Let's start with the good news for Obamacare opponents -- which, sadly, entails yet more bad news for American consumers, as the law continues to fail, disappoint and disintegrate before our very eyes. (1) With enrollment projections being revised sharply downward nationwide -- due in large measure to lack of affordability -- defenders of the law are stuck cheering on grim statistics like this one:
The Maryland Health Connection is the state's Obamacare Marketplace. Monday, an agency press release noted that Maryland "has cut by 40 percent the number of Marylanders who were eligible for private insurance coverage when the state marketplace began three years ago." However, the breakdown of that statistic reveals that only 165,000 out of more than one million sign-ups are non-Medicaid enrollments. When the exchange opened three years ago, an estimated 405,000 people were eligible for private coverage. Three years later, that number has fallen to 240,000. But the press release notes that including Medicaid over one million have been enrolled in through the Maryland Health Connection. This puts the number of Medicaid sign-ups around 83 to 84 percent and private coverage around only 16 to 17 percent.
The overwhelming majority of Obamacare enrollees in this state, whose exchange imploded in epic fashion, are signed up through the law's enlargement of Medicaid. That program was already faltering prior to its unsustainable, unaffordable expansion, badly failing the truly indigent, at breathtaking expense to taxpayers. (2) As we've been reporting, large rate increases are expected again in 2017, which will come in addition to chronically rising out-of-pocket costs. Many of the new premium hikes will be announced just prior to the November election. How might this news play in one key swing state?
Fifteen health insurers want an average 17.7 percent increase in premiums for Affordable Care Act individual plans, Florida officials said Thursday — higher than last year’s approved average of less than 10 percent. The [Palm Beach] Post points out that last year’s 9.5% increase was judged proof the program was a success because it was less than the 13% average increase the previous year.
Oops. Another piece of Obamacare spin bites the dust in the Sunshine State. (3) With constricted access to care and doctors already plaguing the program (the nation's top insurer is abandoning almost all of the law's exchanges, citing heavy industry-wide losses), the Wall Street Journal printed the following front-page lede just yesterday. Sorry, rural consumers -- remember when you were told this law would bolster "choice and competition?" Nope:
Health-insurance customers in a growing number of mostly rural regions will have just one insurer’s plans to choose from on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges next year, as some companies pull out of unprofitable markets. The entire states of Alaska and Alabama are expected to have only one insurer on the health law’s signature online marketplaces next year, according to state regulators. The same is expected to be true in parts of several other states, including Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona and Oklahoma, state regulators said. So far, more than 650 counties appear on track to have just one insurer on the exchanges in 2017, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is tracking withdrawals as they become public. That would be up from 225 in 2016...
In light of the drip, drip, drip of terrible news, the administration continues to airily attest that the law is working ("that's just a fact"), echoing Hillary Clinton's divorced-from-reality assessment. In a new Gallup poll, a (slim) outright majority of Americans say they'd support scrapping the law without any replacement. This is an enduringly unpopular law that is breaking all of its central promises and harming more people than it's hurting. The distressing news for conservative critics of the law, whose predictions have been validated by events, is that a majority of Americans are open to the idea of a full-blown government-run "solution" to the problem big government has already exacerbated:
Some 58 percent of respondents support replacing ObamaCare with a universal healthcare system, while 37 percent oppose that plan. A majority — 51 percent — also supports simply repealing the Affordable Care Act, while 45 percent oppose the idea.
If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency with down-ticket coattails, as many experts anticipate, she may pivot away from her pitiful defenses of the health law she essentially created, and move on to advocating an even more intrusive Statist proposal. After all, many Obamacare supporters admitted at the time that their ultimate goal was pushing America into a single-payer system. The new data contradicts Gallup's 2014 finding that the federal government is not responsible for supplying healthcare to all of its citizens. If and when the time comes, conservatives must forcefully articulate the many reasons this is a terrible idea. First, liberal Democrats had a shot at reform and they blew it badly, lying to voters at every step. Entrusting them with an even bigger project, supported by even loftier promises is madness. Second, we've already seen single-payer in action here in America. It's "working well" under Medicare (which will soon be insolvent, according to federal bookkeepers), but is on full display at the VA -- where veterans died awaiting care, as government bureaucrats doctors waiting lists in order to cook the books and protect performance bonuses. This systemic corruption and failure has not been fixed, despite a major public uproar. Advocates of single-payer healthcare would foist the VA's scandalous, deadly mess upon an entire nation of 320 million people.
Third, foreign nations that implemented similar systems decades ago often subject their countrymen to long wait times for care, are beset with frequent scandals and funding shortfalls, and lag far behind the US on medical innovation and certain common cancer survival rates. Also, statistics offered to denigrate the US system are sometimes quite misleading. Finally, even if it were desirable and effective (conceding neither point), the United States cannot afford government-owned/operated/run healthcare. Just ask Bernie Sanders. His own state was forced to scrap their single-payer fantasy because even their left-wing government recognized it would blow a hole through Vermont's budget, and collapse. And it was just revealed that Sanders' national healthcare plan would cost $30 trillion. Thirty. Trillion. With the national debt racing toward $20 trillion. Even Hillary Clinton has back-handed this whole notion as untenable. The Left's so-called solution isn't just fiscally irresponsible; it's ineffective and immoral. Any step in this direction should be resisted and opposed on all three grounds.