Tag Archives: health insurance

A local exception to the ongoing Obamacare narrative

Amid the persistent drumbeat of stumbles and fumbles with the roll-out of a new healthcare system, there is one local example being held up as how the new program can work well.

Brad Camp of Kingston has seen his name in an editorial penned by three governors and distributed across the country starting with The Washington Post.

Camp, who co-owns the Olympic Photography Group business and does freelance assignments for the Kitsap Sun, received notice that the private plan he had enrolled in for this year would be canceled at the end of the year. He had that coverage for himself and his children. His wife has insurance through her work, he said, but covering the entire family through her work policy would have been “prohibitively expensive.”

So Camp went through Washington’s Health Insurance Exchange and (eventually) found a plan to cover himself and his children for about $550 a month. That’s about $70 more than he was paying this year, but he is getting far more coverage. And he is getting no subsidy, so there is little (I say “little” because I hesitate to be absolute about anything.) chance that the state could come back to him and say there was a miscalculation.

For another $45 a month Camp added dental coverage.

Subsidy miscalculation is justifiably all the rage among Obamacare opponents. On Tuesday they trumpeted the story from Washington State Wire about the Federal Way woman who was held up by Obama as a success story, but thanks to the news she’s not getting the subsidy she originally thought she decided she won’t get health insurance. The story is quite comprehensive and highlights the problems here in Washington, even though Washington’s online program has been held up as an example of health care enrollment going well.

Camp, who is a success story now, had big problems with the site initially. “If I judged it by the website I would have given it an ‘F,'” Camp said. “The first three weeks it was tough to even get the website to acknowledge I was there.”

Once he got insurance though, Camp revealed his good fortune via Facebook.

So, just got a monthly raise starting in January–FINALLY, got thru on the WAHeath site and was able to sign up for insurance.
*As a small business owner that had no corporate plan available, benefits for me and the kids was VERY expensive.
For $600 LESS a month (no subsidy) , we have for the first time in 5 years:
-full office visit coverage (before is was max 4x a year)
-Prescription coverage (had to pay full freight before)
-Vision AND dental. (had NO benefit before)
-we get to KEEP our current provider and all doctors.
—-Politics and other BS aside, Our coverage is deeper, more comprehensive and much, much less costly.–
Brad Camp and Family. Now fully insured.

The post had more than 60 “likes,” and found its way to Gov. Jay Inslee’s office. Inslee included Camp’s story in an editorial he co wrote with the governors of Kentucky and Connecticut. Camp was also interviewed for a Seattle Times story.

The governor’s office asked Camp if he would be available to go the other Washington, in case someone there wanted to highlight his health care exchange success. Camp is willing to tell his story in Washington, but has no interest in entering the political debate, he said. He just knows that the coverage he has now is superior to what he had this last year and it is far superior. “I’m not taking a political side on this issue,” he said. “There is so much passion on the health care act. All I can talk about is my situation. This health care plan for my family worked out pretty well.”

Hooray! More mostly bogus advertising in the 26th LD race!

We’re less than a week away from seeing election results, but the ads keep on coming. Assuming there might be someone still undecided out there it seemed worthwhile to look at some of the claims and see how much truth we can find. Some of the claims are in new ads. Some are classics.

First, a couple pieces of advice.

  • 1. Question any ad that makes a conclusion based on one piece of legislation.
  • 2. Question any ad that makes a claim based on one part of a single piece of legislation.
  • 3. Question any ad by a politician or group characterizing the opposition’s views.
  • 4. Know that many of the details in campaign ads are true, but they don’t necessarily tell a true story.
  • 5. Assume every single campaign advertisement could be lying to you.
  • CLAIM: “SHAMEFUL: Schlicher Takes Advantage of Senator’s Choice to Breastfeed”
    THE STORY: There is a true story here that doesn’t make Democrats look good even under the most flattering lights. Party leaders deny the worst accusations about the incident, and how much Schlicher was to blame for it is a bigger question. This ad comes from the state Republican Party. The Good Government Coalition also funded a similar ad. I refer you to Washington State Wire and Crosscut stories that discuss the incident. The short version is that a Republican senator who regularly took breaks to nurse her baby was excused from the floor. On one occasion Democrats took advantage of her absence to push a Schlicher-sponsored bill dealing with administrative costs for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to a vote. The bill had the support of 11 of 12 senators in committee. The ad says Schlicher “helped lead an effort by his party for a power play.” It was his bill, sure. He certainly would have benefited politically had it passed. And the Democrats issued a press release after the incident in which Schlicher was quoted. But another Democrat, Seattle’s David Frockt, was the one blamed for pushing the vote. He and other Democrats said they didn’t know the absent senator was off breastfeeding. If you’re skeptical of that, I can’t blame you.

