The Affordable Care Act required states to set up health insurance exchanges when it was passed in 2010, but 34 states refused. The federal government set up exchanges on their behalf, which seemed like a reasonable expedient at the time. This morning, however, a DC Court of Appeals ruled 2 to 1 that the ACA prohibits the IRS from offering subsidies to people who bought their insurance on federal exchanges. That includes about 70% of the people getting subsidies, meaning that 4.7 million people just got some very bad news. For reference, it also means that 70% of the people who needed Obamacare the most live in states whose governors fought it the hardest.
As a self-insured weirdo, I have been looking forward to the state insurance exchange feature of Obamacare for three years now. Unfortunately October 1 brought me no succor, as the federal insurance exchange website, Healthcare.gov, does not work. Even the way in which it doesn’t work does not work. The cycle of errors and try-again-laters sets in during the account creation phase, which is for some reason the first step. You can’t see the insurance plans in your area until you log in, and you can’t log in until the federal government figures out how to work the internet. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, three 20 year-old programmers have developed an alternative website that works perfectly.
First of all, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Newt Gingrich is a big Skynyrd fan. Second of all, get ready to have a lot more completely unproductive arguments over facts with guys like this, because the Congressional Budget Office has released a report projecting that the proposed health care reform bill will have little impact on insurance premiums. Kind of. It turns out that the math on this one was really hard—so hard that the CBO initially refused to make an estimate. On the insistence of Senators Max Baucus and Evan Bayh, though, they’ve been crunching numbers for weeks now, pausing only to drink Mountain Dew and watch Buffy on Netflix, and they have concluded that, um, a bunch of stuff will change. But not really. The upshot of the CBO report is that premiums for individuals in large-group employer plans—that is, those in pools of 50 or more—would see a +1% to -2% change by 2016, while those in small-group employer plans would see their premiums drop by zero to 3%. Individuals who purchase policies for themselves—my unemployable ass, for example—will see the largest difference, with a projected 10 to 13% increase in premiums. Yes, increase. That’s a little misleading, though, because A) the cheapest policies currently offered to individuals fall below proposed minimum standards, so people paying higher premiums will also get better coverage and B) federal subsidies will reduce the actual cost to individuals by about 50%. Are you confused yet? The health care debate just got a little more complex, and that’s a boon to Republicans.
Combat! blog’s vacation in sunny lazy California continues today, and I am too sunny to produce a long post about fat people/pants. Fortunately, the ever-vigilant Ben Fowlkes has sent me a terrifying video of interviews with Sarah Palin supporters. Surely it’s an example of uncharitable editing, but it still offers a chilling vision of an America that does not make its political decisions on the basis of political issues. The melange of talk radio catchphrases that passes for discourse among these people is simultaneously baffling and weirdly distinct; they all talk kind of the same, and what’s most unnerving is that Sarah Palin talks like that, too. She’s like some sort of rhetorical surrealist, who has tapped into a deep vein of subconscious connections that operates below logical reasoning. Understanding the people in this video is like trying to read a digital clock in a dream. Video after the jump.
It’s Friday, November 20th, and it is on such crisp, bright autumn days that our nation should pull on its jodhpurs, bundle itself in its most worsted wool, hike to the crest of the nearest hilly meadow and take a long, hard look at what pussies we’ve become. Mammograms, books, movies about vampires, books by vampires—one look at the news of the day tells us that the whole country is beset by dandyism. If we’re not debasing ourselves with effeminate pursuits like reading and getting cancer screenings, we’re shrieking in outrage at the latest public perfidy and then doing absolutely nothing about it. Ours is an era in which scoundrels run roughshod, and the righteous must content themselves with their indignation. Some might call it a more civilized society, but I—having left my mountain fortress for temporary lodgings in the comparatively urban Castle Faswell, where I am dogsitting—know that the company of strangers is not an obligation to be borne, but an opportunity to be seized. Strangers are morons, as all polls and YouTube comments sections indicate, and they must be corrected. What does Stringer Bell Faswell, excitable labrador, do when he is confronted with a stranger? He leaps into the air and licks him on the inside of his gaping mouth, or bites him on the ear, depending on the quality of his character. No dandy Stringer Bell, and the rest of us fops might take a lesson from him. When a fat morning radio DJ who has found Jesus and therefore gets to be on television gibbers lies from his greasy lips, must we simply press our handkerchiefs to our mouths and swoon? Or can we draw our rapiers, which we presumably have in this analogy although the time period is kind of fuzzy, and challenge him? The truth is in fashion no matter how ruffly our shirts, and I, for one, demand satisfaction. In the meantime, though, I guess I’ll just keep doing the blog.