Nevada co-op failure a sign of how the single-payer scheme is working?

Nevada Health Co-op office. (R-J photo by Jeff Scheid)

Obamacare is a black hole into which taxpayer money is being poured.

It is bad enough that the union-backed Nevada Health Co-op has gone belly up with little chance of it ever repaying its $66 billion federal start-up loan, since it lost $42 million in the past year and a half, but it also managed to blow through $10 million in in taxpayer money in 2014 through the Transitional Reinsurance Program, which is supposed to pay 80 percent of claims excess of $45,000 up to $250,000. This amounted nationally to $7.9 billion in 2014, on top of the $2.4 billion in loans to start-up those 23 co-ops, like Nevada Health Co-op, several of which has already failed and all but one are losing money.

According to the Federalist, the administration arbitrarily decided to pay 100 percent of those high-cost claims, but it still wasn’t enough to cover the Nevada co-op’s expenses.

The morning newspaper reported that the Nevada co-op had administrative expense-to-premium ratio at 37 percent — almost double the 20 percent allowed — partly due to sky-high salaries paid to executives with ties to a union that represents casino workers. The co-op in 2013 paid more than $1 million to just three executives. That might be one place to start looking for a way to recoup taxpayer money.

The newspaper also quoted an insurance executive who explained that most insurers require a 90-day waiting period to discourage people from waiting to sign up until after they become ill, but the co-op started with no waiting period and later went to a 30-day window in 2014, creating a costlier clientele.

Noting the Nevada co-op failure, Rick Moran at The American Thinker predicts, “The failure of the Nevada co-op serves to highlight the booby traps that are still in Obamacare — too few healthy people paying for too many sick people. Eventually, the numbers won’t add up for anybody, and the system will be threatened with collapse. At that point, Democrats will claim that the only salvation for the program will be a single-payer system run entirely by the government.”

That’s been the plan along, as Nevada Sen. Harry Reid once admitted. Asked on public radio two years ago if the country will eventually work beyond private health insurance, Reid enthusiastically replied, “Yes. Absolutely, yes.”

Reid said the country has to “work our way past” private health insurance.

“What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever,” Reid was quoted as saying by the Las Vegas Sun. “We had a real good run at the public option … don’t think we didn’t have a tremendous number of people who wanted a single-payer system,” but he could not get enough votes then.

Perhaps Democrats will have a better shot once the system is totally broken.

Nevada ObamaCare co-op to close, as anticipated

You read it here first.

In July a Louisiana ObamaCare insurer closed, and I asked whether this could happen in Nevada next. Nevada Health Co-op got a $66 million federal loan to enter the market, but, according to The American Spectator, it lost $20 million this past year.

Today the R-J reports that Nevada Health Co-op will close on Dec. 31. Its customer will have to find another insurer by Jan. 1.

Here is a clip from that American Spectator article:

Nevada health co-op has another problem in addition to sky-high salaries, nepotism. Nevada Health CO-OP is top-heavy with members of the long-troubled UNITE HERE union, which represents casino workers in the state and has been accused of corruption by other union officials.

Tom Zumtobell, the co-op’s CEO, received $414,000 in 2013. He is a former UNITE Here vice president and lives in Reno, 450 miles from the co-op’s Las Vegas headquarters. Kathy Silver received $377,000 as the co-op’s treasurer. Silver is the former board president of the local UNITE HERE chapter.

Bobbette Bond, the co-op’s secretary, hauled in $222,000. She was UNITE HERE’s chief lobbyist. Her husband is Donald “D” Taylor, UNITE HERE’s national president and a director of the co-op.

The Co-op’s website today reports:

The Board of Directors of the Nevada Health CO-OP has voted to cease operations beginning January 1, 2016 due to market conditions. At the same time, the Board voted to continue serving members through the end of the year to protect the health insurance of its current membership. Since the closure is voluntary, it should have minimal impact to members and providers.

“It is with deep sadness that based on challenging market conditions, the Board made a painful decision to wind down operations of the Nevada co-op at the end of this year,” said CO-OP Member and Board Director Stacey Hatfield. “Rather than spending resources on next year’s uncertain market, we would rather make sure we protect our current members. This is all about providing the most affordable, effective health insurance and service possible.”

That was no mention of whether that federal loan would be repaid.

Trump voters will not listen to reason

Frank Luntz (AP photo)

Never let the facts get in the way of your faith.

After a focus group put together by Republican pollster Frank Luntz was unshaken in its devotion to Donald Trump despite being shown videos of his flip-flops and outrageous tantrums, Luntz was shaken. “My legs are shaking,” Luntz actually said.

It appears a fairly large segment of those who claim to be Republican primary voters (more than 20 percent, according to most polls) don’t want a leader or a government that will get out of their way and leave them free to conduct their affairs as they see fit, but, instead, pine for a messiah or someone with star-power.

