Tag Archives: Obamacare

A Sanction-of-the-Victim News Sandwich

As someone who has been an outspoken critic of the NSA and the third-party doctrine that purports to make their intrusive data-collecting legal, I was heartened to read that several of the major technology companies–Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, AOL and LinkedIn–are calling for the United States to lead a worldwide effort to limit online spying. The companies are advocating “new surveillance principles…includ[ing] limiting governments’ authority to collect users’ information, setting up a legal system of oversight and accountability for that authority, allowing the companies to publish the number and nature of the demands for data, ensuring that users’ online data can be stored in different countries and establishing a framework to govern data requests between countries.”

Most notably, the companies urge that indiscriminate bulk data collection be forbidden. The Times’ authors describe the tech industry as a “powerful interest group” that could have a tremendous influence on this debate. Let’s hope so. It is great to see businessmen stand up for their and their customers’ rights for a change!*

I hope the healthcare industry will do the same. There is so much bad news about Obamacare right now, that it’s difficult to decide which story to include here as single item of “bad news.” There’s this story, in which the Financial Times reports that the new Obamacare exchange health care plans will exclude top hospitals, “including two world-renowned cancer centers.” Just to show you how far the medical care industry needs to go before it can get to where the tech industry is, note that the Financial Times says that “some hospital administrators” are worried about this development and “see the change as an unintended consequence of the ACA.”

You don’t need the equivalent of an Edward Snowden to reveal the true agenda of big government in medicine: the history and very nature of socialized medicine tells us to expect developments like this. And yet hospital administrators, people who should know the industry, and who have already been dealing with government intervention in it, see this as an “unintended consequence”? And then there’s the woman who heads government relations for the Mayo clinic, who says she’s concerned that NOW “the full spectrum from primary to top speciality care, [is becoming] commoditized.” Can someone please tell this woman that the whole reason Obamacare was passed in the first place is because a bunch of politicians whined that health care was too much of a commodity, and that the government needed to come in and fix that? Of course what she means is that, now with additional government involvement in the health care industry, costs have increased even more, making top quality healthcare something fewer and fewer will be able to afford.

And then there’s this story, in which an Obamacare Architect admits that if we’d like to “keep our doctor,” then we’ll just have to pay a lot more to do so. And this story, about the errors in the Healthcare.gov website forms, errors so significant and pervasive that one in four Americans who enrolled at the website in October and November may not even have health insurance come January 1!

Thankfully there is one segment of the health care industry that seems to be waking up to the truth about Obamacare–right here on the left coast! Richard Pollock of the Washington Examiner reports that “An estimated seven out of every 10 physicians in deep-blue California are rebelling against the state’s Obamacare health insurance exchange and won’t participate….” Apparently California doctors just learned in September of this year that their compensation rates for caring for exchange patients would be pegged to California’s Medicaid program–a program that has one of the lowest compensation rates in the country. To expect doctors who live in a state with one of the highest costs of living to accept one of the lowest compensation rates for their work is unconscionable. It’s no surprise that some doctors are considering not just refusing to participate in the exchanges, but, according to Dr. Theodore M. Mazer, a San Diego ENT doctor interviewed by the Examiner, they are also considering retiring early. Moreover, the Examiner reports, many doctors have been listed as participants in Obamacare plans on exchange websites without their permission! Covered California, which alleges that 85% of doctors will be participating in the exchanges, could not be reached for comment on the accuracy of that figure, or of the doctor listings on the exchange web sites.

Kudos to the doctors in California who are standing up for their rights and boycotting the exchanges. Shame on Covered California for concealing doctors’ compensation rates until the last minute, for trying to manipulate doctors into participating without giving them that information and for, apparently, lying about which doctors are participating in exchange plans. This is the sort of behavior that would get a private company brought before an alphabet-soup agency for investigation, fines, etc. I hope California’s doctors won’t let them get away with it.

*FYI, I’ve submitted a much shorter version of my forthcoming law review article on the third-party doctrine to a major blog for publication. As soon as it’s published, I’ll let everyone know. I hope it can have some influence on the debate as well.

Leave a comment

Filed under Medicine, Politics, Technology

Pigs Fly: A Good News Story At Top Of Drudge!

There are two notable things about today’s first good news story: First, I didn’t have to go digging for it. It was at the top of Drudge Report yesterday through this morning.* Second, the story is a continuation of one that I wrote about in this News Sandwich from last week, about the potential uses, both military and nonmilitary, of drone technology.

