Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thousands of Obamacare sign-ups disappear into black hole
Thousands of Obamacare sign-ups disappear into black hole
Katie McHugh / The Daily Caller

Nearly 15,000 enrollment records from Americans trying to sign up for Obamacare never made it to insurers — but the federal government does not know which records never made it to which insurer.

The federal analysis merely compares the number of times Obamacare enrollees clicked “enroll” to the number of plans sent to insurers, according to The Washington Post. Consumers who send the vanishing enrollments, or “orphan files,” are not notified that their information has not been processed and an insurer did not receive sensitive financial and health-related data, meaning that they could be in for an unpleasant surprise when the Dec. 23 deadline — the last day for customers to sign up for health insurance — comes and goes.

But government officials insist that less than one percent of enrollments disappeared into cyberspace since early December, even though their data does not include duplicated and erroneous enrollments.

The Health and Human Services Department needs 7 million Americans to enroll within six months of’s launch to fund the exchanges, but only 365,000 Americans have signed up since the end of November, a drastic shortfall.

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Afghanistan's Karzai says he no longer trusts the U.S. and is in talks with Taliban

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer


Great. The U.S. should pull all of its troops out and end all aid to Afghanistan -- which for over a decade now has been an absolute, total waste of American blood and treasure for no purpose and no goal.

"Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he no longer trusts the U.S.," from Agence France-Presse, December 14 (thanks to Kenneth):
Visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in New Delhi on Saturday he no longer “trusts” the United States, accusing the Americans of saying one thing and doing another in his troubled homeland. 
Karzai’s statement to journalists came a day after he insisted he would not be “intimidated” into signing a security pact allowing US troops in Afghanistan to stay on after next year.
“I don’t trust them,” Karzai said in a wide-ranging discussion at a local hotel in which he singled out a letter US President Barack Obama wrote last month assuring him that US forces would “respect” the safety of Afghans in their homes.
Karzai was speaking on the second day of a three-day visit to India during which the United States hopes New Delhi can persuade him to sign the troubled troop deal....
The Afghan president reiterated there was a need to talk with the Taliban as part of the peace process but “we mean those Taliban who are Afghans and not connected to any foreign terror organisations”.
“Those are the ones who we are trying to reach for negotaitions and bring back normal life to Afghanistan… talks with those Taliban are a necessity,” he said.
The Taliban have been fighting to drive out foreign forces from Afghanistan and impose Islamist rule, have accused Karzai of being a US puppet.
But Karzai denied the Taliban was refusing to hold discussions with him, saying: “I can tell you they are talking to me.” He did not elaborate further.
How many barrels of oil are freedom and democracy worth?
From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer

n-TURKEY-IRAN-large570.jpgDavutoğlu and Rouhani

Iran is ruled by the new president Hassan Rouhani...

But what has changed in Iran since the Islamic Revolution?

Is Rouhani not a Muslim?

Is not he a supporter of the Ayatollah Khomeini?

Does he not enjoy the support of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei?

Is there now democracy in Iran, since they elected a new president?

Is the Islamic Gestapo, which we know as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, now abolished?

Is Iran not calling for the destruction of America, Israel and Western civilization?

Such questions can be multiplied infinitely, but the answers to them are clear. In relation to the West and, Western thought, democracy and freedom in Iran remain suppressed in Iran.

However, with the coming to power of the "reformer" Rouhani, has absolutely nothing changed?

Certainly things have changed.

From Khamenei on down, the Iranians have become more skillful liars.

Everyone remembers that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa that stated that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons was prohibited in Islam.

It was released as part of the Shi'ite doctrine of "taqiyya" (which is permitted in the defense of the faith). The fact is, however, that Khamenei may modify or cancel it altogether in the future -- especially as this has already happened in history, when the Supreme Leader Khomeini during the Iran-Iraq war canceled his fatwa against weapons of mass destruction and ordered the resumption of the development of such weapons, including nuclear bombs. Yet the new President of Iran was able to prove to the world that he was faithful to this fatwa, and was even able to convince the leaders of the European Union and the United States, who had not believed in the fatwa. Moreover, he was able to convince them to lift economic sanctions and help the economy of Islamic Republic of Iran.

Everything really changed.

