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Jonathan Gruber: The Other White Meat

So everyone is piling on Jonathan Gruber right now.  A third video has now been released where Gruber basically says what conservatives have been saying for a LONG time:  corporations don’t pay taxes; the corporations pass the tax to the consumer.  (I made this point at length, here.) In this way, you can SAY that you’ve stuck it to the big, bad, corporation and that you’ve stood up for the little guy, but, well, actually, you stuck it to the little guy.   (You actually need to look at more of the context than the CNN article alludes to… as if insulting Americans is the sole story here!)

The irony here is that he is talking about taxing so-called ‘Cadillac plans’ which liberal labor unions fought so hard for.

Anyway, we’ve got to remember that Gruber is just one of many, and they all lie.

Anyone who has been paying attention to Obamacare from the beginning knew they were always lying.  About everything really.  If anyone had the audacity to point out that the numbers simply didn’t add up they were subjected to catcalls like, “Experts say such and such… are you an expert?  That’s what I thought… idiot.”  All Gruber has given us is explicit admission, from one such expert, that the skeptics had a point.  However, we didn’t need an expert to validate our assertion that 2+2=4, or, Obamacare is built so that “healthy people pay in and sick people get money.”  And so on.

I’ve had to chuckle listening to some of the Republicans bemoaning the deception by Gruber, as if there was any doubt at any time that deception was part and parcel of Obamacare and the nefarious ways it was foisted upon the United States.

I’m afraid that this is all going to get hung on Gruber’s neck, and the rest of the people who were complicit will escape judgement.  Gruber deserves everything he’s getting, but his share in the deception must be small in comparison to people like Reid, Pelosi, and of course Obama himself.  We’ve been ‘grubered,’ alright, but by far bigger fish than Jonathan Gruber.

I’m sure Bart Stupak might have something to say about such things, but someone is going to have to track him down, first.  He was last seen walking around in a daze, his clothes in tatters, muttering, “But Obama gave me his ironclad word… his word...”

Actually, as I sit here thinking about those Republicans just now realizing that we were intentionally misled (not that some of us actually were misled) it isn’t really funny.  I personally doubt that they really are that surprised, which raises the obvious question about why they didn’t do more to address it, which in turn raises the obvious question about whether or not, even now, they’re going to do anything about, well, anything.

I, for one, don’t expect them to.  And that is a reason for sadness. (Unless you are a liberal progressive, of course.)

Something tells me that Obamacare is the ‘Gruber’ that will be dying hard, rather than the hero, the American public.

In tribute to the chewing out that Gruber is enduring, I put this together.  Share as you wish.

Jona-Hans-Gruber-theOtherWhiteMeat

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16 Responses to Jonathan Gruber: The Other White Meat

  1. I may be missing the obvious, but *ALL* insurance based systems have the masses who don’t claim paying in to cover the relatively few who get paid out.

    Why would Obamacare be different?

  2. Yes, you’re missing some things.

    First of all, private insurers have the option to not offer coverage to people with certain conditions. For example, if a person was just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, a private insurer won’t pick that person up; or, if the insurer does, it won’t be for a plan that the ‘general population’ is enrolled in. Under Obamacare, insurers MUST take that person in.

    Now, there are cases where even in the ‘general population’ plans you have people who are diagnosed with deadly, expensive-to-treat diseases, but their actuarial tables allow for this likelihood and build that risk (to the insurer) into the costs of the overall plan.

    That leads to the requirement to cover pre-existing conditions.

    The outright lie and deception is in the assertion that you can insure everyone, no matter what their condition, even when you KNOW that their condition is bad, and still have insurance premiums stay down and coverage stay up.

    The numbers don’t add up, no matter what an expert says.

    It would as if we required everyone to get life insurance, and required insurers to offer that life insurance regardless of the life expectancy and risk factors a person might present. Imagine, then, if one person decides to get his 500,000 life insurance policy even though he only has 6 months to live, and this is KNOWN, but charging him a premium that is the same as the person who is healthy and expected (according to the actuarial tables) to live thirty years (but might not… the risk is built into the table).

    Clearly, prices have got to go up SOMEWHERE in order for the insurance company to stay in business.

    Obamacare resolves this in part by taxing ‘Cadillac plans,’ which, per Gruber, is billed as a tax on the big bad insurance companies, but as he said openly, is exactly the same as if they had taxed the individual.

  3. Ooooooooooooh someone said “actuarial”!

    Your logic breaks down, or, at least, makes your point indeterminate, since, while you have undoubtedly brought people into the risk pool that will die in six months, you have also brought people into the risk pool people who will live to be 100.

    Have you calculated that the sums insured paid out on adverse risks will be greater than the extra premiums received from the favourable ones? If so, feel free to forward me your spreadsheet. I can check it for you.

    🙂

  4. Something told me you might be along shortly. 🙂

    I’m not think you have grasped the point being made. We were told that proceeding this way would ‘bend the curve’ on prices, but there is no way that this could be the actual result.

