ObamaCare Rollout: Feds to Use “Consumer Reporting Agencies” to Determine Eligibility Despite Penalty for Perjury

By lambert strether of Corrente. Originally published at Corrente.

It looks like young Ezra (and, to be fair, everybody else) missed a major policy change in Obama’s shift to the new, shorter (for individuals*), final version of the basic application for ObamaCare.** As it turns out, the issue (or at least one of the issues; gawd knows what other time bombs are buried in the thing) wasn’t only the length and complexity of the form, though that was and is bad enough; the issue is the actual content of the form. Here’s what I’m talking about. It’s right in plain sight. I’m using a screen dump of the new, shorter, finalized form from Ezra’s article:

Figure 1.

ObamaCare form (new)

Here are the key passages as text for Figure 1:

I’m signing this application under penalty of perjury, which means I’ve provided true answers to all the questions on this form to the best of my knowledge. I know that I may be subject to penalties under federal law if I intentionally provide false or untrue information. …

We need this information to check your eligibility for help paying for health coverage if you choose to apply. We’ll check your answers using information in our electronic databases and databases from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security, the Department of Homeland Security, and/or a consumer reporting agency. If the information doesn’t match, we may ask you to send us proof.

Yes, Equifax (a “consumer reporting agency”) could be affecting your eligibility for ObamaCare (a Federal program). Now, this is a major policy change, or perhaps a policy determination. Here’s the equivalent language in the draft 26-page “Single Streamlined Application.” As you can see, the language had not then been finalized:

Figure 2.

ObamaCare form (draft)

Here are the key passages as text for Figure 2:

As part of the Privacy step, an individual also provides agreement and consent for their information to be used and retrieved from data sources. They also agree that they have permission from all other persons they may list on the application for their information to be used and retrieved as part of the application process for verifying the household’s information in order to make eligibility determinations. The specific components of the consent language are still under review across the federal agencies, but the essence of the language will address the basic agreement to the retrieval and use of their household’s data for verifying information and making eligibility determinations and will include language that agreement is provided under penalty of perjury and understanding of potential prosecution for false information (similar to when a person signs and submits the application).

Alrighty then. Let’s break out the old lawyerly weasel-wording parser and actually compare what the two forms say.

As you can clearly see in Figure 2, the draft form mentions “data sources” without naming them, and says that “The specific components of the consent language are still under review across the federal agencies…” The new, shorter, finalized form — presumably after “review across the federal agencies” — names those data sources, as we see in Figure 1: “The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security, the Department of Homeland Security, and/or a consumer reporting agency.” (The definition of the term is well-known; a link to the CFPB appears below.) Notice first that the logic of the sentence permits income (eligibility) determination by using a consumer reporting agency only: “A, B, C, and/or D” can resolve to “A, B, C, or D,” which can resolve to “D” only. Therefore, if Transunion or Equifax only give you a thumbs down, you might not be eligible for ObamaCare, no matter what data (if any) Federal agencies like the IRS, DHS, or Social Security also supply. That’s the plain language of the form. What could go wrong?

Note also that Obama totally owns this policy change of involving consumer reporting agencies. From his presser:

So we cut what was a 21-page form now down to a form that’s about three pages for an individual, a little more than that for a family, well below the industry average. So those kinds of refinements, we’re going to continue to be working on.

So, the White House (“we”) reviewed the form. And having private consumer reporting agencies involved in determining your income (eligibility) for health insurance — and hence, if you’re lucky, health care and a coin flip in your favor for avoiding bankruptcy if you need serious help — is, therefore, one of “these kinds of refinements” that the White House blessed.

Bottom line: ObamaCare now integrates private “consumer reporting agencies [sic]” with public agencies in determining income (eligibility) for a Federal program. The term “consumer reporting agency” is at best a euphemism for “credit reporting company,” even if “agency” does sound awfully official. In fact, in the house of consumer reporting are many mansions. Here’s a list of the types of “consumer reporting agencies” from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

  • National Credit Reporting Companies
  • Check Screening/Check History
  • Payday Lending
  • Auto and Property Insurance History Reports
  • Supplementary/Alternative Credit Reports
  • Utilities
  • Rental
  • Medical
  • Employment History Reports

I don’t know about you, but the thought of using payday lender debt slave data*** for ObamaCare income (eligibility) determination gives me the creeps. (“Whoa! She couldn’t make the 339% interest rate payments! Thumbs down!”****) Oh, and “Supplementary/Alternative Credit Reports” looks exactly like the grab bag of bottom feeders you’d expect it to be.

But let’s give the administration the benefit of the doubt, assume that the rules are not yet written, and that “consumer reporting agencies” are limited to National Credit Reporting Agencies. Again, what could go wrong?

1. Credit reporting agencies have bad data. CBS:

A new government study to be released tomorrow indicates as many as 40 million Americans have a mistake on their credit report. Twenty million have significant mistakes.

One out of five Americans has an error on their credit report. And one out of 10 has an error on their credit report that might lower their credit score.

Steve Kroft: I’m trying to think of another industry where a 20 percent error rate would be acceptable. That’s a pretty high error rate.

Jon Leibowitz: It’s a pretty high error rate.

Since the income (hence eligibility) determination algorithm for ObamaCare is utterly opaque, we have no way of knowing how many people’s eligibility will be affected by bad credit reporting data. We also have no way of knowing which errors apply to income alone, which presumably — we don’t actually know this — is the only data that ObamaCare will be going to the private credit reporting agencies for. But in the worst case scenario, and assuming ObamaCare’s population is representative of the general population, the errors could be as high as 20%. (Granted, the errors could capriciously grant some people eligibility, and deny it to others.) However, the people who do not already have private health insurance — that is, those who ObamaCare is putatively designed to help — are much more likely to be poor, much less likely to have the time to fight credit reporting errors, and much less likely even to know they have the right to dispute errors, or how to do so. ***** It’s exactly because your situation is precarious that you need ObamaCare in the first place!

2. Credit reporting agencies refuse to fix their data. The CBS link above has numbers, but here’s a grindingly Kafka-esque field report from Kiplinger’s; that is, from a solidly middle-class publication dedicated to people who actually have money and time:

I had always paid my bills on time and had been approved for credit cards and loans with no problem. But when I got my reports from the three major credit bureaus, two of them mentioned an unpaid balance of $38 from a water company dating back to my college days — four years earlier — at the University of North Carolina. I assumed there had been a mistake, and set out to correct it. ….

At first glance, the rules for fixing an error seem simple enough. But because lenders don’t necessarily report to all three credit bureaus, a mistake might appear on one, two or all three of your reports, and you must dispute each one separately. Plus, challenging an error doesn’t mean the credit bureau will send Sherlock Holmes to investigate. The law requires the bureaus to verify the disputed information with the data provider, but that means the credit agencies are simply validating the information they already have. “The bureau considers you to be guilty until you can prove yourself otherwise,” says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education for Credit.com.

This guy ultimately wins (except for the massive time suck and the stress) but here’s more for the flavor:

Calling back to complain wasn’t even an option because the bureaus frequently change their toll-free numbers, and they typically allow only people with current reports to talk to representatives. So I purchased another report and credit score, then picked up the phone. The rep told me that Equifax had no evidence of either of my previous disputes (even though I had a confirmation number for my conversation in January). I demanded to speak with a supervisor.

In other words, if you have time to go through a six-step-process, and if you have money to pay for more credit reports, and if you fight through a rotating series of call center hells, and — above all — if you have that sense of middle-class entitlement where demanding to speak to a supervisor is even an option, you may get your credit report fixed. Or not! And you may be eligible for ObamaCare. Or not! Just what the life lessons of a job at Walmart and that stack of bills from being unemployed prepare you for!

(Of course, all this is before we get to identity theft (10% of all Americans) and data breaches (Equifax, Transunion, Experian, 2013), any of which could — under Obama’s policy — affect your eligibility for ObamaCare as well.)

But finally, there’s a really big problem. Let’s call it….

3. The Match Game. MarketWatch:

When consumers order their credit reports, they have to provide their full name, Social Security number, date of birth and address. But credit bureaus often use fewer pieces of information to match account activity — like a report from a lender that a person has applied for a new line of credit — to borrowers’ credit reports. In many cases, they’ll only use seven out of the nine digits of the borrower’s Social Security number, says Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit focused on consumer advocacy.

This practice becomes problematic when people have similar names and Social Security numbers, because it can lead to “mixed credit profiles” (when credit information relating to one consumer is placed in someone else’s file). … In the last three months of 2011, 33% of credit disputes related to claims by a consumer that an account in their file did not belong to them, either because of an error or identity theft, according to the CFPB.

[Norm Magnuson, a spokeshole for the Consumer Data Industry Association] says the credit bureaus are careful in matching data. He adds that a 100% match wouldn’t solve such concerns and says it would force bureaus to omit account activity from credit reports whenever there’s a small mistake in, say, the last two digits of a Social Security number, even if most of the identifying information is correct.

The question now becomes, how many “pieces of information” will the ObamaCare backend system use when matching IRS records to Social Security records to DHS records to “consumer reporting agency” records in order to determine income (hence eligibility)? Again, we can’t know, because ObamaCare’s income (eligibility) determination algorithm is completely opaque. Nor can we know how many of the “mixed credit profiles” will affect income determination (assuming, again, though we don’t know, that this is the only data requested from the consumer reporting agencies.******) And again, the errors could be capricious, and grant coverage to some while denying it to others.

