Fail: Another Terrible Week for Obamacare

Posted: Jun 19, 2015 4:50 PM

But of course:

The federal agency in charge of Obamacare paid insurers almost $2.8 billion last year without adequate controls in place to make sure the money was being properly disbursed, according to an internal watchdog. Without such "effective internal controls ... a significant amount of federal funds are at risk," said the report issued by the inspector general of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department on Tuesday. The report found that the controls in place "were not effective" for calculating the amount of money insurers were owed and for authorizing the payments made to them. In response Wednesday, two leading Republican senators wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with questions about issues cited in the report, saying they were "deeply troubled" by them..."We concluded that CMS's system of internal controls could not ensure that CMS correctly made financial assistance payments during the period January through April 2014," the report said...In particular, the IG said, the habit of relying on claims by insurers about the amount owed for cost-sharing reduction payments did not ensure such payments flagged as outliers-being in excess of norms-where appropriate.

Hey, that's what happens when you've been operating an enormous website without a functioning back-end since nearly 2013.  Pull quote from The Hill's write-up of this mess: "Officials from HHS dismissed the findings but acknowledged they have “not established a computerized payment system.”  We reject the IG's report, but it's true that we still don't have a back-end payment portal up and running, nearly two years after we were supposed to.  Just take our word for it.  Risking billions in subsidy payments is the cost of doing business, it seems, so long as those subsidies are flowing.  The more people who receive taxpayer-funded assistance through Obamacare, the tougher it is to repeal the unpopular program.  In any case, given the federal government's breathtaking cyber vulnerabilities that led to the historic and frightening OPM hack, allegedly at the hands of the Chinese (and impacting the military and intelligence communities, among others), this instance of rank incompetence seems like small potatoes by comparison.  Instances of government ineptitude, waste, and humiliation are increasingly becoming 'dog-bites-man' stories. Obamacare-related reports of potential and documented data breaches and other screw-ups crop up with alarming regularity.   Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office finds that full repeal of Obamacare would boost US economic growth:

Repealing Obamacare would boost economic growth by an average of 0.7 percent after several years, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office released on Friday. "CBO has determined what many in Congress have known all along," Republican Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi of Wyoming said in a statement. "This law acts as an anchor on our economy by dragging down employment and reducing labor force participation. Repeal would make the economy grow faster in the budget office's projections mostly because of the removal provisions of the law that reduce the supply of labor...That effect is mostly driven by the fact that with Obamacare in place, some people face incentives to work less because they might lose subsidies or credits if their earnings rise. Removing those incentives leads to more hours worked and more jobs. A smaller factor is that repealing some of Obamacare's taxes would cause businesses to invest and grow more.

Last year, CBO found that Obamacare is slowing GDP growth, harming job growth, and suppressing the US labor market. The office's new "dynamic scoring" procedures found that repeal would increase federal deficits by roughly $140 billion over ten years -- lower than previous estimates. This assumes all of Obamacare's complex/double-counted/unrealistic "pay-fors" will remain intact, a scenario that government accountants have predicted will prove politically untenable. For instance, the House's recent strong bipartisan vote to repeal the law's harmful and innovation-stifling Medical Device Tax is scored by CBO as a deficit booster.  And now it's time to check in on Medicaid expansion, which the Left routinely tells us is the paragon of human compassion:

California health officials failed to ensure that more than 9 million residents enrolled in Medi-Cal managed care plans had access to doctors when they needed them, the state auditor said in a stinging report Tuesday. Health officials might have learned about those problems from calls to an ombudsman’s office – but thousands went unanswered every month. Among the report’s findings: (a) Incorrect or missing data on provider networks meant that state health officials had no idea if the plans had sufficient doctors and specialists, or if patients got the care they needed. (b) An average of 12,500 calls to the program’s ombudsman went unanswered each month for nearly a year, frustrating patients’ efforts to resolve problems. (c)Provider directories for three health plans – Health Net in Los Angeles County, Anthem Blue Cross in Fresno County and Partnership HealthPlan of California in Solano County – contained inaccurate or outdated information, ranging from incorrect telephone numbers for providers to listings for providers who no longer participated. Overall, state officials failed to verify insurers’ information about their networks of doctors and hospitals. The audit’s findings come as little surprise to health advocates…

Once again, glaring government failures rarely surprise, do they?  California is a blue state in which public officials have been gung-ho about Obamacare implementation from the get-go.  The state's expansion of an already-struggling (and empirically failing) Medicaid program has been a fiscal and healthcare disaster.  More than 12 million Californians have now been funneled into this wheezing, flopping program -- a massive increase.  Hardest hit?  The truly indigent, who were already being poorly served by the huge government entitlement scheme before it was radically expanded.  Recent polling shows Obamacare's public approval underwater by double-digits, amidst reports of substantial premium hikes on the horizon in 2016.  But "it's working," they insist, casting critics as the people who are somehow divorced from reality.  Nope, Obamacare skeptics have been vindicated time after time:

Of course, this is a president who's long sought to shut down and delegitimize Obamacare opposition. "The time for talk is over." End of Discussion.