HealthCare.gov cost $840 million to build as of March, but the website still isn’t scheduled to be finished until December, according to congressional testimony.The Government Accountability Office will release a report Thursday detailing the Obama administration’s failure to manage HealthCare.gov, drastically increasing the price of the Obamacare website and leading to its breakdown last fall. RELATED: Report: Obama Admin Failures Caused HealthCare.gov Tech FlopGAO’s William T. Woods, director of acquisition and sourcing management, will testify to the House Energy and Commerce Thursday that the federal government had obligated a staggering $840 million by last March on building HealthCare.gov. The website is still not complete.
As I’ve made pretty clear, I am not a fan of the “explanatory journalism” trend that purports to take an empirical approach to explaining complex issues. Its chief practitioners are a bunch of young, terribly biased journalists who tend to treat politics and policy as some sort of game, even as they broadcast their ignorance. Anyway, if you want a concise example of why explanatory journalism is bad—so pure and crystalline it could have been produced by Walter White—let me direct you to this Vox.com piece on Medicare. Right off the bat, the headline is not encouraging: “Medicare isn’t going bankrupt. This chart proves it.”
Sure enough, Vox has produced a chart showing that for the last 40 years, the Medicare Trustees report has projected the date of Medicare’s insolvency and those insolvency dates keep getting pushed back. The conclusion drawn from a narrow and silly set of data points is that “hand-wringing [over Medicare’s fiscal predicament] is pretty much unnecessary” because Congress will take care of the problem
But what would it mean to repeal ObamaCare? In the minds of many it would mean a return to the way things were in 2008. But guess what? That’s impossible. ObamaCare has completely destroyed the individual market, where 19 million people get their insurance and where everybody else resides temporarily when they are between jobs or transitioning between job-based insurance and Medicare or Medicaid. It would be a Herculean task to try to re-create that market the way it was. And it’s doubtful that the political system would allow it, even if it were possible.So what is to be done?
Right now the individual market is being replaced with health insurance that is bought and sold in highly regulated exchanges. Rather than seeking to abolish these institutions, might they be deregulated and denationalized in order to create a genuinely free market?
this first tranche of data is highly revealing. Drew and I present the numbers and analyze them in more detail in our new report, but here are three key takeaways from the data for the six-month period of October 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014:
- Net enrollment in the individual-coverage market grew by 2,236,942 individuals, while net enrollment in employer group coverage declined by 1,716,540 individuals.
- The decline in employer-sponsored coverage offset 77 percent of the gain in individual-market coverage, for a net increase in private-market coverage of only 520,000 individuals during the period.
- Medicaid and CHIP enrollment reports from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services CMS show that enrollment in those programs increased by about 5 million individuals during the same six-month period, with 87 percent of those gains occurring in the 26 states plus the District of Columbia that elected to adopt Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid to able-bodied adults.
If health costs in retirement are a steady share of incomes and health costs while working are a rising share of incomes, this would point toward lower, not higher, saving for retirement. Granted, the differences are small and there are other reasons – such as longer life spans – why Americans should be saving more. But there’s no logic in arguing that we face a health-care induced retirement crisis.
None of this means that rising health costs don’t reduce Americans’ standard of living. Since higher health spending often doesn’t produce commensurate increases in health outcomes, higher health care outlays can mean a lower quality of life. But requiring working-age households to put away more for retirement – either by saving more on their own or by paying more taxes for increased Social Security benefits – won’t solve this problem.
Instead, we should enact policies to either restrain the growth of health spending or ensure that higher spending actually produces better health outcomes. Some might argue that this comes through a top-down, expert-driven approach, while others including me opt for consumer-driven health plans that encourage greater cost-consciousness. But the broad point is simply that if rising health costs are the problem, the solution lies in policies that reduce the growth of health costs.
Publicly, President Obama loves to demonize insurance companies. But behind the scenes, Big Government and Big Insurance maintain a cozy alliance that the Obama administration actively nourishes, often at taxpayer expense. Indeed, as emails recently obtained by the House Oversight Committee show, Big Government and Big Insurance have worked together to promote Obamacare. They’ve also worked together to make sure taxpayers will help bail out insurance companies who lose money selling insurance under Obamacare — that is, unless Republicans stop this from happening. Moreover, Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett is among the prominent White House officials who’ve been in the middle of this collaboration between insurers and the administration — between those driven by the profit motive and those driven by the power motive.
Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration bet that they could force the states to do their will. When they lost their bet, the administration ignored the Constitution and ordered the spending of monies that Congress never authorized.This was lawless behavior, and reckless as well. It promised to individuals acting in reliance on government regulations money that was subject to being clawed back if a court applied the statute as written.The alternative was, to be sure, politically unpalatable. The administration could have gone back to Congress and asked it to authorize subsidies in states with federal exchanges. House Republicans, now in the majority, would have demanded other changes in the law.So today the strongest argument for upholding the administration’s reckless regulation is that people might be hurt if the law is enforced as written. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says Congress meant to give money to lots of people — so who cares what the law actually says?