Posts tagged: Obamacare
The Daily Show asks the question of the week, which is how can the federal health care web site be so messed up?
OLYMPIA – A quarter-million adults in Washington will gain dental coverage over the next two years as the state expands its Medicaid rolls under the Affordable Care Act and re-establishes programs dropped in budget cutbacks.
Starting Jan. 1, current Medicaid recipients who lost coverage after successive rounds of budget cuts in 2009 and 2011 will have it restored and those who being added to the health care program under an agreement between the state and federal government will also be eligible for dental coverage, state officials said.
“Obviously, it’s a relief,” Dr. Ashley Ulmer, a Spokane dentist who has a North side private practice and serves as director of the Inland Dental Expanded Access, or IDEA, Clinic. “Some people have put off care for a long time.” . .
OLYMPIA – More than 165,000 people have visited Washington’s website designed to help them find medical insurance, and about 9,400 individuals or families have enrolled in some type of plan.
After some computer problems in the opening days that resulted in long delays for both the website and at call centers, state officials say the system is improved and has run smoothly since Saturday morning…
One reason the shutdown remains so intractable is a core of House Republicans who signalled in August they wanted to eliminate the federal health care reforms.
In a letter to Speaker John Boehner, 80 House Republicans said they supported using the “power of the purse” to end the law. It didn't get much attention at the time, but in the last week, as the shutdown loomed and then occured, national political commentators have pointed to the letter, and its author Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, as a key to they deadlock.
Several readers have asked if Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers or any of Washington's GOP House members signed onto the letter.They did not. But Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho did.
For a map of the districts of those who signed on to the letter, click here.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers hears lots of angst about Obamacare in Eastern Washington.
At least, that's what she says in a USA Today guest column defending the House Republicans in their move to link continued funding of the federal government to some changes in the Affordable Care Act.
“No matter where I go when I'm home in Eastern Washington — the grocery store, the local coffee shop, the county fair — the concern is the same: Obamacare is making life harder for everyday Americans. At the doctor's office, the dinner table and in the job market. “ ” she wrote in a counterpoint to the newspaper, which criticized House Republicans.
A skeptic would probably point out that McMorris Rodgers most recent visit to the home district was pretty much designed so she would mostly hear criticisms of the new law. A playbook for House Republicans returning home for the August recess (they prefer “work period”) advised members to hold an Obamacare Media Tour “to emphasize the need to repeal Obamacare to protect employees, small businesses and jobs.” Such events were to be peopled with like-minded folks, so the opportunity to hear something other than a discouraging word about the new law at those gatherings was pretty limited.
The forward to this “Planning Kit” was written by McMorris Rodgers herself, so it's a good bet she followed it closely.
The congresswoman did hold a “y'all come” town hall meeting in Spokane during that recess, but by most accounts the reaction to the Affodable Care Act was mixed, with some people unhappy with it, and others unhappy with McMorris Rodgers and her fellow Republicans for repeatedly trying to repeal it.
Yesterday she sent out a tweet noting problems on the opening day for Washington state's health care exchange, where people without insurance can sign up for plans, “#ObamaCare exchanges open today and #WA State's website isn't even working. Precursor to the complications to come,” she wrote.
The tweet was time stamped at 7 a.m., which was before state officials said the website was supposed to open. The exchange did have problems later in the day, but for reasons that somewhat undercut her statement about people being so concerned about the program. The system was slow or crashed at times because so many people were trying to go online to sign up.
Figures released Wednesday from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange showed that the web site had 170,487 page views and the call center fielded 6,199 calls. It established 6,385 accounts.
The system is still having problems — it's being taken down from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday for maintenance — and it would be a fair criticism that one might've expected better from the nearly $55 million contract Deloitte received to build it. But it seems fair to say that at least some people think the new law is going to make their lives easier.
OLYMPIA — Washington state will debut its web site to help people find medical insurance under Obamacare on Tuesday even if the federal government is forced into a shutdown over health care reform, Gov. Jay Inslee said.