It is still hard to believe what has happened. In the blink of an eye, the center of the "axis of evil" has been transformed into an economic partner.

Moreover, most importantly, we all now have an excuse.

If the United States believes Iran, why don't we beat them in professing our love for the rich oil fields of that country?

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov's visit to Tehran was followed by that of a delegation from the European Parliament. This visit of six representatives of the European Parliament lasted six days. We know that Russia arranged to give the antiaircraft defense S-300 to Iran. It is a contract worth several billion dollars, but if America and Europe lift sanctions, why shouldn't the Russians earn some money as well?

Turkey does not want to lose the initiative, either. Ankara and Tehran intend to create a joint free economic zone, said the Turkish Deputy Economy Minister, Ibrahim Senel. Work is already underway on its project, he added.

Turkey's Minister of Development, Cevdet Yılmaz, spoke previously about the possible establishment of a joint free economic zone with Iran. He noted that the two countries have good relations in all areas, but in the field of economics, they still lag somewhat. "Economic relations between Turkey and Iran are below the capacity of these countries," he said.

The Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Taner Yıldız, announced Iran's plans to build a pipeline to Europe: "We know that Iran is going to lay a gas pipeline to Europe. Five European countries have already made plans to import Iranian gas." The minister noted that in light of Iran's foreign policy, the easing of relations with Turkey would only continue.

Iran's ambassador to Turkey, Alireza Bikdeli, said that after the next meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran, there would be a declaration. "Workgroups of the three countries, including currently operating working groups on energy, economy and trade, will hold a meeting prior to the ministerial meeting. They will prepare a declaration to be adopted at a meeting of foreign ministers."

He also noted that the Foreign Ministers of Iran and Turkey, Mohammad Javad Zarif and Ahmet Davutoğlu, before the meeting to be held in the province of Gumushhane in Turkey, will also meet at the meeting of the "D-8" (Islamic Eight), which will be held on December 19 in Pakistan.

I do not know if this would be enough evidence in America to convince a jury, but it is becoming clear that the West has given to Iran the right to enrich uranium in order to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for its oil and gas resources.

Nevertheless, this is one problem, and the second problem is the not unimportant fact that in Syria, on the one side there are Hizballah and Revolutionary Guards and on the other side Al-Qaeda -- and according to some representatives, members of the Turkish intelligence services are fighting among themselves.

In addition, this has all been happening for several years now near the borders of the Jewish state of Israel. Everyone knows how both Iran and Hizballah, as well as the Revolutionary Guards and Al-Qaeda, to the Jewish state and to Jews: the Qur'an teaches them to be extremely hostile.

The sociopathic dictator Stalin and many other dictators of the Soviet Union, because of their ambition and ego, would train soldiers to face certain death. The survivors have formed the Special Forces.

Now it turns out that both Iran and Al-Qaeda have assembled well-trained mujahideen near the borders of Israel who are fanatically loyal to their sociopathic leaders and their teachings. Moreover, these immoral leaders can quickly make inhuman decisions, decisions that could cost the lives of millions of innocent people.

If things are going badly, we're told the GOP should compromise on what it believes in to start winning elections again. If things are going well, we're told we must turn a blind eye to the GOP abandoning its beliefs so as not to ruin the great year we're going to have. The establishment Republicans who are always arguing in favor of trading off dearly held principles in return for magic beans always claim they're doing it to win elections, but it's hard to miss the fact that they don't actually seem to be any better at winning elections than the grassroots conservatives they seem to write off as amateurs. Setting that aside, winning elections isn't an end unto itself. You win elections in order to implement your agenda, which win or lose, the GOP never seems to be all that interested in. If you disagree with that, point out all the great domestic victories we achieved when the GOP controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. When Democrats pulled that same trick off, they attempted to fundamentally transform America while Republicans passed tax cuts and then moved on to big government wish list items like Medicare Part D, raising spending on the Arts and the now universally hated No Child Left Behind.

