November 15, 2013

Sorry, Obamacare haters: 300k FL Blue customers no longer 'losing' insurance policies for 2014


Obamacare haters should have taken an insurance policy out on their criticisms.

They'd be rich now that the president has helped stop the public-relations damage that stemmed from millions of health insurance-company cancellation notices sent to people in the individual-market since Oct. 1, when the Affordable Care Act started to kick in. The grace period: about a year. After that, we'll have to see.

In Florida, Florida Blue sent out about 300,000 such notices (with more now in the mail). And it quickly became a rallying cry for Florida Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott:

“The President’s healthcare law is causing hundreds of thousands of Floridians to lose their health insurance plans. The White House should focus on helping these families, not Medicaid, which our state just recently reformed to be more flexible, accessible and cost-conscious,” Scott said in a recent statement. “Unfortunately, the White House’s politics of deflection and distraction won’t give anyone their healthcare back, even after the president promised that if they liked their plans, they could keep them.”

Well, the president might have listened. Or Florida Blue did.

According to the state's insurance commissioner, the insurance company is holding off on the cancellations. It should be noted as well that these cancellations did not mean people were going with or went without coverage. They were being shifted over into Affordable Care Act-compliant (that is, richer and, in some cases, more expensive plans).

Here's FL Health Watch:

"On the heels of the President's announcement, Florida Blue agreed to allow individual members to continue their existing health care coverage or explore new plan options under the ACA.  Those who previously received cancellation letters from the insurer will get new ones offering them the option to remain on their existing plan through 2014 if they choose.  

"The company said it will continue to offer guidance to its customers related to their healthcare options. The member contact number is 1-800-FLA-BLUE (1-800-352-2583).

"So now that the president has decided to, as Scott said, "focus" on these families, will Scott focus on the 848,000 Floridians who are eligible for Medicaid under Obamacare -- but only if the state agreed to expand the program?"

Of course, none of this means Obamacare criticisms are over. The disaster of a rollout with the feckless website, anemic enrollment figures and the fib that people who liked their plans could keep them will haunt the president and the program.

Also, there's the fact that in basically calling for a one-year delay in Obamacare, the president appears to be legislating from the executive branch. And that can have spooky consequences. Here's the conservative Townhall on that.

November 14, 2013

Like Obama, Obamacare starts collapsing in Gallup poll: 40% approve, 55% disapprove


Public approval of President Obama's signature healthcare law reached an all-time low since his reelection, with 40 percent of Americans approving Obamacare and 55 percent disapproving in Gallup's latest survey.

That's an index of -15 and a shift against the law of 11 percentage points since mid October, when Gallup found public opinion almost tied. Then, 44 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved.

Just after Oct. 1, when the individual-market plans of Obamacare were starting to come online, the Affordable Care Act seemed oddly insulated from the drumbeat of negative publicity about its botched rollout. Then came the wave of millions of current-policy cancellation notices from insurance companies that disproved the president's falsehood that those who like their insurance plans can keep them.

Yet Obamacare's numbers held essentially steady.

Until, perhaps, now.

Foreshadowing the drop, the president's poll numbers started to bottom out first. In early November, Gallup's daily tracking poll found the president matched his all-time low job-approval rating, 39 percent.

Quinnipiac's poll earlier this week found that more voters, 52 percent, found Obama to be not honest and trustworthy compared to those who found him reliable, 44 percent. Quinnipiac found Obama's job approval was 39-54, a -15 index that at the time compared with Gallup's daily tracking index of -14.

Also nearly matching Quinnipiac's results, Gallup reported yesterday that American perceptions of Obama's trustworthiness have taken a dive. Exactly half find him honest, 47 percent don't. (Note: one difference between Gallup and Quinnipiac is the former had polled residents, the latter surveyed voters).

As has been said in this space before: it ain't the topline, it's the trend. And Obama is spiraling downward.

