Charles Gaba's blog

What arglebargle will come out of Mitch McConnell's mouth regarding trying to yank healthcare away from over half a million Kentuckians this evening?

The Big Senate Debate of the day promises to be the showdown in Kentucky between Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Challenger (and current Secretary of State) Alison Lundergan Grimes.

According to NBC News, there's a chance, at least, that McConnell may finally have to provide a straight answer as to what he intends to do to provide health insurance to the 527,000 Kentuckians (and counting) who are currently enrolled in either private policies or Medicaid via the Kynect healthcare exchange.

Otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act healthcare exchange.

Otherwise known as the Obamacare healthcare exchange.

For his part, McConnell is likely to face questions about health care.

March 19, 2014:

Health industry officials say ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country, countering claims recently made by the administration.

The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.

...The insurance official, who hails from a populous swing state, said his company expects to triple its rates next year on the ObamaCare exchange. 

May 15, 2014:

First Obamacare Premium Notices For 2015 Show Double Digit Increases

Not exactly the most shocking headline, I know.

Around 26,000 Iowans are privately insured via the ACA exchange (assuming the standard 90% paid their first month's premium) , plus another 80K - 100K via Medicaid expansion.

Naturally, Joni "hog castrator" Ernst had bupkes:

 A query from a viewer said he had received health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. To Ernst, he asked, "Have you given any thought to how individuals in my situation won't lose coverage, should repeal occur?"

Ernst called Obamacare a "job killer" in Iowa that is "taking personal health decisions out of our hands and placing them with nameless, faceless bureaucrats in Washington, DC." That is to some degree true, but what about the guy's question? It was a reasonable concern; millions of people are now receiving subsidies to purchase health insurance. If Republicans repeal Obamacare, what happens to them?

Let's fire up the Wayback Machine® and revisit March 19, 2014, shall we?

Don't Feed the Trolls: A Special Entry for a Special Visitor

...A few days ago, I broke the cardinal rule of blogging and social media: I fed a troll. Specifically, I engaged in a back & forth with a guy who insisted that I don't have any clue what I'm talking about, that I "don't cite my sources" (insane, since every one of my sources is meticulously cited, dated and linked to)...and, in particular, that I'm "lying" about the number of California residents who have "fully" enrolled in exchange-based QHPs in California (and by extension, nationally). If you check the recent Disqus comments you'll see him pop up a few times today.

At first, he was arguing the "But how many have PAID???" line, which I've repeatedly addressed.

Interestingly, he was finally willing to (grudgingly) concede that yes, around 85% of "full enrollments" have indeed been paid to date.

However, he still insisted that the number of "full" enrollments only "counts" if the policy has actually been issued:

Me, October 1st:

Kansas: Shocker: Pat Roberts lying about number of policies cancelled

In Kansas, yes, insurance companies were allowed to bump out non-compliant plans by at least a year...and indeed, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas ended up not cancelling "between 9,500 - 10,000" of their policy holders after all.

So...that basically wipes out half of the "20K cancelled" claim already.

...Supposedly Aetna/Coventry and some smaller providers may have originally been planning on cancelling a bunch of plans as well...except that according to this article, Coventry never got around to doing so in the first place...

...That pretty much leaves BCBS KC and the other 10K. Based on the evidence at hand, my guess is that they likely reversed their cancellation decision as well...and if they did, that means that the actual number of Kansans who lost their healthcare policy in 2013 due to ACA noncompliance may have actually been as little as...ZERO.

Anyone who knows me, or who reads the FAQ (which is to say, hardly anyone), knows that I've never tried to hide my personal political views. I'm a proud progressive, active in the local Democratic Party, and have taken plenty of shots at Republicans here at However, I've tried very hard not to let that skew the data I report, and I've also taken plenty of shots at both HHS and/or the various ACA exchanges when they screw up.

Case in point: Just this morning I noted that the Vermont exchange is sending people to their website to pay bills when the site has been offline for weeks, and Oregon's disastrous exchange continues to provide embarrassment with news that they enrolled U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley--himself a proponent of the law--in Medicaid and somehow assigned him 97,000 children.

In any event, when I do go off-topic from time to time, it's generally for something innocuous.

Thanks to Jed Graham for bringing up an interesting point about the 2015 renewal-vs-new-enrollee issue earlier today.

His original point was that it's likely going to cause no end of headaches (especially to me) to try and keep track of the enrollment figures since there's going to be around 7.5 million existing enrollees to contend with (most of whom, I would hope, will renew their policies) plus the newly-added enrollees whose policies start in January or later.

However, it occurred to me to check something out and sure enough, over at you'll find this notice:

Any 2014 plan you enroll in with a Special Enrollment Period ends December 31, 2014. This is true no matter what month in 2014 your coverage starts.

With Open Enrollment 2.0 coming up fast, here's some quick hits from the various state-run ACA exchanges:

Massachusetts: State vows easier time on rebuilt Mass. Health Connector site

When people shop online for health insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector next month, they will have a radically different experience than the trouble they encountered last year, state officials promised Thursday.

Last year’s website, redesigned to meet the terms of the Affordable Care Act, never worked properly, leaving people unable to buy subsidized health insurance. This year, officials say, the newly rebuilt website will enable users to cruise smoothly from log-in to plan choice.

Vermont: Thousands directed to shut-down health exchange website to pay bills

Thousands of Vermont Health Connect customers who signed up to pay health care premiums online recently received email notices directing them to pay through a website that is offline.

Me, September 6th:

In any event, you can expect a slew of new "OMG!! X MILLION POLICIES CANCELLED!!" attacks this fall as well...just before the midterms. It's not so much that this is false--some policies will be cancelled--as heavily exaggerated, along with the "impact" of those cancellations (most people will do exactly what my wife and I did...simply replace the old policy which isn't compliant...with a new one which is compliant and offers more comprehensive many cases at a much lower rate after tax credits are applied, as long as they enroll via the ACA exchange instead of directly via the company).

Remember that when you start seeing the campaign attack ads with absurdly ominous music playing over black-and-white footage of someone reaching into the mailbox and pulling out...a notice from their insurance company (DUN-dun-dunnnnn...).

Me, October 2nd:

On Tuesday, the New York Daily News posted a story about a man in New York who is suing Empire BlueCross BlueShield because the insurance policy he purchased from them is essentially useless. As the header summarizes it:

Man sues Empire insurance company, claims search for doctor became ‘frustrating’ runaround

Jon Fougner says his simple search for a doctor through the insurance company website turned into a ‘Dickensian nightmare.’ Some doctors did not accept new patients, others never returned his calls, and some had wrong contact information listed on the Empire BlueCross BlueShield website, he claims. He accuses Empire of breach of contract, fraud and false advertising.