Some state workers might be furloughed, some job training programs could be cancelled and some road projects might eventually put on hold if the shutdown continues, Inslee said. But the new health care exchange, a way for uninsured people to shop for the best deal on medical insurance, will be up and running sometime in the morning even if Congress deadlocks and doesn't pass legislation to continue paying for some parts of the government.
“We will be open for business,” Inslee said of the Washington Health Plan Finder, which had its web address and toll-free number on the podium beneath his microphone.
As many as 1 million Washington residents are expected to get health care in the coming years through the exchange and the expansion of Medicaid. Increased federal money for the Medicaid expansion is also expected to help the state balance its budget.
State agencies are still trying to determine how programs that get some or all of their money from the federal government will be affected by a shutdown. Training programs to help returning military veterans would be put on hold, Inslee said. Extended unemployment insurance benefits come from the federal government, and could be delayed. The state Department of Transportation might delay some projects that rely on federal transportation money.
Some 1,000 civilian employees of the Washington National Guard could be sent home a few hours after they arrive at work Tuesday. Karina Shagren, a spokeswoman for the Guard, said they could come to work Tuesday morning and be told they have four hours to wrap up and go home until further notice. About 120 workers got notices last week that they could be furloughed, but their labor contract requires a seven-day notice, so they may be working through this week but it's not clear if the state would be reimbursed for their pay.
Signup for the Affordable Care Act begins tomorrow, but Saturday Night Live offered its take over the weekend on why health care reform is so necessary.
Included is a cameo shout out to the final episode of “Breaking Bad”, which in a sense was the ultimate story of how things go wrong when you don't have health insurance. The clip is from the NBC files, so you do have to sit through a commercial before it comes on, but it is worth it.
House Republicans seem to be leaving little to chance as their members prepare to spend the August recess among their voters. A “planning kit” explains how to maximize exposure and minimize contrary opinions on issues like health care reform.
In the kit’s introductory letter to her fellow Republicans, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers says they should tell the folks back home the GOP is fighting for them against Washington and the bureaucracy. “There is no better message than one that puts the American people before an out-of-control government,” she wrote.
As chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, the Eastern Washington congresswoman is in charge of this year’s kit, a 30-page booklet of helpful hints to members on how to make the most of their time back in the district. Riva Litman, a conference spokeswoman, said something similar goes out before each August recess. It’s a “a playbook of best practices” gleaned from many members’ experiences.
The kit offers suggestions for events on energy, health care and jobs; at power plants, on Main Street and on farms; highlighting red tape and government waste. It suggests events aimed at “millennials” – the young adults who voted strongly for Democrats in the 2012 election
It also suggests an ObamaCare Media Tour, “to emphasize the need to repeal ObamaCare to protect employees, small businesses and jobs.” House Republicans have voted 37 times to repeal the law, also known as the federal Affordable Care Act, but it remains on the books.
In planning such an event, the kit advises members and their staff to “make sure all participants will be 100 percent on message. They do not have to be Republicans. They need to be able to discuss the negative effects of ObamaCare on their employees” . . .
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.
To see the “Fighting Washington For All Americans” click on the document below.
OLYMPIA – In a world of e-mails and Twitter tweets, it’s usually nice to get a real letter. Except, maybe, if it’s a letter telling you to do something that you’ve already said you aren’t gonna do, or not do something you’ve said you will.
This is the case with the letter that U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, and a cohort of other Republican senators and congresspersons, sent to Gov. Chris Gregoire, urging her and her 49 fellow governors to “join us in resisting a centralized government approach to health care reform.” . . .
To read the rest of this item, or to commen, go inside the blog.
OLYMPIA — In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have a split in their party's candidates for governor.
Attorney General Rob McKenna, by far the GOP frontrunner for governor, joined one of the key lawsuits that because he doubted the constitutionality of the individual mandate, said post-decision that that question was answered. Time to get on with implementation and stop talking about a wholesale repeal of the law, he said in a press conference.