But here’s the bottom line: You fill out the ObamaCare form under penalty of perjury. And “if the information does not match” “we may ask you to send us proof” (see Figure 1). So, if you play “the match game” and lose, you could be facing a perjury charge driven by credit reporting data (or payday lending data, or utility data, or….). Data that you may not know about, that may well be false, that might even be about somebody else, and for which the burden is on you, personally, to correct, which is extremely difficult and costly to do.

How would you like to be straightening out HHS, and any one of three national credit reporting agencies all at the same time, and the IRS if they decide to get into the act, all while the prospect of a Federal charge hangs over your head? Remember, the credit reporting agencies “consider you to be guilty until you can prove yourself otherwise,” so that’s the kind of data ObamaCare is going to be using. Will ObamaCare’s income (eligibility) determination algorithm consider you guilty until proven innocent? How about the navigators? How about the call centers? How about the ObamaCare appeals process? How about the Federal courts, if your data doesn’t “match” and a perjury charge is laid?

* * *

The real problem is simple, and it’s the basic flaw in ObamaCare’s system architecture: Income (eligibility) determination should not be a system requirement. (Proverbs for Programmers: “The cheapest, fastest, and most reliable components are those that aren’t there.”) Sleazy and error prone credit reporting firms should not be involved in determining your access to health care through ObamaCare’s exchanges, because the only eligibility requirement for health care should be your birth certificate (or, more pragmatically, your SSN). I know this may be hard to believe, but there actually is a system they have right on this continent, somewhere up north, I think in Canada, that works exactly like that, and it’s been very good for patients, doctors, taxpayers, and just about everybody but the rentiers.******* They call it “Medicare”. Look at that cost curve bend, eh?

NOTE I would so love to be wrong about this. But if I am wrong, then “and/or a consumer reporting agency” needs to be stricken from the “final version of the basic application.”

NOTE * Kudos to Ezra Klein for pointing out that the trade-off for making ObamaCare’s forms easier to fill out for individuals was making the forms harder to fill out for families of four, who will now have to xerox extra copies.

NOTE ** We should have known something was up; Joe Klein both “broke” the story that the old form was too long, and, in an “exclusive,” published the new, shorter, finalized form, revised by the wise heads in the West Wing. Purest kayfabe.

NOTE *** “Debt slave” may seem like extreme language, but the Pew report linked to above says that “The average payday borrower is indebted for five months during the year.” And for tiny amounts, like $500. I don’t know what you call that but debt slavery.

NOTE **** To be fair, a decision making process like this would be embodied in software.

NOTE ***** I would also very much like to know if the “navigators” are being asked to explain to their clients that their eligibility for ObamaCare depends on their credit record, their payday loan company, their utility payments, etc.

NOTE ****** The ObamaCare form also asks whether you smoke. The Acxiom database marketing company collects smoking data. No doubt some data broker could hook them up with a “consumer reporting agency” if need be. So perhaps “The Match Game” will apply not only to income data, but other data. Why not?

NOTE ******* And, granted, some well-funded right wing weasels.

UPDATE Why this policy determination now? (Interestingly, a search on “consumer reporting agencies” at Kaiser, the goto source for health care reform, shows two hits. From 2009.) It would be irresponsible not to speculate, and my speculation is this: A second difference between the draft (HHS, 26 page) and the finalized (Obama, 3 page) form is what system architects call “placement of function.” In the draft form, the function of gathering income data was placed at the front end (that is, on the web site or the paper form), where the user answers questions, rather like on a 1040. In the finalized form, these questions have been removed, and this function has been placed at the back end, meaning that the system itself will merge (“match”) information from various data sources to determine income (hence eligibility) by itself, without asking the user.

So why, very late in the day for building a big system under severe deadline pressure, did Obama bet on shifting the income data gathering function from the front end to the back end? I would bet that’s because the credit reporting agencies told him that was a good idea, and that their data would help him make it work. If I had to speculate on Obama’s source, it would be Penny Pritzker, who used to own Transunion, and for all we know still does, through a straw.

* * *

In comments, Bob Swern makes an especially important point:

4.) HEALTHCARE credit scoring is, like many other sectors, it’s own “sub-field” of expertise. (Much like mortgage, automotive and consumer credit scoring are separate areas of expertise, with different products being used, accordingly.) The reality is this methodology, relying upon consumer credit data, will–MUCH MORE THAN LIKELY–intensively contribute to a wide variety of follow-on nightmares. (i.e.: eligibility for ObamaCare [could] become a byproduct of INTERNAL SCORING by our government, with much-more-than-likely “criteria” being created quite subjectively, if not being altogether unknown to the public at large. How much “WEIGHT” is going to be given to these disparate sources of information/data when it comes to actually determining eligibility, and so forth. If it ends up being similar to how the private sector does it, our government will have its own “SECRET SAUCE”–i.e.: internal set of variables which are NOT made public–but, as long as they’re “applied uniformly,” then they’re SUPPOSEDLY in compliance with Federal Laws.

Naked Capitalism would love to hear from people who are familiar with RFPs for systems like the one Swern describes (I believe the term of art is “eligibility engine”), or even better from consultants or implementers in the field. There must be some people out there who are disgusted with the health insurance practices that ObamaCare seems to be integrating, or who have had loved ones injured by those practices, or who have themselves been injured by them.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. George Hier

    — names those data sources, as we see in Figure 1: “The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security, the Department of Social Security, and/or a consumer reporting agency.”
    Typo watch: You’ve repeated Social Security, but the original quote should say “Department of Homeland Security”.

    Not that I’m the slightest bit pleased that DHS has anything to do with healthcare, but I think giving their department the initials of Social Security veers a bit too close to Godwin’s Law.

    1. jrs

      Yea isn’t it equally scary that DHS is involved in this as it is that credit agencies are?

        1. Nathanael

          In the UK, which still has a sane health care system, immigrants (legal or illegal) can get service from the NHS, just like everyone else.

          This is how you prevent, you know, antibiotic resistant plagues from running amok. Here in the US, of course, nobody in power gives a damn about that — abuse of antibiotics in so-called farming operations is actually creating antibiotic resistant plagues, and most of the government (apart from the EPA & CDC) seems happy to let it happen.

          What we have here in the US is what I call a “failed government”.

  2. MaroonBulldog

    “So if you play ‘the match game’ and lose, you could be facing a perjury charge driven by credit reporting data.” But the government has to prove perjury beyond a reasonable doubt. I don’t expect many indictments.

    1. LucyLulu

      Will they? Or will it be like dealing with the IRS, with the burden on you to provide the necessary evidence to support the accuracy of your information?

    2. banger

      Yes, but if you’re poor you have to pay a lawyer so you will be set up to make a deal. What’s to keep credit agencies from just deliberately falsifying data? Ooops, sorry, mistakes were made meanwhile havoc is created. The point is here that if you give private industry political power they will, likely, abuse it. Witness what happened to ratings agencies who were bought off by investments firms. Witness judges who get kick-backs from private prisons to send them “criminals.” There are many ways to hustle the system and we keep opening doors to do so.

        1. Nathanael

          I sympathize. If possible, move to Canada, where you will get better medical care with far less paperwork.

          Heck, you might get better medical care by moving to Mexico City, since THEY are setting up a single-payer system as we speak.

          If you apply for THEIR system, it’ll be a lot simpler and cheaper. I hear Mexico is not the hardest country to get into….

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          On the personal level, I am so sorry.

          On the systemic/political level, that’s called hostage taking. Democrats, and especially Obots, excel at it.

  3. jake chase

    Lambert, this is the best thing you have ever done.

    Kafka and Orwell warned us. The question is, what are we going to do about it? All you folks who believe government is the answer may want to reconsider Hayek.

    1. Ben Johannson

      The problem is not “government” per se, though governments have pretty shoddy track records. The problem is that we in the U.S. appear incapable of any form of government other than fascist fusion of coporation and state.

      In other words Americans are politically incompetent and so default to a system that commensurately requires no political effort or thought on the part of the common woman/man.

      1. jake chase

        Well, once you cede a central government all this overwhelming power, there isn’t much people can do even when huge numbers of them fill the streets. It took ten years to end the Viet Nam war, and once the draft ended the middle class protestors lost interest in opposing it.

        Just exactly what do you expect people do to oppose the Fed, or Homeland Security, or IRS, or DOJ, not to mention the Congress, the Pentagon, FDA, the FBI, NSA, etc? About all people can do is try to find a niche for themselves and crawl in. And don’t forget it is government that enables monopoly and corporate theft and predation. That is why our oligarchs want its power increased year by year.

        1. PaulArt

          Have you tried thes sites? You should sometime and maybe stay there?

          Personal Liberty Digest
          Reason Magazine
          The Cato Institute
          Daily Paul

      2. JGordon

        Considering how quickly the EU, that only other bastion of liberal Enlightenment, is also rapidly devolving into an overt corporate dictatorship, you might want to consider the possibility that corruption, decay, and collapse are inherent features built into every human society from the get-go. In fact, it’s safe to say that every civilization in existence today on this planet is only a makeshift arrangement that could (and eventually will) fall apart at any time for any of inumerable reasons, as history has repeatedly shown.

        The America empire is no more secure or enduring than the empire of Rome, although admittedly when you’re inside the fish bowl mentally moving yourself outside of it is an impossible and scary thing for most people. But not everyone.

