It Was Twenty-Five Years Ago…

…that the Berlin Wall fell.

But make no mistake; the Soviets won.

The link is to an article about government’s role in the demise of medicine in America.  The whole piece is a pull quote, and that is not “fair use” by any stretch.  So read it.

And then look at every other area of your life where these same sorts of niggling government interventions happen “for your own good”.

“It’d Be A Shame If Your Insurance Company Were To..Break, Or Something”

The reason Preferred One – provider with all of the least-expensive plans in the MNSure exchange – left the exchange last month, giving most of its subscribers a 60+% increase in rates to keep a MNSure plan, was that they were basically strong-armed into providing the unsustainable low rates to begin with:

Sometime after the insurer PreferredOne submitted its proposed rates for the first year of the MNsure exchange, state regulators asked the company to consider lowering the numbers.

Ultimately, the insurer responded with “a total rate decrease of 37 percent”, according to a July 2013 letter from an outside actuary to the company.  Those final rates were the lowest in the Twin Cities – and across the country, in many cases – and helped PreferredOne to grab nearly 60 percent of the MNsure business.

 

Now, those subscribers face an average premium increase of 63 percent if they stay with PreferredOne — a yo-yo scenario that health policy experts say points to the challenge in setting prices under the federal health law. The big swing also suggests that the low prices were out of step with the reality of the business.

 

“This was the first year of a new market, so no one knew what they were bidding on,” , said Gary Claxton, a vice president with the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation. “That means it was hard to create the rates, and it was hard to review them.”

 Here’s the deal:  as Representative Zerwas pointed out on a morning radio show today, Preferred One is keenly aware that the MNSure board – a political board, composed (per statute) of absolutely no people from the  healthcare or health insurance industries – can decide who does and doesn’t get to participate in the exchange. 

Which gives them a lot of power when, for example, they tell a company like Preferred One  to kick the tires on an unsustainable rate structure. 

 

 

Parkas In The Third Circle

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The Star Tribune runs an astonishingly even-handed report on politicians’ finger-pointing over Ebola funding.
The conclusion: they’re equally to blame. Which isn’t true, but is a far cry from Star Tribune’s reflex to blame Republicans.
The article points out CDC funding in 2010 was $6.8 billion, 2011 was $6.9 billion and then President Obama proposed to reduce it to $6.6. Yes, the President slashed $300,000 out of CDC funding. And Congress went along. So they’re all to blame.
What the article does not address is HOW the CDC pisses away that $6.6 billion. And that’s totally under the control of Democrats.

Joe Doakes

This Is How Stupid They Think You Are

SCENE:  The Admiralty, London, May, 1940.  Winston CHURCHILL is poring over a map in the Admiralty’s operation’s center, looking over the deteriorating situation in France.  He is joined by Admiral Nigel FRIEDEN, head of the Royal Navy’s public health wing.

CHURCHILL:  It is clear that we are going to have to evacuate the British Army from France.  In addition to a maximum effort by the Royal Navy, we’ll need thousands of civilian boats to help get the troops off the beaches and evacuate them from the Nazis. 

FRIEDEN:  I’m afraid that’s a bad idea, sir.

CHURCHILL:  Why do you say that?

FRIEDEN:  If we evacuate the Army, it will just make the occupation worse in England.  Also, we’ll have to use the fleet to evacuate Germans from England, too, then.

CHURCHILL:  That makes no sense.

FRIEDEN:  I’m an expert. 

NEXT SCENE: The US Air Force base at Wiesbaden, West Germany, June, 1948.  General Lucius CLAY, commander of US Military Government in occupied West Germany, is looking at a map of the Eastern Zone.  Ominously, red Soviet stars sit astride the three road/rail routes supplying West Berlin; the Soviets have just instituted a blockade, trying to starve West Berlin into the Soviet sphere.  Clay looks pensive.  He is joined at the map table by Brigadier (one-star) General Maximilian FRIEDEN, head of his public health corps. 

CLAY:  Blockade, schmockade.  We will need to start the greatest airlift in history to keep Berlin supplied.  It will show Stalin that we’re serious about

FRIEDEN:  We can’t, General.

CLAY:  What the hell?

FRIEDEN:  If we bring food, medicine and coal to Berlin, it’ll just make the hunger, disease and cold worse.  Also, for every load of supplies we bring in, we’ll have to bring a plane-load of Soviet spies and commandos back. 

CLAY:  Whose army do you serve?