The sad fact of the matter is that while liberals have a very good idea of where their representatives stand on almost everything, there's NOT A SINGLE ISSUE where conservatives can just trust Republicans to live up to their campaign promises. If the Republicans could simply be counted on to do what they said they were going to do and showed a modicum of respect for the people who put them in office, there would be very little intraparty fighting. Instead, politicians in D.C. incessantly do things to aggravate their own supporters and then ask the people who put them in office to set aside their disappointment in the name of party loyalty. That seems a little backwards given that the politicians and the Party don't elect the base; the base elects the Republican Party. The politicians who make promises to get elected are the ones who owe people, not the grassroots conservatives who put them in office and are now dismayed at their behavior.

If the Republican Party wants to end all these primary challenges, stop the intraparty fighting and get everyone to sing Kumbayah, it's really not that hard to do. Do what you say you're going to do, treat the opinions of your base with respect, and stop picking fights with the people who put you in power by saying things like....

1) "Read my lips: no new taxes." -- George H. W. Bush's famous pledge not to raise taxes, which he broke.

2) "The Budget Control Act (Sequestration) represents a victory for those committed to controlling government spending and growing our economy. I applaud Speaker Boehner’s leadership in stopping tax increases on job creators, rejecting President Obama’s demands for a blank check to keep borrowing, and advancing real spending cuts and controls. The agreement – while far from perfect – underscores the extent to which the new House majority has successfully changed Washington’s culture of spending. No longer can Washington endlessly spend money it does not have." -- Paul Ryan, who just worked with Democrat to gut the sequester cuts he called a "victory" and "real spending cuts and controls."
3) "I am strongly against amnesty. The most important thing we need to do is enforce our existing laws. We have existing immigration laws that are not being adequately enforced. Nothing will make it harder to enforce the existing laws, if you reward people who broke them. It demoralizes people who are going through the legal process, it’s a very clear signal of why go through the legal process, if you can accomplish the same thing if you go through the illegal process. And number two, it demoralizes the people enforcing the laws. I am not, and I will never support any effort to grant blanket legalization/amnesty to folks who have entered, stayed in this country illegally." -- Marco Rubio, who led the charge for a path to citizenship in 2013.

4) “They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else,” McCain said. “But I also think that when, you know, it’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone." Asked to clarify, McCain said he was referencing ”Rand Paul, Cruz, Amash, whoever.” -- Former GOP Presidential nominee John McCain on the most popular conservative politicians with the conservative grassroots.

5) "Frankly, I just think (conservative groups have) lost all credibility." -- House Minority Leader, John Boehner on conservative groups who, unlike him, actually believe in all the things he campaigns on when he runs for election.

6) "And then, he says, the next president, whoever he is, 'would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues. We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,' until the economic issues are resolved." -- Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels suggested we blow off tens of millions of social conservatives who make up part of the core of the GOP base.

7) “I’ll just say this about the so-called porkbusters. I’m getting damn tired of hearing from them. They have been nothing but trouble ever since Katrina.” — Former Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott complains about the Porkbusters group that demanded he cut spending and kill earmarks.

8) "With his record of reform in Florida, I know that Governor Crist will bring a fresh perspective to Washington in our efforts to fight for lower taxes, less government, and new job creation for all Americans." -- Senator John Cornyn, the Senate's Minority Whip, endorsing Charlie Crist, who ended up switching parties and speaking at the Democrat Convention.

9) "The problem with the Tea Party, I think it's just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out." -- Lindsey Graham
10) "I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system." -- George W. Bush explaining his support for the corporate bailouts in TARP.

Incidentally, the solution to all of this is not to leave the Republican Party. To the contrary, it's to treat the Republican Party like a puppy that's having difficulty with house training. When Republicans do the right thing, praise them, support them and do what you can to help them out. When they do the wrong thing, rub their noses in it. Attack Republicans who betray their principles relentlessly, primary them at every opportunity and take over the Republican Party so we can shove the politicians who won't listen to us to the side. While we will never be able to build an entire party full of men like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, we can make it miserable enough for bad actors that the go-along-to-get-along Republicans will conclude it's better to work with us than face primaries and incessant attacks from their own side in the new media. Most people don't realize it, but we have already started moving the Republican Party to the Right and the time will come when Republicans are just as afraid of their base as Democrats are of Planned Parenthood and the unions. It's not going to happen overnight, but if we keep going after Republicans who sell us out, even the ones that are as hostile as John McCain, Peter King and Lindsey Graham will eventually have to get on board if they want to keep their jobs.

