It's Failing: Repeal May Have Stalled, But Obamacare is Still Falling Apart

Posted: Aug 04, 2017 11:01 AM

Republicans on Capitol Hill are split on what, if any, steps should be taken to revive the Obamacare 'repeal and replace' push.  Some want to keep working on various plans that might attract 50 Senate votes as soon as possible.  Others lament that the process is effectively dead.  Still others favor a regular-order bipartisan process, through which compromise legislation could emerge.  That last camp features John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, all of whom voted with Democrats to kill off a "skinny repeal" bill that leaders promoted as a vehicle to advance the sausage-making to a bicameral conference committee.  The editors of the Wall Street Journal survey the new reality and argue that if Democrats expect Republicans to authorize bailout-style 'stability' funds to keep Obamacare's marketplaces from totally imploding, the GOP must extract some real concessions in exchange:

The Senate GOP’s health failure is a political debacle that will compound for years, and the first predictable fallout is already here: Republicans in Congress are under pressure to bail out the Obama Care exchanges, even as Donald Trump threatens to let them collapse. The GOP needs to get at least some reform in return if it’s going to save Democrats and insurers from their own failed policies...if Mr. Trump and the GOP are going to accept the political pain of rescuing insurers, they ought to get at least some reform in return. Republicans want to pass tax reform, and one demand could be a reduction of the corporate tax rate to 20%. Keep in mind that Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the constitutionality of ObamaCare as a “tax.”  If that’s too much for Democrats, then the GOP ought to at least demand the elimination of the employer and individual mandates, both of which are deeply unpopular, and the 2.3% medical-device tax that is merely passed along to consumers and that even Elizabeth Warren has decried...

Mr. Schumer may figure he can bludgeon the GOP into surrender because his press-corps buddies will blame the GOP for rising premiums. Mr. Trump’s stupid tweets haven’t helped by suggesting that he wants the exchanges to fail. But if Democrats reject any policy compromise, then Republicans will at least have a case to make to voters that Democrats are the reason the exchanges are collapsing. Republicans put themselves in this political box by failing to reform ObamaCare on their terms. They shouldn’t compound the rout by flipping their convictions on the power of the purse or surrendering wholesale to Democrats and insurers. They need to demand that “bipartisan” means both sides get something.

On Maria Bartiromo's show yesterday morning, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey told us that he expects a revised Obamacare replacement bill to arise in the coming weeks or months -- and agreed that if the GOP is going to help fix Democrats' disintegrating law with cost sharing subsidies, some Republican policy wins must be part of any deal:

Meanwhile, Obamacare is still a crumbling mess. This is significant news:

And so is this cascade of developments, via John Sexton.  Aetna is further disentangling itself from Obamacare:

The company said during an earnings call that it was withdrawing from the exchange in Nevada, the last state it had considered staying in. Aetna was leaving the possibility open because it was applying for a Medicaid managed care contract, and the state gives extra consideration to insurers that participate in both programs. During its second-quarter earnings call on Thursday, however, Aetna said it was not moving forward with the recently awarded contract and would be leaving the exchange as well.

This is yet another step in extricating the company from the law, a series of decisions that have benefited the company's bottom line: "Aetna Inc reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday as member health costs were lower than anticipated and it benefited from exiting most of its Obamacare individual insurance markets this year," writes Reuters.  And here's Anthem doing the same in California:

Next year, about 10% of people enrolled through the exchange will have to look for a new plan because Anthem Blue Cross will end its coverage in most of the state. State officials said Tuesday that Anthem will continue providing coverage only in Santa Clara County and parts of Northern California and the Central Valley…According to Covered California’s most recent enrollment snapshot from March, Anthem currently covers about 252,560 Obamacare customers, 61% of whom live in regions where the carrier will pull out of the market.

I'll leave you with another Obamacare success story out of Illinois:

"Working as advertised," declares Paul Krugman.

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