    There are some things in your first paragraph that make it hard to know how to reply. You say, “undoubtedly brought people into the risk pool that will die in six months” but this is true under any scenario–hence the actuarial table. It makes a difference if we are talking about people where it is KNOWN that they will die in six months versus what occur inexorably among any population of sufficient size. But your statement doesn’t make this clear.

    Or, to put it another way, when you KNOW that you will have people in your pool that will die in six months, we’re no longer talking about a ‘risk.’ A casino knows that it is possible that one of the players might win a million dollars on a slot, and even that it is possible that someone could win large every night for a year. That’s a ‘risk’ they are willing to take, because they understand the odds. If, however, it was KNOWN that someone was going to win a million dollars every night for a year, you can bet that radical changes to their business model are on their way!

    For the sake of my next point, let’s pretend they don’t resolve this simply by shutting their doors, but instead institute a $2,000 cover charge to anyone who wishes to play in their casino. Keep this in mind…

    As far as your second paragraph goes, the whole point of the ‘individual mandate’ is to try to bridge this gap, requiring insurers to take on people regardless of pre-existing conditions, etc. So, continuing the analogy of above, it would be like charging people who are not gamblers and will never go to the casino at all the $2,000 cover charge, in order to make up for the ones who do gamble where it is KNOWN that they are going to win big on the slots.

    It isn’t that there will be people “who will live to be 100.” It is more that by requiring young people to pay for a service and product that they have no use for (at least for a good while), they can afford to cover those they KNOW will need the coverage.

    Setting aside the inherent unfairness of it, I return to the point that they refused to openly acknowledge that this was exactly what they were doing–except insofar as fighting attempts to get rid of the individual mandate tooth and nail, knowing that the scheme will not work unless everyone is in the ‘pool.’

    The point here concerns the LIES.

    As a new point, now that you’ve joined the conversation, I recall a previous exchange we had about the different nature of ‘coercion’ that the government has versus private entities. A casino, of course, could never force people who weren’t even going to come into their facility to pay that $2,000 cover charge. But this is precisely what the government is doing, and if people refuse to go along, fining them big bucks and subjecting them to punitive action via the IRS–which can ultimately result in jail time if one refuses to play ball.

    That kind of soft tyranny is perfectly suited for the sophisticates in Europe, and perhaps in Australia, but in America that’s liable to create an uproar: see the mid-terms of 2010 and the rise of the ‘tea party,’ followed by 3 consecutive election cycles where the GOP dominated–minus the presidential in 2012, of course– as illustration.

  5. You may wish to peruse this article for clues on the situation:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2014/03/20/4-reasons-why-obamacare-exchange-premiums-may-double-in-some-parts-of-the-country-in-2015/

    I found it humorous that in the article by the same author just before this one, he chided conservatives that the ‘death spiral’ wasn’t going to happen. The linked article is far less confident.

    You just can’t fight the math. That’s why we have IPAB.

  6. At this point I will have to admit that I know next to nothing about Obamacare. It was my understanding that nearly everyone will be covered… hence my point that, yes, insurers will be forced to accept sub-standard risks that they would ordinarily refuse and / or impose conditions on, but they will also begin insuring good risks that would otherwise not take out insurance (because they consider themselves good risks).

    Is that not the case?

  7. The term ‘risk’ might have a very technical meaning within your field. I’m using it in a general sense, per my own set of experiences.

    I would say again that ‘risk’ implies a level of uncertainty. There is a chance someone might live to 100. There is a chance someone will die in 6 months. Given a population large enough, there will be a certain number of people who fall along that spectrum, and with some time and investigation, the general percentages can be established and a premium calculated. But this is a scenario in which it is unknown, in the main, which person it is that will live to be 100 and which will live only 6 months.

    That’s not the reality for Obamacare insurers. They KNOW which people will be ‘dying in six months’ because they are forced to cover pre-existing conditions. The whole concept of ‘pre-existing’ entails that they know about the condition… but they can’t make that person pay a substantially higher premium, nor can they reject them.

    So, the key ingredient I think you are overlooking here was their insistence that this would lower premiums and the cost of healthcare, and, of course, people would be able to keep their current insurance plans AND keep their doctors. For example, Obama himself said that premiums would be reduced by $2,500 per family:

    http://freedomeden.blogspot.com/2010/03/obama-20-promises-for-2500.html

    Linked from that article was this quote from an AP article:

    “There’s no question premiums are still going to keep going up,” said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a research clearinghouse on the health care system. “There are pieces of reform that will hopefully keep them from going up as fast. But it would be miraculous if premiums actually went down relative to where they are today.”

    The author there, in 2010, makes this statement:

    Either Obama is ignorant about the facts or he’s intentionally being deceptive.

    And this is what skeptics have been saying ever since the law was passed. However, barring the ability to read people’s minds, it was impossible to know for sure which was the case–were they incompetent or dishonest. Gruber clears that up nicely. They were dishonest.