According to a Time account of Luntz’s grilling of Trump faithful:

The focus group watched taped instances on a television of Trump’s apparent misogyny, political flip flops and awe-inspiring braggadocio. They watched the Donald say Rosie O’Donnell has a “fat, ugly face.” They saw that Trump once supported a single-payer health system, and they heard him say, “I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created.” But the group — which included 23 white people, 3 African-Americans and three Hispanics and consisted of a plurality of college-educated, financially comfortably Donald devotees — was undeterred.

At the end of the session, the vast majority said they liked Trump more than when they walked in.

They stuck with the mercurial Trump no matter what he says or does or how often he bobs and weaves on his stances.

Luntz concluded, “Donald Trump is punishment to a Republican elite that wasn’t listening to their grassroots.”

No, Trump is just one of those people who is famous for being famous and too many voters will blindly follow.

As Stephen Moore and Lawrence Kudlow point out in an Investor’s Business Daily op-ed today, protectionist Trump would be worst Republican president since Herbert Hoover, whose Smoot-Hawley tariffs helped launch the Great Depression.

“A draft of Trump’s 14-point economic manifesto promises that, as president, he would ‘modify or cancel any business, or trade agreement that hinders American business development, or is shown to create an unfair trading relationship with a foreign entity,'” they write, noting that tax cuts and regulatory relief, not trade barriers, will solve the nation’s competitiveness deficit.

Perhaps it is not just the voters who want someone to do all the heavy lifting. Even Congress has punted on its responsibilities, as Bill Wilson points out on the same page of IBD.

Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker recently spelled out his opposition to Obama’s Iran nuke deal in a Washington Post op-ed piece. As Wilson notes, it was Corker who cut the deal that will require both houses of Congress to turn down the treaty by a veto-proof two-thirds majority, a near impossibility, instead of the constitutional requirement that two-thirds of the Senate must approve it.

“But for the past 100 years, Congress has frantically handed its powers, rights and prerogatives over to the executive branch. In so doing, they are rendering themselves impotent and meaningless,” Wilson states.

Nobody wants to think for themselves or take responsibility.

After the focus group session, Luntz said, “There’s like an alternative universe.”

Donald Trump (AFP-Getty Images photo)

 

Obama preaches his clean energy heresy to the choir

Obama and Reid (AP photo by John Locher)

When Obama took the stage to close out Harry Reid’s traveling planet salvation show Monday at Mandalay Bay, he accused the opponents of his sweeping clean energy plan to prevent climate change of spreading misinformation.

“We refuse to surrender the hope of a clean energy future to those who fear it and fight it, and sometimes provide misinformation about it,” he charged, according to a White House transcript.

But it was Obama who was spreading the misinformation, including his constant drumbeat about the immediate and devastating threat of climate change. There has been no significant increase in global temperatures in 20 years, despite what the climate change models all predicted.

Earlier in the day John Podesta, head of the Center for American Progress, one of the sponsors of the National Clean Energy Summit 8.0, cited the claim that July was the hottest month on record. But satellite readings dispute this and the hundredths of a degree increase from land-based readings was well below the margin of error.

Obama also had the audacity on the same day his administration announced billions of dollars in new loan guarantees for renewable energy projects to claim renewables can compete in the free market against fossil fuel power generation.

“A lot of Americans are going solar and becoming more energy efficient not because they’re tree huggers — although trees, you know, are important — just want you to know — but because they’re cost-cutters.  They like saving money,” Obama said. ” And I’m all for a consumer saving money, because that means they can spend it on other stuff.  Solar isn’t just for the green crowd anymore — it’s for the green eyeshade crowd, too.”

This came days after NV Energy hit a cap on rooftop solar installations and stopped issuing permits until the PUC revamps the pricing structure for rooftop solar. The rooftop panel installers claim the proposal by NV Energy — to charge a connection fee and cut in half the per kilowatt-hour credit for uploading excess power to the grid — will put them out of business, because rooftop panel owners would be paying more for electricity than other power users.

Without tax breaks, tax credits, subsidies and high sell-back rates, solar does not yet pencil out.

Obama also lashed out at opponents he claimed were “trying to undermine competition in the marketplace, and choke off consumer choice, and threaten an industry that’s churning out new jobs at a fast pace.”

Study after study have shown that for every green energy job created by taxpayer subsidies and higher power cost at least two jobs in the rest of the private sector are lost.

Earlier this year Obama linked an increase in hurricanes to climate change, even though no major hurricane has hit the U.S. in nine years.

