While conservatives pat themselves on their asses for being right about Obamacare because 15 of the 23 Obamacare co-ops have gone belly up, I realize we missed the whole point of the exercise. Obamacare was never about health care any more than giving money to Elon Musk or Solyndra is about climate change.
President Obama and company are fleecing America. Remember "Goodfellas"? Jimmy the Gent, Henry Hill, and Tommy DeVito take over a restaurant. They buy booze on credit for $200 a case, sell it for $100, and when the bills pile up, Henry and Tommy light up the joint for the insurance money.
That is what is going on here.
Consider the Oregon co-op Health Republic Insurance, which will shutter at year's end. It opened with fanfare a year ago. The Oregonian breathlessly reported:
Armed with hefty federal loans, two startup health insurers are jumping into a crowded and confusing Oregon market just as the biggest changes to U.S. health care in generations roll out this fall.
Oregon's Health CO-OP and Health Republic aim to offer something different: a consumer-run experience.
The two companies filed new policy details and proposed rates with the state, on oregonhealthrates.org. In October, they will go head-to-head with about a dozen established insurers to appeal to small businesses as well as more than 200,000 expected to buy their own insurance next year. Rates and benefits for small business and individual consumers will be easily compared at the state marketplace, called Cover Oregon, set up to help people enroll and qualify for new federal tax credits..
Both startups feature bare-bones administration, more than $50 million in interest-free federal loans, and partnerships with existing health care players. They're both competing to tap into Oregonians who might prefer smaller not-for-profits, or who support underdogs and alternative, homegrown DIY culture.
Member-run health plans aren't new, and some still exist, such as Group Health in Washington state. A majority of the co-op board members will be plan members who are elected by other members.
The Affordable Care Act called for at least one co-op in every state to boost competition and bring health care costs down. But federal budget woes put a stop to the program after 24 received funding.
Only one state received federal funding for two co-ops: Oregon. Now the upstarts will have to sink or swim in an insurance market already ranked among the most competitive in the country.Competition! Market! Start-ups!
Except these organizations were none of those things. This is not capitalism. It is not even crony capitalism. This is corruption.
"Interest-free federal loans." Let me tell you what interest-free: a handout. You are a fool to ever pay the money back. And Dawn Bonder -- CEO of Oregon co-op Health Republic Insurance -- was no fool. She took the money last August, spent it, and is closing the doors in December.
Bonder was "a Senior Policy Advisor to former Democratic Oregon Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski focusing on the issues of health and human services. Before that, Bonder was the Policy Director for the Oregon Business Association, working with state agencies, local governments and non-profits on a wide range of public policy issues."
So she is a lobbyist/politico who received a quarter-million a year to run this exchange into the ground after pocketing $50 million from federal taxpayers.
Democrats set these up in every state they run.
From the Hill:
Many of the beleaguered co-ops have blamed low payouts from an ObamaCare program known as risk corridors. That program was designed to protect insurers against heavy losses by collecting money from insurers doing well and giving it to insurers faring poorly. But the Obama administration announced on Oct. 1 that the program had only taken in enough funds to pay out 12.6 percent of the $2.87 billion that insurers had requested.
“The government’s refusal to honor its risk corridor obligations represents a negative financial impact of over $20 million,” said Dawn Bonder, CEO of the Oregon co-op Health Republic Insurance. “This has placed us in a difficult financial position that could jeopardize our members and partners. As a result, we believe the most ethical step is for Health Republic to refrain from entering the market in 2016 and begin an orderly wind down of business.”She doth protest too much.
Her exchange was not about providing health care. It was about collecting federal subsidies. There is a bizarre socialism to it. The "program was designed to protect insurers against heavy losses by collecting money from insurers doing well and giving it to insurers faring poorly." In other words, people who know what they are doing were supposed to cover the losses of "competitors" who wouldn't know an actuarian if he bit them on the toe.
Of course, this is real life, and not a film. "Goodfellas" ends with all the Goodfellas either going to jail or getting whacked.
That won't happen here.
If we had an opposition party in America, we would see prosecutions. If we had a free press, someone would be curious about where Bonder's $50 million went. What did they buy? Who sold it to them? Who installed it? Who was the landlord?