Well, our progressive friends are once again calling for single payer health care. The ironic pretext this time is that Obamacare has collapsed into chaos. The health care “reform” law they assured us would cure the ills of our medical delivery system is disintegrating before their eyes. But the advocates of the “Affordable Care Act,” as these people stubbornly refer to it, refuse to accept that the crackup was caused by the inevitable incompetence of government bureaucrats. They believe the real problem was avaricious insurance executives.
The Right Prescription
Political parties’ real electoral danger isn’t overwhelmingly negative public opinion, but opinion clearly and consistently negative. The reason is obvious: Political parties are neither stupid enough — nor long survive — taking hugely unpopular positions. The bad news is Obamacare looks to be the kind of clearly and consistently negative issue that leaves the administration and Democrats damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.
The political landscape clearly shows political parties are more likely to face political difficulties from issues that decidedly and consistently run against them. Most contentious issues exist and persist with both parties hovering around majority support for their stances. The environment, tax, and spending — among others — all devolve into stances that leave each party near victory.
In 2014, millions of Americans -- possibly 25-30 million -- who have employer-provided health insurance will lose it thanks to Obamacare’s requirement that all plans cover what Washington deems “essential benefits.” Some employers will consider that unaffordable and drop coverage altogether when their current, less costly plans expire sometime this year. These new victims of Obamacare are in addition to the 6 million who bought plans in the individual market and had them canceled as of January 1.
The plight of those 6 million made headline news and caused the first cracks in the Democratic Party’s support for the law. The coming wave of workplace cancellations will force Democrats to defend a law that will likely harm twice as many people as it helps.
That’s right. Twice as many probably will lose coverage in 2014 as will gain it.
The Congressional Budget Office projects 16 million will gain coverage through the law’s Medicaid expansion and subsidized exchange plans. That’s a best case scenario, rosier than the enrollment figures we’ve seen so far, but still half the number losing coverage.
A couple of weeks ago I visited my internist for the annual physical to which she subjects me in order to confirm that my various organs are still operating according to specifications. As she poked and prodded, I asked how her practice was going. This question elicited a resigned sigh and a brief but poignant discourse on the necessity of “firing” her Medicaid patients. Medicaid, the government program that ostensibly provides health coverage for the poor, imposes so much red tape and pays so parsimoniously that she simply cannot afford to treat these patients if she wishes to avoid bankruptcy.
Whenever we stand on the threshold of a new year, we are tempted to forget the hazards of prophecy, and try to see what may lie on the other side of this arbitrary division of time. Sometimes we are content to try to change ourselves with New Year's resolutions to do better in some respect. Changing ourselves is a much more reasonable undertaking than trying to change other people. It may or may not succeed, but it seldom creates the disasters that trying to change others can produce.
When we look beyond ourselves to the world around us, peering into the future can be a very sobering, if not depressing, experience.
Obamacare looms large and menacing on our horizon. This is not just because of computer problems, or even because some people who think that they have enrolled may discover at their next visit to a doctor that they do not have any insurance coverage.
The breathtaking ineptitude with which the Obama administration has implemented the Affordable Care Act provides the Republican Party a very real opportunity to make major gains in the upcoming midterm elections. A mere 60 days ago, the Democrats seemed well-positioned to hold on to its Senate Majority and perhaps even regain control of the House. Since then, according to a CNN/ORC survey released last week, the GOP has improved its standing among registered voters by 13 points: “Two months ago, Democrats held a 50%-42% advantage.... The new survey… indicates Republicans with a 49%-44% edge over the Democrats.”
The latest attempt by the Obama administration to avoid the consequences of its inept implementation of the Affordable Care Act has been to issue yet another of its surprise edicts. This new Health and Human Services regulation, which was announced Thursday night, “significantly relaxed the rules of the federal health-care law for millions of consumers whose individual insurance policies have been canceled, saying they can buy bare-bones plans or entirely avoid a requirement that most Americans have health coverage.”
The Supreme Court’s decision to hear two constitutional challenges to the HHS contraception mandate has frightened Obamacare’s media cheerleaders into launching another of their propaganda campaigns designed to protect the “reform” law from itself. Those Americans still naïve enough to rely on establishment news outlets for information on current events are being told that Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius are part of a sinister conspiracy to restrict access to birth control, endow corporations with religious rights, and escalate the “war on women.”
On Thursday afternoon the Obama Administration made another attempt to persuade the public that the number of people who are losing their health insurance in the individual market really isn’t that bad. Since President Obama has said that such people can keep their insurance for another year, it’s not clear why the administration bothered. The best guess at this point is they are in Throw-As-Much-Propaganda-Out-There-And-See-What-Sticks mode.
Anyway, the Department of Health and Human Services touted a study by the liberal health-care group FamiliesUSA that purported to show that “less than 1 percent of nation’s non-elderly are at risk of losing their current individual market plan and paying more for insurance” on the Obamacare exchanges.
To get that one percent number FamiliesUSA assumed that everyone below 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) is eligible for a subsidy to help purchase insurance on the exchanges. As the study claims: