Another Doc Gorn

Medicaid cut payments by 20% back on the first of January this year.

I'm from the Government
Dr. Laura Bellstrom closed her pediatric practice in St. Albans, Vermont, last week. She’s number four in a county that had 11 pediatricians at the beginning of the year. We have seven now. I know half a dozen of her now-former patients from North Puffin alone.

Yeppers, between ObamaDon’tCare and “expanded” Medicaid, we’ll cover everybody, absolutely.

Oh. wait.

The Guardian reported on the little costs that rack up thanks to what the Unaffordable Care Act doesn’t cover. Family members now have to pay for their own coverage. The co-pay for an asthma inhaler cost $7 before Unaffordable Care Act. “Then it went to $30. Then $60. Now it’s $100, every month.” A friend is fighting the mental fog of Lyme disease. Her insurance won’t pay for a treatment that will get her off Doxycycline therapy.

Kaiser reported that the “family glitch” in the Unaffordable Care Act means many mostly middle-income Americans remain uninsured because they can’t afford their insurance at work but make too much to qualify for the income tax prebate “subsidies.”

Several million did get coverage through the Medicaid program in states that opted to expand it. Now, since Medicaid ain’t paying its bills, look at what happens.

For the record.
Voting for the Unaffordable Care Act in the House: Florida Democrats Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor, Alan Grayson, Alcee Hastings, Ron Klein, Kendrick Meek, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Robert Wexler plus Vermont’s sole representative, Democrat Peter Welch.
Voting for the Unaffordable Care Act in the Senate: Florida Democrat Bill Nelson plus both of Vermont’s senators, Democrat Patrick Leahy and “Independent” Bernard Sanders.

Dr. Laura Bellstrom. Gone. Three other pediatricians. Gone.

6,000 kids in northwestern Vermont lost their docs this year.

Six thousand.

Pediatricians are in the spotlight now, but similar problems face primary care providers for adults, said, Vermont Health Access commissioner Steven Costantino.

Shrinking provider networks under the Unaffordable Care Act mean you not only can’t keep your doctor, you may not find a doctor.

The solution hasn’t changed since the Unaffordable Care Act passed in 2009.

1. Do not raise taxes to pay for care. Do not raise government “fees” to pay for care. (Politicians are suggesting both. Again)
2. Throw da bums out.
3. Do not raise premiums to pay for care. (Politicians are suggesting that, too. Again)
4. Throw da bums out.
5. Reform the health care system. It’s still broken.
6. Did I mention, Throw da bums out?

Merry Christmas.


Down. Again.

Vermont Health Connect is offline for another software upgrade. The website went dark last night so the latest, newest, greatest, most perfect software can be uploaded. Again.

Let’s recap.

September 16, 2014
The Vermont Health Connect website was taken down Monday night and will remain offline to correct functionality problems and allow for improvements to data security, state officials said.

January 5, 2015
Management of health coverage through Vermont Health Connect continues to be rocky. The website continues to rely on manual back-end processes when someone’s household income has changed or when a dependent has been added or removed from coverage. People signing up for health coverage online for the first time seem OK. But for people who had a change in circumstance or some other issue carried over from the previous year, problems can take weeks or even months to resolve…

May 29, 2015
Vermont Health Connect user applications and accounts will be unavailable until Monday to allow for system upgrades, according to state officials. Once deployed, the new technology is expected to allow customer service staff to process customer requests more quickly.

October 1, 2015
The website went dark Thursday night so the latest new software can be uploaded. Again. It will stay offline until Monday. The latest upgrade came because customers still can’t make some simple changes to their personal information online; other functions will be added over the coming weeks leading up to the Nov. 1 start of open enrollment when Vermonters will sign up for 2016 health insurance plans.

The Unaffordable Care Act gave Vermont’s nearly $200 million to build a state exchange from scratch. $144 million has been spent so far.

Every state that has tried has struggled to build its own health insurance exchange but a report last month rates Vermont more functional than almost all others.

“We are thrilled to be where we are,” Gov. Shumlin says.

Health Connect Problems Continue

Vermont Health Connect is the state’s exchange website and the bureaucracy that acts as the “agent” between the public and the two remaining ACA insurers in Vermont. This morning, the Burlington Free Press reported behind its paywall that “Vermont Health Connect problems continue despite improvements.”

Management of health coverage through Vermont Health Connect continues to be rocky as the website continues to rely on manual back-end processes when someone’s household income has changed or when a dependent has been added or removed from coverage. In those cases, a staff member has to manually enter the information into multiple databases.

For people who had a change in circumstance or some other issue carried over from the previous year, problems can take weeks or even months to resolve. A lot of those people have had their problems snowball, Vermont Legal Aid’s health care advocate said. “Our call volume has actually gone up for problems. … The calls we’re getting, the problems are taking way longer to resolve. They’re more complicated.”

What a surprise.


Gruber Was … Right?

