It's Not Just Conservatives Who Are Concerned that ObamaCare Won't Work As Well As Promised

WhiteHouse.govWhiteHouse.govDemocratic legislators are also getting antsy, reports The New York Times

Democratic senators, at a caucus meeting with White House officials, expressed concerns on Thursday about how the Obama administration was carrying out the health care law they adopted three years ago.

Democrats in both houses of Congress said some members of their party were getting nervous that they could pay a political price if the rollout of the law was messy or if premiums went up significantly.

President Obama’s new chief of staff, Denis R. McDonough, fielded questions on the issue for more than an hour at a lunch with Democratic senators.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, who is up for re-election next year, said, “We are hearing from a lot of small businesses in New Hampshire that do not know how to comply with the law.”

In addition, Mrs. Shaheen said, “restaurants that employ people for about 30 hours a week are trying to figure out whether it would be in their interest to reduce the hours” of those workers, so the restaurants could avoid the law’s requirement to offer health coverage to full-time employees.

The White House officials “acknowledged that these are real concerns, and that we’ve got to do more to address them,” Mrs. Shaheen said.

As Nick Gillespie noted this morning, premiums are set to rise in Maryland, one of the most Obamacare-friendly states in the country—and the state with what are arguably the strictest health care price controls in the nation. Meanwhile in California, another Obamacare-friendly state, regulators recently warned federal authorities about the possibility of "rate shock" as well as significant disruptions to the health care market when the law kicks in next year. Obamacare may not exactly result in a spectacular collapse, but its opening doesn't look like it'll be pretty. 

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  • John||

    Don't worry Democrats. The Republicans will soon jump in and pass some half ass fix and ensure that they get blamed for all of this.

  • kinnath||

    It must be thrilling in some way to make decisions that are certain to lead to disaster while knowing that the opposition is guarenteed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • John||

    It must be. Most Dems are too dumb to realize it. But a few of them have to know that while they hate the Right, most of the Right political class just wants to be loved by the left and all of the Right people and are about as easy marks as they come.

  • grey||

    John, I clicked on the blog and you beat me to my thoughts. Red Team will give cover to Blue for the mid-terms. Blue Team need not worry about accepting blame for their monster, now or ever. Later, it'll be Red Team's obstructionism that doesn't allow Blue Team to make the fixes to cure the problems created from - too little federal taxation. Wow.

  • John||

    Some shitbird like McCain will be unable to resist being "bipartisan" and having the WAPO and the NYT call him a statesman and agree to some stupid fix that will ensure that the Republicans share ownership. You watch.

  • PapayaSF||

    I know there is lots of precedent for your prediction, but still.... How can the GOP get those massively complex exchanges running on time? How can they stop the jump in premiums? How can they stop businesses from cutting back hours to cut costs? Nobody of any party can fix these things within the present structure of Obamacare. I think it will be a massive train wreck in 2014, just in time for the midterm elections. Republicans could still blow it, but it would likely be through idiot candidates, not Obamacare-saving legislation.

  • John||

    They won't fix any of it. But my fear is they will try to and pass just enough to get the blame as well. I hope they are smart enough to do nothing and make the Dems live with this.

  • WTF||

    I hope they are smart enough to do nothing and make the Dems live with this.

    HAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHHAHAH

    Not. A. Fucking. Chance.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    This is one of those times in life in which the best move to make is not to move at all.

    Naturally, TEAM Red/Stupid will pick the worst of all possible options.

  • grey||

    The only stance Red Team should assume is to Repeal.

    Dead right about McCain and others colluding with Dems to tar Red Team. Red Team will soon get as comfortable with Obamacare as they are Medicare, Medicaid, and all the other entitlements. It's now just a power pie they want to divide.

    I would disagree that it's broken, Dems are thinking its on track. They further consolidated power in the Government, they have put health care on a path to single payer. This cannot be fixed, it was built to be broken and cause hardship. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  • kinnath||

    Foreseeable consequences blah blah blah . . .

  • Overt||

    This year, my employer- a large silicon valley company where benefits tend to be among the most posh- moved everyone into plans where the premiums are roughly comparable to previous, the deductibles are a little improved, but where very little gets paid for up front. Basically, instead of paying a co-pay for your drugs (or doctor's visit), you have to pay the full cost until you hit your yearly deductible.

    I've been in the HRA/HSAs for years, so I was sort of prepared for it (though even these got a lot worse) but I wonder how much of these changes comes as a part of Obamacare. Basically, our company (which self funds) knows costs are going up, and there are strict rules about what is acceptable to pass on to the payers. So they are pushing costs the only way they can- through higher up-front costs.