    2. Ms G


      I agree with you that this is a virtuoso piece of journalism.

      But Hayek came to the United States only once he was guaranteed health care coverage under Medicare, the blueprint for Medicare for All.

      1. jake chase

        Hayek may be personally offensive, but his Road to Serfdom is spot on, particularly in discussing why the worst people rise to the top in far flung collectivist undertakings. You might as well worry about the private life of Tiger Woods.

        Nothing says a creep cannot have a terrific short game or pen a worthy book.

        1. Ms G

          I wasn’t thinking so much “creep” as hypocrite, which directly bears on the credibility of his pen or his short game. If his works related to Renaissance art or the history of candy wrappers in America, his personal behavior would be irrelevant. Since his entire work is essentially a long sermon about “government bad — individualism good,” the fact that he was very keen on government giving him health care that he could not otherwise afford is, sorry to say, directly relevant and, to me, clear evidence that his pen and his short game (whatever that is) are hogwash.

          1. Calgacus

            But he wasn’t being hypocritical. Hayek did not oppose “socialized medicine” and said so in that book. His occasional connection to reality makes him less of an idol to today’s Austrian loons than von Mises.

        2. PaulArt

          I would be a millionaire if every time I heard a Libtard dismiss Hayek and the Koch s**ckers as opportunists and charlatans and then cheerily go on to keep monotonously chiming their ‘Government bad, GOvernment bad’ mantra.

          1. Greg

            Well, Hayek and the Koch’s are hypocrites. And calling people “libertards” marks you as a “bigot.”

          2. skippy

            @Greg… see bigot:

            “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” – Merriam-Webster

            skip here… are you laying claim to one of these distinctions[?], of belonging to a group or collective?

            “disapproving : a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person ; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)” – Merriam-Webster

            Skip again… “a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people”

            Unfairly seems to be the issue here, can you unpack your contention.

            “a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group”

            Well it would seem a libertarian position, that one, should have the right too refuse or accept the members of some hive – collective group. As far as hate goes, that’s a libertarian ethos ie government, collectivists, any thing not ***approved*** by libertarian – leaders – saints – authoritarian establishments.

            Skippy… get a dictionary. BTW its root is religious in nature… befitting methinks[!!!].

          3. jake chase

            I doubt you would be a millionaire for long. Koch will long be a billionaire thanks to an ability to harness our government to his purposes.

            Is this the best you’ve got?

    3. banger

      As a former social-democrat I certainly think the conservative argument has more resonance today than ever at least in this country. Why? Because the federal government has, as I often say, passed the tipping point–it now has a net negative impact on society from a progressive/leftist point of view and should no longer be supported–we need to decentralize political authority as much as possible despite the dangers.

        1. jrs

          possibly no government with corporate rule and the problem there is the corporations. Though yes it does seem we’re heading there anyway by the long route (TPP etc.)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I like to propose a first-half, second-half metaphor: In the first half, right and left could end the empire and save a ton of lives and money, not to mention some roadblocks in the way of the police state that (many factions on each side) hate. We might then discover that the resulting much smaller state could and should do stuff like single payer (which is, after all, single payer. It’s freeing the back office from the sucking mandibles of the rentiers that’s the issue; doctors — gasp — still get to be (small scale) capitalists!). In the second half, we could go to the mat on social issues (which field experience in the first half might make look different). I’m a writer, though, not an organizer. I’m good a spotting stuff, sometimes early, but not so good at making it happen! It would take some sort of Concordat. And it might be that the cultural and tribal gaps are simply too great. I’m not into aristocracies of inherited wealth after all, which seems, for some “conservatives,” to be a value. A strange bedfellows strategy, which has worked OK on some civil liberties and IP issues.

        1. jrs

          “And it might be that the cultural and tribal gaps are simply too great. I’m not into aristocracies of inherited wealth after all, which seems, for some “conservatives,” to be a value.”

          Yea, and that’s not the only cultural gap, I mean if it’s only preached that liberals should be more aquiescent and try to form ties with the conservatives, ok but quite honestly what makes you think they want to want to join with liberals? Because there are AT LEAST as many conservatives who get off on just being opposed to anything a liberal says no matter what it is, they get off on opposition, as there are liberals who do likewise.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            “Hang together or hang separately.” I think it depends on a general level of desperation (and realize, that to the 0.01%, “conservatives” are just as much subhuman cattle as “liberals”). Up here in Maine, the East-West highway foundered on the opposition of guys with beards in the woods just as much as it did on opposition from goo goos in Portland. So I think (again qualifying that I am not an organizer) that we want to be seeking fluidity and not rigidity.

          2. banger

            The problem is not so much with conservatives but with those who use mind-control techniques to create differences that aren’t there and the same goes for some progressives who project evil intentions on most on the right.

            If there was a true dialogue un-mediated by those that profit from the divisions then I think things would be radically different.

            I’ll work this from another angle–there are conservatives, for example, that oppose corporate toxic food (GMO etc.), oppose imperialism, urge us to question authority and government on a whole host of issues–but they may be firmly Christian, or be opposed to gay marriage, or be adamant on issues of libertarian economics, and so on with all kinds of permutations.

            Unlike what the mainstream media says there are not two sides to any issues but a dozen sides and the media only wants to report two of them in a cartoonish and false manner. Progressives have highly distorted views about what some conservatives believe and vice-versa–that’s what the power-elite want–they want to create false differences.

        2. banger

          Lambert–it’s not quite adequate to say you are “just” a writer–you’re much more than that as you know if you think about it and truly feel your being. And you are in a position to be a focus in a network that can begin to organize into something coherent–we need it badly. Not by doing anything in particular but by subtly moving your intention in that direction.

          The problem we have is that we are kind of stuck in a world that we are afraid to admit exists. We live in a world of magic on many levels–but let’s just speak about your stage-magic sort of magic–the art of misdirection and mind-f—ing. We live in sort of Harry Potter world of battling wizards and spells being hurled every which way–i.e., the PR and advertising industries which includes the mainstream media. This latter part of the system exists purely to misdirect and hypnotize us into believing absurdities that if we sat down with a pile of written materials on a desert island for a year or so we would recognize as pure caca.

          Nothing about the media-narrative has any truth to it. Yes, certain events do happen but they are talked about in a narrative context that is utterly false and in a way that can easily be proved to be false using reason, science, and analysis.

          Political differences between the “right” and the “left” are mainly false–there are cultural differences but they can be bridged by listening and dialogue (what a concept) rather than hurling slogans.

          1. jake chase

            The most important divide may be between the thinking and the nonnthinking. The thinking can be found in every class but there are far too few of them. The nonthinking respond to advertising, public relations, flag waving, muscle flexing and transparent creeps like our current President and IMHO, the next to last one. So many people believe that happiness means having a job, a suburban residence, a car or two, sex on demand and televised entertainment. They will do just about anything to get these perks, regardless of the consequences to others. A smaller percentage are diverted by team sports and a still smaller one by personal activities. This is the American Dream, and you can sell it to practically everybody who grew up in the lower strata. That is why higher education still booms despite its increasingly obvious irrelevance. Perhaps increasing joblessness and hunger will swell the ranks of the thinking? We won’t know for ten or fifteen years, at the earliest.

      2. nonclassical

        ..exactly, bangor, what corporate “fundamentalists” want-throw government oversight, transparency, accountability, out…

        better to take back “the people’s representative government” by elimination of
        influence of $$$$ into legislative process..

        what did you think when bushitters allowed credit card lobbyists to write new bankruptcy law?? We thought millions of Americans were going to go bankrupt..and acted in our own interest.

        Think about “economic” conflict between “personal responsibility” advocates (we all know who they are), scapegoating VICTIMS of Wall $treet economic disaster,
        and REALITY of new “financial sector” domination of economies…who leverage debt-hiding debt=risk in layers of subterfuge..in order to shuffle vehicles of debt to others…SHORT TERM financial gain..exactly opposite “personal responsibility” meme..

    4. cupcake

      Would also like to pile on with Jake and MsG as to the quality of the article. Enlightening analysis. Thanks.

      Side note: In my experience, the more complex a system becomes, the more likely it is to fail. Keeping my fingers crossed that Obamneycare follows suit.

      1. Ms G

        ObamaCare appears to be foundering on its complexity, and I agree this provides hope to those of us who want it vaporized to make way for Single Payer (or Medicare for All).

        The only source of timely and important information on the disaster that is ObamaCare that I know of is Lambert’s blog — Corrente Wire. His ongoing series on “ObamaCare Clusterf***” is a must-follow for anyone who remotely cares about this subject.

  4. LAS

    I fail to see how Equifax, ext. have any role to play in health insurance decision making. They won’t save anyone money, not even the government; it is just another opportunity for private corporations (which have no real business in healthcare whatsoever) to nonetheless profit from healthcare dollars.

    Government agencies can just ask for IRS tax returns, can’t they? The government owns that data already.

    1. jrs

      Yea you’d think the IRS and SS would own it all. They certainly do for wage earners. Is the problem they are trying to prevent black market non-reported income? I mean look devils advocate, but it could be argued the government doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel and so the same thing Equifax etc. do. Ok, but what is the value proposition in theory: is it providing the black market data?

    2. Ms G

      I too fail to see how Equifax or any private data-mining company has any role in determining eligibility for health care insurance in this country.

      But see the Penny Prizker-TransUnion (and now Commerce Secretary) connection. With Obama’s track record this isn’t remotely foily.

