Introducing the Pelosi Unit

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 3, 2012

Recall the following infamous statement by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the fight to enact Obamacare: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

Well, we’re finding out. Avik Roy has been writing on how Obamacare affects premiums in swing states. I am not going to excerpt his findings since that would essentially involve excerpting the entire blog post. So go read the whole thing but shorter version: Premiums are going up. A lot.

And here is another thing we are finding out:

The Obama administration is relying heavily on outside contractors to implement a core component of healthcare reform as it races to set up a federal health insurance marketplace before 2014.

The fast-approaching deadline gives the administration little time to scrutinize private-sector partners for conflicts of interest.

The purchase of one of these contractors, Quality Software Services, Inc. (QSSI), by UnitedHealth Group, a major healthcare conglomerate, has sparked concerns about a potentially uneven playing field.

QSSI, a Maryland-based contractor, in January won a large contract to build a federal data services hub to help run the complex federal health insurance exchange.

It will be working with several other contractors, including CGI Federal, Inc., to create the technological architecture for the exchange.

The quiet nature of the transaction, which was not disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has fueled suspicion among industry insiders that UnitedHealth Group may be gaining an advantage for its subsidiary, UnitedHealthcare.

UnitedHealth Group’s acquisition has caught the attention of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee. He has expressed alarm over what he calls a lack of transparency in setting up a national insurance marketplace covering more than 30 states.

So, we’re going to be paying through the nose for healthcare, and the fix may be in when it comes to setting up the exchanges. How reassuring.

Which brings me to the title of this post: I propose that whenever we make an unexpected discovery regarding the details of health care “reform,” we refer to the item of knowledge that we have discovered as a “Pelosi unit.” I have a feeling that there will be a lot of Pelosi units in our future, and most of them will constitute bad, bad news.

In the meantime, do people really want to give the gang that gave us all this exceedingly unwelcome surprise four more years in the White House?

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