March 11, 2014 |
Is Barack Obama the nation's first hipster president? Obama appeared Tuesday in an episode of "Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis," a recurring comedy sketch on the Funny or Die website. Maybe it was just good prep work by his aides, but Obama's grasp of the "Two Ferns" conceit - the mutual antagonism between host and guest - suggested that he was actually familiar with the cringe-worthy series. The president was on "Two Ferns" ostensibly to promote the Affordable Care Act and urge people to sign up for a health plan at HealthCare.gov, the new federal insurance-buying site.
October 1, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The online insurance marketplaces created by President Obama's healthcare law got off to a bumpy start Tuesday as some consumers were kicked off web portals and several states reported glitches that slowed enrollment on the first day Americans were supposed to be able to sign up for coverage. The website for accessing federally run marketplaces - www.healthcare.gov - froze when some consumers tried to create accounts, the first step in selecting a health plan. Officials said the site got 1 million visits in the last day, five times more visitors than have ever been on the federal Medicare.gov site at one time.
October 27, 2013 |
One of these weeks, now that the Obama administration has recruited a SWAT team of computer whizzes, Healthcare.gov will recover from its shambolic debut and turn into, well, just another website. After all, it's only a website, and websites can be fixed. But that's when a far more interesting chapter in the life of Obamacare will begin. We're about to witness a massive experiment in federalism to see whether the Affordable Care Act can succeed in two very different kinds of states: those where governments are actively working to help the law succeed, and those where they're working to make it fail.
August 5, 2013 |
The Wall Street Journal's editorial board opens its latest screed against the 2010 healthcare law Monday by paraphrasing H.L. Mencken as follows: "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the cynicism and self-dealing of the American political class. " I guess no one will go broke either underestimating the Journal opinionators' cynicism and misrepresentations in the face of a policy they oppose. The Journal's fusillade was prompted by the Obama administration's effort to keep congressional staff members from being hurt by a pernicious feature of the 2010 law. Added by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa during the Senate Finance Committee's mark-up, the provision requires members of Congress and their staff to obtain health insurance through the new exchanges established by the law. To the Journal, this is the sort of eat-your-own-dog-food requirement that forces lawmakers to experience what they impose on their constituents.
October 30, 2013 |
Obamacare's critics are going to town on the cancellation letters millions of Americans are receiving from their health insurers, informing them that their health plans won't conform to the new federal standards for health coverage as of Jan. 1. We're supposed to be scandalized by this, since President Obama himself assured everyone that if they liked their insurance they'd be able to keep it. And people just love plans that in some cases cost...
October 31, 2010 |
Republican congressional candidates have declared war on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ? or Obamacare, as they call it. They have called for its repeal, and promised to work toward that end if elected. But the rhetoric is largely political theater. Even if Republicans were to gain control of both the House and Senate in the upcoming election, they would not have 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. And President Obama would surely wield his veto pen to prevent destruction of his signature legislative achievement.
April 30, 2012 |
In my column on Sunday , I quoted Mitt Romney's warning last week that President Obama's health reform law could doom the free-enterprise system in the United States. “With Obamacare fully installed,” Romney said, “government will come to control half the economy, and we will have effectively ceased to be a free-enterprise society.” Could that be true? Would "Obamacare," which relies mostly on free-enterprise health insurance companies, really turn America into a socialist state?
April 14, 2014 |
Polls have consistently shown that even though the public opposes Obamacare, people like some of its most significant provisions. That's particularly true of the requirement that insurers ignore preexisting conditions when signing up customers for coverage. Yet that one provision, also known as guaranteed issue, is responsible for trade-offs that people bitterly oppose. Here are two good illustrations of this dichotomy. In The Times on Monday, Soumya Karlamangla reported on the plight of some of those who aren't poor enough to qualify for Medi-Cal, the insurance program for Californians with incomes near the poverty line.
March 14, 2014 |
The House is set to vote Friday on an important healthcare bill that has either been sabotaged by anti-Obamacare Republicans or (unwittingly) rescued by them. House Republicans have teed up a bill that would make a crucial change in Medicare, preventing a deep cut in doctors' fees scheduled to go into effect April 1. But it would pay for it by postponing Obamacare's requirement that all adult Americans buy health insurance until 2019 -- a move that, perversely, could drive up premiums in the individual market and leave even more people without coverage.
October 22, 2013 |
Tuesday's tepid brew of jobs data , delayed more than two weeks by the government shutdown, wasn't worth waiting for. It shows an increase in total nonfarm employment by 148,000 in September over August, which is consistent with economic growth crawling along in second gear. The report's most notable nugget is the change in part-time work. Over the last month the number of workers in part-time jobs for economic reasons--slack demand, cutbacks in hours--has remained stable. Over the last year, however, it has fallen by 681,000.