Politics


Maryland exchangeWhile the failures of the federal government’s healthcare website are now legion, individual state exchanges have also had some problems and one of the biggest failures is in Maryland.

Maryland’s exchange was supposed to be a model for then nation, with outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) hoping to use it as an example of what he accomplished as part of his springboard to a potential 2016 presidential run.  O’Malley was so confident that nothing would go wrong, that he even appointed his Lt. Gov Anthony Brown to oversee the rollout in an effort to assist Brown who hopes to succeed O’Malley as governor in November.

But all has not gone well.  The exchange has been been plagued by numerous problems and a panicked O’Malley has even convinced the Democratically controlled legislature to pass emergency legislation to provide insurance for those that weren’t able to obtain coverage by January 1.  This is expected to cost the state between $5 million to $10 million and is seen by Republican legislators as both a sign of the exchange’s failure as well as an unnecessary expense.

I know these problems are real and heard from a friend of mine yesterday who was very frustrated with her experience in obtaining a new policy.

Here is what she wrote to me;

Yes, I’m one of those who had a great health plan..not through work..our premium was 1203 a month..we were told we could keep it for 2014 ONLY..at 1595 a month..whoa !! same plan ?!? ..sooo I went to md health connection…which was a 6 week endeavor…applied, enrolled in a plan…started calling CareFirst 1/3/14 to find out what was next…between the two i have over 100 hours worth of hold time…even took days off work to get this done..was told there was a glitch in getting my paperwork..then was told they were given the wrong amount..yet, they still telling me i had to pay for January …ummm..January is over…and now February is half way through…last thing i heard they had the wrong amount, also, showing no monthly credit…still waiting…i even faxed them screen shots of the my pages from md health connection website..still nothing..no change..no insurance..its infuriating !!! I’ve been trying to pay for my plan since 1/3/14…its more than scary not having coverage..i did everything the way i was “told” to do it..everything on my end done correctly..yet, I’m stuck..no one to call, no one to get answers from…

She was perfectly happy with her old plan, but couldn’t stomach a 32.5% increase in the premium for the same plan.  An increase that wasn’t uncommon for CareFirst policy  holders, and a direct result of the implementation of Obamacare.  She then went to the Maryland exchange seeking the affordable insurance that President Obama promised only to wind up in a maze of bureaucracy and without insurance.

This type of foul up has marred the O’Malley administration and provided fodder for Brown’s main Democratic challenger Doug Gansler who has been hitting Brown over the failures of the exchange, but has also been forced to walk a tight line so that he doesn’t give the Republicans the edge they desperately need in what has been a one-party state for decades.

My friend isn’t the only victim of Obamacare but could easily serve as a poster child for the failures of the program.

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Hogan

With Martin O’Malley finishing up his second and final term in office Maryland voters will now face the choice of choosing a new governor giving Republicans a chance of reclaiming the governor’s mansion they lost 8 years ago.

But it won’t be easy in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2-1 statewide as well as a distinct fundraising disadvantage.

Up until last week the Republicans had a choice among three good, but weak candidates, Harford County Executive David Craig, Del. Ron George and former congressional candidate Charles Lollar.

While they are all good men, they all suffer from having a small base of support  and aren’t very well known across the state among voters, including Republicans.

That changed last week with the much anticipated announcement  that former Ehrlich administration cabinet secretary and longtime political activist Larry Hogan was entering the race.

While Hogan’s late entry will make it even more of a challenge in the fundraising department,  he comes into the race with a huge built in advantage over his opponents- a 75,000 plus email list that he has built over the last few years through his Change Maryland organization.

As a matter of fact Hogan has been preparing for this run as soon as he started Change Maryland, by building name recognition and support and traveling throughout the state giving speeches and stumping for other candidates.

The probability that Hogan would eventually enter the race has no doubt contributed to the poor fundraising to date by his now opponents as donors have largely held off  contributing to Craig, George and Lollar in any significant fashion while waiting for Hogan to make an official announcement.  The last financial disclosure reports show that Craig has $183,000 on hand, George $15,000 and Lollar $6,000.  That pales in comparison to Democrats  Lt Gov. Anthony Brown with $7 million and Attorney General Doug Gansler with $6.3 million on hand.

With such a huge fundraising disadvantage, Hogan and the Republican Party should hope that Brown and Gansler have a knock-down-drag-out fight that will forces them to spend a large chunk of their funds and leave the primary winner, bloodied and bruised from the fight, giving Hogan an opening.

This will be a long-shot bid as they usually are for the GOP.  This isn’t like 2002 when former Rep. Bob Ehrlich became the first Republican governor since Spiro Agnew when he faced the one of the worst possible candidates the Democrats could run- Lt. Gov Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who only added her maiden name when she thought it would help her chances.  Ehrlich subsequently lost to O’Malley twice, with the 2010 campaign being an utter disaster.