Other surveys are showing similar results regarding the president's favorability ratings. And considering the anemic Obamacare enrollment numbers released yesterday and running-scared Democrats, there's a good chance Obama and Obamacare's numbers will continue dropping.

Democrats are quick to point out that Congress' approval ratings are in the single digits, and that Republicans were badly damaged for precipitating the government shutdown. But the Quinnipiac poll indicated that voters were as or more likely to trust congressional Republicans on a variety of issues (including immigration) when compared to Obama.

Obama has lost the middle of the country. Survey after survey shows that independents are turning away from him in droves, essentially siding with Republicans (but not in the same proportions).

That doesn't just spell trouble for Obama and his healthcare law. It's a warning to Democrats in the mid-term elections. Mid-terms are often referendums on a president, and the mid-terms of a president's second term are often bloodbaths for the party that controls the White House.

Look what happened to George Bush.

A year after his reelection, and months after his administration's botched response to Hurricane Katrina, Bush's approval fell to 39 percent in Pew Research's poll, which last week reported that Obama's ratings were at 41 percent and were on a parallel downward track.

There's another parallel between Bush and Obama: both seemed to be far more-effective at campaigning than governing.

Blame history, perhaps.

But, from the failures of the Obamacare website to the false hopes he raised and phony statements he made, blame Obama as well.

November 12, 2013

Charlie Crist's campaign, donors look like extension of Obama for Florida


Charlie Crist’s career as a Republican was ruined four years ago after he hugged President Barack Obama onstage; now he says it could be his salvation as a Democrat.

Running again for his old post with a new party affiliation, Crist is being embraced by another aspect of the president: former Florida campaign workers for Obama, who has twice carried the Sunshine State.

At least seven former Obama Florida campaign workers — from his pollster to a top political consultant to media experts to his fundraiser — now form the nucleus of Crist’s new campaign team.

And top Obama donors, pleased with Crist’s help on the campaign in 2012, are expected to follow.

“I’ve always liked Charlie Crist, even when he was a Republican,” said Ralph Patino, a Coral Gables lawyer who helped the Obama campaign’s Futuro Fund raise $30 million last year for Hispanic outreach.

Patino, who hosted a Friday Democratic National Committee fundraiser headlined by Obama, invited Crist the day before when the governor stopped by and asked for his support.

“The Obama world has an interest in Crist — they had him speak at the Democratic National Convention,” Patino said. “That showed me, even back then, that they had an interest in Charlie Crist.”

More here

Read more here:

GOP seizes on Clinton's criticisms of Obamacare rollout


Republicans couldn't help but react with glee to former president Bill Clinton's remarks Tuesday that the Obama administration ought to accept a change in the law that would allow all Americans to keep their current health insurance plan.

In an interview published on Ozy, a web magazine, Clinton said Obama should honor his the promise that he has been making for years: If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.

“I personally believe even if it takes a change in the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got,” Clinton said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, applauded Clinton for joining a bipartisan call for Obama to act.

"These comments signify a growing recognition that Americans were misled when they were promised that they could keep their coverage under President Obama’s health care law," Boehner said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama agrees with Clinton and said he has asked aides to devise a way to accomodate those people losing their plans. But he declined to outline the possible fixes, or even a timetable for action.

“The president has tasked his team with looking at a range of options, as he said, to make sure that nobody is put in a position where their plans have been canceled and they can’t afford a better plan, even though they’d like to have a better plan,” Carney said.

Lawmakers from both parties have introduced bills to allow Americans to keep their plans, but the White House has not endorsed any proposal.

November 10, 2013

What Obama should have said: If you like your political dysfunction, you can keep it.


If you like your political dysfunction, you can keep it.

Too bad President Obama didn’t promise that. It would have been accurate.

Instead, he had to say three dozen or so times that you could keep the insurance plan you like under his Affordable Care Act.

“Period,” the president said for added emphasis.

