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Lindeen upset with health marketplace

2013-10-23T00:00:00Z 2013-10-31T00:06:59Z Lindeen upset with health marketplaceBy MIKE DENNISON IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record
October 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

State insurance commissioner Monica Lindeen told lawmakers Tuesday she’s getting no answers from the feds on when Montana’s online health insurance “marketplace” will work – and she’s not happy about it.

Lindeen, a Democrat, also reminded a legislative committee that Montana could have built its own state-run marketplace, as part of “Obamacare,” but that majority Republicans at the 2011 Legislature refused to authorize it.

“You’re not supposed to say ‘I told you so,’ but I really have to say that at this time,” she told the Economic Affairs Interim Committee. “I hope in the future we’re able to close the gaps and work together … when we have an issue like this that is so important.”

Also on Tuesday, groups training counselors or “navigators” to help people buy health insurance through the online marketplace said they continue to see plenty of interest in the process – even though it’s not really working.

“Yes, there is frustration with the website,” said Christine Kaufmann, navigator program coordinator for the Montana Primary Care Association. “But people are surprisingly patient. What they want is more information.”

Kaufmann said shoppers for the discounted health-insurance policies are using this time to study their options, in preparation for when the website begins working properly.

To get federal subsidies to help pay for private health policies available on the marketplace, consumers must use the website to buy policies from one of three private insurers.

The federally run websites in 36 states, including Montana, have been fraught with major technical problems since opening Oct. 1. Consumers are having trouble registering and signing in and usually are unable to make it through the entire process to buy a subsidized policy.

Federal health officials haven’t released any numbers on how many Montanans have bought policies through the website. Interviews with insurers selling policies and navigator groups indicate only a handful of policies have been processed in Montana.

Chris Hopkins of the Montana Health Network, a cooperative of hospitals in eastern Montana, said Tuesday the group’s navigators have not been able to get a single person enrolled for health insurance through the website.

Hopkins said he’s hopeful the website will work eventually, but worried about a possible crunch of people trying to sign up before the Dec. 15 deadline to get a policy effective Jan. 1.

Lindeen also told lawmakers that Montanans shopping for policies on the marketplace can use a paper application or apply over a toll-free telephone line.

“Until (the website is fixed), that’s pretty much the options we have at this point,” she said. “We’re not getting a lot of answers. … What you see in the press is pretty much what we’re getting.”

Rep. Greg Hertz, R-Polson, who said he has tested the marketplace website, asked about the numerous personal financial questions people must answer once they sign on, such as what bank they use and what company holds their mortgage.

Kathy Burton, an insurance agent with Bern & Pugh Inc. of Great Falls, said as part of the process, consumers agree to make their credit history available, so the government can check their identity.

“You may be asking the government for a subsidy, so that is protection they have put in place, to make sure they know who you are before they offer you a subsidy,” she said.

The credit information is supplied by Experian, a credit-scoring company, she said.

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(35) Comments

  1. FlamingLiberal1
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    FlamingLiberal1 - October 28, 2013 1:30 pm
    Lindeen tried her best to make the GOP-dominated legislature see reason. The states which took responsibility for their own exchanges are doing quite well; it's the federal site that is having problems.
  2. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 28, 2013 9:16 am
    Besides skooter, no need to senselessly spar on this. Just tell us how its been for you to register for the health care and how much its saved you per month and how much lower your deductible is. Its what the DEM has been saying all along, not once did they say anything about "in the long run". Nor did they say anyone that had insurance would lose it.
  3. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 28, 2013 9:09 am
    In the long run huh? How long, decades from now? The only way it may (and I use the term may loosely) save money in the long run is if everyone that can afford to get health insurance, does. I don't see that happening, millions are still unemployed meaning they qualify for insurance paid for by the government so that won't help. Millions of others are at poverty level, means government will pay for some of it so that won't help. Plus lets not forget that insurers have to cover things they didn't have to before. Things that many people don't need coverage for. That won't drive down costs, that will cause them to increase. Particularily the part where anyone with pre-existing conditions can get it at the same price as everyone else. Well if thats true, means rates will have to raise for everyone in order to cover those in poor health. Young people that are healthy aren't going to get it, why pay anywhere from $300-$500 a month with a $3K or better deductible when they can pay (in the beginning) a $95 fine at tax time? Most importantly, cost of medical care will have to come down. Yea right.
  4. skooter
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    skooter - October 27, 2013 11:58 am
    This isn't a universal health care system...this is romneycare. what your side forced and shaped as a compromise to big health and a reaction to your hysteria..

