Oct
23
2013

White House doing emergency meeting with insurance industry. …Deniably. #obamacare

No, this doesn’t sound ominous for Obamacare boosters.  No, not at all: “The White House is meeting with CEOs of health plans on Wednesday, according to two insurance industry sources.”

I got a reaction to this from a (non-insurance company) CEO who, for reasons which will become abundantly clear as soon as you read it, prefers to stay anonymous.  You can guess whose code name ‘Unicorn’ is in this, of course:

Here’s how I bet this meeting will go:

Unicorn: Guys, I’ll sign your souvenir White House passes at the end of the meeting, and you’ll be able to take photos of the conference room after I leave. What I wanted you all to know is that we’re delaying the individual mandate, indefinitely.

CEOs: We’re not surprised. But we’re getting our subsidies on schedule, right? We put on a lot of extra costs to be ready for your rollout. We held up our end of the deal, and as a matter of fact, it would have been illegal for us not to have done so.

Unicorn: Yeah, well about that… You know how you guys have shareholders that you hate, and that are constantly making you do things you don’t want to do? Well, I have Republicans, same basic idea. So my hands are tied here.

CEOs: Hmm. So you’re saying we need to be scheduling emergency media calls to announce a major revenue shortfall starting early next year? Because you know if we don’t do that the minute we walk out of here, we’re violating SEC regulations as well as our individual state regs. We don’t think so. We think you’re going to pay us large penalties in lieu of the subsidies. So get out the big pen you use to sign eleven-figure checks.

Unicorn: Guys, I have a scheduled bathroom break. Thanks so much for coming out to see me. You can keep the room for the rest of the hour. I’ll send in Valerie Jarrett. She’ll autograph your passes and answer all your questions.

Although I think that the aforementioned CEO gives Bar… excuse me, “Unicorn”… too much credit. Politico reported that Valerie Jarrett is flying this one almost-solo (she’s got whoever is Chief of Staff this week*), largely because there’s no way that anybody higher than her would dare be at this meeting.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*I really stopped paying attention after the… fourth? Fifth? one.

7 Comments

  • Catseyes says:

    This is rapidly turning into something much bigger than a trainwreck. Try a New Madrid earthquake or the Yellowstone Caldera going off. It’s starting to be much more than simply things crashing and burning.

    • acat says:

      The question is who it buries. Think Pompeii.
      .
      Does it tarnish Obama in the history books? I think that’s a given…
      .
      Does it take down his administration, i.e. does he leave office early? Doubtful. There’s enough ablative meat around he should make it to 2016.
      .
      Does it lead to an in-rush of common sense on the left, and the crushing of OfA?
      .
      Mew

  • Catseyes says:

    The damage to his administration is small stuff. The real questions are will it permanently damage the Democrat Brand and how much damage will it do to the healthcare system in this country? That we probably are looking at the beginning of the end for the Individual medical insurance market is pretty much a given at this point. There is also a question of how many people who would have lived before O’bamacare was passed are going to die because of it. Think of all those hundreds of thousands of people who are having their medical insurance canceled who are going to only go the emergency room when they’re really sick. And the people who are sick who toughed it out thru the exchange signed up think they have insurance who are only going to find out to late they don’t because the exchange fragged the info to the insurance company.

    • Luke says:

      There are over a century’s worth of Democratic plans that demonstrably didn’t work.
      The siren song of “free stuff” is such that it keeps a majority of the population willing to believe that “this time, it will be different”.

    • acat says:

      It’s an interesting question, Catseyes.
      .
      I find it helps to remember that medical *care* in the U.S. is world-class. We are the leaders, Europe copies us. (yes, European drug firms come up with stuff, but .. quite a lot of that stuff is developed off U.S. government research grants)
      .
      The question of how to pay for it has been up in the air since Reagan was an actor .. and since Reagan socialized emergency rooms. (yes, he did – it was in response to one Tip O’Neill government shutdown or another.. there were eight, I lost track)
      .
      I’ve noticed an increasing desire by Joe Sixpack to “simplify things”. Bush 2.0 completely ignored this, 9/11 really messed up his mojo. Obama stole Clintons’ misinterpretation and ran with it.
      .
      My hope is that the next president will embrace simplifying things – no more “insurance as a bennie”, no federal registry, greater insurance competition, health insurance sold the way life and car insurance is sold and with ‘bundling’ as an option.
      .
      Pre-Lois-Lerner, I may even have said to add a nice EITC-style kickback for those who buy insurance and are broke… these days, I don’t think I want to trust the IRS that far .. so maybe let the States figure out how to handle it.
      .
      Block grant some tax dollars to the States on a per-capita basis, and let *them* figure out what works or something.
      .
      Mew

  • acat says:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/10/23/the-health-care-laws-most-important-number-834/
    .
    Found this over at Ace’s place .. it doesn’t go into how pervasive EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) format really is, but .. it’s a good example of just one piece of the puzzle.
    .
    EDI covers pretty much all business-to-business transactions, it’s been around since before the internet – no, seriously – and while it has been retrofitted to use the internet as a connection medium, it hasn’t really changed.
    .
    For an idea of how widespread EDI is, all of the Detroit Three use it to interact with their suppliers, and their suppliers’ suppliers, as do most major retailers, and several branches of government. It *is* the system .. and it’s a decent career track, if you can stand it.
    .
    The key piece that’s missing is .. there’s usually a fine for sending a bad transaction. That is, if a minor Ford supplier sends in a wrong “We shipped your order” notification EDI, Ford will bill the supplier.
    .
    Anyone wanna bet that the government negotiated a no-penalty agreement with the insurance carriers, shifting the data-sanitation costs downstream? That’s sure what it looks like they did…
    .
    Mew

  • Catseyes says:

    Which is just another way the insurance companies can get fragged over if the Feds manage to fix the front part of the site but not the back end. The insurance companies can scale up their manpower(done that sort of job too) to check to verify the data they have is correct but they won’t get reimbursed for the cost.

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