Morning Action: Sen. Mary Landrieu Would Vote for Obamacare Again
MARY LANDRIEU. Despite the pain Obamacare has caused millions of Americans, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) says she would vote for it again:
MEDICAID. HealthCare.gov is not sending usable data to state officials to sign individuals up for Medicaid:
People shopping for insurance on the federal marketplace may be informed they’re eligible for Medicaid and that their information is being sent to state officials to sign them up. However, states aren’t able enroll them because they’re not receiving usable data from the Obama administration.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services wrote a memo to the 36 states using the federal website last week acknowledging the information wasn’t being transferred automatically and saying another system was being developed to send it. More complete files could be sent as soon as next week.
The problem with Medicaid coordination could affect tens of thousands of applicants and represents the latest issue to arise in the rollout of a website that’s been plagued with long waits for users and other glitches.
STATE EXCHANGES. Some state exchanges are experiencing problems similar to the federal exchange:
Even in states where Obamacare enrollment is booming, insurance companies are running into significant behind-the-scenes technical glitches that could threaten Jan. 1 health coverage.
Many of these 14 states and the District of Columbia have been eager to tout the success of their own exchanges compared with the bungled federal portal, but they now appear to be worrying about back-end problems similar to those afflicting HealthCare.gov.
It’s a new twist in the unfolding saga of so-called 834 forms — industry jargon for the application files that insurers receive when someone signs up for coverage through an exchange.
Insurers in Kentucky and New York, for example, say they’ve received flawed 834 enrollment forms from their local exchanges, though the extent of the errors is unclear. Washington state has already had to correct thousands of 834s with faulty information about federal tax credits.
OBAMACARE PUSH. The Washington Examiner notes that in the new White House push for Obamacare, there is scant mention of the affordability afforded by the Affordable Care Act:
One striking thing about the new White House Obamacare promotion campaign is that so far it hasn’t had much to say about the central focus of Obamacare, which is helping Americans buy affordable health insurance.
Look at the cases President Obama has highlighted. There are young people who say they have benefited from being allowed to stay on their parents’ health policies until age 26. There are people suffering from serious illnesses who say they are thankful there will no longer be lifetime caps on insurance benefits. There are stories of people with pre-existing conditions who will be able to purchase coverage.
What is indisputable is that the aspects of Obamacare the White House cites most often in its promotional campaign — the pre-existing conditions policy, or the estimated 3.4 million young Americans who can stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26 — involve numbers that are far smaller than the tens of millions of people who will likely face steeper costs, nearly unpayable deductibles and sharply limited doctor choices under Obamacare. (In addition to the 10-million person individual market, some experts believe such problems are coming soon to the 45-million person small-group market.)
And that is why the White House sales campaign focuses on the same things Democrats said in 2009, and 2010, and 2011, and 2012. Back then, the burdens of Obamacare had not yet become a reality for most Americans. Now they have, and the administration does not have a good answer for the millions who will struggle under the new system. No wonder the president is talking about something else.
BUDGET. Congress has not yet reached a budget deal, but House GOP leaders said they are prepared to act (sub. req’d):
House GOP leaders remain prepared to move a budget conference deal next week and are pointing to a Dec. 10 deadline for producing a compromise agreement that could set topline spending levels for the next two years.
House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the top Republican on the conference committee, separately briefed House leaders and a group of conservative lawmakers on Thursday, but the message remained that there is no deal yet.
“I have nothing to add,” Ryan said, exiting the meeting in the Capitol office of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio. “We’re still talking.”
FARM BILL. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) says that the House may vote on the farm bill as soon as next week (sub. req’d)
Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced Thursday that the House could vote on a farm bill conference report as soon as next week, although he also seemed to leave the door open to an extension.
Earlier in the day, House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters he had “not seen any real progress” on the farm bill talks and that the House was prepared to pass a one-month extension of existing programs. He said he plans to adjourn the House in five more legislative days.