    I think for sure this will save money in the long run...and I'lll be the one who proves it to you at the time. But you keep do that old dietz trick of mixing your points to pretend you made one. There are dozens, but here are the ones for today: You said we promised it wouldn't cost a cent...not that it wouldn't be affordable or anything else. Rates will come down for many, if not most...but I guess that's not true to you if it doesn't come down for all exactly, eh. And the constant in this silly argument you make is that you pretend that anybody is already getting anything close to affordable health care - except that you might be from your military service (which might explain the cavalier nature of your discussions and your false hubris here). Our health care cost 2-3 times (per capita or GDP no matter how you parse it) as much as other civilized countries including your dear/dreaded germany.
  5. vernjr
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    vernjr - October 24, 2013 7:58 pm
    Know your facts, August 20, 2009 the president on national TV stated that if you like your Insurance plan you can keep your plan, Period. Not true, just ask the 700,000 people who just got letters from there insurance company telling them they are not going to insure them on individual plans. This will also happen in Montana shortly. Also on August 20, 2009 the president stated that the affordable care act will reduce sky rocketing costs of insurance. Not true, costs have risen in 45 states, anywhere from 2% to 200%
  6. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 24, 2013 2:26 pm
    Oh come on skooter, its called the Affordable Care Act for goodness sake. Why is it called affordable if its not? In the beginning, as I recall, you yourself said rates will come down because instead of premiums going up due to uninsured using the ER, the rates will go down with everyone being required to have it. What are you saying now? Obama in 2008 ""I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year." No one is reporting premiums going down.

    As I said earlier, no longer a need to argue about it. You're a big supporter of the ACA but have yet to hear you say how you have gone to the website, signed up for it, how its worked for you and how much cheaper the ACA has made insurance for you. Am also curious to know how less your deductible is under the new plan.
  7. skooter
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    skooter - October 24, 2013 1:20 pm
    Dietz - sounds like your dander is up my friend. You give yourself away when you say this:

    "We'll see whos facts are wrong on this after 1 Jan because remember, the ACA is supposed to make health insurance rates go down and not cost us an extra cent."

    Actually no. Nobody ever promised anything of the sort. The only people who have ever claimed that are republicans and internet trolls looking for something to complain about and trying to raise the playing field so they can claim failure later. The left never promised it wouldn't cost a single cent. And nobody ever said it would happen on jan 1st immediately. And beyond those two obvious falsehoods designed to make sure you can say it failed before it's even really working is that there is a such a nuance to the notion that value versus cost, services versus exclusions, the goal of creating a better system for those that can't afford any especially by creating a base level of care to avoidER visits & the bankrupting of families, etc...AND that a larger pool and more options that aren't run by corporate offer us all better solutions to our health care crisis. You hate to give Romney any credit - but his health care worked in MASS and it will work here too. There are always costs - and any rationale person would know that. But - where early roll outs the results are obvious and positive.

    You can keep pretending somebody told you that "THEY TOLD ME IT'S A MIRACLE" just so you can scream later "SEE, SEE, I TOLD YOU IT'S WASN'T A MIRACLE" but that's your dishonest tactic not mine. Next you'll tell me I told you it's a cure for cancer too. Frankly that's not integrity if that's what you value Dietz.

    Go reread your last couple of years of posts...and see the cynic. Heck, read were you told me that every study can be disproven with another study, or the many all politician's lie screeds, or my favorite of your new ones...we are resurrecting 1940's germany here. Sure that seems like a reasonable and non-cynical expression. Natch.
  8. imho
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    imho - October 24, 2013 1:00 pm
    My rates went up, $6.26 cents per month, which is no more than the year prior.
  9. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 24, 2013 8:19 am
    Why waste time arguing skooter, just tell us uniformed folks your experience in enrolling into the ACA through the website, how long it took you to get completely enrolled/signed up and what great deals you got in comparison to what you got before. That should do well in convincing those of us that are skeptical.
  10. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 24, 2013 8:15 am
    Nonsense only in your eyes skooter, and the eyes of a couple commenters here. You cannot tell me who or what I am or not am just going by comments I make here. You may make an opinion, sure. But at the end of the day I don't agree with your opinion on things. Sorry if that gets your dander up. Doesn't make me a cynic and in fact I had to laugh at that one. Never have done much in the way of "self interest", nor do I distrust anyone that is sincere or has integrity. In fact, they are the first I do trust. Even if they are wrong, if they are sincere and show integrity, they always get my support.