      1. Leviathan

        My thoughts, exactly! How can this be tolerated? It is flat out buying public office, which is a sin that has led to far more revolutions than lack of bread ever did.

        They don’t even bother to hide these things anymore. What does that say?

        1. Ms G

          It’s not really buying public office at this point. That’s just a quaint formulation implying that there is such a thing as “public” office anymore.

          It’s the reality that what still goes by the name of “government” (with the implication that it is a public framework) is in fact an arm of the kleptocratic private sector which loots public wealth and assets and diverts it pack to the private sector (or a very small segment thereof, the .01%, e.g., Penny Pritzker et al.)

          Just like Wall Street, the Credit Report racket is part of the “FI” in “FIRE.” And as we now know beyond any doubt, our “government” is a branch of FIRE.

          1. jake chase

            Well, Hayek told you how it would be but instead of listening you worry about him scamming Medicare. How can you write the above paragraph and not see he was prescient about all this in 1944?

            The power of government is inevitably harnessed to the purposes of the rich and powerful. Limiting government is part of the solution. Of course you also have to reduce the financial power that government has been enabling for the past seventy years (at least). Land taxes would help. Wealth taxes would help too. Fat chance of ever seeing either.

            The best hope of future generations may be a total economic collapse, but I expect they will just keep funding the banks and applying economic pressure to the workers and the elderly and the poor, with government taking a leading role involving snooping, spying, rounding up known agitators, applying muscle around the world, braying propaganda, organizing flag waving rallys, etc. There may be fifty million unemployed but no more than twenty million will ever be counted, and that still leaves more than one hundred million who have jobs and therefore no incentive to rock the boat. Divide and conquer. It works every time.

          2. Ms G

            ” … instead of listening you worry about him scamming Medicare.”

            No, Jake. Not “worrying about him scamming Medicare.” He didn’t scam Medicare — he was apparently eligible. So “scam” was never in my comment. That’s number one. Number two, I’m not “worried” about him being on Medicare. I’m simply observing the contradiction between what he preached and what he wanted. Given his obvious fear of unaffordable health care, it boggles the mind that he would have wanted to live in the utopia he wrote about where health care would have been unavailable to him or unaffordable. (Assuming that in a Hayek-ian utopia of “pure free markets” (whatever that is) the economics of health care would not have been so different from what they are now, given that concentrations of power and economic actors — one of the problems — is something that would “naturally” occur in Hayek’s utopia.

            I think we’ve run this exchange out of steam. Plus I enjoy a lot of your comments!

  5. aletheia33

    lambert, great work. thank you so much–i for one need this info.
    please continue to chronicle this debacle. where else will people be able to find such reporting?

    reminds one of HAMP.

    wouldn’t it be funny if this faux “reform” goads more of us out of our paralysis/stupor than anything else has in recent years.

    i will not be surprised if it ultimately (20 years from now) emerges that this great “reform” was passed in order to arrest states’ further progress toward single payer/universal medicare and so prevent its implementation nationwide. what could have done the job better?

  6. Ep3

    Yves, this is evil criminal. This is handing over my credit information over to private companies (and I hope not to have to use obamacare). I would be less concerned if I had a strong cfpb behind me, protecting my financial profile.
    Good catch on the penny pritzker connection.
    This is just another ‘the citizen is the individual/business/king’. All that BS about the govt leaving me alone and the power of the individual and I don’t need the govt to help me, I can do it on my own. This is what we get. It’s like the phone tapping thing; ‘if u aren’t guilty, what do u care if they wire tap your phone’. So somehow if your credit report is messed up, it’s your own fault, u r guilty. It only happens to bad ppl. And of course the fantasy belief that ‘credit reporting agencies are big American companies, they cant possibly make mistakes’ reinforces this.

    1. Ep3

      Yves, I don’t mean to get off topic on a bit of a rant. But I haven’t heard the following mentioned in discussions about health care in America. It may be brash or conspiratorial, but I truly believe it is correct.
      What I am referring to is one of the reasons we have private insurance in the US. So much of our country is driven by a separation of the haves and have nots. And it is a fact that not only are people discriminated based upon color, but they are also discriminated based upon money. So why don’t we talk about that discrimination when it comes to health care? It is my hypothesis that one of the reasons we have private market insurance is so that wealthy people can have segregation from poor people when they visit a doctor. If we had single payer (Medicare is sort of, but it requires individuals to goto the private market for their coverage as well as supplemental and RX coverage) poor ppl could choose to see whatever doctor they like and rich ppl don’t want to contaminate themselves with poor ppl filth.
      Also, I blame the doctors too. I think some doctors are arrogant enough that they think their skills are best serving rich ppl. So all doctors need to do in our current system is say “I don’t accept your insurance” and the doctor has an excuse that’s ‘out of his control’.

      1. LifelongLib

        My understanding is that the U.S. health insurance system is a historical oddity that emerged from wage freezes during WW 2. Companies would offer employees health coverage as a benefit to attract workers they couldn’t get by raising wages. Of course this type of system separates people who have jobs from those who don’t.

        I’ve heard that doctors are so exploited during their training that many come out of it feeling entitled to every penny they can get. Plus our current system underpays doctors who take Medicare/Medicaid patients, causing many to gravitate towards the better-off.

        1. Kokuanani

          And many, MANY doctors are “opting out” of Medicare [i.e., refusing to take Medicare patients].

          This is particularly true in the DC metropolitan area [I speak from person experience] where docs can kick Medicare participants [like me] out the door and have them replaced by folks with “golden” insurance plans, usually via the Feds.

          It’s a big “win” for the docs [no more low-reimbursement Medicare folks, no more “excessive” paperwork, no regs]. They of course don’t care about the patients who can’t find care.

        2. Jack Parsons

          Right- but how has it stayed this way? I claim that the unionized working classes and professional classes are the largest voting blocks, and that giving them ‘insurance’ has bought them off. This trick has failed: the unions are on the run and the employers of the professional classes can no longer afford the subsidy. The Democrats thought the tipping point for this failure had happened in 1992; they were wrong. It took another 15 years before it was politically possible to pass something claiming to be a national health care reform.

      2. jrs

        No I don’t think it’s about rich people not wanting to be contaminated. Because rich people can *ALWAYS* not be contaminated. We could have Medicare for all and the rich could see private boutique doctors if they wanted who give them a check up every month and spend 2 hours with the patient at a time. The rich can always seperate, as they do with private schools etc.. There’s no such thing as powerless rich, now if you were to argue the rich just don’t want to pay more taxes, ok I could see that.

        To the extent it’s a conspiracy to seperate classes I don’t think it’s about the rich seperating as they can always do that. I think it’s seperating the professional middle class (who *if* employed have healthcare through their jobs) from the poor and precariat etc. (service workers often don’t). And why that seperation? Divide and conquer? I’m not sure, but everything, everything in American society wants to enforce that seperation, from the school system to yes the healthcare system. Terror of not being professional middle class is basically the stick that DRIVES the professional middle class. And you won’t get them most of the time to indentify as “working class” or have that much sympathy with them but they will obsess on their little middle class concerns of good school districts etc. – terror of not being and their kids not being professional middle class drives them.

        1. Nathanael

          You are correct, jrs. The system has been perpetuated because it allows the corporate CEOs to enslave the middle class and keep them “compliant” (they won’t protest or quit for [b]fear of losing their health insurance[/b]). I think this particular strategy has a breaking point, but we haven’t hit it yet.

        2. Nathanael

          In terms of figuring out where the breaking point is, I think the breaking point is the point when the “professional middle class” realizes that their kids simply don’t have a chance of being “professional middle class” as it was understood in the 50s — at least not without a revolution.

          I’m not sure when this happens, but student loan debt, being “tied to a job” by health insurance, high unemployment rates, flat wages, it all adds up to eventually hit that tipping point.

  7. AbyNormal

    Powerful Workup Lambert…Thanks
    (of course i always judge these things by my stomach sounds an the length of my loo stay)

    my guess…bringing the nastiest of entities together like this will force their sadistic souls to create a larger more powerful entity encompassing them all
    (but Aby it’ll create jobs)

  8. Mike B.

    What information would a credit reporting agency have that would be relevant? As far as I can see, not much – name, address, SSN, phone number and age I think. I don’t think credit reporting agencies even have information on income – it’s not on a credit report.

    If I retire before I’m 65, I could stay on my employer’s health insurance and pay almost $600/month for single coverage. Under ObamaCare, I think I’ll pay more like $50. Sure, I’d rather have single payer or Medicare-for-all, but I’ll take ObamaCare.

    1. Splashoil

      Mike B. is your $50/mo Obamacare plan Silver or Bronze? Not to worry, you will be served well.

      1. Mike B.

        I am obviously concerned about the quality of the plan ObamaCare will give me. However, the subsidies are based on a silver plan for people with a modified AGI of 250-400% of the poverty level. For people below 250%, there are supposed to be cost-sharing subsidies in addition, increasing the value of the plans. So on paper it looks good, as I read it. We’ll have to wait to see what the reality is, but I’ll give it a chance (if I retire early). After all, I’m not all that happy with my $600/month plan.

        1. splashoil

          Mike B. transfer your assets first! Those subsidized 70/30 Silver plans will not help much if you get sick. They are lose your house plans, even if government subsidized. Best you just keep working until 65 or maybe 67 if they prevail.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          There’s no question ObamaCare will help some people; a program that big couldn’t help but do so. The question is what public purpose does the program as a whole serve, how does it net out, and what are the opportunity costs for society as a whole; for example, single payer would save at least $400 billion a year (Woolhandler study in NEJM) and that’s money that ObamaCare leaves on the table.

