San Francisco architect Lee Hammack says he and his wife, JoEllen Brothers, are “cradle Democrats.” They have donated to the liberal group Organizing for America and worked the phone banks a year ago for President Obama’s re-election.
Since 1995, Hammack and Brothers have received their health coverage from Kaiser Permanente, where Brothers worked until 2009 as a dietitian and diabetes educator. “We’ve both been in very good health all of our lives – exercise, don’t smoke, drink lightly, healthy weight, no health issues, and so on,” Hammack told me.
The couple — Lee, 60, and JoEllen, 59 — have been paying $550 a month for their health coverage — a plan that offers solid coverage, not one of the skimpy plans Obama has criticized. But recently, Kaiser informed them the plan would be canceled at the end of the year because it did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The couple would need to find another one. The cost would be around double what they pay now, but the benefits would be worse.
“From all of the sob stories I’ve heard and read, ours is the most extreme,” Lee told me in an email last week.
NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST DISCOVERS THAT REPUBLICANS ARE HUMAN BEINGS: A reader calls this the “dumbest oped of 2013,” but actually, for the Times, it’s a triumph of open-mindedness and inquiry.
My friends traveling far from their Cailfornia home base aboard the Tea Party Express Bus are celebrating the newest polling in Virginia today.
It shows that Ken Cuccinellli, their hand-picked candidate, has pulled within even of Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia Governor's race.
Cuccinelli is a true conservative. Do what you can to help. I will.
"...As the polls tighten in the Virginia gubernatorial race, Democrat Terry McAuliffe is dropping his front-runner swagger and warning that he could lose.
In an email to supporters meant to inspire them to vote, he said simply: “Ignore the polls.”
Some polls show that the race is getting close, with Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli getting to as close as three points in one poll, though most still show McAuliffe with a significant lead.
But the former Democratic Party chairman is worried about turnout in a year when voters are turned off by both candidates and there is no other headline-grabbing election dragging voters to the polls.
“In off-year elections like this one, Tea Party voters turn out more reliably than Democrats. For 45 years, the political party that controls the White House has lost our governor's race the next year. In 2009, fewer than 40 percent of Virginia voters cast a ballot for governor, despite the fact that nearly 70 percent voted in the presidential election the year before,” he explained.
“That's why we absolutely CANNOT afford to fall short of our $250,000 Get Out the Vote Fund Goal at tonight's midnight deadline — right now we're $48,345 away,” he said in his latest push for more money.
Campaign officials said that McAuliffe is focused on get out the vote initiatives, even bringing in former President Clinton and President Obama this week to urge voters to show up on Tuesday.
“If we allow ourselves to be complacent for any part of the next five days, Election Day will not be pretty,” he said.
But no one in the administration has been willing to tell us how many policies have been purchased, and this may be the reason: CBS News has learned enrollments got off to an incredibly slow start.
Early enrollment figures are contained in notes from twice-a-day "war room" meetings convened within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after the website failed on Oct. 1. They were turned over in response to a document request from the House Oversight Committee.
The website launched on a Tuesday. Publicly, the government said there were 4.7 million unique visits in the first 24 hours. But at a meeting Wednesday morning, the war room notes say "six enrollments have occurred so far."
They were with BlueCross BlueShield North Carolina and Kansas City, CareSource and Healthcare Service Corporation.
By Wednesday afternoon, enrollments were up to "approximately 100." By the end of Wednesday, the notes reflect "248 enrollments" nationwide.
The health care exchanges need to average 39,000 enrollees a day to meet the goal of seven million by March 1. The war room notes give a glimpse into some of the reasons customers had problems:
- "Direct enrollment (signing up directly on an insurer's website) is not working for any issuers."
- "Experian" credit reporting agency is "creating confusion with credit check information."
- "Issuer phone numbers are not appearing correctly on the Pay Now page."
The notes leave no doubt that some enrollment figures, which the administration has chosen to keep secret, are available.
"Statistics coming in," said notes from the very first meeting the morning of Oct. 2. Contractor "QSSI has a daily dashboard created every night."
But head of CMS Marilyn Tavenner would not disclose any figures when Rep. Dave Camp, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, asked earlier this week.
"Chairman Camp, we will have those numbers available in mid-November," she said.
Health and Human Services told CBS News Thursday it's in no position to confirm or discuss enrollment figures because it doesn't have any. A spokesman suggested the numbers obtained by CBS News may not include all the different ways to enroll, such as paper applications. The spokesman also said that enrollment figures in Massachusetts' health care plan started off negligible but then skyrocketed as a deadline neared.