    We'll see whos facts are wrong on this after 1 Jan because remember, the ACA is supposed to make health insurance rates go down and not cost us an extra cent. So if you want to discount hundreds of reports about health insurance premiums and expected to continue as well as discount the 20 new taxes which are written into the bill, go ahead. It is what it is.
  11. skooter
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    skooter - October 23, 2013 10:22 pm
    Oh and dietz? Which health care-mudgeon are you?
  12. skooter
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    skooter - October 23, 2013 10:21 pm
    Dietz - there is just so much nonsense here that it isn't worth wading through and where to start anyway...the points are even cohesive, you argue against your self in several places, you ignore easy answers to your questions and you haven't a single real fact (yes I know you don't believe there are any real facts - and that may be why you have some trouble making a decent argument).

    Hate it as much as you like...but watch it roll on in. There are several states that are working hard to keep ACA for expanding, and even some making it illegal to actually tell people what the health care options are under ACA. Move to one of those states and you can pay even more if you like. Frankly I don't want you in my insurance pool (even though in this case less isn't more)...I'm kidding of course...just don't suck up all of the advantage and still complain. I firmly believe that even though you'll never be able to admit you are will be wrong...though somehow I assume you'll pretend that the republican right shocked obama into making this work or something by the shutdown or something obtuse like that.

    And yes, you are cynical - you are probably a modern internet definition of it.
  13. Darth Vader
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    Darth Vader - October 23, 2013 6:57 pm
    Exactly. Perhaps Montana should have created their own exchanges...hmmm. Told ya so!
  14. ToutPrest
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    ToutPrest - October 23, 2013 4:16 pm
    Well at least the ACA wasn't passed under George W... He'd of hired Halliburton to set up & run the thing!! ;-)
  15. Bidnessman
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    Bidnessman - October 23, 2013 3:40 pm
    Absolutely agree.
  16. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 23, 2013 3:39 pm
    3 years to get the system ready and with the Mar 2014 "get it or else" the bugs will get worked out in 6 months? Month one is gone, we'll see what the next 5 will do...
  17. Bidnessman
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    Bidnessman - October 23, 2013 3:38 pm
    Don't be silly dietz. That would be a show of leadership. We are not longer looking for that. We are looking for blame. Easiest thing for the Dems to do is blame the Repubs.
  18. Bidnessman
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    Bidnessman - October 23, 2013 3:31 pm
    So we don't pay money to the Feds? That's not "our" money?
  19. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 23, 2013 2:48 pm
    I think its great people with pre-existing conditions can get insurance where before they didn't and that "supposedly" won't be charged more then someone without health issues. But the tab has to be picked up by someone which means ultimately taxes and premiums go up for everyone and do you think those without health conditions want to see their premiums go up for the good of everyone? In the, say, over 50 crowd because that is when folks tend to start to have medical conditions. Go ahead and ask someone that is about 27 years old (I use age 27 because under that they don't care, parents can keep them covered). Think those want to pay for insurance they don't feel they need with high premiums based on the older crowds needs?
  20. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 23, 2013 2:42 pm
    I may be, at best, somewhat pessimistic about the government. But cynical? Hardly. Realistic is probably the best description. Both parties tend to vote along party lines vs. actually voting on if its good or bad. No bill is "cleanly" past, one or the other side wants their "pork" which is why a lot of good bills that either side introduces tend not to get passed or takes months/years to pass. Universal Health Care is not all its cracked up to be, those that work pay the price for it, those that don't work or don't make enough benefit obviously but ultimately taxes to up for everyone in one form or another to pay for it.
  21. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 23, 2013 2:35 pm
    You know I didn't read some of it why? Its over 1000 pages long and heck, many of the people who passed it didn't read it themselves. I read some of it, looking to see where insurance rates, medical costs are going to go down. Didn't see that anywhere so tell me oh wise one, which page is that on in the ACA? Oh by the way, remember when Obama said he'd put major bills on the government website to be reviewed for public comment 5 days before it going to vote? Didn't see it on the website or any other bills for that matter as promised.

    This is you just being a staunch DEM making assumptions. I never have "fought" against the ACA, I wasn't given an opportunity to vote on it so hard to fight against something and had I been in Congress wouldn't have been much of a fight. DEM controlled both houses so it passed without a single GOP vote. I never have said anything about the death panel, in fact, what is that? The idea behind the ACA as it was originally explained, I liked. Don't like the "get it or get fined tax time" part of it nor do I agree with premiums going down because of it. They can't. Issue was always cost of medical care, that's not going down. And the other issue that you and others said, premiums will go down with everyone having it because we won't get hit by folks that use the ER without coverage. I don't need to read or have anyone insult my intelligance by suggesting premiums will go down in light of the fact that those that can't afford it will either get it partially or fully funded by the government. Nor can anyone tell me that premiums that were high were due to people using the ER but will not drop because they will be able to use ALL medical services which, depending on their income, now gets paid for by who? Us.

