Short Cuts: Fox gets flustered, Brown gets serious, eHealth gets cranky & Ocare costing less than expected

OK, kind of a stupid title, I know, but it's been a really long day...spent 3 hours clearing our driveway/porch/roof/etc. after a snowstorm (and my kid had a snow day as well, of course, making it difficult to get any work done even after I was done shoveling...)

Anyway, there were four ACA-related stories today which are all worthy of a full entry, but I'm too exhausted to do a full writeup on any of them:

How is Obamacare ruining your life today? Fox News host Tucker Carlson thinks that he knows how Obamacare is ruining your life if you live in Colorado, let’s see if he is correct! Colorado’s health care exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, glitched out last week and cancelled the health insurance of 3,600 Coloradans who went on the state’s exchange to shop for another plan. Tucker Carlson invited perfect Fox News victim Steven Roussel, an articulate white guy, to describe the absolute horror of this bureaucratic glitch, or, as Tucker Carlson put it, “Kafka comes to Colorado!” Indeed!

...Roussel, apparently not having gotten the memo that when you are on Fox News, there is only one answer to this question, which is “Yes, I loved my healthcare, and Obama has ripped my beloved house-calling family doctor away from me,” answers:

“Well, I didn’t have any healthcare before the Affordable Healthcare Act went in. And it was because of that, that I was actually able to afford it. However, this year with the premiums jumping up, I have to make a little bit more of a tighter budget to figure out how to pay for the extra premiums that are coming my way.

...in a conference call with reporters, Sherrod Brown, Ohio’s senior senator in Washington, acknowledged that he too wasn’t a judge. But unlike Speaker Rosenberger, Sen. Brown came out with guns blazing. “Republicans in the legislature and on the court have done everything they can to undermine the law,” he said. Continuing, Brown said Republicans will have to explain “why they’re taking away health insurance to 100,000 young people still on their parent’s healthcare plan—they’ll have to explain to families with a diabetic children why they’re being denied health coverage, they’ll have to explain to that family that their insurance has gone way—they’ll have to explain to 100,000 Ohio seniors who are saving on their prescription drugs why that’s going away—they’ll have to explain why their will again be co-pays for some services the ACA made free to seniors. Fundamentally, that’s the question, why are you taking these benefits away from so many Ohioans.”

This is a well-researched piece by CNBC's Dan Mangan which addresses something I heard about a lot last year (and even wrote about once or twice, I think), but which I never followed up on this fall:

In the summer of 2013, the federal government signed deals with Internet-based insurance brokers in the hopes they would put some proven marketing muscle behind Obamacare plans, which were set to soon go on sale.

Seventeen months later, as the second enrollment season nears its Feb. 15 close, those brokers are again signing up Obamcare customers in the same plans offered on HealthCare.gov, the federal insurance marketplace that serves 37 states.

But just like first enrollment season, brokers are doing their jobs without a technical feature that they want, and which they say that the government has repeatedly promised them.

And finally...

In January 2010, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal health spending would total a bit more than $11 trillion between 2011 and 2020.

Today, the Congressional Budget Office thinks it made a mistake. Costs are coming in lower-than-expected, and the CBO's newest projections suggest the federal government will spend $600 billion less on health care than they predicted back in 2010.

So far, so good: projections are always wrong by at least a bit, and it's nice to have the extra $600 billion in America's pocket.

But here's the incredible thing: as Paul Van de Water, a health care expert at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, points out, the January 2010 projection didn't include any of the spending associated with Obamacare. The latest projections include all of the spending associated with Obamacare.