“If you’re allergic to Farxiga…”

The most annoying ads on television, now that the political circus has moved back inside the beltway, include a phrase straight from Jonathan Gruber’s playbook.

That annoys me. I’m smarter than most fourth graders. I’m pretty sure you are, too.

• “Do not take if allergic to Farxiga,” the upbeat announcer tells us 38 seconds into the ad.

Maybe Mr. Gruber was right.

Maybe Americans have proven their stupidity.

The FDA has regulated prescription drug advertising since the 1962 Kefauver amendments of the Food and Drug Act of 1938. AstraZenica wouldn’t put almost a minute of caveats into this ad without regulations.

Or maybe We the Overtaxed People aren’t smart enough to know not to take a drug we’re allergic to. More likely the lawyers included the Do not take if allergic line to keep us from noticing the This stuff can kill you line.

There’s plenty of stupid to go around.

• The Unaffordable Care Act requires each and every one of us to have health insurance. It’s a tax. It’s the law. Which makes me wonder about the radio ad running here in South Puffin: “Thank goodness for Urgent Care! I don’t have insurance…”

Hello? ObamaDon’tCare? I’m thinking a provider maybe shouldn’t advertise that people are still not covered.

Or maybe We the Overtaxed People aren’t smart enough to notice.

• And we’re now in the “open enrollment” period for health insurance. Americans with employer-supplied health insurance can freely join or change plans. Americans with ObamaDon’tCare can freely join or change plans. Americans with Medicare can freely join or change plans.

Whichever category is yours, your premiums are going up.

Premiums for coverage under the Unaffordable Care Act will increase dramatically in the Florida Keys for 2015. A 52 year-old Marathon man in with a Florida Blue “gold” plan paid $645 per month for his insurance last year. Florida Blue will raise his 2015 premium to $879 per month. That’s 36% even with common core arithmetic.

It’s bad on Medicare, too. A 71 year-old woman in Vermont with a United Health Care Medicare Advantage plan paid $0 per month last year. UHC will raise her 2015 premium to $43 per month. That’s a gazillion%. A 66 year-old man in Vermont with a Blue Cross Medigap “Plan F” paid $140.70 per month last year. Blue Cross will raise his 2015 premium to $155 per month. That’s “only” 10%.

By jeezum, the Federal Bureau of Living Management says the cost-of-living has risen just 1.7%. Have any of the MSM nightly news broadcasts reported how wrong that one is?

Dammit. Jonathan Gruber was right.

ObamaDon’tCare had the chance to fix all this. We had hope. He promised change. He really could have changed the health care system. Instead, We the Overtaxed People got the Unaffordable Care Act. Some Americans voted for this. Some Americans approved this. And now all Americans are paying for it.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.


Yesterday’s Burlington Free Press editorial says, “First get Vermont Health Connect right.”

Editorial Page Editor Aki Soga is right that the “relaunch of the Vermont Health Connect online insurance exchange is a crucial test for Gov. Shumlin’s efforts to bring a single-payer health care system to Vermont.”

It is a crucial system test but not the right test.

Let’s recall how we got here.

Dollar Sign1994: Then-Gov. Howard Dean tried unsuccessfully to institute a single-payer system with then-Sen Peter Shumlin’s support.
• 2009: “If you like your plan you can keep…” Uh huh.
• 2010: Candidate Shumlin outlined his plans for a single payer health care system in 2010.
• 2012: Gov. Shumlin hired CGI Group (the same Canadian ne-er-do-well company that crafted the extraordinary debacle) to do it on a smaller scale in Vermont. Vermont paid CGI about $67 million.
• 2014: Gov. Shumlin rehired Obamacare architect Jonathan (“stupidity of the American voter”) Gruber for an extra $400,000 in July to study how Vermont could squeeze an extra $2 billion out of taxpayers to fund the statewide single-payer health-care system. (Mr. Gruber also drafted much of the original single-payer system proposal in 2010.) Sadly, Mr. Gruber has never known when to shut up.
• 2014: Gov. Shumlin hired some third graders who failed arithmetic to run Health Connect billing.

I haven’t had insurance under Health Connect/Obamacare for many months. I think the third graders have stopped billing me for it although the arrearage they “calculated” for insurance I haven’t had was in the thousands of dollars.

That could have been the chosen Gruber method: bill people who don’t even have coverage for insurance premiums they don’t owe. It will take only 333,333 Vermonters paying in an average of $6,000 to come up with that $2 billion.

It is a crucial system test but not the right test.

The right test answers these three simple questions:

Does the system cover me?
Does the system improve medical results?
Does the system reduce health care costs?

That’s a system that Vermont’s liberal economists are incapable of planning (“all we need is to find $2 billion in new ‘revenue'”) and Vermont’s liberal politicians are incapable of implementing (“all we need is to find $2 billion in new ‘revenue'”).

It’s too bad Vermonters have to suffer through Grubergate with the rest of the nation, but when Vermont’s political left wants to sleep with the big dogs, they are bound to get fleas.