Shahram Hadian, an Iranian-American Christian pastor is a long-shot to be sure, but is trying to close the gap by vowing to be as resolute against federal health care reform and “join other fiscally conservative, freedom loving, citizen defending, courageous governors to rise up against the implementation of this unconstitutional and outrageous law.” He lists some current Republican governors who he says are refusling to implement Obamacare in their states, and includes Idaho's Butch Otter in that list. (In fact Otter hasn't said much post-decision because he was out of the office when it came down, other than he's not calling a special session to deal with setting up a health insurance exchange or other looming provisions of the federal law.)
Hadian isn't the only other Republican sharing the primary ballot with McKenna, but he's the only other one with anything close to an active campaign, and the only other one allowed to address the GOP state convention. He a sent out a fund-raising appeal and press release late last week based on fighting federal health care reform: “As the next governor, I will invoke the 10th Amendment rights and fight tooth and nail in refusing to implement any part of Obamacare. Period.”
It's a strong appeal to the Tea Party wing of the GOP. But it seems to ignore the fact that unlike Idaho, the Washington Legislature has already set the state on course to have a health insurance exchange in time for the federal deadline. So he'd have to convince the Lege to repeal that law, toss out that work and give up the promise of federal funds for the exchange.
Of course, if Mitt Romney wins the White House and Republicans take control of both house of Congress, that all may be taken care of in the other Washington. But that would be the case for McKenna… or even Democrat Jay Inslee, should he win.
There was a wide range of reaction among Washington politicians to Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act. Here’s an example of how wide:
Jay Inslee, who voted for the law as a congressman and now wants to be Washington’s next governor, and insisted he wasn’t surprised by the ruling: “I always believed this was constitutional.”
That would seem to make him significantly more confident than the president, and four justices on the court.
Michael Baumgartner, a state senator who voted against bills to set up and expand a health benefit exchange this year and last – and wants to be Washington’s next U.S. senator – was surprised: “Today, the Supreme Court did something none of us expected – they held that the Affordable Care Act is not in violation of the Constitution.”
Baumgartner apparently never talked with Inslee.
As usual, Jon Stewart properly skewered CNN for botching the announcement of yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act.
The perils of jumping to analysis before one knows the facts.
Retired state Supreme Court Justice Gerry Alexander was in Spokane Thursday for the last scheduled meeting of the city's Use of Force Commission.
Afterward, we asked him about his thoughts about this morning's U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld most of the Affordable Care Act.
“I had previously thought that they would strike the mandate down,” said Alexander, outside the Spokane City Council chambers. “It seemed to me that they were taking the Commerce Clause where it hadn't gone before.”
Alexander, who was appointed to the Use of Force Commission by Mayor David Condon, said he followed the case, but hadn't read the ruling Thursday afternoon. The majority of justices agreed with Alexander about the Commerce Clause, but a different majority upheld the law under Congress's taxing authority.
“I felt all along they could pass a tax for this,” Alexander said.
OLYMPIA – When a divided Supreme Court settled the question of whether federal health care reform is constitutional Thursday, it turned up the spotlight on the issue for Washington’s hotly contested governor’s race.
Now the question is, how long before that light dims?
Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, one of the original plaintiffs in the failed multi-state challenge, said he was surprised at the ruling but insisted he was relieved, not disappointed.
Former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, Inslee’s likely Democratic opponent for governor this November, was happy: “I always believed this was constitutional. I had no qualms in voting for this bill.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire, who disagreed so strongly with McKenna’s decision to draw Washington into the court battle that she filed as a “friend of the court” on the other side, was both celebratory and caustic.
