Sylvia Burwell's first confirmation hearing to replace Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary is scheduled for tomorrow, May 8. Republicans promise to attack her over all of their pre-debunked complaints about Obamacare, and demand to know how she will fix them, given that they won't allow any of that.

Now that Open Enrollment is actually over almost everywhere, the Marketplace enrollment numbers are down to a trickle. But we still have numbers coming in on who got insured, and how many paid, and how many deaths Republicans insist on causing by obstructing the ACA in various ways. We will continue to have Medicaid and CHIP numbers, and SHOP will start up, and the primary election season is in high gear, and Democrats are campaigning on the ACA, and Republicans have run out of non-pre-debunked lies, and BENGHAZEEEEEE!!!

Numbers First

Michigan: ACA Medicaid expansion up to 206.8K in first 5 weeks

Gallup Poll: U.S. Uninsured Rate Drops to 13.4%

The realest of real numbers. Yet another twice-monthly answer to the Republican talking point,

But how many were uninsured?
Gallup says that we have a net gain of 4.6% of the population newly insured in the first Open Enrollment period, or about 13 million people. Now we have to do that over again at most three times, including expanding Medicaid in the Reddest states (4.8 million more); putting through an immigration bill to put 11 million people on a path to ACA eligibility; and convincing people that getting covered does not mean getting a government chip implant or Obamacooties. Like the anti-vaxxers in Nigeria and Pakistan, where the militants claim that the purpose of the polio vaccine is to sterilize Muslims, and as a result polio is making a comeback.

Avalere Health Releases State-Level QHP Study, Plus My Own State-by-State Achievement Chart (UPDATED x2)

Bottom line: Assuming that 93% of enrollees pay their premiums, a number that brainwrap derived from other evidence, this state-level data shows that 24 states exceeded projections for enrollments. This is based on dividing the target number of enrollments among the states in proportion to their numbers of people lacking insurance and eligible for coverage. Or maybe 32 states, if you go by the original wacky CMS projections, which have never been explained and contain obvious errors.

Or something. What counts is not the set of arbitrary and ever-moving goalposts, but the actual signups, and the resulting health (and financial and sanity) outcomes. You know. Obamacare Saves Lives. Or as some pedantic Kossacks insist, extends lives, because life is a 100% fatal pre-existing condition.

At any rate brainwrap put the state-by-state numbers into a detailed table in his post, in the manner of his now-famous spreadsheet.

Burwell Confirmation Hearing

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee

Full Committee Hearing - Hearing on the nomination of the Secretary of Health and Human Services-Designate, Sylvia Mathews Burwell


Thursday, May 08 2014, 10:00 AM


106 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Panel I

    Sylvia M. Burwell , Washington, DC

The Hill: Burwell, ahead of confirmation hearings, talks O-Care menu regs
President Obama's nominee to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) took time recently to discuss with concerned lawmakers a contentious ObamaCare regulation requiring calorie counts on restaurant menus.

At issue in last week's meetings between Burwell and the Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) was the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) soon-to-be finalized rule requiring chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to disclose the number of calories in their food.

However, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have raised objections to the regulation, arguing that it goes beyond Congress’ intent and would create painful new expenses for certain businesses, including delivery joints and eateries, like pizza restaurants, that specialize in made-to-order dishes.

So put the total count down for standard menu items, and the count for measured quantities of individual toppings separately? And where does this industry number come from, that it will cost them $100 million to comply? (Don't tell me: Industry) Don't they change signage and print new menus at least every year anyway? No, they just don't want you to know how many calories are in that double bacon cheeseburger they have you salivating over. And never mind the cholesterol. Also, why are you idiots complaining to the HHS nominee about an open rulemaking process at the FDA that she will have no effect on?

Oh, right. It's because they're idiots. Well, strictly speaking, it is because they don't care about facts, and they actually do know what they are doing when they lie, obfuscate, and obstruct.

The Hill: House GOP Lawmakers Demand Hold on Burwell

Louisiana Reps want Landrieu or Vitter to force negotiations to drop the ACA mandate in exchange for allowing Democrats to vote on Burwell, even though they don't need Republican permission to do so, and only need 51 votes to confirm.

Politico: Sylvia Mathews Burwell: The Obamacare war that wasn't

Initially, Republicans seemed poised to use the confirmation process to spur further attacks on Obamacare. But instead, more than a half-dozen GOP senators said in interviews that they are impressed with Burwell’s credentials.
Hey, who let facts in here? No, it's OK, there are still Republicans whining about her qualifications, because as OMB head she is only good with management and budgets, and is not from the insurance industry, or claiming that she isn't going to be there to run the place, but just to be an Obama mouthpiece and "spin the numbers".

Bloomberg: Burwell HHS Hearings Give Republicans Obamacare Opening

Reuters: Republicans to push anti-Obamacare message in Senate hearings

Burwell's first hearing is scheduled for May 8 before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. She is expected to testify later before the Senate Finance Committee at a date yet to be set.
Greg Sargent, WaPo: Morning Plum: Republicans plan yet another anti-Obamacare circus
A new [Reuters (link above)] report this morning confirms that Republicans intend to use upcoming confirmation hearings for Obama’s HHS nominee to breathe new life into political attacks on Obamacare in advance of the 2014 elections.

Democrats should absolutely relish this development.

Becker's Hospital Review: 5 Main Challenges for the New HHS Secretary

Surviving, forming relationships, navigating HHS, promoting Medicaid expansion, preparing for 2015 and 2016. No surprises in this analysis. But it leaves out the most visible problem: coping with hostile House committees.

CBS News: GOP plans assault on Obamacare in Sylvia Burwell confirmation hearings

Here is the plan, as gathered from all of these sources:

"One gaffe and they lose the news cycle," a Republican Party strategist said.
They seem to forget that that cuts both ways. And it won't be only one gaffe from the Party of Medicaid Death Panels. See "cooking the books" and "spinning the numbers", which are being repeated endlessly.

Proposed issues, or as they like to call them, disasters:

  • The mandate and its associated penalty.
  • Canceled policies and the President lying about them.
  • But have they paid?
  • Obamacare is a threat to Medicare benefits.
  • Fast food menu calorie counts.
  • Cooking the books.
  • Obamacare for Americans abroad.
  • Too-narrow insurance networks of doctors and hospitals.

Please let us know how we can make them worse, like letting insurance companies sell non-compliant policies overseas, or making sure that your in-network cancer doctor can't get you treated at the out-of-network hospital that does that treatment, which has no cancer doctors in the same network it is in on any policy on the exchange. Well, those are not Burwell's problems. They are our problems.

You want ACA Signups numbers? We need more voters to sign up for the ACA in the voting booth. The proper treatment for Obama Derangement Syndrome is to take the House and hold the Senate, whether this year or in 2016, and start on the path to fixing what remains wrong with the ACA. Getting a Supreme Court nominee wouldn't hurt, either. Single payer would deal with the overseas and network issues handily, but there is palliative care that we can apply even before we can get the full cure.

1:41 PM PT: Joan McCarter: Senate Republicans flummoxed by Obamacare dilemma

Originally posted to Mokurai on Wed May 07, 2014 at 11:25 AM PDT.

Also republished by Obamacare Saves Lives.

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