Hugh Hewitt and the nothingness of being (conservative)

Obamacare “is in a death spiral.”

— Hugh Hewitt on Sunday, March 26th, 2017 in comments on “Meet the Press”

So began Politifact’s de-mythologizing yet another zombie lie about Obamacare. There are so many of these falsehoods flying around, it’s hard to know where to begin. If bullshit were shoes, then the discussion over repeal and replace looked a lot like one of those Bush-era foreign press conferences.

The debunk:

“Death spiral” is a health industry term built around three components:

Shrinking enrollment;

Healthy people leaving the system;

Rising premiums.

Specifically, a death spiral occurs when shrinking enrollment leads to a deteriorating risk pool (or when healthy people leave the plan due to the cost).

It’s a market collapse. Insurance companies lose their healthier low-risk buyers, so the product they’re selling becomes costly. Too expensive to buy. It ain’t that hard to understand, Hugh.

I’m picking on the ‘moderate’ winger here from the Sunday morning shows in order to demonstrate how stupidly contrarian conservatives become when confronted with facts. Even when precisely targeted by high velocity steel jacketed dum-dum facts, coming right for their stupid fat heads.

Hugh responds:

Glad to see they covered their rear end…

With his own pants around his knees, Hewitt waddles over to the boys at Powerline to stitch himself a new pair of bloomers from non-sequiturs and prickly defiance. In summary, to wit:

1.) They only gave my booker [and me] three hours to respond via e-mail. But there I was on Twitter the whole time. The underhandedness of Politifact here is startling.
2.) All I did was quote the President of Aetna saying Obamacare was in a ‘death spiral,’ okay? SHEESH.
3.) Let’s not forget that I also said someone might actually fact check him, and that other people disagreed with him, and that he said it in your New York Times. Even they say – the Times! – that Obamacare has problems, okay?
4.) Taken together, you can’t hold me responsible for stating categorically that Obamacare is in a ‘death spiral.’
5.) Since we’re on the subject, you must admit that the President of Aetna is an insurance expert. HA HA.
6.) Did I mention the President of Aetna? He is correct, by the way, Obamacare is in a ‘death spiral.’

For your perusal:

My primary piece of evidence after Aetna’s president’s statement was also omitted by PolitiFact: single-plan counties have gone from 7 percent of the country to 33 percent in one year. This represents a death spiral.

As Politifact wrote, NO. When the pool of people willing to buy insurance at the going rate evaporates, that’s ‘death.’ Young and healthy buyers walk away, premiums go up, and the cycle repeats until the market seizes. Or is a ‘spiral’ just too darn complicated?

What we have here is the opposite: Plenty of people willing to buy, but fewer insurance companies willing to sell.

Hewitt would have us believe that any insurance company that pulls out of any locality for any reason is spinning the market, but no. That would just be a ‘business decision.’ In Obamacare’s case, sometimes a ‘tantrum.’ Or, specifically, in the case of Aetna (surprise!), ‘an attempt to bully both the government and its citizens,’ hallmarked with perjury:

U.S. District Judge John Bates concluded this week that Aetna’s real motivation for dropping Obamacare coverage in several states was “specifically to evade judicial scrutiny” over its merger with Humana.

Whaddyaknow! Laissez un-faire.

Bates said it’s clear that “Aetna tried to leverage its participation in the exchange for favorable treatment” from regulators…”

This critique was buried in a 158-page ruling issued by Bates on Monday, in which he blocked Aetna’s merger with Humana due to anti-competitive concerns…

Last summer, Aetna explained its decision to withdraw from most Obamacare exchanges by saying its individual policies business had lost $430 million since the exchanges opened in January 2014.

However, the judge noted that Aetna kept its support for exchanges in money-losing states like Delaware, Iowa and Virginia — but dumped Florida, even though that big state was projected to be profitable in 2016.

Aetna said they had to pull out of health insurance because they were losing money on Obamacare. But they’re still selling insurance in [cough] ‘unprofitable’ places like Delaware while pulling out of a massive market like Florida – where they were raking it in. Thank you, Judge Bates. And thanks, Aetna, for demonstrating what really goes on behind the scenes in these mega-corporations: conspiratorial shenanigans and strategic scumbaggery. Or, as we econbloggers like to call it, the “Visible Hand.”

The ruling quoted an email from Christopher Ciano, president of Aetna’s Florida market, to Jonathan Mayhew, head of Aetna’s exchange business, showing how stunned he was by the decision to leave Florida.

“I just can’t make sense out of the Florida decision. Never thought we would pull the plug all together,” Ciano wrote, adding that Aetna was “making money from the on-exchange business.”

Mayhew responded by requesting to discuss by phone “instead of email.”

Ix-nay on the ofits-pray, dude (…we’ll have to go to court someday). It’s all so surprising, isn’t it?

I just can’t imagine why Aetna’s CEO would want to lie about the viability and profitability of Obamacare. Or why Hugh Hewitt would want to quote him, apart from all the other ‘experts’ in the field. Or why a sixty-one year old man would be so thoroughly confused as to what constitutes a ‘spiral’…

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