More reactions to Obama’s health insurance delay

We’ll be posting a full story about reactions to President Obama’s plan to delay cancellation of some individual health insurance plans that don’t meet standards set by the nation’s new law, but here are a few pols for whom we didn’t have space in that article.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., called the president’s proposal a “good step” that’s “very helpful in the implementation of the law.” She also spoke on the Senate floor Thursday about Republicans’ constant opposition to this law.

“This is typical of Republicans through the generations. Every time we’ve tried to expand health care, they’ve opposed it and opposed it and tried to derail it,” she said, adding that the new insurance law can be fixed “but that’s not good enough for my Republican friends. They just want to tear it down, just like they wanted to tear down Medicare.”

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, said in an email that he supports the president’s fix, which “continues to provide more choices without undermining the strengths of the new health care law. Implementing any new law creates a few bumps. We should be look for minor tweaks that strengthen the law rather than return to the old system that left millions of Americans without quality coverage.”

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, issued a statement calling Obama’s proposal “a step in the right direction towards fixing issues with the health care law. This was a promise that was made and it is a promise that should be kept.”

“I’ve said from the beginning that the health care reform law isn’t perfect,” Thompson said. “But instead of engaging in partisan bickering and playing blame games, I want to work to make health care reform better. … If we quit the partisan games, we can build on the reforms made in Obamacare, work out the imperfections, and make sure every American can get quality, affordable health insurance. That is a goal worth fighting for.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Our incompetent President has applied a Band Aid to a gushing hemorrhage. And since when can our feckless leader unilaterally revoke a law passed by Congress?

  • RRSenileColumnist

    According to Ba Boxer, Repubs are the party of wealthy, healthy people. Sounds good to me

  • JohnW

    I must have missed that quote. However, in the context of the topic at hand, I would say Repubs are the party of “Every Uninsurable Person Left Behind.”

  • JohnW

    History of U.S. health care plans:

    1912 TR pushes national health insurance while running for president on the Progressive ticket.

    1935 FDR wants national health insurance but goes for Social Security instead.

    1944 WW2 Wage & Price controls. Employers get around wage controls by offering “free” tax-exempt health insurance. Thus begins the dysfunctional, high cost health care “system” we have today. Business wants out but can’t figure out how without embracing a national health insurance plan.

    1945 Truman calls for national health insurance for people who pay VOLUNTARY fees. AMA decries it as “socialized medicine.”

    1960 JFK campaigns on health care but gets nowhere with Congress after elected.

    1965 LBJ creates national health insurance for people who survive to 65.

    1974 Nixon proposes employer mandate and subsidies for people who have to buy insurance on their own. Ted Kennedy puts a stick in it.

    1976 Carter campaigns on national health insurance but doesn’t pursue it once elected due to the economy.

    1986 RR signs COBRA allowing people with employer insurance to keep it for 18 months after they leave, if they pay for it.

    1988 Congress expands Medicare with prescription drug program and catastrophic care coverage. Seniors revolt over tax to pay for it. Congress repeals it in 1989.

    1993 HillaryCare.

    1997 Clinton and Congress enact CHIPS health care for children of moderate and low income families.

    2003 Bush 43 and GOP Congress pass prescription drug program (and Medicare Advantage). Locks up Florida for 2004.

    2010 Affordable Care Act. Obama’s a raging death panelist socialist.

  • Elwood
  • JohnW

    You’re enjoying this way too much Elwood. For a little perspective, see the link for all the chaos with the rollout of the prescription drug program. We’ve seen this movie before. The difference is the Dems worked with Republicans to fix it. They didn’t make a political campaign issue out of it or try to gut the program.

    In 2005, they delayed the prescription drug program comparison shopping website and explained that they did so out of respect for the Jewish holidays! You betcha!

    Back to present day, you may have missed the front page story in the CC Times yesterday about how well ACA enrollments are progressing in California.


  • Elwood

    “how well ACA enrollments are progressing in California.”

    I guess I missed the story in CCTimes about how well Covered CA is working. Everything I’ve seen says only a small fraction of those eligible have signed up and they’re probably the old and sick ones.

  • JohnW

    More than 35 thousand signed up in California during the first month, not counting people going into expanded Medicaid. 60,000 had signed up by Tuesday 11/12, with signups pacing 2,000 a day. In Massachusetts, only 123 signed up the first month, and less than 2 thousand by the end of the second month. Even when a website is working properly, people wait until the last minute to sign up. It works that way at employers too. And no, from what I read, it wasn’t the old and sick who signed up so far. It was mostly people with incomes too high to qualify for subsidies. It wasn’t necessarily the “young and invincible,” but it wasn’t the old and sick either.

    Other states, like Washington state and Kentucky that have their own exchanges, are doing well too.

  • JohnW

    When I referred to Massachusetts numbers, that was during the rollout of RomneyCare.

  • Elwood
  • Elwood


    Our feckless leader has decided he doesn’t like the term Obamacare any more, as has Nancy Pelosi. Neither will be using it in the future. It is now and forevermore the “Affordable Care Act”.

    Rumors that Pelosi is Satan appear to be unfounded.

  • JohnW

    It’s not like he came up with that label in the first place. Repubs hammered him with that from the beginning, just like “HillaryCare” in 1993. Rather than fight it, Obama finally decided to lean into it and interchange it with RomneyCare. He could have plagiarized from Gavin Newsom and called it the “Like it or not, it’s gonna happen” law.