    Its common sense math. Several people that are young, healthy are not going to pay per month (whatever that is) when they can pay less at tax time. Means the "everyone" getting insurance is out. Those with pre-existing conditions are at higher risk so someone is going to be paying. No way you're going to tell me costs aren't going to go up because of that. Taxes 1 Jan ARE going to happen, about 20 of them in fact...that IS in the ACA.
  22. hunterdan
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    hunterdan - October 23, 2013 1:51 pm
    I know my rates went up.
  23. hunterdan
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    hunterdan - October 23, 2013 1:51 pm
    Maybe because unlike buying new pumps on Amazon this is "The Law" and you will be subject to fines if you don't jump on the "Trainwreck". Oh yeah not to mention a business would have gone bankrupt if it took them 3 years and 500 million dollars (of our money) just to get started and flop.
  24. Atheist Educator
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    Atheist Educator - October 23, 2013 12:57 pm
    It's pretty funny seeing this issue quickly picked up as another way to pick at political parties when the real lesson to be learned is how software development takes place. I find it pretty telling that most commenters don't even know who was actually developing the software.

    Another telling issue is that when any major technology company rolls out a new project and they have issues do to demand, that it celebrated as a huge sign of success. Why isn't that recognized with the ACA?

    Unfortunately, the problems with the software development stem from funding limitations (guess what party was behind that) and changes in specifications during the development process. This latter issue will almost always guarantee problems in delivery. As a way of analogy for the non-technical types, it's like having a house built and once it is framed changing the floor plan.

    Unfortunately, in what is both a marketing move and one of desperation, the government indicates that more programmers will be put on the the project. They evidently are not familiar with Brook's Law.
  25. skooter
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    skooter - October 23, 2013 12:43 pm
    I agree with a veteran of some big database driven web rollouts...they are the worse and always plagued by issues. and the vendors always lie about what's working, when it will be fixed and how great it will be at the deadline (when it never does). Welcome to web design and programming in 2013. We're not in wordpress anymore. It's not like TV or CSI is to actual crime cant tap a few keys and and build a database.

    The good news is there is PLENTY of time to fix the computer oriented issues far before the start of coverage...
  26. skooter
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    skooter - October 23, 2013 12:37 pm
    Dietz - you are such a shill for the anti-ACA crowd - but you know little about it (and more because your own unwillingness to look into it).

    There's a great cartoon this week by Jen Sorensen...I know you won't looking but if you did it would be like you looking in several health-care-mudgeon.

    Here's your little are cynical & don't believe in or trust anything about government, you fought against it ACA (and I think you were a death panel-er too) but you act like ACA is being billed as a magical elixir to fix all aspects of health care (which it isn't) and since it isn't a magic elixir you act like it's a failure.

    Only parts of it have been rolled out - mainly those parts that stipulate items such as pre-existing condition and extending coverage for dependents (which by the way are HUGE achievements if you have one or are one) but it's already a disaster. The rollout hasn't worked well - so it's a disaster. You complained that insurance rates were going up - but those PRIVATELY held companies raised their prices to maintain their profits and until ACA kicks in fully in JANUARY (except in state already rolling out co-ops) they won't go down. And the real laugher is that you and yours bleating about the sheer insanity of death panels and other nonsense played a large roll in the one piece that would have been more of your magical elixir with much lower costs, coverage, advantages,etc...A TRUE UNIVERSAL PAYER SYSTEM. But the republicans, and many deems couldn't handle messing with one of the country's largest and most profitable industries.

