Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

White House and HHS were warned about Obamacare web site problems in April

NBC News reports.

Excerpt:

The Obama administration, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, was warned in April that there was insufficient time to complete testing before launching Healthcare.gov, according to a document released by a House committee investigating the website’s botched rollout.

The document, a 15-page slide show obtained by the Energy and Commerce Committee from the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., compares an ideal situation when rolling out a website such as Healthcare.gov with what developers were facing.

According to the committee, the presentation was given April 4 to a group including Sebelius and Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the HHS agency responsible for the rollout.

The document states that an ideal situation would be “end-to-end integrated operations and IT testing,” but that the situation at the time was one with “insufficient time and scope of end-to-end testing.” The document also says that a “limited initial launch” would be ideal, but that a “launch at full volume” was instead the plan.

Republicans are questioning testimony Sebelius gave to the committee during a hearing two weeks after she got the briefing, when she said development of the site was “on track and on time.”

“At this point, our energy and resources are focused on getting it up and running, and we are on track and the contracts have been led and we are monitoring it every step along the way,” Sebelius told the committee April 18. “I can tell you we are on track.”

In a statement, the chairman of the committee, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said that Sebelius had “appeared before our committee, looked us in the eye, and repeatedly testified everything was ‘on track and on time.’”

“We now know that was not the case and the secretary was aware implementation was in trouble,” he said.

So you can put this latest Obamacare lie by HSS head Kathleen Sebelius on the pile along with the Benghazi lies and the IRS prosecution of the Tea Party lies and the gunrunning to Mexican drug cartels Fast and Furious lies. Lies, lies, lies.

In fact, CNBC is now reporting that the Obamacare web site is still not complete – it is lacking about a third of its functionality, including payment capabilities.

Excerpt:

Another day, another big, bad black eye for HealthCare.gov.

A crucial system for making payments to insurers from people who enroll in that federal Obamacare marketplace has yet to be built, a senior government IT official admitted Tuesday.

The official, Henry Chao, visibly stunned Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) when he said under questioning before a House subcommittee that a significant fraction of HealthCare.gov—30 to 40 percent of it—has yet to be constructed.

“We still need to build the payments system to make the payments [to insurance companies] in January,” testified Chao, deputy chief information officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that operates HealthCare.gov.

That so-called financial management tool was originally supposed to be part of HealthCare.gov when it launched Oct. 1, but officials later suspended its launch as part of their effort to get the consumer interface part of the site ready. The tool will, when it works, transmit the subsidies that the government is kicking in for many enrollees to offset the costs of their monthly premiums.

This is not a defect in existing functionality, this is missing functionality. This project should never have been released to Production.

As someone who has worked on electronic payments extensively, let me just tell you that this is not a simple part of a web application. Billing and payment systems are some of the most difficult parts of an insurance application, requiring in depth knowledge of the business as well as technical knowledge. So don’t expect this all to be fixed with a wave of a magic want.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , ,

How the ADF kept nurses who wouldn’t perform abortions from being fired

In 2011, a story came out about New Jersey nurses being forced to perform abortions (or be fired). I blogged about it, but we didn’t really know the details. Well, now the details have emerged and the case has finally been decided. Here’s a press release from the heroic Alliance Defending Freedom, which protected the nurses involved from violating their consciences.

Excerpt:

Promoted from that team to a supervisory position over all the nurses, the new assistant manager announced that – since she and others had to help with abortions – she saw no reason why every nurse shouldn’t help. Hospital officials agreed, and passed a new, mandatory policy to make it so. The assistant manager quickly set up a training program that would give each nurse on the unit hands-on experience in how to assist with and clean up after abortions.

“As long as you work here,” she told the 12 nurses who openly protested, “you’re going to have to do it. If you don’t, you’re going to be fired or transferred out.”

“We were all shocked,” Fe says. “All these years I’ve been a nurse, I was never told to help kill children.”

But the managers remained adamant. Hospital administrators supported them.

[...]“Our jobs were hanging by a string,” Beryl says. “We were like, ‘All right. If they’re going to fire all 12 of us, fine. But this is against what we believe God wants us to do.’ We didn’t come into this profession to do [abortions]. We told them we weren’t comfortable with it and didn’t feel they should force us. And if that meant our jobs, well… God was going to provide.”

When even their own union declined to help them, Fe wrote a letter to hospital officials saying that she and her coworkers would not participate in abortions. She passed it around for the other nurses; 15 signed it. She gave the letter to her manager, who took it to the director of nursing.. Response was swift. A meeting was called for the next day, with each of the signing nurses, the labor board, a union official, the managers, and “an expert on ethics” scheduled to be on hand.

