Jonathan Chait on Obama, Christie, the GOP and More

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jonathan Chait, daily columnist at New York Magazine, rounds up the current national political news, including Chris Christie's growing problems and the current state of Obamacare.



Jonathan Chait

Comments [23]

Jill Dube from Brooklyn, NY

I am an attorney working for my self, and for the past 5 years have gotten my health insurance thru the State Bar Association. I paid $13,428 a year in premiums for a PPO policy plus a $10,000 family deductible. When my policy expires on April 1, I will not longer be able to get the same insurance thru the State Bar Association. For an additional $10,000 in premiums I can get an HMO policy that my doctor nor his hospital ( NYU Langone) is out of network. While it would be nice to save money, first and foremost I want reasonable coverage and to continue with the doctors i have been seeing for the past 25 years who take care of me and my rare degenerative lung disease Where does Mr Chiat get his insurance?

Jan. 21 2014 02:51 PM
Adam Kipiniak from Weehawken

Brian - Please correct your guests. Jonathan Chait says that the "bridge closure" was "just to harm people" and had "no benefit". Please inform him that the bridge was not closed. That no lanes were even closed, 2 toll booths were just shifted from local Fort Lee traffic to highway traffic. There was benefit to the people going to the bridge from the highways. It may have been bad policy, it may have had been partially or mostly political motivated, but reasonable (and uninformed people) could think that 3 toll booths are too many for Fort Lee and that the resources should be allocated differently. I disagree with the decision, but there are other reasons to do what was done other than to "harm people".

Jan. 21 2014 01:06 PM
RJ from prospect hts

I have sympathy for people like Dr. Hailey (sp?) who under the Exchange would have been charged more. What we should note is that under the overall Exchange system, she *is* able to go directly to the insurance company to get what she wants while the Exchange system still makes insurance available to so many others who couldn't afford it before..

I am also a sole proprietor, and I have a 45-year preexisting condition. New York State is an outlier in that it already required many of the essential health benefits (or similar ones) that Obamacare now requires nationally. In NYS, prior to Obamacare, it was very difficult to kick people with preexisting conditions off of insurance. For those needing Medicaid, which is determined by how poor one is, NYS's criteria included people at 400% of the federal poverty level, which is how Medicaid is determined. At the intense pushing of advocates such as Citizen Action and Metro Health Care for All, NYS had Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus plans that covered low-income people who could not qualify for Medicaid and still could not afford private insurance.

A key factor in Dr. Hailey--and my--difficulties with the Exchange is the elimination of out-of-network provider coverage. Previously I could choose a plan that reimbursed me for a percentage of my out-of-network providers. That no longer exists--by the insurance companies diktats, not the state's. Once again, the insurance companies have found a way to ensure their outsized profits: They are charging lower premiums but no longer are paying a percent of the out-of-network fee. Their creativity is remarkable when it comes to finding a way around such attempts to limit their intrusions in our health *care.*

So what Dr. Hailey and I have in common is not the inaccessibility of care--New York as well as Obamacare ensures that. That we are not willing to switch doctors to find *new* ones in the networks are *our* decisions; it does not speak to the quality of the overall paradigm. That many doctors consider the reimbursement rates too low is an issue of decisions made by the *insurance companies* and the doctors, not by the state structure of health insurance. Doctors have long been able to lobby for their priorities; that their power has waned in comparison to that of the insurance companies is a political question, not a a health care one.

My question for Dr. Hailey is: As a doctor as well as a patient, would she accept a version of Medicare-for-all---single payer, which is not determined by income level----plan, with access to all providers, that mitigates the harms of insurance companies? And would she turn her anger at the Exchange paradigm *toward* a productive fight for single-payer?

Jan. 21 2014 12:18 PM

@Sheldon from Brooklyn

Well..the model we got for our ACA was born more of 'what can we pass' than of 'What should we have'. The originating compromise was unnecessary since no GOP votes were cast to pass it. But the hope of the GOP acting responsibly was used to dupe the President into the current kludge.

If we could go back to when the page was blank, I am fairly sure we'd have a public option. The question now is can the public summon the will to get to that space? The non-allied, "just let me get on with my life" voter is pretty tired of the GOP obstruction on this and that obstruction, too, is part of their strategy. Haven't you ever given in on an argument just to get some peace?

I would like to see Americans taxed to pay for 'basic health care services' and the private insurance used to provide coverage 'above' the basics. What 'basic services' means will forever be the source of a debate.

Jan. 21 2014 12:06 PM
Really from NYC

Seriously, we need something like the UK's National health service. Healthcare costs send so many of us into debt and poverty.

Jan. 21 2014 11:22 AM

@obama voter from nyc

I do not know you and I do not know your situation but a premium of $4,200 is 17% of a $25,000/yr income. A big bite, I agree, but it matches the size of the national health bill. If you are doing better than $25K, you are getting a bargain and should not be upset with Obama.