    And the math part of your so-called equation is that our society isn't built on the idea of bleeding people dry if they have the misfortune to get sick or have a preexisting condition (and you do know that was starting to include everything from pregnancy to any issue you might have had 10 years ago. So you'd have it so they can only get outrageously high insurance, dropped from existing or no insurance at all (and then we all pay too). Rates don't have to go up when you add fact they tend to go down as the risk pool spreads throughout a larger population and that largely holds true with pre-existing conditions...I sincerely wonder if you and the right aren't probably thinking "wouldn't it be easier if they just go ahead and die or something!"
  27. jgrdh11
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    jgrdh11 - October 23, 2013 12:17 pm
    Democrats don't believe in actual math because it tells the truth of their agendas. Their version of math is simply called obamanomics.
  28. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 23, 2013 11:49 am
    Agree with almost everything you said here Limber except one...the ACA part. The main selling part was that this will make insurance more affordable for everyone with the idea having it manditory will cause more people to buy into it and costs go down as a result. Doesn't do that though, its been reported about 20 or so new taxes are attached to this and thats obvious as to why, the government is either going to fully pay or partially pay for a persons insurance so money has to come from some where. Some of the taxation that is hitting insurance companies is being passed to us by raising premiums. Everyone keeps forgetting the "math" part of the equation. Its great that people with pre-existing conditions can now get it but what are the chances that the rates for those people will be the same as for other people. Rates either have to increase for them (higher risk) or for everyone to offset costs of the people in higher risk catagory. No different then life insurance, depends on what your life style is and how old you are as to how cheap insurance is going to be.
  29. Limber
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    Limber - October 23, 2013 10:43 am no longer doctors. [top of food chain is] Insurance, Big Pharma, and hospital conglomerates.
  30. Limber
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    Limber - October 23, 2013 10:42 am
    bogus. There is no connection between doctor house calls and government involvement. Doctors came home from WWII and stopped making house calls. Holding office hours is a way more efficient business model. When Doctors started to get rich they ran into competition from big business. Today, the top of the food chain in health care is no longer doctors, Insurance, Big Pharma, and hospital conglomerates. None of these gives a rats patuti about providing good health care. Their sole interest is getting the most profit for the least expense. Hence we have ACA.
  31. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 23, 2013 10:15 am
    It was interesting watching Sec. Sebelius on CNN last night. She kept side stepping the question of how many people are actually signed up for ACA. Lets face it, whatever website problems they may have with the ACA being so great, should have been able to give some sort of number other then to simply talk about "hits" to the website. 3 years after the law was past and almost a month into this and the answer (excuse) is website problems? How many companies put up websites every day that deal with millions of customers that don't seem to have this problem? Then also make excuses as the neither her nor the President were told about these problems? Huh? Thats her job and Obama's baby, so neither could be proactive and simply ask "hey, we're getting close to Oct so are we ready?" Or within a day of the law going active ask "How is day one going, any problems I need to know about"?
  32. Reader14
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    Reader14 - October 23, 2013 7:05 am
    There's no guarantee that a Montana written system would work any better. Anyone remember the 30+ million Montana dollars spent before Revenue's POINTS program was scrapped several years ago? Just recently the IR had an article about problems with the new Medicaid system that was farmed out to Xerox.

    Working or not, it was a good idea to let the Feds spend federal money, rather than Montana money on this. It's really silly to have every State write their own version of a system for a Federal program.
  33. vernjr
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    vernjr - October 23, 2013 6:46 am
    Are you serious trying to blame the Obama Care roll out on the Republicans???? The President and the Democrats have had over three years to set up the web site. (over 600 Million dollars). They chose to wait until after the election to start the process, politics? What an embarrassment, also the rates are skyrocketing in 45 states. Insurance companies are dropping individual plans like flies all across the United States forcing individuals to go on the exchange that was botched by the Federal Government. Insurance companies in Montana will be dropping Individual plans shortly, forcing people to sign up on the exchange. If Obama Care is such a good deal, all State of Montana Employees should have their work hours cut to 29 hours a week so the state could declare them as part time employees, thus the State would not have to provide group insurance. Then they would all have to sign up under the individual plan under Obama Care through the exchange. they would all have to pay for it out of their own pocket. You could even give them all pay raises, but think of the money the State of Montana could save by using part time employees and not paying their health insurance. All Government employees should be forced to sign up for Obama Care since the majority support it. This would also help the Federal Government meet the goal of 7 million by March 31, 2014.
  34. otis mule
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    otis mule - October 23, 2013 6:39 am
    Hmmmm. A government marketplace that does not work. Obvious solution, more government, more money. Not so obvious solution, one that is never tried, less money less government. I wish people would do a little research. Doctors used to make house calls before any government became involved. Imagine that, door to door health care. And people paid cash, and not so long before that, they paid with chickens! Now we have a plan that can't even sell itself, being forced on citizens in the form of a tax. Very sad. Sadder still is the fact that Monica Lindeen is so invested with the socialist alternative that she will be happy to invest all of your tax money and all of what's left of your freedom to see it through.
  35. caribouboy
    Report Abuse
    caribouboy - October 23, 2013 5:54 am
    She can be frustrated but one thing Obamacare is doing is putting the incompetence of the Federal Bureaucracy on display for all of us to see.

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