          That said, I’m sure HAMP helped some people, too. However, although helping homeowners was the ostensible purpose of HAMP, foaming the runway for the banksters was the real purpose. In the same way, helping people who need health insurance (not the same as health care, mind you) is the ostensible purpose of ObamaCare, bailing out the health insurance companies is surely one of its real purposes.

          1. Mike B.

            I’m all for single payer, and I’m not happy with ObamaCare for not even going a little bit in that direction, and with Obama for offering to increase the age of eligibility for Medicare (although for many people ObamaCare might be a better deal). But ObamaCare is what we have, and if I choose to or have to retire before 65, I either have to pay for private insurance myself, or let the gov’t pay for most of it. So I’m willing to take advantage of a program even though I don’t like it.

        3. Ms G

          I’m not that happy with the ObamaCare benchmark that paying 9.5% of your gross income means an ACA exchange Loser Bronze or Less-Loser Silver policy is “affordable.”

          Also, I don’t know what calculator or algo you used to come up with what you’d be paying for a “silver” plan. I’d love to know about it. But be careful focusing on the static monthly price where extensive coverage has now shown that in reality you will be monitored day to day and if your income blips above or below what it was when the magic calculator said your payment was $50.00, then all of a sudden you’ll be “upshifted” or “downshifted” into a different plan (including Medicaid if you fall low enough) and if you end up earning pennies more than you did on Day One of the calculation you will have an unkonwn tax liability in the next FY.

          As well, have you calculated in addition to your $50/month premium what you will be paying out of pocket for (1) annual deductible, (2) co-pays, (3) co-insurance, (4) things not covered by your policy that may not seem so obvious when you actually sign up for it? So far, all the “sample” cost-analysis documents out there do a very poor job of clearly spelling out what your real cash liability will be before you get One Dollar of coverage.

          Just beware. ObamaCare looks, talks and walks like a giant adhesion contract with a cheap price on the front page and dozens of little “add ons” scattered throughout the next 50 pages of 6 point type.

          1. Mike B.

            I have spelled out where I got the $50 in a reply to Yves. As for the out-of-pocket costs, for people whose MAGI is under 200% of the poverty level, the out-of-pocket maximum is reduced by two-thirds, and the plan’s share of the total covered costs will be 94% (MAGI 100-150% of poverty level) or 87% (150-200%). It definitely is unfortunate that benefit levels depend so heavily on income, so people who are better able to adjust there MAGI (by drawing on already-taxed savings for part of their income, for example) can maximize their benefits while others cannot. But I don’t want to pay $600/month for insurance that isn’t going to cover everything either.

    2. banger

      That’s what you think. They can provide a lot more information than that and will. The point is that this gives political power to yet another private concern that can buy and sell its information or alter it without any accountability. For example, the agencies that were supposed to rate investments were bought off by investment houses and I did not notice than any of them went to jail. The system was created for industry to game–it provided a few nice-sounding reforms but is a minefield for the currently under-insured and working poor.

    3. Yves Smith


      Where in God’s name did you get your $50 a month fantasy from???

      The annual premiums for a bronze plan are anticipated to be between $4500 and $5300. That’s $375 to $442 a month.

      And bronze plans are designed to cover only 60% of your costs. So if you have, say, $3000 in medical and dental in a year, that’s another $1400 or $117 a month.

      So Obamacare may be better than what you get now, but not by much.

      1. Ms G

        Yves, and the premiums plus co-insurance are only the beginning — after that you have to add annual deductible (thousands of dollars a year), copays and “things not covered after all” (which in theory could be anything from $100 to sky-is-the-limit).

      2. Mike B.

        I got the $50/month taking into account the tax credit, which is the cost of the second lowest cost silver plan minus a percentage of the person’s modified AGI. I take this to mean that if I bought the second lowest cost silver plan, the cost to me would be the percentage of my MAGI, and the tax credit covers the rest. The percentage is

        Up to 133% poverty level 2.0%
        133%-150% 3.0%-4.0%
        150%-200% 4.0%-6.3%
        200%-250% 6.3%-8.05%
        250%-300% 8.05%-9.5%
        300%-400% 9.5%

        For a single person at 150% of the poverty level, this is $57.45/month. 150% of the poverty level is $1436/month. By spending down my already-taxed savings (which wouldn’t count towards MAGI), I could get down to that ballpark.

        1. Nathanael

          Notice that you will be required to remain bankrupt and destitute in order to maintain “health insurance”.

          This is a recipe for trouble, because it won’t be long before people notice that it’s impossible to get ahead.

    4. Nathanael

      “If I retire before I’m 65, I could stay on my employer’s health insurance and pay almost $600/month for single coverage. Under ObamaCare, I think I’ll pay more like $50.”

      Individual insurance costs $1000/month as of this year in New York State. Why do you imagine you will pay less than that under Obamacare?

      If NY insurance rates drop from $1000/month to $50/month, I’ll be delighted, but I think that’s pretty much impossible.

  9. sleepy

    “We also have no way of knowing which errors apply to income alone, which presumably — we don’t actually know this — is the only data that ObamaCare will be going to the private credit reporting agencies for.”

    Correct. We don’t actually know if it will be limited to income.

    In addition to determining your eligibility for subsidies, it could just as well be used to determine your credit-worthiness–in other words, your ability to actually pay your monthly premium share “on time and as agreed”, terms used by the credit agencies.

    Many, probably most, auto and property insurance companies use credit-worthiness cribbed from a credit report to determine if they will write you a policy. Maybe Obamacare will as well.

  10. Yancey Ward

    Sure, the Democrats could have bitten the bullet and provided universal policies available solely by provision of a SSN, birth certificate, or green card, but they would then have had to fund the entire measure with a broad-based tax of some sort. Operationally, it certainly would have been better than the train-wreck that is coming.

    1. banger

      Well, of course you are right. But the problem was that the mainstream media, the Democrats in Congress and, above all, the WH, did not present a case for real health-care reform. There was no debate based on real issues and real data. It was just stated that extending Medicare (or whatever) was out of the question and it should not be even discussed instead the industries involved should agree to “something” that looked like reform and then the particulars of a system could be discussed. The progressive that supported Obama are to blame even more than Obama who was always a center-right politician and never remotely on the left–other than in certain cosmetic ways in order to get votes from the chumps who voted for him.

      1. Yancey Ward

        You are overthinking it. The problem all along was the inability to raise the taxes to pay for the single payer system. You don’t need to go further than that. Most people still think their health insurance is basically free and paid by someone else. Single payer destroys that illusion because it must be funded by a broad-based tax. Democrats took the path they did because it was the easiest way to continue to pretend that health insurance is paid for by someone else.

        1. Ms G

          Yancey — Apparently excising the middle-man (insurance companies and their administrative appendages) from the health care delivery system in this country would save @ $300-400 billion per year, which savings would cover health care for everyone without spending another cent.

          You may want to hop over to Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP) to read some of their material, including the analyses that found this astounding financial fact which gives the lie to the idea that any sort of new broad based tax would have been necessary.

        2. LifelongLib

          Anyone who looks at their pay statement knows health insurance isn’t free now. Assuming the government didn’t simply deficit spend for health care without taxing, any tax increase would have been more than offset by the removal of health insurance premiums. Not being able to convey that is the real failure of Democrats (I don’t expect anything from Republicans).

        3. banger

          The federal government already pays as almost as much into our system as Canada for theirs–that’s one dirty little secret that never came out. The reason our system is so expensive is because the system in run by criminals.

  11. banger

    Progressives should have paid more attention to the reasons conservatives objected to the ACA. In addition, real leftists objected to it for just the reasons pointed out in this post–i.e., it would increase the political power of private corporations. In my view the whole phony health-care debate existed to flim-flam what passes for the left in this country in supporting a right-wing proposal. We have to remember that rating agencies, whether for consumers or for investments, have little accountability and can be bought by corporate interests far easier than can public agencies.

    In general, the movement for several decades has been for private companies to take on political authority whether as contractors for the government or given power over life and death in more and more situations.

      1. LifelongLib

        Note that in Switzerland (which also uses an insurance system) participation is mandatory. A health insurance system can only work with mandates because health is too predictable. Since any insurance is paid for by the people who don’t use it, a system in which use is predictable inevitably fills up with claimants and collapses. That’s why insurance is not the model we should be using to pay for health care.

    1. AbyNormal


      (Salanders tshirt, girl with the dragon tattoo)

    2. Nathanael

      Progressives opposed the ACA in its final form, and supported single-payer.

      I think you are referring to “Democrats” when you say “progressives”.

  12. indio007

    Thx Yves,
    This is a very important story. Thank goodness someone covered it.

    I’m so sick of the Feds. They have become co-conspirators in the theft of public money by corporate kleptos.

  13. vonLmo

    What I don’t understand is, wasn’t Obama Care ment for everyone? Why are you implying means-testing for access? I think the basis of this article should be whether or not Federal subsidies are given. That is the elidgeability issue isn’t it?

