There's lot of analysis -- most of it not very deep -- about the fact that the Affordable Care Act sets minimum coverage requirements for health insurance plans. As a result, some policies are being cancelled and consumers get a new suite of plans to choose from that cover far more than their previous overpriced, garbage plans.
David Firestone at The New York Times explains:
The so-called cancellation letters waved around at yesterday’s hearing were simply notices that policies would have to be upgraded or changed. Some of those old policies were so full of holes that they didn’t include hospitalization, or maternity care, or coverage of other serious conditions.
Republicans were apparently furious that government would dare intrude on an insurance company’s freedom to offer a terrible product to desperate people.
“Some people like to drive a Ford, not a Ferrari,” said Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. “And some people like to drink out of a red Solo cup, not a crystal stem. You’re taking away their choice.”
Luckily, a comprehensive and affordable insurance policy is no longer a Ferrari; it is now a basic right. In the face of absurd comments and analogies like this one, Ms. Sebelius never lost her cool in three-and-a-half hours of testimony, perhaps because she knows that once the computer problems and the bellowing die down, the country will be far better off.
From a letter to the editor in The Hartford Courant
by Pam Bergren
They are trash policies that would have left policy-holders paying thousands out of their own pockets at time of claims. Non-guaranteed renewable, limited in benefit coverage, no preventive care, and most have absolutely no drug coverage. The maximum limit of coverage, which is a lifetime maximum, and is soon reached in this day and age.
The insurance companies issuing these policies knew they had three years to comply with the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, and they decided this was the way to get rid of that line of business, and rack up more premiums on better plans. The small percentage of people whose policies are being canceled should really thank God that it is forcing them to re-look at what they have in the way of health care. Most don't even know they had inferior policies they were paying for.
Let's bring this country of under-insureds up to normal and reasonable limits for the 21st century.
emphasizes that there's still time for the site's glitches and upgrades to be worked out:
Many of these [cancelled] policies offer little coverage and impose substantial out-of-pocket costs that discourage regular doctor visits. The Affordable Care Act exchanges and subsidies will offer many people better insurance at a lower cost.
Still, it was careless, at best, for Obama to make that unqualified keep-your-insurance promise — and make it so many times — without explaining the fine print. So now, he not only has to convince people that the Web site will eventually work, he also must counter his opponents’ allegations that he was less than honest about the true impact of his signature domestic accomplishment.
The word “debacle” does fit the rollout. But the policy itself is sound, and eventually all the noise will fade. The first weeks of Obamacare will be forgotten. The first months will become a footnote. The first years are what will matter.
And The Olympian
Both the federal and state governments can do better. A deliberate and comprehensive overhaul of the federal website is needed, including a security review and abandoning the hub architecture model — providing personal information before browsing. That’s backward to private online retailers. Also, the federal government’s cumbersome contracting rules deter the best and brightest, and should be streamlined.
That said, the responsible reaction for implementation of ACA from Congress should be how lawmakers can assist to implement the policy they approved.
When a private company rolls out a new product, webpage or otherwise, it does so without mandated deadlines or resource-diverting hearings designed to undermine credibility of the decision. Let’s move on to fixing problems and leave assigning blame behind.
More the day's top stories below the fold.
Paul Krugman reminds us that there is a war on the poor being waged by Republicans:
I still sometimes see pundits claiming that the Tea Party movement is basically driven by concerns about budget deficits. That’s delusional. Read the founding rant by Rick Santelli of CNBC: There’s nary a mention of deficits. Instead, it’s a tirade against the possibility that the government might help “losers” avoid foreclosure. Or read transcripts from Rush Limbaugh or other right-wing talk radio hosts. There’s not much about fiscal responsibility, but there’s a lot about how the government is rewarding the lazy and undeserving.
Republicans in leadership positions try to modulate their language a bit, but it’s a matter more of tone than substance. They’re still clearly passionate about making sure that the poor and unlucky get as little help as possible, that — as Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, put it — the safety net is becoming “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.” And Mr. Ryan’s budget proposals involve savage cuts in safety-net programs such as food stamps and Medicaid.
All of this hostility to the poor has culminated in the truly astonishing refusal of many states to participate in the Medicaid expansion. Bear in mind that the federal government would pay for this expansion, and that the money thus spent would benefit hospitals and the local economy as well as the direct recipients. But a majority of Republican-controlled state governments are, it turns out, willing to pay a large economic and fiscal price in order to ensure that aid doesn’t reach the poor.
Speaking of Republicans, Jay Bookman
at The Atlanta Journal Constitution
highlights their continued opposition to President Obama's nominees:
[...] Senate Republicans succeeded in filibustering the nomination of U.S. Rep. Mel Watt to serve as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The vote was 56-42 in favor of allowing a vote, but that still fell four votes short of the 60 needed to break the filibuster. [...]
Senate Republicans are also filibustering all three nominees for longstanding vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit. How longstanding? One of the nominees would fill the seat left empty when John Roberts was confirmed for the U.S. Supreme Court eight years ago. It goes on and on. U.S. [...]
This is not a sustainable system. No president of either party can run the executive branch if he or she cannot even get a vote on the people nominated to run its various agencies, especially when the filibuster is wielded without regard to the qualifications of the nominee in question. The rules guiding the filibuster have to be changed, and if it takes using the so-called "nuclear option" on the Senate floor to do so, then so be it.
Stop the madness. Stop rewarding extremist, obstructionist behavior, and fight to restore the viability of the constitutional system created for us by the Founding Fathers.
at The Christian Science Monitor looks at how we need to address gun safety at home:
[...] 89 percent of unintentional shooting deaths of children are in the home and usually when children are playing with a loaded gun without their parents present.
To fix this, Americans can take simple steps to block firearm access to children and to prevent the worst kind of carnage. [...] “Child access prevention” laws impose specific criminal liability on adults who negligently allow kids to access their firearms. Studies have shown that these laws reduce both unintentional firearm deaths and suicides of children in the states where they are enacted. Twenty-eight states have these laws.
The parents and relatives who have enabled children to use their guns to kill surely feel remorse, and may even face criminal and civil prosecution for their negligence. But Americans, too, should feel responsible when these heart-breaking deaths occur because we have not done enough, as a country, to prevent them.