Amazon has announced, and released a demonstration video showing, its plans to use drone technology to deliver packages. The service, which Amazon plans to call “Prime Air,” will deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes of ordering. CEO Jeff Bezos says the drones will be able to carry packages up to 5 lbs. in weight–about 86% of the orders Amazon delivers. He says, however, the service won’t be offered to customers for another 4-5 years, with the one “roadblock” specifically cited in the USA Today video being lack of permission from the FAA. Maybe the reason Bezos did the 60 Minutes appearance is to create enthusiasm for the service (it worked!), and to gently nudge the FAA to get off its butt and write the “necessary” regulations? I gather that Bezos is a liberal, and so he would think it’s fine that our government, in its infinite wisdom, will now allow drone technology to be used only by government agencies and “hobbyists”–i.e., no one is allowed to make money from its use. It’s sad, but I am reminded of Equality 7-2521 in Ayn Rand’s Anthem, who brings his electric light before the World Council of Scholars, in hopes they will see how great it is and forgive his “transgressions.” Let’s hope the outcome in Amazon’s case is different.

Since we’re on the topic of technology and government, it’s time to check in on the Obama Administration’s progress in getting Healthcare.gov up and running. CNN reporters tested the website yesterday and found it still crashed. ZDNet concurs, saying the website is still glitchy. My favorite take on the update, however, comes from VodkaPundit, who summarizes it nicely: “My insurance options remain a riddle, wrapped in a subsidy, smothered in regulations.” It wasn’t so much that he ran into glitches, but he found it took forever to find the information he was looking for, and actually impossible to get complete information about his insurance options without first entering sensitive personal information, which he refused to do. I don’t blame him!

One thing I found disturbing (but not surprising) in reading VodkaPundit’s report is the number of times he encountered messages in ALL CAPS telling him he should check into whether he was eligible for subsidies. This confirms my suspicions that Obama’s real goal is not to let people know about their insurance options, but rather to funnel as many people as possible into government-subsidized or completely government-funded programs. As I discussed on my podcast a few weeks ago, the reason Obama had so little remorse after lying to us about being able to keep our plans, is that he’s already increased the Medicaid rolls by hundreds of thousands. If Republican governors continue to cave–which I assume is likely with Chris Christie as the head of the Republican Governors Association–Obama will achieve his goal of getting at least 5 million more people onto Medicaid over the next year, via the expansion provisions in Obamacare. Who will have the moral fibre necessary to repeal Obamacare in its entirety–including kicking hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, off of Medicaid? Obama and the Democrats are betting that there is not a single person in Washington willing to do that, and that there won’t be for a very long time.

The only hope right now is that the continued reports of glitches, crashes and security breaches will keep people away from Healthcare.gov, or from any government web site trying to suck them into socialized medicine. VodkaPundit mentioned an IBD poll in which the majority of Americans said that people should be “very concerned” about the security of the Healthcare.gov site. I gather the recent update is not doing much to alleviate that concern. But I also hope that most Americans will see the site as I do: not as a site designed to tell you about your insurance coverage options, but rather as a site designed to get you dependent on government handouts.

In a way, then, the glitches, crashes and security breaches are not really bad news, but good news, because they will hopefully keep Americans away from the site. Moreover, there is another way in which I am able to show this ostensibly bad news story to be a good news story. A couple months ago I discussed this story about the Utah Data Center (where the NSA does, or plans to do, a lot of its snooping) literally going up in flames. Seems the electrical engineers couldn’t do their job properly. I was happy to see the NSA’s plans to collect all of our metadata foiled, but I also thought the design failure was a good demonstration of the principle of the unity of the virtues. Much of what the NSA does, and all of what Healthcare.gov does, is not a proper function of government. Our government is acting unjustly towards us by, in the case of the NSA, collecting our metadata in the absence of probable cause and particularized suspicion and, in the case of Healthcare.gov, spending millions of dollars, stolen from Americans, to set up a website designed to help socialize the healthcare industry. Because our government is acting unjustly in these cases, the unity of the virtues principle would dictate that it is also not capable of acting in accordance with the virtues of rationality and productivity. Fires and website crashes and glitches. Our government is reaping what it has sown.

*It’s now been displaced by some yucky story about Iran and mideast oil. Haven’t had the stomach to look yet.

5 Comments

Filed under Politics, Technology