As his Republican opponent continues to call for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Democratic congressional candidate Rich Cowan said it's time to “put aside the partisan bickering.”“
Cowan's likely opponent in November, four term Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, was one of the go-to commentators for the House GOP on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision today and called for Congress to “repeal and replace the law” in the face of the narrow decision that said the law is constitutional. She also blasted some scatological messages she said that came from national Democrats in the wake of the decision, and sent out a fund-raising appeal for the National Republican Congressional Campaign that asked those who also find the messages crass to donate $3 to “show Democrats what Mom-power looks like.”
Cowan said the court “did the right thing for our health care today” and cited some popular features that will continue, such as extended coverage for young adults on their parents' insurance and an end to coverage denials for pre-existing conditions. And he played the “I understand these things because I'm in the private sector” card.
“As a business owner I have experienced first hand how important basic, affordable health care is to employees,” he said in a press release. “here are parts of this law that can be improved, like cost containment and access issues, but it is time to put aside the partisan bickering and put America back to work.”
If this morning's CNN fiasco on announcing the Affordable Care Act wasn't a good enough reminder about how bad the media frenzy can get over something like a major Supreme Court ruling, this segment from The Daily Show on Wednesday night showed how silly the news network talking heads have been all week.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee said his GOP opponent was “wrong from the beginning” to join the lawsuit challenging the federal health care reform law.
A couple hours earlier, Inslee's chief Republican rival, Attorney General Rob McKenna had defended his decision to join the lawsuit and said that with the court's 5-4 ruling, at least the state and nation has greater certainty on what Congress can and can't do.
“I always believed this was constitutional,” Inslee said Thursday afternoon at a brief press conference. “I had no qualms in voting for this bill.”
The ruling means the efforts to expand and improve the nation's health care system can move forward, he said. If he wins the race for governor in November “I will lead the effort to expand coverage,” Inslee said.
Whether or not McKenna's participation in the suit influences voters, health care remains a major issue for the state for years to come, Inslee said.
President Obama looked pretty happy when he took to the microphone earlier this morning to comment on the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision that upheld the Affordable Care Act.
For those who didn't see that, but wonder what he had to say, a transcript is inside the blog.
Attorney General Rob McKenna did his best to count victories this morning after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the lawsuit he joined to overturn the Affordable Care Act. And he said other Republicans should drop talk of a wholesale repeal of the law because “that's not going to happen.”
At a late morning press conference, McKenna insisted the ruling was good for Washington because the court ruled Congress doesn't have the authority under the Constitution's Commerce Clause to order people to buy health care insurance. “We achieved our goal” of finding that out, he said.
But he was surprised by the decision of five members of the court to rule the mandate is allowable under Congress's taxing authority, adding that Chief Justice John Roberts' determination that the tax isn't subject to the restrictions of some other taxes was “a bracket buster.”
The state should move ahead with its work to meet provisions of the law, such as the Health Insurance Exchange which will allow individuals to shop for insurance more easilly, he said, and to look for more ways to reform health care.
But other Republicans should stop talking about repealing the law, and instead focus on specific provisions that prove unworkable, he said.
Democrats passed a massive bill with many controversial provisions by pushing it through Congress. “To completely blow it up means we're essentially doing the same thing, in reverse,” he said.
Besides, the Democratically controlled Senate isn't going to repeal the law, and Obama isn't going to sign a repeal, he said.
Gov. Gregoire discusses health care ruling.
OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire “couldn't be more happy and relieved” by the Supreme Court's majority decision that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional.
The decision is good for state residents with pre-existing medical conditions, for young adults who remain on their parent's insurance until they reach 26 and for people who will eventually have coverage through an expansion of Medicaid.
“The real winners are the people of our state,” she said.
She also had harsh words for Attorney General Rob McKenna, her wouldbe replacement, for joining the suit. He was wrong on his insistence that the court could overturn the individual mandate and keep other parts of the law that Washington needs, Gregoire said.
“He was dead wrong on that. You can't have your cake and it it too,” she said.
Health care reform is sure to come up in McKenna's run against former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, she added.
“Inslee went back (to Congress) and fought for health care reform and the attorney general was just wrong.”