The Obama administration made its sixth update of the year on Obamacare enrollment Monday — without ever revealing how many customers have paid.
A blog post from Marilyn Tavenner, director of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, boasts 5 million sign-ups so far. The administration has updated the enrollment tally twice a month since millions of customers were required to pay their premiums, but officials have declined yet again to disclose payment information.
Monday’s unscheduled update revealed that the administration can now count 5 million selected plans on Obamacare exchanges across the country — 1 million in California alone. It’s a desperately needed coup for the administration, which is two weeks away from the final enrollment deadline.
But like Tavenner’s other surprise enrollment updates, the blog post is devoid of details or statistics. Instead, it’s chock full of stories about those who were so happy to receive Obamacare that they cried.
Official monthly enrollment announcements merit a conference call with media and a formal state breakdown from the Department of Health and Human Services. But detailed demographic information wasn’t released until mid-January — over halfway through the open enrollment period.
The late release emphasized the administration’s failure to enroll nearly enough of its key demographic, healthy people aged 18 to 35. Through February’s end, Obamacare exchange customers were only 25 percent “young invincibles” — leaving very little time to meet the administration’s prior minimum target of 39 percent.
As of January, customers that paid have been using their Obamacare insurance. But the Obama administration continues to say it doesn’t know how many have paid their premiums.
The best estimates come from consulting firms’ studies of data from insurance companies. Goldman Sachs’ latest indicates that 80 percent of the number the White House has advertised will follow through and purchase their coverage; McKinsey estimates only 77 percent. Such a record would bring that 5 million down to 3.85-4 million instead.
The United Kingdom and the US have been branded ‘Enemies of the Internet’ for the first time by Reporters Without Borders on their annual list of countries which disrupt freedom of information through surveillance and censorship.
Both the US and the UK were included in the list for first time as a result of revelations from the Whistleblower Edward Snowden into the activities of the American and British spy agencies.
In fact Edward Snowden branded the UK, where the government has largely ignored calls to reign in the nation’s spooks and the public remain apathetic, as “worse than the US”.
Snowden outlines various “widespread surveillance practices” operated by GCHQ as part of its plan called “Mastering the internet”.
“The Internet was a collective resource that the NSA and GCHQ turned into a weapon in the service of special interests, in the process flouting freedom of information, freedom of expression and the right to privacy,” say the report’s authors.
The UK, says the press watchdog, paid scant heed to any legal considerations when harvesting huge amounts of data.
“Supported by the NSA and with the prospect of sharing data, the British agency brushed aside all legal obstacles and embarked on mass surveillance of nearly a quarter of the world’s communications,” the report says.
The authors go on to note that the UK is in a unique global position to scoop up internet traffic because many of the landing points of global cables down which internet information travels land on British soil.
“The best known is at Bude in Cornwall, which hosts seven cables including Apollo North which links the UK and the United States, and more particularly TAT-14, which connects the United States and Europe – which US diplomatic cables have called an “essential resource”.”
This means that GCHQ can eavesdrop on exchanges between citizens in Europe and people in the US.
The report also blasts Britain for “confusing journalism and terrorism”, and criticizes the UK government for putting excessive pressure on the Guardian newspaper “to suppress the scandal of the GCHQ wiretaps” and of wrongfully arresting David Miranda.
Miranda was the partner of former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald and was stopped and held for the maximum permitted nine hours under anti-terrorism laws by UK authorities on his way through London Heathrow airport carrying what were deemed sensitive encrypted documents from US film maker Laura Poitras in Berlin.
While Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger was hauled up in front of a committee of MPs and peers and grilled about his papers role in publishing the Snowden revelations. There were also calls from some members of the right wing establishment for him to be investigated by the police and prosecuted although this was quickly dropped when it became clear there was no case against the newspaper.
Reporters Without Borders make it quite clear that in most cases it is not actually governments that are to blame, but much smaller government units, such as the Operations and Analysis Centre in Belarus and GCHQ in the UK.
The fact that countries such as the UK, US and India – another new addition on the list – are now in the same boat as authoritarian regimes such as North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabiya and Belarus is cause for considerable concern. Russia’s FSB is also on the list as an agency that has gone beyond its core duty of national security. While China is also labeled as “an expert in information control” even since it created “the Electronic Great Wall”.
“The mass surveillance methods employed in these three countries, many of them exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, are all the more intolerable because they will be used and indeed are already being used by authoritarians countries such as Iran, China, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain,” states the report.
“How will so-called democratic countries be able to press for the protection of journalists if they adopt the very practices they are criticizing authoritarian regimes for?” the authors add.
The study also notes that the activities of the Enemies of the Internet would not be possible without the tools developed by private sector companies and that here the contradictory behavior of the western democracies should be noted.
One of the major forums or trade fairs specializing in this technology was recently hosted by France despite the French government’s vocal criticism of the activities of the NSA.
Reporters without Borders urged the EU, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, to guarantee unrestricted internet access and digital freedoms in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The report concludes by recommending that international bodies such as the United Nations be pressed to protect internet data and regulate surveillance. It also says that journalists and other information providers should learn how to protect their data and communications.
According to the Obama government’s own latest numbers, 4.2 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare. And while the Obama regime twists and spins the number as being a great accomplishment, and with the looming deadline to sign up less than two weeks away, just how successful is the number?
Obama said in August of 2009 that there were 46 million uninsured, telling the nation, “I don’t have to explain to you that nearly 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance coverage today. In the wealthiest nation on Earth, 46 million of our fellow citizens have no coverage.”
According to Joseph Curl, writing in The Washington Times, Obama spouted the number as being factual over a dozen times, including in June of 2013, when he tried to guilt the nation into accepting Obamacare by goading, “We are not a nation that accepts nearly 46 million uninsured men, women and children.”
Given that the stated goal of Obamacare is to provide health insurance to the uninsured who were in a state of “crisis,” gauging the success of the operation demands that it be judged based upon that goal. Using Obama’s number of 46 million (he wouldn’t lie about that number, would he?), and using the regime’s latest enrollment number of 4.2 million, it means that less than 10% of the uninsured have actually signed up.
Generously disregarding the fact that the regime doesn’t actually know how many of those enrolled have actually paid for their insurance, or that a reported 5 million have had their policies cancelled because of Obamacare, that’s over a 90% failure. And a 90% failure is a failure by anyone’s yardstick.