Thursday, November 21, 2013

Broken Promise: Not Really.

But is this really true?  Did the government break a promise?

Not really. 

The president and supporters of the ACA may be guilty of pulling a fast one on the American people, but not of breaking a promise.  How is this possible you say?  We all heard the president on numerous occasions lay out several promises regarding the new healthcare law.  We repeatedly heard things like affordability for all, retention of plans for everyone, high quality care for everyone, improved access for everyone, and so on.  Were these not promises you say?

Additionally, we were consistently made to believe the present ails of our draconian and unfair healthcare system would be soon be remedied by Obamacare.  The president’s healthcare law, we were repeatedly told, would guarantee delivery of universally-affordable, high-quality healthcare for all Americans.  We all heard this.  However, as you know, things haven’t gone according to plan.  Many of the promises made by the president are turning out to be false.  But these weren’t really promises.

The promise of a future event or condition that lacks little chance of occurring is not a promise.  If I promised to discover the cure for cancer in two years, no one would believe me, because reasonable minds know it to be false. And thus my promise wouldn’t be accepted as such.  My promise lacks the definable features inherently associated with a promise, one of which is ability to deliver.

With respect to Obamacare, we weren’t really promised all these things – reasonable people knew them to be false.  We were, quite frankly, lied to.  All of the so-called promises made by Obamacare had little to no chance of actually occurring, and thus weren’t really promises.  A promise must have a probable or likely chance of becoming reality.  Did most reasonable people really believe that we could all have our cake and eat it too with respect to Obamacare? 

It may sound like splitting hairs, but it’s important to understand the difference between a lie and a promise.  One has a reasonableness of expected occurence and the other does not. Politicians are fond of “promises” but reasonable people know they are usually just disguised as lies. Learning the difference between the two will serve you well.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Excel Quirk

I came across a new hyperlinking quirk in Microsoft Excel today.  I was entering some numerical values into a spreadsheet and then linking them to a PDF.  I've done this hundreds of times without any problems, but today I ran into a quirk.

Some of the PDFs had a pound sign in their name (i.e. claim_check#1).  Excel would accept the hyperlink but refused to open the file. I got the infamous "Cannot open file" error each time I clicked on the hyperlink.  I was stumped until I realized that Microsoft treats the # sign as a bookmark holder when hyperlinking. 

When your hyperlink points to an Excel spreadsheet or Word document, you can instruct the link to open a particular bookmark within your application.  This is done by placing a # sign immediately after the hyperlink address, as shown below.

When Excel saw the # sign in the name of my PDF, it couldn't find the corresponding bookmark because there wasn't one.  So, I got the error.  Who knew?  So, when naming your PDFs or other documents, avoid the # sign if you plan to hyperlink to them in Word or Excel.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Reality Check

"This is a president adrift, confused and entirely over his head. He has, in essence, confirmed what his harshest critics have long been arguing: he is incompetent and unknowledgable about how the world operates.  And we have three more years left of this.”

This is from the Washington Post opinion page.  Not kidding.

Why did it take a massive display of government ineptness to finally open the eyes of this newspaper?  To think the government could actually make good on every lofty promise and high-minded pronouncement about the ACA is beyond laughable.  Welcome to real world, Washington Post. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Some thoughts on Obamacare enrollments

Word is that only 49,100 folks have signed up for health insurance since 1-Oct.  This is both good and bad news, depending on your perspective.

First, the good news.  Meager enrollment figures means savings for taxpayers.  Most assuredly, those signing up qualify for tax rebates and subsidies, and with fewer people electing to purchase health insurance, costs should be lower than expected.  That's good news for taxpayers.

Now, the bad news.  Meager enrollment figures could hit insurers’ bottom lines.  Also most assuredly, those signing up intend on using their health insurance.  Insurance companies were counting on the young and healthy (low users) to subsidize the old and sick (high users).  But it appears the former group is largely sitting on the sidelines.  If this trend continues, insurers could suffer losses.

Perhaps I should short some health insurance stock.  Any ideas on which ones?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Public or private health

In what world is my personal diet a matter of public health?  Apparently government regulators at the FDA have concluded that in this present world, it is.  And in the name of public health they are banning “trans fat”. 
In no way is the ingestion of “trans fat” a public health issue.  If the FDA can argue that it is, then what aspect of my existence is explicitly private in nature?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Oklahoma seeks to bring down Obamacare

Oklahoma is shepherding a lawsuit that could wreak havoc on Obamacare.  With help from Michael Cannon (of the Cato Institute), the suit claims that the law’s tax credits and subsidies – fundamental to the law’s success and survival are available only in states that chose to create an exchange.  The IRS, which will administer the tax rebates and subsidies, has ruled that those subsidies will be available to everyone everywhere.

Cannon believes that this tweak in the law was deliberate.  He says Congress intentionally limited subsidies to state-created exchanges as an incentive for states to build their own exchange.  It was the carrot and stick approach.  You build the exchange, you get the subsidies.  If we build it, no subsidies.  Congress (mis)calculated that this financial incentive would entice nearly all states to succumb to Congress’s wishes.  They were wrong.

Thirty four states have refused to build their own exchange.  This means that a large swath of the American citizenry is susceptible to an adverse ruling.  Using population data from Wikipedia, I estimated that approximately 184 million people (58% of population) in those 34 states would not have access to the tax rebates and subsidies available to the 134 million citizens in the remaining states. 
What would be the fallout if citizens in Colorado can apply for and obtain tax credits and subsidies to offset the cost of insurance while citizens in neighboring New Mexico cannot?  Those against the law would most likely celebrate any ruling that nibbles away at the law itself.  However, supporters and those looking to get subsidized insurance would undoubtedly protest as they are now denied access to those tax rebates and subsidies, if only for living in a Red state. I know of no federal benefit or entitlement that is geographically limited. 

I’m neither arguing for or against the position.  Personally, I despise Obamacare on many fronts.  My purpose for this post was to think through the implications of an adverse ruling.  Denying lucrative subsides to half the population simply won’t fly.  I believe this would present an untenable situation, which is why I believe no judge will rule to strike down the nationwide tax rebates despite the strong indications this is what should happen.  The outcome would be profoundly divisive and unimaginably chaotic.