    The nerd-rage on our internal email lists is huge as all the people freak out about hundreds of dollars of prescription costs they now have to pay. It is quite funny to watch.

  • kinnath||

    My company has already informed us that our plans are being replaced next year {remeber kiddies, if you like you current plan -- you'll get to keep it} with a high-deductible plan because our current plan will be subject to the cadillac tax that doesn't actually kick in until 2018.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    That's what you get for having insurance that is too good, you evil, greedy, hoarding racists.

  • robc||

    Im worried about my plan changing because its a Hi-D plan and to even meet "bronze" level or whatever its called they will have to drop the deductible from $2500 to $2000.

    If so, I expect my premium to go up about $500 per year. Maybe more.

  • grey||

    You want to enter contracts of your own choosing and at terms you negotiate?

    Non-conformist.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    “We are hearing from a lot of small businesses in New Hampshire that do not know how to comply with the law.”

    Tell them to just make an honest effort. It's not like the government is going to punish them for violating laws which haven't even been written yet.

  • Fluffy||

    Even minor, niche, highly focused legislation or regulation affecting relatively few people has the potential to be highly disruptive upon implementation.

    Because it's a big fucking country, and because communicating legal requirements and thinking through new workflow requirements is hard.

    Major, broad, unfocused legislation whacking 1/6th of the economy at once was going to be a fucking train wreck no matter what. I don't care if fucking Lycurgus wrote the damn legislation, it's going to be a disaster.

    And this legislation was not written by Lycurgus.

  • John||

    And even if it is good legislation in the long term, the costs associated with the economy adjusting to it are going to be huge. Long term it would be great to go to a flat tax. But if we ever did that, the short term costs would be enormous as things like housing values and other distortions to the economy caused by the tax code adjusted and corrected. And that with good legislation. Now imagine the costs of legislation that is based on the insane premise that you can cut healthcare costs by getting everyone insurance.

  • PapayaSF||

    Not to mention the insane premise that you can cut healthcare costs by taxing medical devices.

  • NoVAHockey||

    this has a chance to be the vehicle. there's been a push to get this repealed. and if you open up the ACA to fix that ...

  • Jerryskids||

    It was my understanding that Congress was moving to fix the worst problem with Obamacare - they were moving to exempt themselves and their staffs. Problem solved.

  • Fluffy||

    But they have to do that, don't you see?

    They suddenly realized that a lot of their staffers were going to be hit with huge premium increases that they couldn't afford to pay.

    That can't be allowed to happen to Congressional staffers.

    Everybody else? Well, go fuck yourselves.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's a tough time for the legal profession, as thousands of recent law school graduates are having trouble finding employment. Don't you care about American jobs?

  • kinnath||

    No ;-)

    There is a shortage of engineers and graduation rates are dropping.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    As an engineer, that is a good thing.

  • kinnath||

    50% of the senior engineers and managers are going to retire in the next 5-7 years. There are few highly qualified young engineers to replace them. It's going to be a seller's market for experienced engineers ;-)

  • db||

    I've been hearing those retirement stats for 10 years now, but there are a lot of Boomers who can't afford to retire because of bad/no retirement investments.

  • kinnath||

    Yes, we have people that could have retired as early as age 58 or so now hanging on till age 62 or so. But we don't yet have people hanging on to age 70 to get maximum SS benefits.

  • Pro Libertate||

    There are thirty million Indian engineers waiting to pounce on your job.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I've befriended enough of them to know their ways.

    Also I can work on defense projects. Murika!

  • kinnath||

    There aren't 30 million Indians that know how to build, test, and certify safety-critical systems. We spent a decade trying to move work offshore and are now slowly starting to pull some of it back.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    I have only been looking for work for the last couple months (finishing a masters degree next month) but I am yet to hear anything back from anywhere I have applied to for both chemical and nuclear engineering positions. I have only applied to about 20 positions but entry level work does not seem to pop up as often as one would like.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Part of that is this danged slow economy.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Part of that is this danged slow economy.

    But Obama saved it!

    I ran into the same issue in 2010. Everyone wanted 3-4 years of experience before hiring anyone. How one gets those years, I'm not sure. That was a big factor in going to get my master's.

  • db||

    Especially as folks in the middle of our careers are getting squeezed between boomers who don't want/can't afford to retire, and folks right out of college who will work for beer money.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Hey, my beer is pretty expensive stuff.