    This program is a ginormous boon to the Credit Reporting Agencies who can turn around & sell your data to health insurance companies. This is what they do already when a mortgage company pulls your credit report. They immediately alert other companies that you are looking for a mortgage or a refinance.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      vonLmo: ObamaCare’s advocates, and especially its deluded and/or cynical career “progressive” defenders, employed the rhetoric of universality. As it turns out (estimates vary) ObamaCare will, when fully implemented some years from now, cover around 30 million more people, leaving 26 million not covered. You notice that ObamaCare’s Chief Marketing Officer, Obama, is now stressing the benefits of ObamaCare to those who are already covered. Meanwhile, the “progressives” have quietly dropped the universal rhetoric.

      As for means-testing: ObamaCare needs to (is obsesssed with) throwing people into buckets by income so they can (a) figure out whether you should go the Platinum/Gold/Silver/LoserBronze plans route, or get forced down the Total Loser Medicaid route, and (b) determine the level of subsidy for the plans. That’s the basic design flaw of ObamaCare, and it all stems from not treating health care as a right that all citizens should have (like Canada; see the link in the post for how much money that saves). So, from a truly rancid system design, all sorts of implementation issues follow: (a) there are a ton of different buckets; (b) the rules for throwing people into different buckets are highly complex; (c) people will end up being thrown into the wrong bucket, or worse, fall between buckets.

      1. Ms G

        or, (d) be charged with perjury because of errors in the Bucket Selection process totally outside one’s control.

    2. JTFaraday

      “This program is a ginormous boon to the Credit Reporting Agencies who can turn around & sell your data”

      Yeah, as in maybe the CRAs are about to become Health Reporting Agencies, receiving information on your health from your health insurance company and reporting it to “whoever.”

      Doubly consoling when you consider that credit reports are increasingly required when seeking employment– which may be added incentive to not even use the Bronze/Silver/Gold plan the government is making you buy in the first place, lest you become “unemployable.”

      You knew it was coming.

      Otherwise, honestly, I’m not sure the involvement of the CRAs in employment or forced-purchase insurance makes much sense, (although, I suppose there is a school of thought that suggests an indebted employee makes a better sucker).

      1. JTFaraday

        All of which just contributes to the case for why health care and employment need to be separated, the punitive tendency of many Americans historically to want to attach all social welfare to employment so they can screw the lazy and the weak notwithstanding.

        Live by the sword…

  14. AbyNormal

    here’s a perfect example (just rec’d) for what data the gov. will be gathering:

    Dear Chase OnlineSM Customer:

    A message regarding “We’ve updated our Chase QuickPay Service Agreement and Privacy Notice” has been sent to your Secure Message Center. To see your message, log on to http://www.Chase.com
    and click “Secure Message Center” on the My Accounts page. If you are already logged on to Chase Online, you can see your message(s) at any time by visiting the Secure Message Center.
    The message will be available in your Secure Message Center until 08/05/2013.

    Thank you for being a valued Chase Online customer.

    ***my chase act has been CLOSED for 4.5yrs***

  15. Elliot

    This looks like a way to disallow coverage to people with poor credit history (aka poor people) and to demonize them in the process. But if I read things right, the subsidies would be in the form of tax credits, and if you don’t make much money, a tax credit sounds nice but unless the IRS sends you a check, it’s just kabuki.

    Seems calculated to drive poor people to suicide.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I tried to be careful to say that the “consumer reporting agencies” would be involved only for the purpose of income (eligibility) determination, because that’s the only legal rationale I know about. (ObamaCare is a big bill with a lot of Easter eggs in it.) That said, since the insurance companies still have every rationale to deny care for profit that they had before ObamaCare, it would make sense for them to game the system by disallowing coverage. For example, it would be interesting to correlate bad credit ratings with being shoved down into Medicaid, for example.

      1. DolleyMadison

        They deny car insurance and homeowners insurance based on credit score, why not health insurance? I could give a f%ck about my “credit score” as I will never apply for (handcuffs) credit again as long as I live. NOT PLAYING. My 20-something son has been able to negoiate cash rates with both his dentist and doctor and has a prescription discount card. when my last birdie leaves the nest I will be doing the same. Insurance is part of the problem. If I get cancer I’ll just die. Could give a sh*t…OPTING OUT. If EVERYONE said f-u to insurance, healthcare would become affordable 10 minutes later.

        1. run75441


          The premise of the PPACA is to provide healthcare insurance to those who can not afford it or can not obtain it. To be denied because of poor credit which in all probability exists in a far greater likelihood with the poor defeats the purpose of the PPACA. In other words, your premise is a bridge to far in assumptions.

          1. Ms G

            No, Dolley’s premise is that while Obama (Marketer in Chief of ObamaCare) says that ACA will help those who can’t afford health insurance now, the actual ACA is being revealed as a system to re-deny (if such a thing is possible) health insurance to those who cannot afford it.

            ACA is a big scam.

    2. sleepy

      No defense of Obamacare here, but the tax credits are refundable tax credits, which means you get it even if you pay no taxes.

      Doesn’t mean of course that whatever policy you are corralled into is worth much in terms of healthcare.

      1. sleepy

        “you get it” should of course read that blue cross effectiely gets your refundable tax credit.

  16. Justicia

    So, why isn’t your tax return sufficient proof of income? It already imposes penalties for false statements. Why bring in the private credit agencies — or, is this just another gummint subsidy to the undeserving financial thieves?

  17. PeonInChief

    In addition to the fundamental inappropriate use of an entirely unaccountable private system for a government program, it could lead to hassles for people whose errors don’t affect their credit rating. For example, my husband’s credit report has contained the same error twice, simply because the people who lived in our rentals before we did ran small businesses out of their homes. In both cases those businesses were attached to his credit report. Since it didn’t have any effect on our credit rating, we never bothered to deal with it. (I checked on what I would have to do, and decided that it just wasn’t worth the effort for an error that had no impact.)

    BUT this error might not be harmless in the ObamaCare context, as it would indicate some kind of hidden income that the applicant might have to deal with.

    For some reason the error never appeared on my credit report, and the first one dropped off after we moved. Don’t ask me why–the credit bureaus move in mysterious ways. And that’s the problem…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, I would speculate that detecting hidden income is the rationale.* Not income hidden offshore, naturally — down Penny! — but income from System D and other makeshifts that poor and working people use to get buy in a collapsed economy with huge disemployment and real wages flat for forty years.

      I do think we need to give Obama a lot of credit for turning a program putatively for broadening health insurance coveage into a tax collection scheme. The guy really is a genius. IRS enforcement would always have been the point, wouldn’t it have been?

  18. Peter Pan

    If Obamacare is strictly based on income (and not assets), then the government already has a test for income in an existing program known as SNAP (food stamps). Why not just follow the same method for verifying income under SNAP but adjust the income threshold to qualify for Obamacare?

      1. Peter Pan

        From the USDA website-

        Income: Under SNAP rules, almost all types of income are counted to determine if a household is eligible. Most households must have income at or below certain dollar limits before and after deductions are allowed. However, households in which all members are getting public assistance or SSI (or, in some locations, general assistance) do not have to meet the income eligibility tests.

        (Proof: You must provide proof of the income of all household members. Examples of proof include latest pay stubs or a statement from your employer; and benefit letters from Social Security, Veterans Administration, unemployment compensation, or pensions.)

        1. Greg

          And for extra fun, SNAP does not allow me to deduct the alimony I pay out of my SSDI, so I don’t qualify despite being destitute, disabled, homeless, and hungry.

        2. Markus

          This is not really true, there is no exempted income in SNAP no matter the source, I am a 100% disabled vet with VA and SS disability and I live alone so every household member is on disability, yet I do not qualify for Oregon Trail (SNAP here) or any other type of public assistance.

          I will not have to apply to ObamaCare in spite of my lack of private insurance because I am already covered by the VA healthcare system as well as Medicare part A, but I still see this forced participation for the rest of you as leading the nation to disaster. And I am way left liberal who would have liked to see a single payor system, this system though will only reinforce the chains of slavery of the average “citizen.”

          Just wait till you get a gander at the medical decision making process of the government when their rights to decide outrank your own. Example, the VA pulled my upper teeth in 2006 and made me a denture, but it makes me gag so I cannot use it. I was sent up to Portland for evaluation to see if I was a good candidate for implants which they do in cases like mine. I was not a good candidate because I smoke. I will be paying out of pocket to a private dentist for the implants or I will be gumming my food for the rest of my life. Their rational is that smokers are more likely to have complications, so why do private oral surgeons have no issues with this problem? The reality is the VA is essentially denying service to people who smoke and they know smokers have no allies, they can get away with it. One day you too will be told what to do, maybe you are 30 lbs. overweight and will find out what I am talking about. Maybe you like salt a bit more than they approve of. You will find out your body belongs to the government and not the other way around.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            “You will find out your body belongs to the government and not the other way around.” Yes, that is indeed the issue that all this policy revolves around. I would say, however, that the finance sector owns your body, and rather like absentee landlords, they have somebody to manage your body for them: That would be the State, which as it turns out they also own (the government being one part of the State).

      2. ltr

        What does the word “granular” mean here? I think this is important, but I do wish there were a summary and attention to simple, clear, jargon free writing.

        1. ccref

          “Granular” translates (more or less) to “detailed”.
          Only Lambert knows for sure.
          Agree with you on the summary, simplicity/clarity, and jargon – I usually end up checking outside sources for translations, but it’s OK, my vocabulary is increasing.