But it wasn’t true for many. So finally he made an apology of sorts last week.

And then he was off to fundraise in Miami, where he headlined three Friday events. On Saturday, Obama golfed with former basketball star Alonzo Mourning at the exclusive Grande Oaks Golf Club in Davie, site of the classic 1980 comedy movie Caddyshack. Then it was back to Washington.

Thus the political cycle churns: Wash with money. Spin. Repeat.

This was Obama’s third fundraising trip to Florida, and Miami-Dade, this year. Last year there was an election. So he came to Florida 15 times, often holding public events so the broadcast media would cover his remarks and so that taxpayers could help underwrite more of the bill for presidential travel and security.

The three Miami fundraisers Friday were all private, though reporters were allowed limited access.

Obama made sure to rebut Republican critics, like those in Florida, who have raised a fuss about people without insurance while simultaneously refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. That denies the possibility of coverage to as many as 848,000 Floridians.

“More people could have healthcare via Medicaid,” Obama said. “But that’s not happening because of politics.”

Republican Gov. Rick Scott ducked the issue in a written statement.

“The President’s healthcare law is causing hundreds of thousands of Floridians to lose their health insurance plans. The White House should focus on helping these families, not Medicaid, which our state just recently reformed to be more flexible, accessible and cost-conscious,” Scott said. “Unfortunately, the White House’s politics of deflection and distraction won’t give anyone their healthcare back, even after the president promised that if they liked their plans, they could keep them.”

Scott’s comments are also laden with deflection, distraction and misleading opinion.

Read more here:
More here

November 09, 2013

Obama hits the links with Alonzo Mourning in Fort Lauderdale

Caddyshack golf course@LesleyClark

President Obama is closing out a fundraising trip to South Florida by hitting the links at a golf club -- made famous in the 1980 classic Caddyshack.

The White House pool arrived at the Grande Oaks Golf Club in Fort Lauderdale to see Obama, wearing a blue polo shirt, tan slacks and a tan/khaki ball cap, greeting people and shaking hands and at one point, posing for pictures.

According to its website, Grande Oaks is a private club that was featured in the 1980 Bill Murray film, Caddyshack, and "offers members an exclusive atmosphere with some of south Florida's foremost socialites."

The club's "Raymond Floyd re-designed 18-hole championship course, 40-acre practice facility and southern plantation style clubhouse provides sanctuary, serenity and the utmost in service," the website promises.

Its gift shop boasts a number of Caddyshack-themed gifts, including golf club covers in the form of a gopher -- an homage to the starring role a destructive rodent plays in the movie.

Obama's partners include former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning, ambassador Ron Kirk and Cyrus Walker, senior advisor Valerie Jarrett's cousin. At one point, the White House pool caught a glimpse of Obama driving a golf cart as he pulled away from a tee, with Mourning in the passenger seat.

Obama wrapped up a trio of fundraisers in Miami late Friday, including one event where he told two of Cuba's leading dissidents in South Florida that he admires their sacrifices, a rare White House recognition of the peaceful opposition on the communist-ruled island.

Read more here:

November 08, 2013

Obama raises cash in Miami -- with Crist as guest

Segovia Tower Coral GablesPresident Obama arrived in Miami Friday afternoon to headline three Democratic Party fundraisers hosted by the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Florida’s newest high-profile Democrat, former Gov. Charlie Crist, was spotted at the Segovia Tower in Coral Gables at a $32,000-a-head fundraiser hosted by personal injury attorney Ralph G. Patino.

Obama moved next to a fundraiser hosted by Jorge Mas Santos, a Cuban American National Foundation leader and CEO of MasTec There, the president thanked Mas Santos, who stood next to him, and singled out U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Mike Bennet of Colorado. 

