Secretary Says Insurers Should Waive Premiums
While the Government continues to struggle with what seem to be insurmountable problems with the Affordable Care Act's implementation, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urged insurers to “cover whoever claims to have insurance.”
“We fully understand that under normal conditions insurance isn't effective until the insured has paid a premium for coverage,” Sebelius said. “However, we aren't dealing with normal conditions. Many who have tried to sign up for insurance haven't been successful. For many of those who have been told they're signed up our system hasn't been able to properly bill them. Some have assumed that the President's Executive Order saying they could keep their old insurance means they're automatically covered. And a distressingly large number of people seem to think that health care is, like the 'Obama phone,' free.”
“Honestly, it's a total mess,” the Secretary continued. “We're asking the insurance industry to just pay whatever charges come across their desks until we get it all sorted out. We consider it part of their patriotic duty.”
Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of Americas Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), is decidedly unenthusiastic about Sebelius' request calling it “an invitation to fiscal insolvency. The whole premise of insurance is that everyone pays a premium to cover contingencies that may occur in the future. It doesn't work if we let people wait until the contingency occurs before they pay.”
Sebelius tried to allay industry concerns by reminding Ms. Ignagni that “the President has promised that any losses insurers may incur as a result of a proactive stance of covering whatever claims are submitted will be reimbursed, no questions asked.”
Ironically, on the same day that Sebelius was endeavoring to entice industry compliance with this promise, politifact.com announced that President Obama won 2013's award for the biggest lie of the year for reassuring people that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it, period.”
In related news, Sebelius asked her Department's Inspector General to investigate “the colossal failure of the website. We need to find out who authorized the extraordinarily expensive, yet massively malfunctioning programming. Who chose the contractor? Who oversaw the work? Who approved payments without verifying that the work was satisfactory? I am both angry and mystified as to how this could have happened.”
Administration's Clueless Afghanistan Experts Testify
The Obama Administration's cadre of experts in charge of the Afghan War testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week and revealed a profound ignorance of what is going on. None of the witnesses had any idea on what the war cost last year or how many Americans have been killed in the last 12 months.
James Dobbins, The State Department’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, complained that the questions were unfair, “No one told us there might be a quiz. Anyway, isn't there some website where people can get these statistics? Why should we be expected to know them?”
Michael Dumont, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, characterized the questioning as “intrusive. It seems to me that Congress is overstepping its bounds. The President is the Commander-in-Chief, not Congress. I have to question their need to know.”
Representative Gerald Connolly (D-Va) professed himself “stunned” by the testimony. “Knowing what a war costs in terms of lives and money is pretty basic stuff,” Connolly observed. “It's not like we dragged some random people off the street to testify. These guys are paid by the taxpayers to carry out the business of the government. For them to appear before Congress and not know these things raises serious questions about the competence of those the President has entrusted with such grave responsibilities.”
President Says Media “Unfairly Focused on Failure”
In an interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews, President Obama blamed his falling voter-approval numbers on “media obsession with failure.”
“The Department of Justice lets a few guns fall intro the wrong hands and the next thing we know, there's a frenzy of finger-pointing,” the President complained. “Similarly, four people, let me repeat, four people are killed in Benghazi and the media goes bananas wanting to know who's responsible. These are manufactured scandals. The American people don't care about these phony controversies. By keeping their eyes focused on these non-issues, the media are missing the real success stories.”
Asked by Matthews to give a few examples of success stories, Obama maintained that “it isn't possible for me to recount any successes because the media haven't been reporting any. A lot of people think I'm privy to all kinds of inside information, but I'm telling you that just like everyone else, I have to wait to read about it in the paper.”
“What about the NSA, don't they give you information unavailable to the general public?” Matthews asked.
“A lot of people assume that, but the NSA doesn't tell me anything,” Obama said. “I was as shocked as anyone to learn that the Government has been spying on so many of our citizens. I'd really like to have a sit-down with this Edward Snowden fellow and find out more about what's going on, but he won't agree to meet with me.”
In related news, employees at the NSA are reportedly distressed that the general public knows so much about their operation. “The opening other people's mail and listening in on their phone calls is difficult enough without us having to worry that what we do is being scrutinized by those we're trying to watch,” complained Data Mining Specialist Lance Boyle. “I mean, it's kind of creepy when someone knows you're spying on him. You feel so exposed. Something they weren't supposed to know about has been blasted all over. Let's face it, those Snowden leaks have made our job a lot harder and less fun.”
City Councilman Bids to Ban Criminal Background Checks
Asserting that inquiring into a prospective new hire's criminal past is “discriminatory,” Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby (D) has introduced a proposed ordinance that would bar employers from making such inquiries.
“How is a man supposed to get rehabilitated if he can't get a job because he has a criminal record?” Mosby wanted to know. “Just because a person has had the misfortune to be caught and convicted shouldn't mean he has to be burdened with it for life. I mean, a lot of crooks never get caught. Their backgrounds look clean. Why should they have the advantage over someone who's been unlucky?”
Mosby brushed aside the idea that a business might have a legitimate need to know whether a potential employee might not be trustworthy. “A leopard can change his spots,” Mosby argued. “Some people learn from their mistakes. Shouldn't they be given a second chance? Besides, didn't Jesus tell us to turn the other cheek?”
The fact that employers currently have the option to offer a second chance to previous offenders if they so choose was deemed inadequate by Mosby. “Letting a business decide for itself who to trust puts too much power in the wrong hands,” Mosby declared. “It is the Government's responsibility to make this decision.”
NYC Police Shoot Bystanders
Two New York City police officers wounded two pedestrians when they opened fire on an unarmed man who was wandering into traffic.
Assistant District Attorney Shannon Lucey defended the discharge of the weapons saying that “the person the officers were trying to apprehend may have been mentally deranged. He could've been hit by a car or bus and been seriously injured or killed. They officers felt justified using deadly force to try to stop him.”
The deranged man was eventually arrested and will be charged with assaulting the two women that the police shot while pursuing him. As Lucey explained, “this man created the situation that caused the police to shoot these women. For that he is criminally liable.”
Lucey dismissed the possibility that firing on a jaywalking suspect might have been an excessive use of force. “If we go down that road it would expose the City to potential tort damages due the victims,” she pointed out. “By lodging charges against the man we arrested we divert any lawsuit by the shooting victims toward him.”
Tennessee Water Resources Employees Warned
Sandra Dudley, director of the Water Resources Division of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation sent an email warning her employees not to flush inappropriate items down the toilet.
“People, it's our job to improve water quality,” Dudley wrote. “It should be self evident that flushing shoes, pens, staplers, and similar items would tend to work against this objective. Please stop.”
Administrative Assistant Sheeta Lotte said she considered the email warning “insulting. Everybody knows they shouldn't be flushing this trash. But sometimes the job gets so boring you gotta do something to liven things up. Seeing what kinds of things will actually go down is a kick.”