SCENE:  April 1975.  As the North Vietnamese Army overruns Saigon’s last line of defenses, US Marine Brigadier General Richard CAREY is discussing the upcoming evacuation of Americans and certain Vietnamese from Saigon.  Artillery is heard in the distance, as CAREY makes the final plans to remove the last Americans, and as many Vietnamese as possible, from the Embassy compound .  He is addressing a group of officers, including State Department public health attache T. Morton FRIEDEN.

CAREY:  And so we’ll bring in the helicopters from the aircraft carriers.  We’ll get the last of the Marines out by 1800 hours. 

FRIEDEN:  General, that’s a bad idea.  Evacuating Marines will only make them more subject to Communist rule.  And for every helicopter full of Marines you remove, you’ll need to bring one full of Vietnamese back from the ships. 

CAREY:  (Stands, slack-jawed).

———-

CDC director Thomas Frieden is telling us that wejust can’tstop all flights coming in from West Africa, because…:

It’ll Make the Epidemic Worse:  Because ancient tribal burial rituals, lack of information about handling infections, and superstitions about healthcare workers aren’t bad enough; dispersing the epidemic all around the world must be ten times better!

If we stop air travel, we won’t be able to bring supplies:  That’s only true if all flights from West Africa are on disposable aircraft, or are kamikaze flights.  Planes can fly in the other direction.  Hopefully to drop off supplies and trained well-equipped healthcare workers.  And return empty, until the crisis eases.

I imagine Mr. Frieden knows this.  But judging by the last round of elections, it’s a lot for a plurality of Amerians to understand…

UPDATE: You think I’m selling Dr. Friedman short? 

Read this – especially Dr. Frieden’s interview with Megyn Kelly

It only looks like one of my parodies.

Chanting Points Memo: “Only 4.5%!”

A friend of mine on Facebook (who admits he based it on a statement by Senator Michelle Benson, on the Dave Thompson show) notes the wierdness of the state’s math in arriving at the “4.5% increase in MNSure Premiums” number that the media is trumpeting.

He put it this way:  If a fast food restaurant serves 500 customers and has $5,000 in the till at the end of the day, that’s an average of $10 per person. 

If a coffee shop next door has 5 customers and makes a grand total of $25, they averaged $5 per sale. 

So what was the average amount spent by customers to those two stores?

  1. $7.50 – the average of $10 and $5?  Or…
  2. $9.95 – $5,025 in total receipts divided by 505 customers?

If you’re a Democrat, you picked “1″ – which is the average price of two items, but is not the average amount spent by the customers  If you undestand economics, you picked “2″. 

What the state has done – and the media has reported more or less uncritically – is tell us the average price of the plans (that are still on the market).  Not the average amount customers will have to spend to stay in the exchange – which includes nearly 2/3 of all MNSure customers who lost their lower-priced Preferred One plans, and who will be paying at least 20% more. 

The state’s spin is dishonest.  The media uncritically running the spin is an abdication of their purported job of keeping government honest.

More Sunshine Blown Up Minnesota’s Skirt, Part III

I went into a chain diner the other day.  I had a bowl of soup.  I promptly felt ill, and before long came the projectile vomiting, and then the projectile diarrhea.

I went to the manager after I cleaned up to complain.

“Yeah” said the manager, “we’ve had a lot of that today with the soup.  OK – actually every person who’s eaten the soup today has gotten sick.  But in our defense, people eating the soup at all our other stores have gotten even sicker.  You should feel pretty good, all in all!”

——–

MNSure – the state’s Obamacare exchange – has been a bulgarian goat rodeo from the very beginning.  Between the cataclysmic botch of the rollout, to the Director’s corrupt canoodling with the state’s Medicad director, to the technical review that indicates this year’s open enrollment could be worse than last year, to Preferred One – the provider with the best value for most younger, healthier people – dropping out, it’s been an ordeal to watch a pretty typical example of government control of any product or service.

But now – in the wake of yesterday’s price hikes – MNSure, the DFL and the media (ptr) are trying a new tactic; the bizarre non-sequitur; I’m adding emphasis:

Even with the premium increases for 2015, the cost of a mid-level benchmark policy on MNsure for a 40-year-old will be about $182 per month, state officials said. That’s less than the rate for comparable plans in 16 other metropolitan areas, according to figures published in September by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is based in California.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department supplemented the foundation’s analysis with preliminary and current rates from more than two dozen other metropolitan areas, and concluded that rates in the Twin Cities are the lowest.

When you compare Minneapolis and St. Paul to every metropolitan region throughout the country, Minnesota has the lowest rates in the nation,” Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said during a news conference near the State Capitol.