Continue reading "Obama raises cash in Miami -- with Crist as guest" »

Crist to see Obama today in Miami, says "I don't think so" when asked if president lied


The Republican Party of Florida is noting former Gov. Charlie Crist's flip-floppery over Obamacare (hated it as a Republican, loves it as a Democrat) and his response to this question in a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera, who asked if the president got "caught in a lie" by saying those who like their health-insurance could keep it under the Affordable Care Act:

"I don't know. I don't think so. I know him to being an honorable and a decent man. He's actually in the Sunshine State later today. I look forward to seeing him. And I worked hard for his reelection because I believe in his heart and his grace," Crist said.

A sample of the RPOF clip job showing Crist wasn't always such a believer in Obama or Obamacare:

As Independent Candidate For Senate, Crist Bashed Obamacare, Attacked Obama For Not Working Towards Bipartisanship. "Crist, who lost much of his Republican support by appearing with Obama at a rally to push for the passage of the $787 billion stimulus, referred a couple of times to 'Obamacare' as a slight to the health care overhaul the president signed into law. 'Obamacare was off the charts, was wrong. It taxed too much, has mandates that are probably unconstitutional, and it's not the way to go. And it was rammed through,' said Crist, who has previously said both that he would support a repeal of the law and that he would seek to fix, but not repeal it, because it has some good things. And in another attempt to put a gap between himself and the president, Crist also criticized Obama for not following through on his promise of working with both parties. 'The president started out originally saying I'm going to work across the aisle 'I'm going to reach across the aisle and make sure that we get everybody involved in the solutions that matter to the people of America,' Crist said. 'It hasn't happened. It needs to happen.'" (Brendan Farrington, "Fla.'s Crist Tries To Distance Himself From Obama," The Associated Press, 10/20/2010)


November 07, 2013

Decoding Diaz-Balart and immigration reform's struggle in the House


It’s all but guaranteed: Immigration reform is dead for 2013.

The Republican-controlled House has refused to take up the bipartisan Democratic-controlled Senate bill that passed earlier this year. And now time has essentially run out.

“I don’t see the math. There are only 16 days, legislative days, for the floor,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a leading Republican immigration-reformer in the House.

“Unless someone has some magic potion," he said. "I don’t see how there’s time to go through the committee process and through the floor with what could ultimately be six or nine bills.”

Continue reading "Decoding Diaz-Balart and immigration reform's struggle in the House" »

Three fundraisers, one metropolis: More details of Obama's Miami trip surface


President Obama isn't merely coming to Miami Friday for a fundraiser. He's coming for three, one hosted by the Democratic National Committee and two for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. And, of course, the president is expected to play golf but that's not yet confirmed.

There are no public events scheduled as of yet. So most if not all details about the fundraisers will come from the White House. So far it looks like the fundraisers are being held by:

Leslie Miller Saiontz (DSCC), a philanthropist/real-estate and building businesswoman who contributed $57,300 in 2012 to various candidates and committees.

Jorge Mas Santos (DSCC), a Cuban American National Foundation leader and CEO of MasTec who contributed $5,000 last year to Rep. Joe Garcia.

Ralph G. Patino (DNC), a top personal-injury attorney who contributed $88,800 last year to various committees and candidates.

Patino's Coral Gables fundraiser sounds a little different from your standard fundraiser. Patino says it'll be more of a roundtable with about 30 donors-business leaders to talk about the topic of the day and year. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will attend (Sen. Bill Nelson is expected at the DSCC events).

"It's an open forum," Patino said. "There's not one particular goal."

Patino emerged last year as a key fundraiser in the Hispanic community for the Obama campaign's Futuro Fund. The money (along with the Obama campaign's know-how) helped the president win the Hispanic vote in Florida and the nation. Obama also came close to winning the Cuban-American vote, once solidly Republican.

Patino said he recently started up a 501c4 called ACT, an abbreviation for "Americano Como Tú" ("American Like You") to improve Hispanic political participation. While unabashedly progressive, Patino said Republicans could receive ACT's support as well for supporting things like immigration reform or farmworker rights.