further, she said on Sept. 30, the day before the Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov, launched on Oct. 1, that “success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014.”

Schiliro, though, said Sebelius was merely citing a figure that came from the CBO, “and it had become an accepted number.”

“There’s no magic to the 7 million.” Schiliro said. “What there is magic to is that in the month of December, a million Americans signed up for insurance not because they had to — they didn’t face a penalty if they didn’t. They signed up because they wanted insurance on Jan. 1.”

The numbers ahead of March 31, which is the last day for open enrollment, aren’t a problem yet, said Marilyn Tavenneradministrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“We are in the middle of a sustained, six-month open enrollment period that we expect to see enrollment ramp up over time, much like other historic implementation efforts we’ve seen in Massachusetts and Medicare Part D,” she said.

About 2 million people have enrolled for insurance so far, which is still lower than the 3.3 million the government had projected by this time.

Related Stories:


© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Obamacare Website Rollout Superviser Announces Retirement.


Michelle Snyder, who supervised the troubled Obamacare rollout, is retiring this week, government officials said Monday, marking the second administration official to step down after the federal insurance exchange launched with numerous problems.

Snyder is leaving as the No. 2 official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ServicesThe New York Times reported Monday.

Marilyn Tavenner said Snyder, who is the agency’s chief operating officer, is retiring “after 41 years of outstanding public service.”

Her deputy, Tim Love, will fill the position on an acting basis. Snyder is in charge of day-to-day activities at the agency and of allocation of budget, personnel, and other resources, and as the HealthCare.gov website was being built, technology experts working on it reported directly to her.

Snyder’s retirement comes after Medicare Chief Information Officer Tony Trenkle left in November to take a job in the private sector. Snyder had been prepared to retire at the end of 2012, said Tavenner, but stayed on “at my request to help me with the challenges facing C.M.S. in 2013.”

A former agency official, though, told The New York Times that Snyder “had to go.”
“She was responsible for the implementation of Obamacare,” the official, who was not named, said. “She controlled all the resources to get it done. She was in charge of information technology. She controlled personnel and budget.”

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, at a congressional hearing on Oct. 30, tagged Snyder as the person responsible for developing the Obamacare website, but added that Snyder “is not responsible for those debacles. Hold me accountable for the debacle. I’m responsible.”

CMS has undergone management changes since the botched rollout, but until now, only Trenkle had decided to leave. Meanwhile, Tavenner praised Snyder’s “intelligence, experience and formidable work ethic” in her email announcing the career bureaucrat’s retirement, while not mentioning the Obamacare website itself.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration announced on Dec. 17 that former Microsoft Corp. executive Kurt DelBene was stepping in to oversee the improved HealthCare.gov site, reports Reuters. 

His work will include acting on a report issued by management consultant Jeffrey Zients, a former Office of Management and Budget official who will become head of the National Economic Council in January. Zients said said the website’s issues were caused, in part, by slow decision making, bad management and a lack of accountability among people responsible for getting the site up and running, reports Reuters.

Technicians supervised by Zients fixed or improved more than 400 items on a “punch list” that grew quickly starting the week of Nov. 9.

Related Stories:

 

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

2013: The Year of Broken Obamacare Promises.


Image: 2013: The Year of Broken Obamacare Promises

By Cathy Burke

President Obama’s inauguration in January kicked off a year of broken promises about his signature health care law, threatening to turn a presidency based on vows of hope and change to one doling out disappointment and failures.

The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, but it was in 2013 that the health care reform law implode into a nightmare of broken promises. Assertions made by the president and Health Secretary weeks ago, months ago and even years ago have over and over again proved to been misleading at best and complete untrue at worst.

No, you may not be able to keep your doctor or your plan. And, no, the website is not user-friendly.

Here are the Top-10 Obamacare promises that were broken in 2013:

1. The website is simple and user-friendly

Hardly. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius‘s claim in an op-ed piece in USA Today turned out to be a glib — and false — boast.

Even Democrat-friendly Jon Stewart‘s The Daily Show hammered Sebelius on the widespread and well-reported problems with the HealthCare.gov sign-ups. Stewart ended the interview with the official in a merciless monologue in which he wondered: “And then I think to myself, ‘well, maybe she’s just lying to me.’”

Just days into its disastrous rollout, the Obamacare website was out of order until mid-morning Oct. 8, a public relations headache given the administration had pledged to sign up 7 million people for Obamacare insurance by the start of 2014.

The early outage wasn’t the last; on Dec. 20, a mere three days before the deadline to sign up for coverage starting Jan. 1, yet another outage lasted for several hours.

Even members of Congress were vexed by Obamacare’s glitches.

2. “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”

Obama’s June 6, 2009 assertion was wrong. As insurers sent cancellations to millions of individual policy holders because their plans were sub-par for Obamacare standards, the president’s oft-repeated pledge blew apart, and PolitiFact declared the vow the “lie of the year.”

But respected Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer railed Obamacare itself was a fraud from the beginning, writing the law “was designed to throw people off their private plans and into government-run exchanges where they would be made to overpay — forced to purchase government-mandated services they don’t need — as a way to subsidize others.”

3. “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

Obama’s 2009 promise was wrong again, we learned in 2013. For insured Americans dumped by their employer-sponsored plans because they don’t cut it with the new health care law, or pushed by their insurers to re-enroll at higher rates, it’s likely they won’t be able to keep their doctors, conservative blogger Cam Harris writes.