Ah.  So Minnesotans’ rates are rising – rising by a lot for the people on the lower end of the market – but they’re higher elsewhere?

Ahem:

SO WHAT?

Minnesota had a system that covered 92% of Minnesotans – the highest rate in the country – with everything from cadillac government union plans to UCare to company health plans to inexpensive “catastrophic care” plans (now illegal!).

And it did all that for even less!

If your rates are rising 20% – and if you were a Preferred One customer, 2/3 of MNSure’s customer base, they are – on top of the higher rates you’re already paying (because MNSure replaced the catastrophic-care-only plan you may have had two years ago with a plan that includes mental health, preventive and, for the guys, OB-GYN services), why do you care what people are paying in Newark?

Are their plans rising 20%?  If yes, then that proves the point.  If no, then what is Minnsota doing wrong?

More Of That “Blowing Sunshine Up Minnesota’s Skirt” Thing…

I read yesterday’s headlines about the new, Preferred-One-Free MNSure rates, and got ready to write.

Then, I got an email from a friend who works in the Healthcare industry, which explains it much better:

The headlines on MNSure saying premiums rose only 4.5%.  This reminds me of an old story.

A friend of mine was flying a helicopter in the fog in downtown St. Paul and his radio and navigation equipment failed suddenly.  He knew he was in the midst of the downtown and going any direction could mean an immediate crash.  He stayed put hovering for a few minutes, inching lower.  When the fog lifted he was right outside the MN Dept. of Commerce.  Not recognizing the building he grabbed a piece of paper and a big sharpie.  He wrote in big block letters “Where am I?” and put it put it on the outside of his windshield.  A commerce employee saw the helicopter’s predictament and wrote a note back and placed it in the building window.  “You’re in a helicopter.”

Technically correct and absolutely meaningless.

That’s my take of this headline.  The real problem is that the low cost insurer, Preferred One, dropped out.  Maybe the remaining plans only increased by 4.5% but to the 60% who were on Preferred One, the real story is that their premiums are rising about 20%.  Minnesotans will understand that if they take time to read the full story.

Which the DFL is counting on people not doing, naturally, as they relentlessly pound away with that “4.5%” number on ads around the state.

Recent history shows it’s not hard to fool Minnesotans.

There Will Be No SwissSure

What’s the difference between Switzerland and Minnesota?

  1. The Swiss don’t have a football team – but if they did, they’d be better than the Vikings
  2. The Swiss are too smart to socialize their healthcare system:

And it wasn’t even close:  62 percent, mostly German, voted to tube the proposal to socialize Switzerland’s healthcare system.

Hey, speaking of Minnesota – does any of this sound familiar?

“Our health system is among the top performers in the world. Competition between health insurers and freedom of choice for clients play a major role in this,” it added.

Going public would have been a major shift for a country whose health system is often hailed abroad as a paragon of efficiency, but is a growing source of frustration at home because of soaring costs…

And how are the costs soaring?

…”Over the past 20 years in Switzerland, health costs have grown 80 percent and insurance premiums 125 percent,” ophthalmologist Michel Matter told AFP.

That’s bad.  Nothing like the US healthcare system, between the past ten years and Obamacare, but it’s certainly a problem. 

Still – what do the Swiss know that we – and by “we” I mean “a plurality of our Democrat neighbors” – don’t?

So It Appears Preferred One Aren’t The Only Ones Wrong For Minnesota

The Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters is worried about MNSure – for the same reason Preferres One bailed:

[MAHU chair Alycia] Riedly says there is no computerized renewal system in place, and if it is not functional by the next MNsure open enrollment, Nov. 15, it could affect tens of thousands of people who are already enrolled through MNsure.
Riedl says it will severely limit their access to information if they want to change their policies in any way and could create lengthy delays for MNsure consumers.
“The renewals would literally have to be done by hand, and that will take a long time, creating a backlog that hurts consumers who want to make better choices, and it will hurt MNsure’s bottom line if it isn’t taken care of soon,” Riedl said.

The private sector systems that MNSure bullied into submission have been doing this successfully since, well, health insurance existed.
So by all means, Twin Cities media – let’s talk about hanky-panky in vacant houses and crazy people chopping up garages.
This is serious business. Therefore, the DFL wants to focus on silly.
And so we will get a lot of silly between now and November.

Throwback Thursday

Governor Dayton says “the buck stops” with him in re MNSure:

— Gov. Mark Dayton [said] that he ultimately feels responsible for the success or failure of [MNSure].

