Not Real Helpful, Ed.


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“Heh-heh, what’d I tell you? Just don’t work, does it?”

Theoretically, elected officials are placed in office and kept there to serve the needs of their constituents. In other words, they work for the people.

So, when a constituent reaches out to an elected California official for assistance in, say, navigating the new regulations and opportunities presented by the Affordable Care Act, one would think that that elected official would inform the constituent about Covered California, and about the assistance available, in the form of a highly-functional web site, with backup service through certified enrollment counselors, certified agents, and county service agencies.

One would think.

Not Congressman Ed Royce though.   In the Fullerton Republican’s email of December 5, 2013, he cites horror stories from three people presented as constituents about how the Affordable Care Act has ruined their lives:

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District Update | December 5, 2013

Dear Friends,

In the three weeks since we first asked you to share your healthcare story, we’ve received nearly 200 responses. Lost coverage and sky-high premiums have been the most commonly reported concerns, despite President Obama’s promise that the American people could keep their current healthcare coverage if they liked it.

Below are three of the many stories we’ve heard about the impact the new healthcare law is having on residents in the 39th district.

“I am a small business owner and I provide full insurance for 6 workers. I was notified that our existing policy is no longer valid and that we are forced to the new Obamacare policy which brings with it a 42.8% increase and higher deductibles than the old plan. I can no longer afford to pay for insurance for my 6 full time employees.” – RM, Yorba Linda

“My mother, brother (18), and I (20) share an Anthem Blue Cross PPO plan on the individual market. Our plan was cancelled because of Obamacare, and the replacement’s premium is 30% higher, deductible is higher, and coverage no better. We had a pretty darn good plan before…Obamacare does a few good things, but the bulk of it doesn’t fix the real underlying problems in our health care system, and the structure of the law evidences a clear lack of understanding of how America’s health care system, and even markets, work.” – Chris, Fullerton

“Premiums going from 286.00 per month to 456.00 minimum or higher with worse coverage, fewer office visits allowed, and higher prescription costs.” – Terry, Anaheim

With over one million Californians expected to lose their coverage, the flawed rollout of healthcare.gov is turning out to be only one of many serious issues with the new healthcare legislation. Have you lost your coverage? Facing higher premiums? I want to hear your healthcare story. Click here to tell me about your experience with the new healthcare law.
Sincerely,

Representative Ed Royce

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First question, of course, is whether these are real people or not, and how valid their stories are. Recall Sean Hannity’s recent fact-check faux pas when the three ACA-afflicted couples he presented on his show turned out to be less than meets the eye. All had doctored or highly colored stories to fit Hannity’s meme.  [Editor: Click here if you don't know what John's talking about.  Just do it.]

Second question, why didn’t Rep. Royce help these people, rather than just glory in their misery?

For “RM, in Yorba Linda,” Rep. Royce could have pointed out that the ACA has no effect on businesses with 49 or fewer employees.

For “Terry, in Anaheim,” Rep. Royce could easily have had someone on his staff call the guy and have him come by the office (Brea isn’t that far from Anaheim, after all) or at least put him in touch with one of the levels of assistance from Covered California.

For “Chris in Fullerton,” same remedy as Terry.

Which brings up another really interesting point: instead of referring readers of his email to the Healthcare.gov web site (which was having teething problems at the time, and which is for states that don’t have their own programs—unlike California), Rep. Royce could (and should) have simply referred them to the coveredca.com web page, which IS WORKING JUST FINE.

Spoiler Alerts:

The Affordable Care Act and ObamaCare are different names for the same thing.

Healthcare.gov is not ObamaCare/ACA. It is a software portal that connects with other government databases in agencies like Internal Revenue and Social Security. As such, it is an extremely complicated piece of software engineering.

And: Barack Obama didn’t write the code. It was written by a government contractor, CGI Federal, after extensive competition, and follows the recognized standards set by Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute

But you knew all that already, didn’t you.


About John MacMurray

John MacMurray is a retired junior high teacher from the Fullerton School District. He ran as the Democratic candidate for California's 72nd Assembly District in 2006, 2008, and the Special Election/Runoff election of 2009/2010. He is active in voter registration and candidate support in his community and in union affairs as a member of CTA/Retired. He blogs regularly for LA Progressive (www.laprogressive.com)