  19. Switchblade

    This article should scare the hell out of any rational adult, and I want to thank Lambert for slapping us all upside the head. Wow, every day it seems we descend further into the fascist abyss that our philosopher/kings started digging for us over 30 years ago. Lambert’s brilliant bit of detective work only reinforces why I left the Democratic party, and stopped voting over 8 years ago.

    Obama’s healthcare nightmare makes the word Kafkaesque seem inadequate and quaint. Yves, how about Obamaesque?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Rather like The Purloined Letter, eh? Right there in plain sight. With the entire political class — Young Ezra, Joke Line, The Greatest Orator Of Our Time — pointing the other way. It’s GENIUS, I tell you!

  20. Bob Swern

    Actually,this story overlooks a LOT of pertinent facts which would make this piece even stronger. (Disclosure: I’m quite intensively involved, and at a granular level, with consumer credit and related credit reporting agencies, as a byproduct of my ownership of a small software business.)

    Some additional facts:

    1.) The poorest segments of our society have what is known as a much higher incidence of “NO-FILE/THIN-FILE” records at the largest CRA’s (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union). In other words, they have little or no data available with regard to their credit history. (Frequently, to get a better fix upon their financial background, alternative data sources must be accessed to get a better read on the finances of this segment of society. And, those alternative sources tend to be even pricier than the tradtional CRAs.)

    2.) Medical debt and related derogatory collections information is among the most screwed-up data in the credit reporting indusry’s databases. On top of that, it’s a widely-known FACT that medical debt is the number one cause for personal bankruptcy in this country.

    3.) Additional inquiries into a person’s credit file–depending upon the type of inquiry–WILL adversely affect an individual’s credit score. And, that’s as in: IMMEDIATELY. Having extensive background in the development of credit scorecards, professionally, I can state without reservation that “NUMBER OF INQUIRIES” is one of the most WIDELY-USED variables in the credit analytics business (in terms of its implementation in consumer credit scoring). In other words: the more inquiries, the lower your score, generally speaking. (Add’l note: most consumers don’t realize that there are thousands upon thousands of credit-scoring processes in place throughout our society. Your FICO/BEACON score are just two examples. Virtually all of the larger banks have CUSTOM scorecards that either they’ve developed, internally, or in conjunction with consultants.

    4.) HEALTHCARE credit scoring is, like many other sectors, it’s own “sub-field” of expertise. (Much like mortgage, automotive and consumer credit scoring are separate areas of expertise, with different products being used, accordingly.) The reality is this methodology, relying upon consumer credit data, will–MUCH MORE THAN LIKELY–intensively contribute to a wide variety of follow-on nightmares. (i.e.: eligibily for ObamaCare will become a byproduct of INTERNAL SCORING by our government, with much-more-than-likely “criteria” being created quite subjectively, if not being altogether unknown to the public at large. How much “WEIGHT” is going to be given to these disparate sources of information/data when it comes to actually determining eligibility, and so forth. If it ends up being similar to how the private sector does it, our government will have its own “SECRET SAUCE”–i.e.: internal set of variables which are NOT made public–but, as long as they’re “applied uniformly,” then they’re SUPPOSEDLY in compliance with Federal Laws. The greater reality is this last unpublicized fact lends itself to all kinds of questionable problems on Main Street, today. The fact that our government is now RUNNING down this very slippery slope is an accident that’s not “waiting” to happen, but typical of the methodologies that lead themselves to gross violations of pathetically unreported discriminatory practices throughout America, today…as you read this!)

    What a freakin’ travesty this is! Shameful!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Bob Swern: Nice to know I’ve scratched a hideous surface and yet the Cthulhu-like horror beneath has yet to be revealed! If you want to shoot me some links offline I’d be more than happy to keep hammering on this topic — although the more the merrier, of course!

      1. Bob Swern

        Glad to oblige, Lambert. I’ll send along some reference/resources (there’s a ton of underpublicized realities here) over the next 24 hours. Doing the obligatory Mother’s Day thing at the moment.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Thanks. (And do note what I extracted from your comment and placed at the end. The workings of the ObamaCare “eligibility engine” are a key piece of the puzzle, and yet — ha ha, “yet,” who am I kidding? — it’s not being covered at all.

    2. PeonInChief

      One note on an otherwise scary comment:

      There are two kinds of inquiries, hard and soft. Hard inquiries count because one is applying for credit–to buy a car, get a mortgage etc. Soft inquirites are those from credit card companies who are hawking their overpriced cards. Those don’t count. I was surprised to learn that Social Security had done a soft inquiry when my husband applied for his benefits. Apparently that’s done to confirm identity.

      I’ve also found that landlords often do soft inquiries, I guess because they’re cheaper.

      1. Ms G

        What is the difference between a “hard” and “soft” inquiry in terms of real consequences, e.g., to one’s credit scoring, if you know?

        1. PeonInChief

          I only know what I’ve read elsewhere, but a soft inquiry has no impact. A hard inquiry may knock a few points from your credit score, but only has a noticeable impact if you apply for a lot of credit in a very short period of time. Some hard inquiries, like mortgage applications, are consolidated to a single inquiry if they occur over a short period of time. (That’s because most sensible people apply for several different mortgages to determine the best interest rate etc.)

          However, one thing that appears not to be true, even though you’ll read it everywhere, is that closing unused accounts is a bad idea. I did it several years ago–I just didn’t want accounts I wasn’t using open–and it doesn’t appear to have had any effect.

          1. Ms G

            Thanks Peon, very helpful.

            I’ve just gotten my annual free reports and all three of them have old, closed accounts still on there — old and closed as in anywhere from 6-15 years ago. I’m looking forward to the time-suck of interacting with the three CRAs to get this data deleted.

  21. Kokuanani

    Lambert, have you forwarded this to any of the few “responsible” journalists — Amy Goodman, Chris Hayes, Bill Moyers, others — who might give this important story wider readership?

    I’ve forwarded a link to a number of my friends, but I’m thinking “media.”

    Overcoming the Obots compulsive defensie of Obamacare is difficult, particularly since they think all criticism comes from the right.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Adding: On “compulsive defense,” realize that the administration is now in full campaign mode on ObamaCare during the rollout, and will likely be through 2014 at least.

      Therefore, you should treat every single statement on ObamaCare — every single statement — uttered by adminstration officials, Democratic think tanks, career “progressives,” and Obots generally as carefully engineered and centrally co-ordinated bullshit,* exactly like a political campaign.

      This extends — perhaps especially extends — so any statistics cited by these sources because the key statistic (IMNSHO) is going to be numbers signed up.** (This is going to be a hard discipline for some well-meaning Democrats on the ground, because some of them have been enlisted in the rollout effort.)

      * The difference between a liar and a bullshitter is that a liar cares about the truth and a bullshitter doesn’t. So if a bullshitter tells the truth, and that can happen, it’s a coincidence.

      ** This is why IMNHSO the rollout has already thrown the vulnerable and unengaged under the bus — even though they are not as healthy. Unengaged people are harder to reach, so they don’t bulk up the numbers. Notice this is actuarial logic and not public good logic. In other words, the government is cherrypicking, exactly is if it were a private insurance company.

      1. sgt_doom

        Thanks again for this super article, sir, one thing that has always bothered me: the top two cost drivers in American healthcare ARE NEVER discussed: (1) hedge fund speculation across the entire healthcare sector, and (2) private equity leveraged buyouts across the entire healthcare sector — an analysis yields a one-to-one correlation over the past 10 years regarding those two and the rise in healthcare costs, etc.

    2. sgt_doom

      FBI snitch, Bill Moyers??????

      Amy Goodman, who interviewed Coll for his book on Exxon-Mobil and couldn’t even think to ask him who the frigg owns that oil behemoth (historically, Standard Oil, and if you think it was REALLY ever broken up, read John Moody’s book, The Masters of Capital and do a forensic audit on the paper trail from it.

      Chris Hedges is certainly pristine, and a great guy, but Pam Martens and Nomi Prins are first-rate financial journalists (I mean real journalist, not twits like that self-described “journalist” — Carol Costello of CNN), and there’s also Matt Taibbi, who is beginning to now comprehend the Big Picture!

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Both Chris Hedges and Matt Taibbi are now posting with the evil comment system, Discus. It is possible that Discus collects data on you as well as on anything you write and sells the information. Most likely neither Matt nor Chris have anything do do with the decision to drive their comment sections by Discus, however if anyone knows thier email address, they should shoot them a note asking what the hell is going on and how can they stand for it. I suspect Glen Greenwald left Salon to some extent at least because they started copyrighting his posts. If Greenwald can make such a statement, why not those two.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            From Wikipedia:

            […] Some commentators have noted the privacy issues inherent in the use of services like Disqus, which serve their content through third party JavaScript widgets.[12][13][14]

            As with other embedded web widgets such as like buttons, the Disqus widget acts as a web bug which tracks a users activities, even when they are not logged in, across different sites that use the Disqus commenting system. Information tracked by Disqus.com, which may be disclosed to 3rd parties, includes pseudonymous analytics data such as a users IP address, their web-browser’s version and installed add-ons, and their referring pages and exit links.[15] Although this data is referred to by Disqus as “Non-Personally Identifiable Information”, such data, when aggregated, has been shown to be usable for de-anonymizing users.[13]

            Users wishing to avoid these issues may opt to install a privacy-enhancing web browser extension, such as Ghostery or DoNotTrackPlus, which identify widgets such as Disqus as web-bugs,[16][17] and allows them to be blocked; this renders Disqus-powered commenting sections unviewable.