Dayton apologized for problems Minnesotans are having on the state’s health care exchange. The governor is promising to fix multiple website problems, as soon as possible.

“I apologize to those Minnesotans who have been seriously inconvenienced or are distraught by the failures of MNsure. It’s unacceptable,” Dayton said Thursday.“Did I cause? I don’t think I caused the problems at MNsure and I did everything I could to prevent them,” he said. “Ultimately the buck stops here.”

Oh, yeah – you read that right; the story came out last December

Before MNSure’s current woes – the cratering of the code, and Preferred One’s bailing out of the whole debacle. 

So – when Governor Dayton says “the buck stops here”, does he mean it like he did…:

  • during the Vikings Stadium fiasco, where he committed the state’s taxpayers to hundreds of millions of dollars, then told the Legislature to “deal with it”, a la Michael Scott?
  • during the Minimum Wage fiasco, when signed a deeply flawed bill, and then publicly wavered a few months later when his spawn told him they were having trouble making ends meet at their posh Minneapolis restaurant?
  • during the last Budget session, when he served as an untrained mouthpiece for the public employee unions that put him in power?

Because none of those, nor his behavior in re MNSure, involve actually stopping any bucks.

Lowballed

SCENE:  At the Mississippi Market co-op in Saint Paul.  Mitch BERG is shopping for steel-cut oatmeal.  He notices Avery LIBRELLE turning into his aisle, looking for free-range humane tofu.  He tries to turn and leave, but it’s already too late. 

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!  The Free Market is collapsing!

BERG:  Er, OK – how do you figure?

LIBRELLE:  Preferred One left the MNSure network!

BERG: Um, that’s not a failure of the free market.

LIBRELLE: Sure it is!  They came into the plan with a low-ball proposal.  It didn’t work, so it’s a failure of the free market! 

BERG: Well, no.  It’s not.  The plans they’re pulling from MNSure are basically the same thing they’ve been selling to employers for decades, although more expensive, to cover all the extra Obamacare requirements, and a little extra to cover the fact that they’d only get paid after the money filtered through the MNSure system, which just isn’t working.  It’s the kind of plan they can sell by themselves just fine, and keep themselves in business. 

LIBRELLE:  Well, businesses shouldn’t profit from healthcare!

BERG:  Preferred One is a non-profit under Minnesota law.   And even so, they couldn’t financially justify the overhead that the MNSure system brought into the equation. 

LIBRELLE:  They should have come to the market with a plan that asked for more money!  Government subsidies would cover it anyway!

BERG:  And you have just explained why government subsidies promote inflation. 

LIBRELLE:  No I didn’t.

BERG:  Yes you did.  Businesses should raise their prices to smooth out dealing with the government’s incompetent bureaucracy, because another part of government is going to subsidize the transaction – which prices the business’s service out of reach of the unsubsidized.  It’s done for health insurance exactly what it’s done for higher education. 

LIBRELLE:  That just means we need single payer healthcare.

BERG:  Right.  So the same government that can’t produce a health care exchange on time and on budget, and get payments to providers efficiently enough to make the service worth providing, will now be directly in charge of every facet of your healthcare. 

LIBRELLE:  Well, at least it’ll promote transparency. 

BERG:  How so? 

LIBRELLE:  See the social justice that the IRS brought to political campaigning by denying teabagger groups their tax-exempt status?  Imagine the transparency we’ll get when The People can start denying them healthcare!

(LIBRELLE turns, starts walking away, but walks into shelf full of jars of organic peanut butter.  LIBRELLE falls as shelves of jars fall to the floor)

(And SCENE)

Apparently Preferred One Are Also “Tea Partiers” Who Are “Wrong For Minnesota”

Preferred One – the company chosen by about three of five people that were able to actually enroll in MNSure in the past year – is bailing out of Minnesota’s troubled health insurance exchange.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, [MNSure CEO Scott] Leitz said he is disappointed with the decision but Minnesotans will still have other options for health insurance through MNsure.

“We level the playing field for consumers. We provide options so Minnesotans can make wise choices,” he said. “We anticipated some bumps along the way, and we’re still seeing some of those bumps.”

He’s half right.  MNSure – like Obamacare – removes actual choice.

But the bumps?  Those are real.

This is a huge hit for MNSure (emphasis added):

As of Aug. 6, Preferred One had 59 percent of the individual market MNsure enrollees. Blue Cross Blue Shield was a distant second at 23 percent, with HealthPartners, Medica and UCare much further back.

