Framing the Dialogue

Parsimony – Obama Overhaul

In “Parse-imony” I break down current news stories with my pithy, running commentary…

First the headline…

Obama pulls plug on part of health overhaul law

…and now the story:

WASHINGTON – (AP) — The Obama administration says it is unable to go forward with a major program in the president’s signature health care overhaul law — a new long-term care insurance plan. [broken promises]

Officials said Friday the long-term care program has critical design flaws that can’t be fixed to make it financially self-sustaining. [Perhaps had they spent a little time doin some cipherin they could have figured this stuff out ahead of time.  It is hard to believe that the White House’s fiscal projections were flawed.]

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress in a letter that she does not see a viable path forward at this time. By law, implementation of the program was contingent on Sebelius certifying it financially sound.[“by law” meant giving an unelected official unlimited power to make decision without congressional approval.  It would be embarassing that the legislature gave up so much power to the executive branch if that action weren’t so scary.]

The program was supposed to be a voluntary insurance plan for working adults regardless of age or health. Workers would pay an affordable monthly premium during their careers, and could collect a modest daily cash benefit if they became disabled later in life. [Doesn’t this sound like a ponzi scheme where those that get in early benefit from others who pay in later?  In other words much like Social Security.  I think many people like me would opt for such “insurance” if we didn’t know that the government would pilfer the “lock box” and fill it with worthless IOUs.]

The problem all along has been how to ensure enough healthy people would sign up.  [that means they were afraid to make it mandatory.  The Supreme Court will have final say on the individual mandate issue.  God save us if they let that stand.]

A longstanding priority of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program, or CLASS, was spliced into the health care law despite nagging budget worries.[It was Kennedy’s priority after scotch, women, food, power, and many other things.  I love the use of the word “spliced” as if the whole of Obamacare was not a spliced document of every liberal, progressive idea over the last one hundred years.  “Nagging budget worries” is AP-talk for “they couldn’t figure out to hide the fact that it would need lots of taxes to run it and the Congressional Budget Office can only swallow so much BS]

CLASS was intended as a voluntary plan, supported by premiums, not taxpayer dollars. Workers would pay around $100 a month or less. In exchange, they would receive a modest daily cash benefit averaging no less than $50 if they became disabled later in life. Beneficiaries could use the money for services to help them stay at home, or to help with nursing home bills.  [Let me guess…there would be no pre-existing condition requirement, no maximum benefit pay out, no firm definition of what “disabled” meant…in other words none of the things that would make the program survive in the future without a massive influx of tax dollars.  I don’t understand why they are giving up on this so soon.  It would be another great campaign slogan for Democrats…”Republicans hate the disabled and want them to die and die quickly”]

Kennedy’s idea was to give families some financial breathing room. The burden of long-term care is growing. Most families cannot afford to hire a home health aide for a frail elder, let alone pay nursing home bills. Long-term care is usually provided by family members, often a spouse who may also have health problems.  [That’s the way it used to be before big government became so intertwined in our lives.  Families and neighbors took care of each other.  My neighborhood was full of frail elders and they were great to be around and learn from.  I learned to swear in several languages from the elders.]

But a central design flaw dogged CLASS from the beginning. Unless large numbers of healthy people willingly sign up during their working years, soaring premiums driven by the needs of disabled beneficiaries would destabilize it, eventually requiring a taxpayer bailout.  [The flaw was that they could not think of a way to hide the “bailout” elephant in the room.  If only Teddy could have survived long enough to lend his weight to the program.]

It’s unclear whether the program can be salvaged. Congressional Republicans are committed to repealing it.  [Another AP-speak trying to make you think Republicans are trying to repeal CLASS while they are committed (some of them) to repealing all of Obamacare.  Maybe the AP could also suggest that the Republicans want to repeal the school loans program in Obamacare too.]

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