Lt. Gov. Brown isn’t a particularly strong candidate, and he has been stung by Gansler for the problems with the Maryland health exchange which O’Malley put him in charge of to help his campaign, but his connections and fundraising make him a formidable opponent.  Gansler has been planning for this run for years, and will have to work very hard to beat Brown and will also be quite formidable should he win the primary.

Rather than go through a cash-draining primary the other candidates should drop out before the primary and clear the path for Hogan.  They need to be united and not divided if they really want a legitimate shot at winning and turning back the Democratic tide that has infected the state.

ObamaSuperBowl

President Obama was interviewed prior to the Super Bowl on Sunday, and spent most of his time defending his actions while avoiding directly answering O’Reilly’s questions.

During the extended interview which was taped, O’Reilly asked Obama if he thought he had been unfair during the live interview and Obama answered in the affirmative.

Absolutely, of course you are, Bill. But I like you anyway.

O’Reilly then asked him in what way was he unfair.

We just went through an interview in which you asked about health care not working, IRS, were we wholly corrupt, Benghazi.

Uh, what did he expect?  Questions about  Michelle’s 50th birthday or what Sasha and Malia will do after Obama leaves the White House?

The questions that O’Reilly asked were ones that his administration has tried to avoid directly answering because they don’t have a good answer and it exposes the web of lies that the administration has been hiding behind.

O’Reilly did what he had to do and he was both respectful and fair.  The left thinks otherwise which only reinforces this as they were squirming along with Obama.

As a matter of fact O’Reilly could have been tougher and dug deeper, but he didn’t and that’s okay because he still made Obama uncomfortable which everyone who watched could see.

MDCANIt isn’t easy being a conservative in Maryland, and if last weekend’s MDCAN  Turning the Tides conference was any indication, it won’t get any easier in 2014.

The conference hosted by what was original called Maryland Conservative Action Network, and is now the Maryland Citizen Action Network, had been building steam since its first conference in 2011 with 100 plus attendees, growing to an estimated 350 last year.  But since that conference, the organization has lost two key players, and decided to change its name slightly, making some conservatives wonder whether or not MDCAN was trying to move away from its conservative roots.

This slight bit of turmoil showed this past weekend when the organization held its fourth conference with just over 100 registered attendees and maybe 75 actually in attendance.  But that shouldn’t really be that surprising as the agenda was more workshop oriented and lacking any star power whatsoever.  There wasn’t a politician in sight- which might be a good thing in many cases, but in an election year its inexplicable.

Admittedly, last year’s attendance would have been hard to top, but it is an election year and a great opportunity to get conservatives energized for the elections.  And politicians will show up for an audience of almost any size, especially when you’re Republican in Maryland.

Now there’s nothing wrong with nuts and bolts training, but it shouldn’t be the main feature of a conference that has built a reputation for discussing the hot political topics and was creating a buzz around the state.  All of that is lost now.

While there was some controversy during the youth panel when immigration came up, MDCAN really lost credibility when it allowed Scott Strzelczyk of the Western Maryland Initiative to explain why he thinks that part of the state should secede and that there should be 200 states, not 50.  No wonder the liberal media thinks conservatives are kooky.

Maybe next will be better, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

obama1

The disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act website-healthcare.gov has resulted in conservatives and Republicans in Congress to once again call for the repeal of Obamacare and earned the enmity of liberals who are confident that the problems that have occurred will be fixed and that the law will be a success.

What liberals like Chris Matthews rail about on a regular basis is the lack of a Republican alternative as if they need to create one.  The fact of the matter is that they do have an alternative plan.  Go back to what was in effect before Obamacare was passed.

Granted that it wasn’t a perfect system, but based on what has transpired in the last seven weeks, with the government website failing miserably along with many poorly performing state exchanges and millions of people being sent insurance cancellations notices, it is very clear that the old system was far better than Obamacare.

Instead of a free market system where individuals were able to choose the benefits and plans that they wanted and could afford, we now have a system that forces insurers to provide certain benefits- like pregnancy, whether or not a person wants or needs it, covers pre-existing conditions and expands Medicaid in states that opt-in, which drive up the cost of health care for everyone.

And while the Obama administration said that the goal was to insure the 30-40 million Americans who didn’t qualify for insurance due to their medical condition, or couldn’t afford it, the reality is that the law will wind up helping less than half that number, while adding yet to be determined costs to the health care system.

So in effect we have overhauled a system, that while imperfect was working t help maybe 12 million people out of the 315 million people living in this country.