Preferred One got such a large share, because they had the lowest rates of the five insurance companies in the program.

And I’m going to hazard a guess that the bulk of Preferred One’s customers were the ones who were getting the lowest subsidies – i.e. the ones that MNSure was counting on to pay the bills for the subsidized, high-risk customers.

It’s possible this could signal big rate increases to be unveiled in early October, and that could have a significant impact on the elections.

“One of the big land mines looking out over the campaign will be when MNsure announces its new rates for health insurance premiums,” University of Minnesota political expert Larry Jacobs said. “If those go up by 10 percent, some have even suggested 15 percent, then that could really shake up this election.”

So let’s get this straight:  because of Democrat/DFL medding in healthcare, you can’t keep your doctor, but your rates will skyrocket. 

Just wanna make sure we’re clear on this. 

Of course, since there are DFLers involved, “clarity” will be hard to come by:

State Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Minn., also commented in a statement saying in part, “MNsure is a marketplace where consumers can compare and shop for quality health insurance. It is no different than Target or Cub Foods in that some products will come and go. Preferred One may be leaving, but MNsure still has great products.”

Of course, that’s lunacy.  MNSure would be like “Target or Cub” if the state made it illegal to shop at Aldi, and taxed you extra for shopping at Kowalski’s.

Oh, yeah – and if the state paid low-income people to shop there, maybe:

Anyone who has PreferredOne through MNsure can still directly renew through the company, but they won’t get the government subsidy. To get the subsidy, they will have to choose a different insurance plan starting Nov. 15.

This is what the DFL hath wrought.

RELATED: Big Left squirts tears, blames capitalism, pimps single-payer.

When The ObamaCare Story Is Finally Written…

…then:

  1. It will no doubt be written by someone from outside the American mainstream media (but that’s a no-brainer)
  2. Somebody will no doubt note and write about the deep, intense web of influence UnitedHealth group, based in Minnetonka, has spun for itself with this administration.

Naturally, it won’t happen until Obama leaves office. But I’m just saying.

Heck, it’s something to look forward to.

Surprise!

Minnesotans:  The Minnesota DFL is so proud of MNSure – their signature accomplishment of the past two years – that you’re going to have to sign up for it before you can see what it costs!

Representatives Tara Mack and Joe Hoppe got an op-ed in the Strib over the weekend.

This year Minnesotans won’t know the price of plans until MNsure’s next enrollment period begins on Nov. 15. They’ll have just four weeks to find a plan and complete enrollment.

State health and insurance officials agreed last year that a preview period was a positive step. Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said releasing rates early “increases transparency and allows individuals, families and small businesses more time to consider the options that will be available on MNsure.” MNsure Chairman Brian Beutner said: “The sooner that you can get concrete information … out is going to allow people to actually make some decisions — as opposed to generalized information.”

So why aren’t the Dayton administration and MNsure pushing for an early rate release again this year?

November 15?

As in, after the election?

But…why?  

It’s possible that those who built MNsure are afraid voters will see how much their insurance costs are going up before the election.

Yes.  Yes, I think it is just possible.

The media has been eating up the narrative that “MNSure is getting people insured!”.  But it’s costing an astounding amount of money and labor to do it, and most of them have no idea that the biggest costs of Obamacare/MNSure haven’t even set in yet.

And the DFL is going to keep it that way until after as many as possible of them have been duped into voting for Governor Messinger Dayton again.

Results

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Study finds British national health care best in the world, US worst.
Wow, really?  Worse than Somalia?  Well, no, worst of the 11 modern Western countries we studied but that makes a crappy headline.
So what makes the US worst?  Poor people lack health insurance.  What makes Britain best?  Everybody has health insurance.
How about actual result – lives being saved, for example?
“The only serious black mark against the NHS was its poor record on keeping people alive. On a composite “healthy lives” score, which includes deaths among infants and patients who would have survived had they received timely and effective healthcare, the UK came 10th.”

Click to view full size

Here’s the PowerPoint – UK is number 1 in everything except saving lives, which is the actual point of a health care system.  So what they’re really saying is Britain has the best health care bureaucracy in the world.   I’m not impressed.  Looks like the best place to get sick is Switzerland, which does not astonish me.

 

Again the Narrative remains consistent:  Liberal policies are measured for success based on the amount of caring, money and alleged effort invested, never on the results achieved.  Trophies are awarded for showing up, not for coming in best or first.  Ribbons all around!

It’s about “sending messages”.

PRSure

I work in the software business. 