    CLAIM: Jan Angel chose tax loopholes for deceased multi-millionaires over education for our kids.
    Angel is a “no new taxes” enthusiast, which gives an organization like She’s Changed PAC, the advertiser here, ample fodder to make statements like Angel likes (insert bad thing here) more than (insert good thing here). Angel’s side employs the same technique. Angel is unlikely to vote for any new tax on the belief that the state can fund its priorities with existing revenues. In this case Angel was opposed to the Legislature’s decision to change state law in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that would have forced the state to refund $160 million in estate taxes to people who can legitimately be called multi-millionaires. The money the state held onto did go to education, so there’s the link between rich people and our kids. The problem is that Angel might be right that the state could eventually have to pay back this money. The Legislature essentially clarified the intent of an older law and applied that clarification retroactively.

    CLAIM: Representative Jan Angel chose tax loopholes for Big Oil companies over our kids’ schools.
    This is essentially a new version of the anti-Angel claim above. She’s hawkish on taxes, and considers closing loopholes a new tax. The argument on a She’s Changed PAC flyer makes a lucid and issue-driven argument against Angel’s position on tax loopholes for oil, except for where it definitively links that position with schools. Again, Angel says “Fund education first,” then fund everything else, so she could be for that money, but not when it comes from that tax. Most either/or arguments like this are “either” misleading “or” false. Fund education first, she says, satisfies the state constitution. Schlicher counters that there are other funding mandates required under the constitution, too, so Angel’s suggestion for a funding formula puts other constitutionally mandated programs at risk.

    CLAIM: Schlicher opposes the voter-approved 2/3rds majority to raise taxes.
    People for Jobs, Enterprise Washington uses an email Schlicher sent to a constituent. At least most of the ads get it right that Schlicher thinks the Supreme Court was right to overturn the voter initiative, but they leave out the rest of his position. Here’s the quote from a letter he wrote to Kelly Haughton: “While I do agree with the court decision that the initiative was unconstitutional, the message was clear: taxes should not be the default solution of the government in times of fiscal crisis. I support the will of the people to consider a constitutional amendment on the issue and will vote for a reasonable version of an amendment.” Where Republicans can take bigger issue is that he doesn’t think corporate tax loopholes that don’t provide a benefit to the state (And that is the reason to establish a loophole.) should be subject to the 2/3 standard.

    CLAIM: “Nathan Schlicher voted against a bill for early intervention to help all students read by the 4th grade, instead favoring the special interests of a campaign contributor.”
    This references Senate Bill 5946, which in part addressed reading skills for third graders. The original version of the bill had no funding provided to local districts, yet directed districts what they were to do. In other places that’s called an “unfunded mandate.” One of the solutions suggested for kids in third grade was discussing whether the student should stay in third grade. Schlicher argued that keeping kids in third grade would be the default solution, because the bill provided no money for anything else. The bill passed by four votes in the Senate, went to the House and came back to the Senate. The final bill had funding. Schlicher voted for that version, which passed the Senate in a 46-2 vote.

    CLAIM: “When insurance companies wanted to eliminate basic care like mammograms and maternity care, Jan Angel sponsored House Bill 1804 that would cut our benefits.”
    We’ve addressed this one before, but it keeps coming up in part because Angel has expressed so much outrage over the claim, citing her own personal history of having one third of her breast removed. The Seattle Times ruled that a TV commercial saying Angel “led efforts to eliminate coverage for mammograms,” was “Mostly false.” The Times was right on that ad. But wait, there is more. Angel co-sponsored a bill that would have removed all state mandates on insurance coverage, conditions and services government requires insurance companies to cover. The bill would have exchanged state rules for the mandates under the Affordable Care Act. Had the bill passed, mammogram coverage would have still been required, but only for women 40 and above and not for immigrants. Some women would have lost coverage under the bill. Men get breast cancer, too. The state requires coverage for their mammograms and the ACA does not. Additionally, Angel has stated she is against the Affordable Care Act, even though her voting record is mixed on funding state implementation of the federal law, according to the (Tacoma) News Tribune. So, Angel is against the Affordable Care Act, yet she voted to remove state mandates in favor of ACA rules. This becomes a question of whether Angel supports any government mandates about health insurance. In a campaign questionnaire she wrote that she favored a free market, “menu driven/choice plan.” So if she had her way and insurers got to offer the plans they wanted, would they all stop covering mammograms? In theory they could, but insurance companies wouldn’t stay in business if they didn’t cover anything. Is Angel absolute about her thoughts on insurance companies? I’ve asked and I can’t get an answer. I tried to ask her after the Oct. 3 forum in Gig Harbor if the state mandate bill had passed and Obamacare went away, would she want government somewhere to require insurance companies to cover mammograms? She said she couldn’t answer a hypothetical question. I’ve forwarded a similar question, “Should any government tell insurance companies what they have to cover?” and have received no answer. So, yes, details in this claim are wrong, but until Angel definitively says she is for or against mandates I have a hard time raising the finish flag on the issue.