I think so often in this world today, Christians are on the defensive when it comes to acting on their convictions. My expectation is that we will never win when we do the right thing. The other side is so strong, and we have so few conservative Christians who are intentional about studying well, earning well, and reaching positions of influence. But sometimes we do win, because there are still some Christians left who have paid the price to get the education and training that allows them to do something when the freedoms of Christians are threatened.

This time, it was the Alliance Defending Freedom lawyers who saved the day:

The day of that announcement, Pastor Terry Smith, of Life Christian Church in West Orange, New Jersey, returned from a trip. A staff member told him that one of his parishioners – Fe – had called, shared what was happening at the hospital, and asked for advice. The pastor immediately phoned Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council.

“I’ll be all over this,” said Deo, who hung up and called Alliance Defending Freedom. Shortly afterward, staff attorney Matt Bowman was on the phone with a local allied attorney, Demetrios Stratis, enlisting him to help defend the nurses. The two immediately called Fe.

[...]Amid all the tension, threats, and growing media coverage, the judge in the case stunned everyone by suddenly announcing, in a preliminary hearing, that a settlement had been reached.

“We had gotten everything [the 12 nurses] requested,” Stratis says. “We’d gotten the hospital to agree not to force them to perform these abortions. There would be no retaliatory measures against them, and they could feel free and sleep at night, knowing that the next day they would not have to be trained on the abortion process or help a woman kill an innocent child.”

“I was crying – really crying,” says Lorna, who heard the news from one of the other nurses. “And very thankful. The next day, I went to work, and all of us were hugging and very happy.”

“Before, I used to think that some prayers won’t be answered,” Fe says. “Sometimes, I’d feel very hopeless. But with this case, I saw how the Lord moves… providing the resources, the people who would help us out. It just strengthened my faith. I really thank God for Alliance Defending Freedom.”

Where does this desire to force people to commit murder come from? Well, it comes from the political left. In fact, the Obama administration actively opposes conscience protections for medical workers, and actively opposes conscience protections for military chaplains. This is to say nothing about the HHS mandate, which forces entire organizations and businesses to subsidize abortion-causing drugs.

I think that Christians need to be thoughtful, calculating and realistic about how we are going to deal with threats like this. Although some of us may prefer to study things that are easier, and do jobs that are comfortable, there is a real need for more of us to study hard things and do hard jobs. We need people with the right degrees in the right fields, and we need people who are good at earning and saving money. The truth is that this is the way the world works, and wisdom requires that we do what we have to do (not what we like to do) in order to be ready for the the challenges we are likely to face. The other side is certainly doing their job of getting the degrees and the money that they will use against us.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How the Obama administration made sure people would lose their health insurance plans

Patrick Brennan writes about the NBC News bombshell from yesterday in National Review.

Excerpt:

Much derision has been heaped on White House consigliere Valerie Jarrett’s tweet last night claiming that “nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans” (this is a “FACT,” she noted). There’s actually a little truth to this: Technically, individual-market plans that qualify as grandfathered under the ACA are exempt from some of the law’s mandates — but not all of them. As long as a grandfathered plan doesn’t undergo any “material changes” after 2010, it maintains its grandfathered status, so it doesn’t have to comply with all of the law’s strictures as other plans do on January 1. But those material changes are almost inevitable, in large part because of the ACA — meaning the plan will almost certainly be cancelled and replaced with a more expensive, more comprehensive plan, as millions of Americans have learned and continued to learn.

[...][I]nsurers lose their grandfathered status if the plan has a “material change,” defined as “(1) eliminating or significantly reducing benefits; (2) raising co-insurance or co-payments; (3) raising deductibles; (4) reducing employer contributions; or, (5) adding or increasing an annual limit”…

That sounds benign. It sounds as if the plans are only going to be changed if insurance companies change them voluntarily. But actually insurance companies must change the plans because Obamacare requires the plans to cover a whole bunch of new treatments, which will necessarily cause the plans to go up in price, as well.

Look:

[E]ven these grandfathered plans have to comply with a number of new Obamacare mandates — most important, they have to accept applicants regardless of preexisting conditions and charge them the same premiums, they have to eliminate lifetime-spending caps, and they have to cover dependents under 26 for free (there are other rules that also apply to grandfathered group plans). How, exactly, were health insurers supposed to comply with these new mandates (and other ways the ACA is raising costs) without raising customers’ contributions in the way the law says means losing grandfathered status? Obviously, they could have chosen to raise premiums alone — but then customers who don’t expect to use a lot of health care would switch to plans with higher cost-sharing, which ruins an insurance pool.

In other words, the ACA did make it incredibly hard for insurers to continue plans for the millions of Americans who don’t want comprehensive insurance — financially, insurers almost certainly had to adjust them in such a way that they would lose grandfathered status. This isn’t “normal turnover in the insurance market” (though there is plenty of that in the individual market); there’s a reason why an exceptionally large number of Americans are getting cancellation notices this fall.

