Chad’s Morning Brief: Obamacare Site Appeals Still Not Fixed, Lieutenant Governor Race Moving to the Right, and Other Top Stories
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of February 3, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.
Errors With Obamacare’s Website Not Fixed
More bad news when it comes to Obamacare. According to FOX News, around 22,000 Americans filed appeals to try and get mistakes corrected. For months those appeals haven’t been touched.
Thousands of people who tried to sign up for a health plan via the federal healthcare exchange website, Healthcare.gov, have seen their appeals to fix site issues go unanswered.
The Washington Post, citing internal government data, reports that approximately 22,000 Americans have filed appeals to try and get site errors corrected. The complaints range from being denied coverage altogether to being overcharged for coverage to being steered into the wrong program.
So far, months after the site launched October 1, the appeals have been untouched. What’s more, the Post reports, people who have tried to call the marketplace directly for assistance, have been told that the Healthcare.gov computer system is not yet allowing workers to correct enrollment records.
In theory, error appeals can be filed through the site itself, by phone, or by mail. However, only the mail appeal is currently available. But according to the Post, the appeal by mail process only goes as far as scanning the seven-page forms and transferring them to a computer system, where they currently sit unread and uncorrected.
A CMS spokesman told the Post “We are working to fully implement the appeals system.” In the meantime, the paper reported, applicants are being told to go back to Healthcare.gov and start over, thought it is not clear how many of the 22,000 who complained of errors have done so.
However, the lack of action on appeals means that some who signed up for plans taking effect January 1 have been stuck with health plans costing them too much. One of those, 27-year-old West Virginian Addie Wilson, told the Post she was paying $100 more per month than necessary for her insurance, with a deductible that’s $4,000 too high.
Move to the Right
You just knew the media would jump all over the candidates running for Lieutenant Governor in the Republican Primary after the debate they had a couple of weeks ago. The debate was light on policy and was instead heavy on social issues. Social issues that they mostly agreed on. Even the New York Times took notice.
One candidate has called for the impeachment of President Obama. Another wants the National Guard to help secure the border. Yet another criticized the openly lesbian mayor here for marrying her longtime partner in Palm Springs, Calif., saying it was “part of a larger strategy of hers to turn Texas into California.” And all of the leading contenders want to allow Texans to carry handguns in holsters on their hips.
Four powerful state Republican officials have been locked in a tight race for lieutenant governor — a job that in Texas is no mere sinecure, but one with powers that rival the governor’s when it comes to controlling what comes out of the Legislature.
A month before the March 4 primary, the race is illustrating the increasing shift to the far right for Texas Republicans as the rivals —Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is seeking re-election; State Senator Dan Patrick of Houston; Todd Staples, the agriculture commissioner; and Jerry Patterson, the land commissioner — try to appeal to the grass-roots and Tea Party conservatives who make up the bulk of the electorate in Republican primaries.
There has been much talk lately in national political circles about thedemographic forces that might make Texas a competitive state for Democrats by 2020. But the battle to win the state’s No. 2 seat shows that much of Texas remains, for now, neither blue nor even purple, but a deep shade of red.
Mr. Dewhurst and Mr. Patrick have talked about repealing the 17th Amendment, which established the election of United States senators by popular vote rather than by state legislatures, a favorite states’-rights cause of the Tea Party. Mr. Staples has touted his sponsorship of the state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. And all four candidates want the religious theory of creationism taught in public schools, despite the Supreme Court’s 1987 decision that banned it from classrooms.
“Our children must really be confused,” Mr. Patrick said. “We want them to go to church on Sunday, and we teach them about Jesus Christ, and then they go to school on Monday and they can’t pray. They can’t learn about creationism.”
The candidates have been criticized by Democrats and even some Republicans for pandering to the far right. Asked if there had been Tea Party pandering, Mr. Patterson, 67, a former Marine who wrote the law that gave Texans the right to carry concealed handguns, replied, “Absolutely,” though he said it was being done not by him but his rivals. “It’s the propensity, particularly of Patrick, to tell people whatever he thinks they want to hear.”
The race has also served as a postscript to one of the biggest legislative showdowns in Texas — State Senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster last year over a Republican-backed bill restricting abortion.
The filibuster on the Senate floor turned Ms. Davis into a national Democratic star and laid the groundwork for her run for governoragainst Greg Abbott, the Republican attorney general. But it also put Mr. Dewhurst on the defensive, as many party colleagues blamed him for mismanaging the filibuster as the presiding officer of the Senate and for helping facilitate Ms. Davis’s rise to fame.
Mr. Dewhurst was already seen as politically vulnerable, following his loss in a 2012 runoff to Ted Cruz for the state’s open United States Senate seat.
Mr. Dewhurst’s three rivals said he had failed to use procedural rules to end the legislative session before the filibuster even began and failed to ensure the bill remained intact rather than stripped of a key provision, a move that set the stage for the filibuster when the bill came back to the Senate.
“That whole episode was just absolutely failed leadership, and where does that all lead?” Mr. Patrick said. “That leads to Wendy Davis raising $12 million, a lot of it from out of state, to come in and put a target on Greg Abbott and Republicans.”
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Other Top Stories:
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