Not only that but while people are being sent cancellation notices and being given more expensive alternatives, the taxpayers will be subsidizing many of the newly insured through tax credits that the government will give them to make insurance more affordable.  So the affordable in the Affordable Care Act needs an asterisk that should say it’s only affordable if you can get a  direct taxpayer subsidy.

Don’t forget that Obama promised that people could keep their plan and their doctor if they wanted to when he was pitching Obamacare even though he knew that it wasn’t the truth.  Even with his edict telling insurance companies to reinstate canceled plans, that doesn’t solve the problem.  For some reason Obama thinks that insurance companies and state insurance commissioners will be able to magically flip a switch and put everything back the way it was.

If you wanted a  good example of a nanny state- Obamacare is a poster child for it.

Maybe we should consider ourselves lucky that we only got stuck with Obamacare and not what the Democrats really wanted- a single payer system.

Talk about the lesser of two evils.

Hillary

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is widely rumored to be running for president in 2016, may want to work on her media relation strategy after it was announced that the press will be banned from her speech this weekend at the National Association of Realtors convention in San Francisco.

This isn’t the first time the press has been unwelcome at a Clinton speech- last month she banned the media from her speech before the National Association of Convenience Stores in Atlanta, but it is a troubling trend for such a public figure and potential presidential nominee that she finds it necessary to  declare a media blackout when addressing trade associations.

The press ban does lead to speculation that she isn’t comfortable in certain large venues where she might be questioned about her tenure as Secretary of State and what she really knew about the Benghazi attack.

But is this really the best way to handle the situation?  After all the press is likely to be on her side even if the audiences she is addressing isn’t 100% Democrats, but  if she is planning a run for president she needs to get this issue and others out of the way early, rather than let it run into her campaign- if there is to be one and I think there will be.

The media is also unwelcome for a Clinton Foundation fundraiser in San Francisco, so at least she’s being consistent.

A media blackout only ensures that the mainstream media won’t be privy to her speech first hand, but it doesn’t prevent the 22,000 or so attendees from using their cellphone cameras or tweeting about it in real time.   So it’s really not that effective and only alienates the media which is fine with me.

sebelius

Sixty-one year old Dianne Barrette of Florida has become the poster child this week for the failure of Obamacare when CBS News revealed that her health insurance premiums will rise a whopping 994% thanks to the new law.

Barrette was paying $54 per month for a low-end plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield, but that plan doesn’t meet the new standards under the Affordable Care Act and so now she will be forced into a more comprehensive plan that costs more than ten times more than her old plan.

While Barrette will be in a markedly better plan, she told CBS News’ Jan Crawford that she was perfectly happy with her old plan and couldn’t understand why she couldn’t keep it.  After all President Obama said that Americans would be able to keep their plans and their doctors under Obamacare, but that has proven not to be true.

Obamacare requires plans to cover pre-natal, mental health and a host of other conditions that Barrette’s plan didn’t cover, but something she felt she didn’t need,.  After all what does a 61-year old care about pre-natal care?

Health insurance is a complex issue and there are tens of thousands of plans available across America, that have been crafted to give buyers a choice of what they wanted to be covered for and how much they were willing to pay.  While the system isn’t perfect, it was working  about as well as could be expected.

Under Obamacare, the federal government is now setting standards and putting people into a kind of one-size fits all box.  Sure there are a few different types of plans based on what people are willing to pay, but choice has been dramatically reduced, which will cause many people to pay for coverage they don’t need or will never use.

This is what Barrette is facing.  She will likely qualify for federal subsidies, meaning she won’t have to pay the full $6600 increase in her annual premium, but guess where that subsidy will come from?  The U.S taxpayer.

Obama has moved America one step closer to a more socialist system with the passage of Obamacare, though I don’t think we will lurch further in that direction since the launch of the program has been nothing short of an absolute disaster, but it is a very good example of why the government shouldn’t be involved in our lives.

Another problem with Obamacare beyond the massive website failure has been the large number of people who have signed up for the expanded state Medicaid programs.

The initial figures show that the enrollments have topped 80% in some of the states and if it remains at that level going forward the programs will be in severe financial trouble as Obamacare was based on the premise that young people would sign up in droves and subsidize those on Medicaid, who tend to be older, poorer and sicker than the general population and require more medical care,

Barrette isn’t the only person facing the loss of her current plan- the latest count is that 1.5 million cancellation notices have gone out across the country, which is more than the number of people who have enrolled in Obamacare, and those people are likely going to be paying more.

This may be Obama’s signature achievement, but it is likely to also be his greatest failure as costs rise, saddling the taxpayers with more debt than America can ever hope to repay.

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