  • Elwood
  • JohnW

    Ah, propaganda from the once semi-respectable conservative American Enterprise Institute, now the Jim DeMint right wing BS factory. Besides, conservatives have always been in favor of busting up the link between employment and health insurance. So, if what this post says is true, they should be declaring victory.

    In the meantime, enrollments in California are ahead of schedule. “Ah,” you say, “all sick and old people.” Not so. 22.5% between age 18-34, which is more than that group’s share of the California population.

  • Elwood

    “22.5% between age 18-34”

    Gloryosky, Zero! If I remember my grade school percentages correctly this means that 77.5% are older than 34. How many older than 50? Older than 60?

    Obamacare is doomed to failure if for no other reason than the young invincibles will tell feckless leader to shove it.

  • JohnW

    The 18-34 number is better than expected and better than what is needed for the ObamaCare risk pool to be viable. I don’t know the numbers for the other age groups. But, based on the 18-34 number, it is not unreasonable to think that the older age groups would also be consistent with expectations for a viable risk pool.

  • Elwood

    I would like to see the calculations showing that 22.5% young invincibles will pay the freight for everyone else. Could there possibly be another Obamacare miscalculation? Or maybe someone “misspoke”.

    To badly paraphrase Yogi Berra, it ain’t over until the fat lady pays the bill.

    Signups are meaningless until the check clears.

  • JohnW

    I don’t know anything about the calculations. However, the fact that California is signing up so many people suggests to me that reports on the age mix are legit, at least in CA. Statistically, the larger the pool, the more likely it is to reflect the population mix. If it does that, there shouldn’t be the “adverse selection” death spiral problem that people said would happen if not enough youngies signed up.

    Republican groups have spent tens of millions of dollars on TV advertising to blatantly discourage younger people from signing up. That’s called sabotage.

    Young invincibles paying the freight for everyone else is nothing new. It’s called community rating, as opposed to individual underwriting. That’s the way it has always worked in the employer-sponsored insurance world. The idea of ObamaCare was to make the individual insurance market work more like the employer-based market.

    Older people will still pay up to three times as much as younger people under ObamaCare. That’s still not like the employer market, where everybody pays the same. But it’s better than the pre-ObamaCare individual market, when the insurers charged six times as much. And that was for the older people with good health status. They just denied coverage to the rest.

    Enjoy Thanksgiving.

  • Elwood

    Thank you, John.

    And the same to you.

  • Elwood
  • JohnW

    That’s an existential question, Elwood. I mean, who are we, really? Are we really here, or are we just figments of imagination meandering about in the cosmos? As you say, nobody knows for sure?

  • Elwood

    Try to find out if you’re signed up for Obummercare.

    Good luck.

  • JohnW

    Why would I do that? I’m on socialist single payer heath care a/k/a Medicare, which, in today’s parlance, would probably be known as LyndonCare.

  • Elwood

    I hope you don’t have any trouble finding the medical care you need. More and more doctors are refusing to accept Medicare patients. Low pay and slow pay from your single payer friends.

  • JohnW

    No problem. The doc with the online degree who signed my medical weed card takes anybody!

    The story is more complicated than what you suggest.

    See the link to a recent USA TODAY article. Among other things, it points out that more docs are accepting new Medicare patients than new private insurance patients. Seems counterintuitive and could be a statistical fluke. But they are the numbers.


    Yes, there will be problems down the road if something isn’t done to increase the supply of docs and to allow docs to “balance bill” patients who can afford to pay more. But the current situation in terms of access is still relatively decent.

    I have family members in the biz who confirmed my understanding that, while Medicare pays less, they generally pay significantly faster and with less hassle than private insurance. It takes lots of admin staff to deal with the demands of all those different insurers.

    if Congress doesn’t do the “doc fix” this year, payments under the SGR will fall by 25%, and there WILL be a big problem, especially with primary care docs.

    Docs are fed up with BOTH Medicare and private insurance. More are retiring than coming into the system. My niece graduated from Medical school in 1999 with $100k in debt. Today’s graduates typically start out with $300k in debt! For a primary care job that pays $150? Yikes!

    One of the pipeline problems is that Congress has cut the amount of money available to pay teaching hospitals that train medical residents. So, there are docs graduating from medical school with piles of debt who can’t get hooked up with a residency program.

    Finally, Medicaid on average pays only about 60% of the Medicare rate. Yet two thirds of docs still accept Medicaid patients. That blows my mind. In Texas, far fewer docs accept Medicaid because, well, it’s Texas!

  • Elwood

    I don’t know from statistics. All I know is what a doctor friend told me and I’m sure he talks to other doctors. Perhaps CoCo county is the extent of his knowledge.

  • JohnW

    Well, I’m in CoCo. Decided to switch out of Kaiser when I hit 65. Didn’t know where to start in finding a new doc for primary care. The John Muir doc that my older sister and her family had seen for years was not accepting new Medicare (mainly because he was winding down as he approached retirement). But another good doc in the same practice was. Had no trouble getting my first appointment. Needed a specialist for something, and got a quick appointment for that too.

    Meantime, Kaiser keeps trying to get me into their MedicareAdvantage program, which is rated 5 stars. At Kaiser, it doesn’t matter if you are Medicare or regular when you select a primary care physician. They seem very eager for the Medicare business.

    Yes, some doctors are opting out of Medicare. But some of those same docs don’t take regular insurance either.

    Don’t know about your doc friend, but he would be the exception if Medicare is slow-pay for him. That’s not generally the case.