  • kinnath||

    I told a lot of mid level engineers back in the 90s to learn how to run engineering teams from 10 time zones away. It was the only way to secure your job in a lot of industries.

  • Pro Libertate||

    In all seriousness, I've done everything I can to discourage my kids from following in my footsteps. My oldest son is majoring in ME, which meets with my approval. The next oldest (daughter) wants to be a doctor. Also acceptable, provided socialized medicine doesn't destroy the profession.

    My dad is an electrical engineer by training and worked on the Apollo program, so I'm not someone who was born and bred to this profession.

  • kinnath||

    Good plans.

    The safest strategy now is either get a technology degree or learn to lay bricks.

  • Pro Libertate||

    My thinking exactly. I almost went that direction myself but opted for law school for some reason. Probably Al Pacino.

  • kinnath||

    "And Justice For All"?

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Devils Advocate?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    This whole thread is out of order!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Bingo.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Stupid threaded comments. Bingo is for And Justice for All. You're out of order!

  • Dweebston||

    I've a friend preparing for law school in the fall. She had her choice of the local state university or some posh private college in Richmond. She opted for the local school, reasoning that the debt load comes in under 100k.

    Apropos of nothing, really, but my cautions fall on deaf ears.

  • John||

    I don't see how the small private law schools are going to stay in business. I went to one of them, but I went for free on scholarship. Even in the 90s, they were making very sense for all but a few people. The people from my law school class who did well were ones on scholarship like me or kids who had the money to burn and whose parents were lawyers and were thus just going to school to take over the family business. Now it probably doesn't make sense for even those people.

  • Pro Libertate||

    An intern from Stetson told me that it's $37K/year now. That's insane.

  • John||

    My agency is hiring Ivy League clerkship alums for our little GS 14 and 15 positions. That was unheard of just ten years ago.

  • Tonio||

    Massive endowments?

  • John||

    The endowment only lasts so long. Most law schools are money makers, or at least they have been in the past. In the 70s and 80s law schools were great cash cows for small universities. That is why so many smaller universities have them. They were one of the few programs that could really turn a profit.

    Now, I don't see how they will be able to. Students just are not going to take out the kind of debt they did before. So to get students they are going to have to radically drop their prices. And when that happens, they will become cash losers. At that point, why keep them open?

  • Pro Libertate||

    The job market is really awful for young lawyers. They should definitely avoid as much debt as possible, if they simply must go.

    Where I work, we have a number of JDs who aren't practicing law. For some jobs, it can work like a super-MBA, particularly if the candidate has a business or other more practical undergraduate degree.

  • Dweebston||

    She works in some out-of-the-way department for the state. Her soon to be ex-boss embraced the idea when she mentioned being accepted. Frankly, I think they want rid of her.

    Her ultimate aspiration is politics. God bless her, she'll probably pull it off.

  • db||

    I've thought about adding a law degree to my BS in Chem E but I don't really know what I would do with it. A while back there was a lot of talk about law+engineering being a great combo but I'm not even sure what kind of work that would be. I'd hate to be doing shit like environmental permitting.

  • Dweebston||

    You could help flush out some of the danker plumbing problems undergirding Obamacare.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's mostly patent. Patent isn't a bad field, because patent firms are filled mostly with technical people with law degrees, not typical lawyers. I've heard they have more civilized hours, too.

  • kinnath||

    Yup.

  • John||

    One of the guys I am in the reserves with is a patent lawyer and works for the patent office. He is a technical guy with either a master or PHD in biology. I forget which. He tells me that even the patent office is getting competitive as other attorneys leave private practice. That shocked me because patent law had always been a sure job in the past.

  • robc||

    Any grad school that doesnt pay you to go to it should cause the attendee to think twice and a third time and then a fourth before deciding to go.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I paid to go to grad school and am now earning 80% more than my undergrad colleagues. I made up the tuition in the first year.

  • robc||

    I didnt so dont do it, I said think about it at least 4 times.

    If it still makes sense after careful thought, like in your case, then it makes sense.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I wouldn't have gone to the school I did if they hadn't offered in-state tuition and a TA position.

    I still had to take out debt, but that got paid off in less than ten years.

  • ||

    They should name it something else.

    Possibly "ass rape shock". "Boomer buggery syndrome". "Post-Obamacare Stress Disorder".

  • Lord Humungus||

    It will be interesting to see all the attempts of enforcing the O-Care rules - across the multitude of individuals and businesses. Hello, IRS!

    It's going to be a cluster.

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