There have been some notable developments in Obamacare. The problems with it are coming home to roost. Young adults are facing sticker shock:
Many young, healthy Americans could soon see a jump in their health insurance costs, and insurance companies are saying: It’s not our fault.
The nation’s insurers are engaged in an all-out, last-ditch effort to shield themselves from blame for what they predict will be rate increases on policies they must unveil this spring to comply with President Obama’s health-care law.
Insurers point to several reasons that premiums will rise. They will soon be required to offer more-comprehensive coverage than many currently provide. Also, their costs will increase because they will be barred from rejecting the sick, and they will no longer be allowed to charge older customers sharply higher premiums than younger ones.
Supporters of the law counter that concerns about price hikes are overstated, partly because federal subsidies will cushion the blow.
The insurers’ public relations blitz is being propelled by a growing cast of executives, lobbyists, conservative activists and state health officials. They increasingly use the same catchphrase — “rate shock” — to warn about the potential for price surges.
Aetna chief executive Mark T. Bertolini invoked the term at his company’s recent annual investor conference, cautioning that premiums for plans sold to individuals could rise as much as 50 percent on average and could more than double for particular groups such as the young and healthy.
The danger of rate shock has also become the favored weapon of conservative opponents of the law, repeated in a drumbeat of op-eds and policy papers in recent weeks.
The argument is a powerful one because the success of the law, which was the signature domestic accomplishment of Obama’s first term, depends on enough people signing up for insurance, particularly healthy people. The issue is surfacing as the most recent significant challenge in implementing the health-care overhaul.
High-risk pools are facing a shortage of funds:
Tens of thousands of Americans who cannot get health insurance because of preexisting medical problems will be blocked from a program designed to help them because funding is running low.
Obama administration officials said Friday that the state-based “high-risk pools” set up under the 2010 health-care law will be closed to new applicants as soon as Saturday and no later than March 2, depending on the state.
But they stressed that coverage for about 100,000 people who are now enrolled in the high-risk pools will not be affected.
“We’re being very careful stewards of the money that has been appropriated to us and we wanted to balance our desire to maximize the number of people who can gain from this program while making sure people who are in the program have coverage,” said Gary Cohen, director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. “This was the most prudent step for us to take at this point in time.”
The program, which was launched in summer 2010, was always intended as a temporary bridge for the uninsured. But it was supposed to last until 2014. At that point, the health-care law will bar insurers from rejecting or otherwise discriminating against people who are already sick, enabling such people to buy plans through the private market.
The Obama administration is closing the program down
WASHINGTON (AP) — Citing financial concerns, the Obama administration has begun quietly winding down one of the earliest programs created by the president’s health care overhaul, a plan that helps people with medical problems who can’t get private insurance.
In an afternoon teleconference with state counterparts, administration officials said Friday the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will stop taking new applications. People already in the plan will not lose coverage.
Designed as a stopgap solution until the law’s full consumer protections are in effect next year, PCIP has served more than 135,000 people, a lifeline for patients with serious medical problems such as cancer and heart failure. But Congress allocated a limited amount of money, and the administration’s technical experts want to make sure it doesn’t run out.
And it is discovering something about being in insurance
Enrollment around the country has been lower than expected, partly because some people could not afford the premiums. But individual cases have turned out to be costlier than originally projected.
Powerful Democrats who helped write and pass Obamacare subjected the new law’s chief administrator to withering criticism at a Senate hearing yesterday. Gary Cohen, the director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, testified before the Senate Finance Committee, and the Democrats on the committee—from its Chairman Max Baucus to Senators Ron Wyden, Bill Nelson, and Maria Cantwell—tore into him. Kaiser Health News has more:
Wyden pressed Cohen to help find ways to resolve a glitch in the law which may result in the denial of federal assistance to millions of Americans of modest means who could be priced out of family health coverage at work….
“We’ve got millions of people—working-class, middle-class people—who are going to be pushed into a regulatory health coverage no man’s land,” Wyden said. “They are unable to afford the family coverage through their employer and ineligible for the subsidy that could be used by dependents on the exchange.”
And that’s just one senator. Each had his or her own complaints about different parts of the law’s implementation, from its elimination of funding for insurance co-operatives to the failure to meet important deadlines. The criticisms came fast and furious:
“You are overwhelmed by the details and technology, I get that point…. It seems as if the agency is taking pages out of the law,” she [Cantwell] said….
“The people of Florida are going to suffer,” he [Nelson] told Cohen. “I want someone to be held accountable for this.”
The about-face of these Democrats is a phenomenon worth pausing over. Many formerly supportive constituencies have grown wary of Obamacare in recent weeks as we’ve learned more about the effects it will have on the health care system. But these Senators’ 180-degree turns are something more severe.
It more than a little amusing to see Senators grousing about legislation they pushed so hard to pass.
“I want someone to be held accountable for this” said Nelson.
Well, Senator, that would be you. After all, this was your party’s philosophy:
“…we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it…”
So now that it’s hitting the fan democrats are desperately seeking to dodge responsibility.
And now a left wing website finds that conservatives were right about Obamacare
Kapur lists “the four biggest obstacles the law faces in meeting its key goals.” Let’s go through them one by one:
“1) Ongoing Disapproval of the Law.” Kapur quotes “two leading health policy experts,” both ObamaCare proponents, who argue that, in Kapur’s words, public disapproval is “the overarching threat to Obamacare.”
Actually one of them, Jonathan Gruber, “a professor at MIT who helped craft the Affordable Care Act,” argues just that, while the other, Washington and Lee’s Timothy Jost, blames “the relentless negativity and opposition of the Republicans and their media outlets.” But Kapur acknowledges that public disapproval of ObamaCare is a necessary condition for sustaining GOP opposition and obstruction. (Kapur notes parenthetically that ObamaCare supporters of the law are still waiting for Godot, which is to say they are “convinced” the public will “come around.”)
“2) States Declining to Expand Medicaid.” Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of ObamaCare last year, by a 7-2 vote it ruled that Congress had exceeded its authority in threatening to cut off all Medicaid funds from states that declined to participate in the new law’s expansion of the program. Thirteen governors (acting “under pressure from the right,” according to Kapur) have announced that they’ll decline to participate, and another 10 may yet do so. That leaves it “an open question how–or whether–Americans below 133 percent of the poverty line will obtain insurance” in those states.
“3) States Refusing to Build Insurance Marketplaces.” ObamaCare “encourages” states to set up “exchanges” for the sale of one-size-fits-all health-insurance policies, but many states are balking. “The problem: The ACA [Affordable Care Act, an abbreviation for the law's formal title] lacks a funding mechanism for Department of Health and Human Services to set up exchanges for states that decline to do so themselves–and congressional Republicans are unlikely to appropriate additional money for that.”
“4) Nullification of the Medicare Cost-Cutting Board.” That would be the Independent Payment Advisory Board, colloquially known as the death panel, which would recommend which medical services to deny in order to cut costs. “The problem,” according to Kapur, is that “Senate Republicans can–and have signaled their intention to–filibuster nominees to the board.”
But that isn’t the only problem. As Kapur notes, “even some House Democrats” have voted to abolish the board. Kapur ignores another problem, reported last month by the Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff: ObamaCare proponents despair of finding enough experts to serve on the 15-man panel, “a federal job where the compensation is low, the political controversy high and the ultimate payoff unclear.”
Read it all
So what ought the GOP do about this?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The GOP should block all efforts to do anything than undo Obamacare. They should force democrats to live with the consequences of such a controversial law that was essentially stuffed down Americans’ throats.
Asteroid Obamacare 2010a could be the one that causes the extinction of the democratosaurs.