Offering the example of the 15,000 spouses of UPS employees forced to seek out new plans on the individual market, Harris writes they’ll find their Obamacare network won’t include their usual MD.

4. Premiums will fall by as much as $2,500 per family

That won’t happen. Forbes magazine, comparing Affordable Care Act premiums versus pre-Obamacare premiums, finds this presidential assertion a dud.

According to Forbes, and based on a Manhattan Institute analysis of the HHS numbers, Obamacare will actually jack up underlying insurance rates for young men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for young women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. As for states, the worst off is North Carolina, which is expected to see individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men, the analysis showed.

5. Obamacare won’t add ‘one dime to our deficits’

But it does. Even the Government Accountability Office’s report of Feb. 26, 2013, projected Obamacare will increase the long-term federal deficit by $6.2 trillion.

An Investor’s Business Daily analysis also shot down the Obama promise, reporting the Affordable Care Act could actually add $18 billion in red ink.

6. The ACA will cost around $900 billion over 10 years

Not even close. A Congressional Budget Office’s report from May 2013 puts the real price tag more around the area of $1.8 trillion. And the cost projections rise with every new estimated, conservative blogger Cam Harris noted.

7. Families making less than $250,000 won’t see ‘any form’ of tax increase

Far from it. Obamacare contains 18 separate tax hikes, fees, and penalties, many of which heavily impact the middle class, the Heritage Foundation maintains.

Citing a Joint Committee on Taxation 2012 report and Congressional Budget Office information, as well as a Heritage Foundation report, Obamacare’s taxes and penalties will accumulate over $770 billion in new revenue over a 10-year period, and among taxes that’ll pound the middle class are the individual mandate tax, the medical device tax, and new penalties and limits on health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts.

8. The ACA will keep healthcare costs down.

So says the president’s Council of Economic Advisers.

But it’s just not so, according to senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and American Enterprise Institute visiting fellow James Captretta writes in the Weekly Standard.

Here’s why: National Health Expenditure projections show a slowdown in health spending that began long before Obamacare was passed, and was due to factors entirely unrelated, he argues.

In 2002, NHE spending per capita rose 8.5 percent and then began to slow over the ensuring years, he notes. And HHS actuaries even concede the reasons their estimates of health costs over the coming decade are lower than they were a few years ago is due to economic conditions, fiscal policy changes, including a sequester cut of Medicare payments, and a slowdown in growth in Medicaid, Medicare, and other government programs — all unrelated to Obamacare.

9. You have a deadline and a mandate.

Maybe. Squishy deadlines, and “fixes” have been a hallmark of Obamacare almost from the start.

In the most major fix of a problem aimed at people who lost their coverage because it didn’t measure up to Obamacare standards, the administration abruptly shifted gears Dec. 19, changing policy to help people make a deadline to replace dropped insurance plans.

Those with inadequate insurance that got canceled were now allowed to claim a “hardship exemption,” giving them the option to buy cheaper, minimal coverage plans normally available only to people under 30.

Another “fix” came Nov. 14, a week after the president apologized for the cancellations sent to people whose insurance didn’t meet new standards. The president asked insurers to keep offering those plans for a year even if they don’t meet minimum Obamacare requirements.

For small businesses, Obama last July bumped back the deadline requiring companies with 50 or more employees to offer insurance from Jan. 1 2014 to Jan. 1, 2015.

As for sign-up deadlines, it’s been confusing at best. In October, people had until Dec. 15 to pick a plan if they wanted coverage beginning Jan. 1. Then, in November, it was extended to Dec. 23.

But citing high traffic to the HealthCare.gov website and at call centers before that deadline, the goal posts moved again, this time to Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

Officials said nearly 2 million visits had been logged by that time in the last-minute rush, Yet in a blog post on the website Dec. 24, the administration suggested additional flexibility.

“Sometimes despite your best efforts, you might have run into delays caused by heavy traffic to HealthCare.gov, maintenance periods, or other issues with our systems that prevented you from finishing the process on time,” the post said. “If this happened to you, don’t worry — we still may be able to help you get covered as soon as January 1.”

HHS also pushed back the deadline when the first month’s premium would be due, and insurers obliged, extending the payment deadline nine days, to Jan. 10.

10. Sure, the national exchange is glitchy, but the state sites are working great.

Not so fast.

Obamacare’s state-run enrollment operations have had technological delays and low sign-up levels. Several states even replaced top executives.

“Some of these states have been committed, but it’s just been hurdle after hurdle after hurdle,” said Heather Howard, program director at the State Health Reform Assistance Network, a Princeton, New Jersey-based group advising state exchanges told Bloomberg News. “I do think those states will get there, but this is an ambitious undertaking in the best of cases.”

Meanwhile, Massachusetts and Vermont are weighing legal options against the contractor that designed their healthcare insurance exchange websites. both states used Montreal-based CGI Group, which built HealthCare.gov, and say they are withholding future payments and taking steps now to recoup millions in taxpayer dollars already spent on their websites that still have serious problems, reports The Boston Globe.

“CGI has consistently underperformed, which is frustrating and a serious concern,” said Jason Lefferts, a spokesman for the Massachusetts’ insurance marketplace, Commonwealth Home Connector. “We are holding the vendor accountable for its underperformance and will continue to apply nonstop pressure to work to fix defects and improve performance.”
© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Tag Cloud