At this point we have no idea how many people will become newly insured under ObamaCare. For the first year out, the number of people with insurance may actually go down! But the administration's goal is to insure an additional 30 million people and eventually a lot of those people will acquire health plans. When they do, the economic studies predict that they will try to double their use of the health care system.

Adding to this increased demand will be new mandated benefits. The administration never seems to tire of reminding seniors that they are entitled to a free annual checkup. Then there are new benefits for women, including free contraceptives. And all of us will be entitled to a long list of preventive services — with no deductible or copayment.

But the health care system can't possibly deliver on all these promises. The original ObamaCare bill actually had a line item for increased doctor training. But this provision was zeroed out before passage, probably to keep down the cost of health reform. The result will be increased rationing by waiting.

Take preventive care. The health reform law says that health insurance must cover the tests and procedures recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. What would that involve? In the American Journal of Public Health, scholars at Duke University calculated that arranging for and counseling patients about all those screenings would require 1,773 hours of the average primary care physician's time each year, or 7.4 hours per working day.

And all of this time is time spent searching for problems and talking about the search. If the screenings turn up a real problem, there will have to be more testing and more counseling. Bottom line: To meet the promise of free preventive care nationwide, every family doctor in America would have to work full-time delivering it, leaving no time for all the other things they need to do.

When demand exceeds supply in a normal market, the price rises until it reaches a market-clearing level. But in this country, as in other developed nations, Americans do not primarily pay for care with their own money. They pay with time.

How long does it take you on the phone to make an appointment to see a doctor? How many days do you have to wait before she can see you? How long does it take to get to the doctor's office? Once there, how long do you have to wait before being seen? These are all non-price barriers to care, and there is substantial evidence that they are more important in deterring care than the fee the doctor charges, even for low-income patients.

For example, the average wait to see a new family doctor in this country is just under three weeks. But in Boston, with ObamaCare-type reform, the wait is about two months.

When people cannot find a primary care physician who will see them in a reasonable length of time, all too often they go to hospital emergency rooms. Yet one study found up to 20% of the patients who enter an emergency room leave without ever seeing a doctor, because they get tired of waiting. Be prepared for that situation to get worse.

When demand exceeds supply, doctors have a great deal of flexibility about who they see and when they see them. Not surprisingly, they tend to see those patients first who pay the highest fees. A New York Times survey of dermatologists in 2008, for example, found an extensive two-tiered system. For patients in need of services covered by Medicare, the typical wait to see a doctor was two or three weeks, and the appointments were made by answering machine.

However, for Botox and other treatments not covered by Medicare (and for which patients pay the market price out of pocket), appointments to see those same doctors were often available on the same day, and they were made by live receptionists.

As physicians increasingly have to allocate their time, patients in plans that pay below-market prices will likely wait longest. Those patients will be the elderly and the disabled on Medicare, low-income families on Medicaid, and (if the Massachusetts model is followed) people with subsidized insurance acquired in ObamaCare's newly created health insurance exchanges.

Their wait will only become longer as more and more Americans turn to concierge medicine for their care. Although the model differs from region to region and doctor to doctor, concierge medicine basically means that patients pay doctors to be their agents, rather than the agents of third-party payers such as insurance companies or government bureaucracies.

For a fee of roughly $1,500 to $2,000, for example, a Medicare patient can form a new relationship with a doctor. This usually includes same day or next-day appointments. It also usually means that patients can talk with their physicians by telephone and email. The physician helps the patient obtain tests, make appointments with specialists and in other ways negotiate an increasingly bureaucratic health care system.

Here is the problem. A typical primary care physician has about 2,500 patients (according to a 2009 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), but when he opens a concierge practice, he'll typically take about 500 patients with him (according to MDVIP, the largest organization of concierge doctors). That's about all he can handle, given the extra time and attention those patients are going to expect. But the 2,000 patients left behind now must find another physician. So in general, as concierge care grows, the strain on the rest of the system will become greater.

I predict that in the next several years concierge medicine will grow rapidly, and every senior who can afford one will have a concierge doctor. A lot of non-seniors will as well. We will quickly evolve into a two-tiered health care system, with those who can afford it getting more care and better care.

In the meantime, the most vulnerable populations may have less access to care than they had before ObamaCare became law.