    Cheer up. There’s only one more week of this. It will be months before it all starts again. In these final few days if you’ve seen any other claims you question, let us know and we’ll see if we can dig into it.

    ‘Washington health care costs lower for some, but not like New York’ and other stories.

    I may bust your New York Times paywall limit with a couple of stories I’m going to recommend you read. I’m also recommending one from the Washington Post.

    The first story deals with health care reform. If you are skeptical that any government involvement in an industry could be beneficial, I would not try to dissuade from your skepticism. The news that follows was announced by supporters of the legislation, after all. Still, could this be good news? The Times reports Health Plan Cost for New Yorkers Set to Fall 50%.

    State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.

    Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman in the office of Mike Kreidler, state insurance commissioner, said state officials here are encouraged by what they’re seeing from insurers, but rates would be unlikely to drop as much here as they appear to have in New York. Different states have different rules for what gets covered under health insurance programs, and Washington has about 15 times the number of people buying insurance on their own. That might be one reason. Still, state officials are encouraged. Here’s Kreidler’s statement on the subject:

    “When the rate filings started coming in, we were pleasantly surprised,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “We’re not seeing the double-digit rate increases some of the insurers predicted. In some cases, people will pay the same or slightly lower for much better benefits. How much you pay will largely depend on the plan you select, your age, whether or not you smoke and where you live. People should have plenty of plans to choose from both inside the new WashingtonHealthplanfinder, Washington’s exchange, and in the regular insurance market. Premium subsidies also may be available for people buying coverage inside the exchange, depending on their income.”

    Washington insurance officials will be able to comment more specifically after July 31, Marquis said.


    The second NYT story is an inside-baseball story about D.C. politics, but the players’ own admissions are stunning, if not refreshing. The U.S. Senate reached a deal that would stop Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from blowing up the chamber’s filibuster rules. The entire story is worth reading, but these three paragraphs floored me, in a good way.

    The agreement came after a meeting on Monday night where 98 Senators vented for over three hours. Members of both parties admitted some culpability in the political fighting, with Democrats conceding that their headlong drive to alter the rules may have been overly aggressive.

    “We’re not without sin,” said Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri.

    Many Republicans admitted their efforts to hobble executive agencies by denying confirmation of their leadership was wrongheaded. “Cordray was being filibustered because we don’t like the law” that created the consumer agency, said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “That’s not a reason to deny someone their appointment. We were wrong.”


    The final story comes Al Kamen’s “In the Loop” column at the Washington Post. In case you hadn’t heard, someone pulled a prank worthy of a Porky’s (I’m dating myself here. I never saw the movie, but heard of the name gag.) movie and convinced a Bay Area TV channel of the names of the Asiana Airlines pilots involved in the crash were Asian names that when spoken should have been obvious to anyone were a joke. (I won’t put the names here. It shouldn’t be too hard to find out if you’re that curious.)

    The one saving factor for the TV station was they went to the trouble of confirming the names with the National Transportation Safety Board, and someone from the NTSB did confirm it. The agency said it was an intern, one who no longer has an internship with the NTSB. Kamen writes:

    Good strategy! Blaming the intern for cringe-inducing faux pas is a time-honored tradition. Interns, after all, make the perfect fall guys, with their not-always-fair reputation for cluelessness and laziness, and their status somewhere underneath the lowest rung on the Washington ladder. It’s not easy to earn respect when the most infamous alum is Monica Lewinsky.

    But is it fair to turn eager young public servants into the equivalent of the dog who ate Washington’s homework? Joe Starrs, director of U.S. Summer Programs at the Fund for American Studies, which places Washington interns, said it’s an employer’s job to provide those young, inexperienced (and often unpaid) workers with guidance and a supervisor. “To throw the intern under the bus is the ultimate in abdicating responsibility,” he says.