            Disqus has also been criticized for publishing its registered users’ entire commenting histories, along with a list of connected blogs and services, on the publicly viewable user profile pages.

          2. Ms G


            “… publishing its registered users’ entire commenting histories, along with a list of connected blogs and services, on the publicly viewable user profile pages.”


            How is Disqus legal?

    3. Ms G

      I agree. I think Martin Smith should get this. We can try emailing him the story — perhaps numbers will weigh as much as a connection?

  22. Brooklin Bridge

    Unbelievable! Really creepy… Great catch Lambert!

    Notice how no one on the Post caught this at all, comments section or other. Given the accuracy of the credit agencies, the government is going to have about 20 million criminals on their hands, guilty of immaculate perjury – presto voilà.

    If it’s anything like the mortgage foreclosure fiasco or the review fiasco of the foreclosure fiasco, or the MSM non reporting fiasco of the review fiasco of the foreclosure fiasco, the number 20 million will probably be declared an acceptable margin of error.

    1. Notmax Baucus

      It’s hard to find online right now, but didn’t the Post charge for access to lobbyists during the “debate” period?

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        You may be thinking of this:

        Also this:

        WaPo was charging the Lobbyists for access to journalists as well as members of the political elite. They slithered out of it when it was caught and published by a web site.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Note: Don’t get hung up on the picture of Jon Stewart on the first link. Scroll down just a little below the “slide show” and the article starts.

    2. Ms G

      That’s right, Brooklin. One of the many Easter Eggs hidden in ObamaCare is the ObamaCare-to-Prison-Express. Why wouldn’t a law putatively created to “provide health care” to Americans but that is obviously structured to enrich insurance companies, enrich “creative class” IT and P.R. consultants, and (now, apparently) Credit Reporting Agencies, also be structured to create a new income stream for the Private-Prison Industry?

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Exactly. Insurers think of it as a new category to add to their plan offerings: Gold, Silver, Bronze and now Steel.

          1. Ms G

            Ha ha — I *love* the Concrete Plan — “Guaranteed to Land You in A Safe Spot Inside the Pillars of the Verazzano Bridge”

            Excellent one, Brooklin’!

        1. Ms G

          Brooklin’ — Don’t you see? Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Superlative Platinum: the other blueprint for ObamaCare (RomneyCare being the root blueprint) is credit cards!

          I love the idea of a Corrente Plan. Lambert should create a one-sentence Corrente Health Care Policy that looks like a Social Security card and that says: “Entitles holder to free health care in the United States.”

          Eventually, thanks to the efforts of LS and Corrente and others (including ourselves), those cards will actually get us free, quality health care.

          (If nothing else, Lambert’s excellent coverage means there is absolutely *no* excuse for anyone coming anywhere near an ObamaCare Insurance Product — Designed And Guaranteed to Impoverish You and/or Land You In Jail In No Time (TM).

        2. Ms G

          Did any of us, twenty years ago, imagine that the unofficial motto of the Democratic Party in 2013 would be “Steel Bars and Cement Shoes for All (TM)”?

          (Or “A Drone in Every Pot”)

  23. sgt_doom

    This is a remarkably, and truly outstanding piece!

    A zillion thanks, Mr. S., a zillion thanks, sir!

  24. Benedict@Large

    You haven’t been hiding from any creditors, have you? Maybe something you forgot about from 10-20 years back? Because guess what those agencies do whenever they get a new or updated address? Yeah, it’s gonna be a veritable feeding frenzy for all those ghouls who buy dead credit. How about that, all you wayward deadbeats? Obama’s going to deliver your asses right into the hands of your weary creditors.

    Of course, you could always just go without healthcare, couldn’t you?

  25. David

    I would guess this is a payoff and an extension of homeland security. The credit industry is rewarded for past co-operation and paid to bank much more data for the government.

    Of course they will sell this enhanced data for a great enhancement of their income.

    What we are seeing is the total privatization of Government.

    This is the new bubble and the government will be there only to collect the money for the privateers of industry.

  26. skippy

    Mar 13, 2013, 10:28am EDT

    Equifax confirms credit reports fraudulently accessed

    Atlanta-based credit reporting giant Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) confirmed the financial information of four people had been “fraudulently accessed” Tuesday.

    According to various media reports, the information stolen includes first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, the FBI Director and celebrities such as Beyonce and Jay Z.

    Equifax declined to name the four individuals.

    “Equifax can confirm that fraudulent and unauthorized access to four (4) consumer credit reports has occurred through the annualcreditreport.com channel,” the company said in a statement.

    Equifax said the perpetrators passed required authentication measures because they had the personal information of the individuals whose files were accessed.


    In an exclusive interview with ABC News Tuesday, President Obama confirmed authorities were investigating whether hackers had indeed obtained and posted online financial information belonging to his wife, but he would not say whether the information was authentic.

    “We should not be surprised that if we’ve got hackers that want to dig in and have a lot of resources, that they can access this information,” Obama said. “Again, not sure how accurate but … you’ve got web sites out there that tell people’s credit card info. That’s how sophisticated they are.”

    ABC News is not disclosing the website’s name, which appears to originate in Russia because the Internet suffix of the site’s web address was originally assigned to the Soviet Union.

    The first lady is not the only potential victim. The ominous website claims it also has personal information on FBI director Robert Mueller, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

    The site’s so-called “secret files” claim to reveal everything from how much Kim Kardashian pays for her car lease to Ashton Kutcher’s American Express bill and even Paris Hilton’s credit score.

    Beyonce, Jay Z, Mel Gibson, Britney Spears, Hulk Hogan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donald Trump were some of the other celebrities who were allegedly hacked.

    Cyber security analysts say the theft of such information can create havoc.

    “If they have your credit report, that’s all they need to take over your identity,” said Marc Swillinger, former federal prosecutor of Justice Department Cybercrimes division.


    Skippy…. Oopsie~~~

    1. Ms G

      Thanx Skippy — how very timely!

      Putting on my Mrs. Foil Cloche, I’ll go ahead and speculate that this “hacking” was an HHS/DHS/WH operation to see how easily The Obama Machine can get people’s credit report data in case for some reason ObamaCare (and this monstrosity that Lambert has exposed) blows up. It’s Obama’s Plan B for collecting info about everyone in case ACA fails in that role. Cute touch announcing that the “victims” of the hack were O’Liar, Miche’, Holder et al. Ha ha.

      [Hanging my cloche back on its hat hook.]

      And to think I thought my personal credit data was *totally safe*!

      1. skippy

        Their have been publicly reported cases of peoples credit scores having – including in their file, behavior like associating with bankrupted people – couples or having reputations with people ill repute, all unknown to the individual – couple.

        Skippy… Santa, the church, gawd or the government have nothing on credit mobs. Its where I would – go first – to conduct an investigation on anyone. Those with out such records are deemed – deviant – by the system.

  27. skippy

    Now just think of Penny for Commerce Secretary… eh.

    Skippy… Credit is the new gold standard thingy… extrapolate…

    1. Ms G

      Penny, good entrepreneuse that she is, has Leveraged Synergies … Mistress of Universe, Genius, Ayn Rand Apostle … Pig.

  28. Brooklin Bridge

    Has anyone heard anything more about the progress of Congress exempting itself from Obamacare?

  29. Lambert Strether Post author

    I have talked with a running buddy of mine who’s a lawyer, and he says the likelihood of an actual perjury charge is minimal (though we’ve thought that the likelihood of a lot of things that are now actual was minimal). Still, the IRS always parades a few victims before the press pour encourager les autres around tax time, so presumably the same will apply to some more-or-less randomly chosen unhappy ObamaCare applicants. No doubt the heroic role of consumer credit reporting in bringing the health care-seeking miscreants to justice will become part of the narrative.

    That said, it seems to me that signing a form, on penalty of perjury, that will be checked against error-prone information that is very difficult for me to correct and that I may not even know about is madness.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      It’s hard to believe this will not be challenged in court. It will make it slowly all the way up to the Supreme Court only to be batted down with some jaw dropping corporate sucking majority opinion (straight out of Animal Farm): As our founding fathers said, “Life is a privilege, not a right.”

      1. Ms G

        It’s actually sort of strange that the ACLUs and NAACPs of our great nation of “civil rights nonprofits”aren’t all over this aspect of ObamaCare, which appears poised directly to to ensnare (or discriminate against) the traditional constituencies on behalf of which these organizations usually sue or lobby for.

        Ditto for the data privacy foundations that bring cases broadly challenging big legislations with privacy-busting provisions.

        Maybe the answer is really simple — except for Lambert, nobody is looking at the purloined letter in plain sight.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          I suspect they will see it soon enough and probably thanks in part or in whole to this post of Lambert. I was thinking of emailing a link to this post to Professor Turley, but I can’t find his email address on his site. It seems everyone is taking them down.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Thanks Ms G. :-) I actually found it at about the same time by DuckDuckGo and just sent him an email.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Moreover, what’s really at odds with any philosophy of “Health Care” or humane treatment of citizens is not so much the thin chance of prosecution as it is the aggressive tone of legalistic heavy threats being made that have the effect of diminishing the applicant to the status of un-trustworthy beggar or public leech.

      1. Ms G

        ” … effect of diminishing the applicant to the status of un-trustworthy beggar or public leech.”

        Yes, and this (not very subtle) undercurrent (or tone) is really indistinguishable from the manner in which the foreman of a chain gang treats his charges.

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