    My post is not about the unfairness of sticking it to young, healthy people and coercing everyone into a system that many want no part of. My post is about the claim that you can do this via Obamacare and not have premiums go up and other implications that follow logically from the premises build into the law.

    But of course, if Obama says, “pass this law, and your premiums are going to go up… but everyone is going to get coverage…” the law doesn’t pass. Was he ignorant? Nope; deceptive. And blatantly so.

  8. Thanks for the explanation, Tony… But I’m not sure you answered my question…?

  9. A few other questions if you don’t mind… I know I could google the answers, but I think your interpretation would be more useful for this discussion… if you don’t mind, that is!

    1
    When you say insurers are liable for pre-existing conditions, do you mean prospective policyholders are underwritten before insurers accept them for cover, and insurers are obliged to accept them irrespective of their state of health? Or do you mean insurers are obliged to accept anyone who applies without any underwriting?

    2
    There seems to be a conflation of health insurance and life insurance. They mean two very different things in Australia, and work in two very different ways… is the US the same?

  10. 2. I gave the example of life insurance just to illustrate. They are different things, but of course they still take into account ‘risk factors.’

    1. Yes, you COULD google it!

    Insurers are obliged to accept them irrespective of their state of health.

    This appears to be a pro-Obamacare site that lauds this as wonderful: http://thanksobamacare.org/index.php?id=9

    I believe there are mechanisms to account for the ‘high risk’ nature of the pre-existing folks, but I can’t remember if those are state level or Federal level or what.

    But to be clear, this isn’t really my point. My point is that there are a variety of objections that skeptics have highlighted that behind closed doors were known and ignored.

  11. 1
    OK I will google it… that must mean you’re confident that your interpretation is consistent with Wikipedia or obamacarefacts.com. 🙂

    That link doesn’t make it very clear. It says they have to accept them into the plan, but it doesn’t say that there can’t be benefit exclusions for specific pre-existing events. That is how health insurance works in Australia – an insurer can’t deny a pregnant woman coverage, but won’t pay out any pregnancy-related benefits for, say, 12 months after joining. Similarly, some life insurance products will accept absolutely anyone, but won’t pay out for suicide or sickness for the first, say, two years.

    2
    Of course they do, but in very different ways, and I think it affects your point.

  12. 1. No, it means that when I hear someone start throwing around the phrase “your interpretation” its really best to just let someone do their own research.

    2. Similarly, casinos manage risk in very different ways; it doesn’t affect the point, because the point was about deception. You asked me to give an example of the math not adding up, which I did by illustration. Like the casino. Just an illustration.

  13. Sorry Tony, but it seems like you’re dodging… and I think I know you well enough to know that you’re probably not dodging, so perhaps I’m not explaining myself very well.

    Your point seems to be that they told us Obamacare would reduce premiums, but that’s not the case, and they knew that wasn’t the case. Is that the gist of it?

    If so, your argument really hangs on the point I’ve tried to make three times now, but which I don’t think you’ve addressed. The whole issue comes down the risk pool. If you compel everyone to get insurance, your objection goes away completely, because the increased costs from the adverse lives will be offset by the reduced costs from the healthy lives. Obviously Obamacare doesn’t compel everyone to get insurance, but it feels like you’re making your point without looking at the other side of the ledger at all.

  14. Yea, I don’t think I’m dodging.. I think you get my general point, which includes but is not limited to the assertion that Obamacare would reduce premiums. For example, I mentioned in the original post the taxing of the Cadillac plans. The key clause in your restatement is, “they knew that wasn’t the case.”

    I’m confused because you think that my argument hangs on that point and that my “objection goes away completely” when the whole point of the post is, “they knew that wasn’t the case.” It doesn’t really matter if it is theoretically possible that you could make up the difference “on the other side of the ledger” when all parties involved, now including, it seems, the framers of Obamacare, acknowledge that the difference is NOT being made up.

    To put it another way, they said that “the other side of the ledger” would make up for the difference but it was quickly pointed out that for various reasons what they said could not be true. Which returns me again to my actual and original point, which is that we were faced for a time with not being able to tell if they were just dumb or if they were brazenly dishonest. And now we know.

    The details for why their math could not be true is myriad. The pre-existing conditions is one reason. The innumerable waivers and exceptions that were given out for the employer mandate was another. That’s where I think you will find that Google is your friend. I was just trying to give you an example of the kind of pressures that forbade the math from adding up. I am not interested in getting into the minutia of what is theoretically possible when we already know the ‘theoretically possible’ ship has sailed.

    There are lots of articles out there that will explain just why this is so, and I submit them to you for your reading pleasure.

  15. OK cool… if that’s the case then that’s the case. Just needed to know you’d considered it. 🙂

  16. […] (eg., ‘change agent’) is applauded and paid handsomely for applying their skills (eg, Gruber, Cass Sunstein, etc), but I hate them.  And I hate being manipulated.  To resist being […]

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