And among people who work in the business, the word was going around well over a year ago; “MNSure” was going to be a Bulgarian Goat Rodeo.  At the very least.

The word was more than right; in fact, according to Deloitte Consulting, it sailed past Bulgarian Goat Rodeo, and is more of a Hungarian Cluster Cuddle

This is the point of the blog post where I’d find one or more excerpts from the report that summed up what a complete FUBAR the whole project has been. 

But there is just too much in the report.   If I quoted everything damning in Deloitte’s report, I’d be driving a tank over the “Fair Use” laws. 

So I urge you to read it. 

(Remembring, of course, that Deloitte was one of the firms that was beaten out by “Maximus”, the firm that actually “built” MNSure.  Now, a smart state government IT operation would have engaged Deloitte as a disinterested third party to serve as a reviewer on the condition that they not bid for re-development work, to avoid conflict of interest.  I don’t actually know if the state was that smart.  Any bets?)

But in any case, read it.  And then take a look at the Strib’s piece on the subject, which carries nothing but the Messinger Dayton administration’s spin on the top-level issues.

“Free”

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Dental care in Australia is free.  So everybody wants it.  So you have to wait your turn.  Might take a bit.

 “Springborg said before the NPA, patients were waiting up to 10 years for dental work.”

 And what is this NPA?  The government tossed 200 Million Australian Dollars into the fund to allow patients to go outside the system to private dentists, a one-time shot to reduce the wait which now is under a year.  The government can’t afford to repeat the subsidy, so wait times will rise again.  It’s only a toothache, right?  What’s a few months wait when it’s FREEEEEE!

 Joe Doakes

The defining trait of liberals is that they all seem to assume that if you wish hard enough for a miracle – free dental care, universal healthcare without raising taxes or the deficit or degrading healthcare, raising minimum wages without unintended consequences to employment and prices – that a unicorn will descend from the skies with the means to make it happen.

Other Peoples’ Dog Food

MNSure, the state’s catastrophically badly-executed health insurance portal, has hired Deloitte Consulting to try to fix the state’s ailing website.

Pity Deloitte:

Deloitte was a top contender in 2012 for the contract to build the online health exchange, whose rollout was marred by ongoing technical problems. It has built successful state-based insurance exchanges in Connecticut, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Washington.

Yeah, good luck with that.  It’s much easier to build something right the first time (kudos, Deloitte) than to tear apart and rebuild someone else’s botched job.

Like Waiting For “One Direction” Tickets In A Blizzard

(SCENE:  Mitch BERG is walking his dog down Grand Avenue in Saint Paul.   He’s walking past an organic car repair shop when Avery LIBRELLE walks out, almost bumping into BERG).

LIBRELLE:  Merg!  Hah! I woke up this morning thinking “Merg must be feeling sad today! Obamacare is a huge success!”

BERG:  Well, it’s not really…

LIBRELLE:  Which bums you out more, Merg – that more people weren’t insured, or that less weren’t?

BERG:  Well, I’m just trying to figure out what all the happiness is about.

LIBRELLE:   Seven million subscribers!

BERG:  Let’s assume the Administration is giving real numbers.  That’s seven milion people who’ve signed up.  Not seven million paid, issued policies.  But if you put it up against the five million people wholosttheir coverage over the past year, that means we’re up a net two million – assuming they all actually pay their premiums, which all of them will not.

LIBRELLE:  You’re just jealous that no Republican healthcare plan gets people lining up for it!

BERG:  Wait – you say that’s a good thing!

LIBRELLE:  When people line up to buy something, that means it’s popular.    Like an iPhone!

BERG:  If that analogy held up – if Obamacare is extremely popular – then they’d have been waiting in line last October, when the plans first hit the market.  This is like people waiting in line to buy iPhone 3s before they go out of production.

LIBRELLE:  That’s stupid!  Nobody would do that!

BERG:  Unless it was your only shot at getting a phone, and you were going to wind up without a phone if you waited another day.  The “lines” had less in common with these…:

HyPsTrZ at the sacrament of unveiling.

…and much more in common with these…:

Waiting for bread in Moscow, 1980s

…or these:

Minnesota clinic, 2018. Just kidding – it’s a DMV line.

People trying to get something before an onerous deadline makes it impossible.

LIBRELLE:  Wow.  You’re a real debbie downer.

BERG:  As always, I’m a realist.  The Administration is trying to put lipstick on a dead pig in time to save the Democrats in time for the mid-terms.

LIBRELLE:  Hey – you used the word Democrat!  You hate women and their children!

(And SCENE)