The constipated Congress which has stumbled, fumbled and not addressed the unemployment problems and held flat middle class American wages since ACA was passed is to blame. This has been the GOP trump card on the issue and they are playing it to the detriment of all of us. It's math, if the population is aging, the national healthcare bill (and the premiums to pay it) can only increase. Therefore, if we hold wages stable, dissatisfaction with a plan to finance that healthcare bill must increase. Those are some great Americans, eh?

Jan. 21 2014 11:06 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Well said Mike

Jan. 21 2014 11:00 AM
MikeInBrklyn from Clinton Hill

Why are people willing to spend $400+ a month for healthcare, but poo poo paying taxes for a universal healthcare system? Or are citizens so vested in the protection of the for-profit healthcare system that has led to increasingly expensive and unequal care, that they have convinced themselves there is no better alternative?

Jan. 21 2014 10:57 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

This shows the absurdity of our health system and the clumsiness of "Obamacare".

The Govt has no business, forcing people to buy a private product for the reason of existing.

The Government has no business dictating to private, for profit insurance companies, who they should and should not cover.

To that point, for working taxpaying Americans or their employers having to rely on these outrageously expensive private insurance companies to access healthcare, we will all eventually need - is ridiculous.

"Obamacare", like the Bush era push to privatize social security, is another example of neo-con clumsiness - conflating government and market forces.

Access to Healthcare, like police and fire, should have always been in the public domain. We are too far along to have single payer but WE NEED TO RE-VISIT A PUBLIC OPTION.

Jan. 21 2014 10:53 AM

Carl Lewis, nine time olympic gold medalist chimes in on Christie.

Jan. 21 2014 10:51 AM
obama voter from nyc

yeah, I can't afford $350 a month either [that's with the subsidy], and have opted to go without health care. Very disappointing, I had very high hopes for obama, but he ended disappointing big time.
the left deserved a better president than obama.

Jan. 21 2014 10:49 AM
Joseph Bell from Downtown

Please,no more unsubstantiated premium anecdotes. We need facts here. I'm in the industry. These tales are are best confused and perhaps on the other end biased. There is a doctor speaking now who is simply uninformed about the difference between exchange ACA policies and non-ACA insurance policies.

Jan. 21 2014 10:49 AM

Christie's viewpoint on guns, abortion and ObamaCare may not 'fit' an ultra-con's but "it'll do" for most of them if they were in a booth and the choice is Christie versus Clinton.

But will Chris make it that far? I doubt it. The dollahs needed to win primaries winnows the field very quickly and the hanky-panky of the GWB scandal is drying up the sources for Chris even quicker.

He may get in but will not have the dough to stay in.

ACA - The learning curve will be short. Eventually the pool of the most risky will be covered in a gov't program (Medicare for the Sickest) which, imo, can be expanded to Medicare for All.

Jan. 21 2014 10:48 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yes, Johnathan, both Christie incidents are outrageous. Brian, we don't need journalists treating this as business as usual, no matter how commonplace it is...

Jan. 21 2014 10:46 AM

Like the last caller, if you don't qualify for the discounts, then you probably should be paying more. That guy needs to man-up and do his part for the system.

Jan. 21 2014 10:45 AM
MikeInBrklyn from Clinton Hill

Brian, when will you add the story about the force dismissal of the Huntingdon prosecutor by Christie to protect a sherrif with strong ties to NJ's Republican circles?

Jan. 21 2014 10:43 AM

Premiums are "20 percent lower than forecast"? Based on whose forecast and what price data?

Jan. 21 2014 10:36 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan


LOL, at your service, Sparky.
Just calling our attention to the sublime and the ridiculous.

Jan. 21 2014 10:31 AM

NJ State fired Hunterdon County prosecutor indicting Republican sheriff's officers...

Jan. 21 2014 10:31 AM
bernie from bklyn

yes, i agree. why all the new york magazine writers on this show? what's next, teen beat?

Jan. 21 2014 10:27 AM
Smokey the Bandit from Eastbound and Down

FAUX NEWS TROLL in the house like clockwork

Jan. 21 2014 09:17 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Chait wrote three weeks ago that -

"When President Obama leaves office three years from now, the major policy story of his second term is likely to be climate change."

Please ask him to warm us up with an explanation as to why Little Barry will waste the next three years, like the last 5 years, ignoring the smallest jobs workforce in 60 years (and shrinking weekly) and the hollowing out of a non-recovered economy that he finds easier to blame on a few thousand rich people. Oh, and why no other country is following his lead (from behind).


Jan. 21 2014 08:55 AM

New York Magazine?

How seriously are we take anyone writing for such an obnoxiously frivolous and decadent publication?

Jan. 21 2014 06:10 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.