In introducing Obama, Reid also repeated the false hurricane narrative, “Protecting the earth’s climate is the greatest challenge of our time. Does everybody agree? (Applause) You see this climate change doesn’t affect a particular people or industry or region or country. Climate change affects everybody, every American, every human being on the face of the earth, no matter where they live. From record break droughts in the Southwest to coastal flooding in the East, we’re seeing the impacts of increasing temperatures and rising sea levels. Hurricanes are becoming more frequent and that’s an understatement. …”

He then claimed that rising temperatures are breeding ticks that have killed 30 percent of the moose population in the Northeast. The nexus is tenuous at best.

“Warm weather is preventing in some places bears from hibernating,” Reid said. FactCheck.org rated the hibernation claim false.

Obama and Reid never let the facts get in the way of their drive to dole out taxpayer money to their cronies and contributors in the green energy industry.

Obama even joined Reid in his attacks on the Koch brothers:

But while change this fast presents new opportunities, it is invariably going to create resistance from some fossil fuel interests who want to protect the old, outdated status quo.  And there are some legitimate issues around how does a new distributed system work, and folks have some costs and how do we deal with those things, and those are important for us to address.  But when you start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests, or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards or prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding — that’s a problem.  That’s not the American way.  That’s not progress.  That’s not innovation.  That’s rent seeking and trying to protect old ways of doing business and standing in the way of the future.

I mean, think about this.  Ordinarily, these are groups that tout themselves as champions of the free market.  If you start talking to them about providing health care for folks who don’t have health insurance, they’re going crazy — “this is socialism, this is going to destroy America.”  But in this situation, they’re trying to undermine competition in the marketplace, and choke off consumer choice, and threaten an industry that’s churning out new jobs at a fast pace.  (Applause.)  And that has the potential to hurt a lot of communities — and set back America’s leadership in fighting climate change.  They’re even fighting to protect billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars in corporate welfare each year that’s going to fossil fuel companies.

In the same building where Reid held his clean energy show, a coalition of people countered with a group of speakers at what they called the Affordable Energy Summit 8.0 to point out the highly subsidized clear energy is prohibitively expensive and produces few environmental benefits.

“Forcing Americans to spend increasingly high amounts of money on energy deprives us of the means to purchase health care, education, better nutrition, and a wide array of goods and services that make life happier and healthier,” said Heartland Institute senior fellow for environment and energy policy James Taylor. “It also kills jobs throughout the entire economy when people have less money to spend on these desirable goods and services.”

 

Did Reid threaten the electric utility industry?

Soon NV Energy President Paul Caudill will take the stage at Reid’s clean energy confab.

I wonder if he listened to Reid’s opening monologue?

Here is clip from that speech as posted online by his personal newsletter:

I look forward to President Obama outlining his Clean Power Plan, which will be the strongest action ever taken by our country to curb climate change and boost clean energy. But notwithstanding all of the progress we have made over the last decade, we still have many miles to travel before we sleep. In fact, in many respects, we are still stuck in the 19th century.

In 1882, more than a century before we gathered for the first National Clean Energy Summit, Thomas Edison was busy inventing the first electricity grid. Edison’s grid was improved by George Westinghouse in 1886 – an electric grid that is remarkably similar to ours today. Consider that – the grid technology that utility companies rely on is older than the Model T Ford.

This grid system makes money for utilities by generating electricity at central plants and delivering that power to customers through power lines. Costs for the infrastructure are paid by all customers based on how much power they consume – the more electricity we use, the more we pay. This utility business model made sense for many decades.

But electric utilities never imagined that families and businesses would be able to generate energy for the same price as utility power plants. They didn’t consider that consumers would rather pay to make their homes more efficient than pay for power they don’t need. And they didn’t expect Americans would grow to believe that reducing climate-changing carbon pollution is a priority.

Our electric grid has barely changed in a century, but that is quickly coming to an end. American demand for clean, reliable power choices is forcing change that is accelerating.

Harry Reid opening speech at clean energy confab. (Sun photo)

How to price net metering

Charles Chicchetti

Charles Chicchetti

At Harry Reid’s clean energy confab today there was a panel debate on how net metering — for rooftop solar installations mostly — should be paid for and by whom.

Charles Cicchetti of Pacific Economics Group explained that much of the so-called reform being touted is about the utility companies bottom line. He said solar panel owners are not selling power to the utility but are banking it, just as they might put money in the bank.

 

Obama announces new loans for projects Nevada has halted

How ironic.

On the day Obama is to speak to Harry Reid’s clean energy confab, his administration announces $1 billion in new loan guarantees for distributive energy — rooftop solar panels mostly — at the very time Nevada has shut down rooftop solar construction because it has hit a cap 235 megawatts.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is currently speaking at the confab, said there is a “major opportunity” to expand the share of solar energy around the United States.

“At the Department of Energy, we are providing a significant focus on the issue of distributed energy tech and the infrastructures, the grid infrastructures, that we need to integrate these fully into the system,” Moniz said, according to The Hill.