When the health insurers announce their 2019 premiums, they will for the fourth year in a row be far higher than the exorbitant rates you have already been struggling to pay. And, as is their standard practice, the Democrats and the “news” media will lie about the cause of the increases. They will attribute the hikes to the “sabotage” of Obamacare by President Trump and his evil Republican accomplices in Congress. In reality, you will have to pay more for health coverage next year because the Democrats refused to accept a generous GOP compromise on the omnibus spending bill released Wednesday.
Indeed, the compromise offered by the Republicans was so generous that many conservatives and libertarians (including yours truly) denounced it as corporate welfare for the insurance companies. In other words, the GOP offered the Democrats what they claimed to want — premium relief for Obamacare enrollees — and the response was a resounding “NO.” This was a slap in the face for Republicans, like Senators Lamar Alexander and Susan Collins, who have gone the extra mile to work with the Democrats to save enrollees from yet another premium increase. Alexander explained the impasse thusly:
It’s being blocked in the omnibus bill for one reason and one reason alone, and that is that Democrats refuse to apply the Hyde [Amendment] compromise on abortion funding that has been in every appropriations bill since 1976.
Senator Collins called the Democrat objection a “non-issue,” and added the following:
I really don’t understand why there are some who are hung up on that issue, and I say that as someone who has a very good record on choice issues from the perspective of the pro-choice groups.
The problem is, of course, that the Democrats never really gave a rat’s posterior about easing the pain of their health care hostages. What they wanted was no-strings-attached, taxpayer-funded bribe money. On Monday they professed to be deeply shocked that the Hyde Amendment applied to the spending bill. It is no small irony that the Democrats have repeatedly claimed that Obamacare doesn’t pay for abortions, yet they won’t accept a “stability package” that explicitly forbids it. Senator Patty Murray, the package’s Democratic co-sponsor, had the audacity to claim that the Hyde Amendment was not merely sinister but unique to this budget:
Republicans are rallying behind a new partisan bill that includes a last-minute, harmful restriction on abortion coverage for private insurance companies instead of working with Democrats to wrap up what have been bipartisan efforts to reduce health care costs.
Meanwhile, the insurance companies to which all the bailout money would have gone are weeping copious crocodile tears. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) issued a “more in sorrow than in anger” statement to the effect that Congress had let down all Americans who rely on the individual market. This took considerable crust considering that AHIP’s President and CEO is Marilyn Tavenner, who was the CMS administrator who botched Obamacare’s launch. Justine Handelman, Senior Vice President at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, was also less than pleased to see her big payday ground up in the congressional sausage machine:
Unless Congress acts now, premiums will again increase significantly and consumers could have even fewer health plan choices.… Already, half the counties in the U.S. have only one insurer. Congress must find a path forward to provide consumers with the peace of mind they deserve. Millions of Americans are depending on lawmakers to act.
Handelman neglects to note that the omnibus budget bill won’t increase a single insurance premium for a single American. It is the perverse incentives that were originally built into Obamacare that have been pushing premiums up since the misbegotten law went into effect. Her organization, like so many other insurers, made a Faustian bargain with the Obama administration and the Democrats who controlled Congress. They were promised that the government would keep them afloat if they somehow managed to lose money on a product that Americans were required by law to buy. It evidently never occurred to Handelman et al. that the voters would give these politicians the boot.
Since that deal with the devil was made, the Democratic Party has been decimated at the local, state, and national levels. They can’t deliver on their part of the corrupt bargain they made when they resided in the fool’s paradise that was the Obama era. But that era is over, thank God, and the Democrats that survive are a little more pragmatic — even if their leadership continues to cling to the magical thinking that initially produced Obamacare. Despite the whining of the Democrat leadership and the media, the House passed the omnibus spending bill yesterday, 256-167, with the support of 111 rank-and-file Dems. It will also pass in the Senate after the usual posturing.
But it won’t contain any “stabilization” measures because the Democrats refused to take “yes” for an answer. They wanted cost-sharing reduction and reinsurance programs included in order to save Obamacare, and the GOP was willing to talk. But, when the Dems discovered they would have to cross the abortion lobby to get a deal, they balked. So, if the absence of cost-sharing reduction and reinsurance programs causes premiums to rise, and it will, it’s on the Democrats. Obamacare was a brainchild of, by, and for the Democratic Party. Remember that important reality when you get your new premium notices just before next November’s midterm elections.