The bottom line is that you can’t keep the vast majority of the plans that Obama said you could keep. He lied.

Newsbusters notes that the major news networks are not even talking about the NBC News revelation that the Obama administration knew that their law would cause people to lose their health care. I think the lesson here is that Democrats lie, and the media, being an extension of the Democrat Party, covers up for them. That’s why the Democrats win elections.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , ,

NBC News: “Obama administration knew millions could not keep their health insurance”

That’s the headline from the actual NBC News article.

Here’s the thesis:

President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.

According to recent estimates, it’s 16 million. A previous estimate by CBO in 2012 said that up to 20 million could lose their employer-based coverage.

More:

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered.

It’s the HHS regulations that make it so that “grandfathered” plans cannot be kept – and those are part of this Obamacare project, because the regulations deal with how it is implemented.

More:

Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”

That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.

Yet President Obama, who had promised in 2009, “if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan,” was still saying in 2012, “If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”

“This says that when they made the promise, they knew half the people in this market outright couldn’t keep what they had and then they wrote the rules so that others couldn’t make it either,” said  Robert Laszewski, of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consultant who works for health industry firms. Laszewski estimates that 80 percent of those in the individual market will not be able to keep their current policies and will have to buy insurance that meets requirements of the new law, which generally requires a richer package of benefits than most policies today.

Obama knew, when he said those famous words, that they were not true. He’s a liar.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama administration approves Plan B morning after pill for young girls

The Family Research Council reports on a very disappointing story.

Excerpt:

If there’s one thing the Obama administration has mastered, it’s walking out on their responsibilities in court. Yesterday, the Justice Department sent its Plan B appeal to the same dust heap as its DOMA defense, telling reporters that it would give up its legal campaign after a couple of recent setbacks. The administration’s policy, which for two years had been the only thing standing between little girls and a powerful birth control drug, is now a thing of the past, as Health and Human Services (HHS) officially bows out of the battle so many parents willed it to keep fighting. The sudden surrender by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius means that the controversial and potent morning-after pill will be available to anyone — of any age — without a prescription.

Before Monday, the administration took a lot of heat for pitting itself against the President’s closest allies — radical feminists and abortion groups who object to even the slightest restrictions on “contraception.” In a letter to U.S. District Judge Edward Korman, who authored the scathing ruling against Sebelius’s policy, the government’s attorneys promised to step aside and allow unlimited sales. As soon as the manufacturers submit a new drug application, the FDA promises to fast-track the pills to drugstore shelves.

Initially, the DOJ had asked Korman to suspend his ruling until an appeals court could weigh in — which it did last week. And although the judges’ decision was an obstacle, there were plenty of legal options to overcome it. Instead, the President dropped the case — along with the facade of concern.

Judge Korman, like President Obama, has two children. Yet neither man seems overly concerned that the drug they’re both endorsing has never been tested on pre-teen and adolescent girls. Judge Korman called HHS’s policy “scientifically unjustified,” when in fact, the only thing that’s scientifically unjustified is the effect of these high doses of hormones on young girls. The FDA hasn’t conducted a single study on Plan B’s risks to girls under 17 — but as far as liberals are concerned, nothing should hinder access to anything related to sex, including personal safety.

There was one reaction to this story that I wanted to quote here:

Janice Crouse, also of CWFA, responded: “Once again, those who yell the loudest about caring about the nation’s children and youth applaud a decision to place our kids in a special interest experiment. Plan B, popularly called the ‘morning-after pill’ is a much-higher-dosage version of the regular birth control pill (which used to require a doctor’s prescription and continued doctor’s supervision). It is irresponsible to advocate over-the-counter use of these high-potency drugs, which would make them available to anyone – including those predators who exploit young girls. Mark my words, it will not be long before we see girls and women forced to purchase Plan B for their abuser to keep them and others enslaved. This is a pimp, predator, and pedophile’s dream – unlimited access to Plan B.”

She added: “This is a political decision, made by those who stand to profit financially from an action that puts ideology ahead of the nation’s girls and young women. Where is the scientific data and solid reasoning behind a decision that endangers minors?”

Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America also weighed in on the decision.

She told LifeNews: “President Obama is waging a War on Girls by allowing young children to get Plan B without a physician or parent’s care or knowledge. The morning after pill is a megadose of the birth-control pill, which has been categorized by the World Health Organization as a Group I carcinogen. That’s the highest possible ranking – cigarettes are also in Group I. So why are drugstores required to put cigarettes behind the counter and ask for a photo id to stop minors from purchasing them, but President Obama is now ordering the morning after pill be sold over the counter, next to candy bars and packs of gum?  This is not reproductive justice, this is child abuse.”

Just to be clear, according to the drug manufacturer, Plan B does cause abortions in some situations by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

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