It's easy to predict how Democrats will respond to negative Obamacare headlines in perpetuity -- especially since Donald Trump's (legally-compelled) cessation of illegal "stabilization" funds. Trump's uncertainty and 'sabotage' caused these problems, they'll squeal, side-stepping their own culpability for passing a terribly broken law that was failing badly long before Trump was ever elected. Republicans' inability to fulfill fundamental repeal-and-replace promises does mean that they own a sizable portion of the ongoing mess, but Obamacare was a partisan scheme that was passed and implemented exclusively by one party. As the failing law continues to unravel, citizens in Iowa have been especially adversely affected, as chronicled in a devastating Politico story. Real people. Real, ongoing harm:
Iowa’s individual health insurance market is in chaos—with competition disappearing and prices skyrocketing...That’s a lesson tens of thousands of Iowans have learned over the past four years as the state’s individual health insurance market has imploded, with insurers fleeing the market because of big losses. With Obamacare’s fifth open-enrollment season kicking off on Nov. 1, the consequences are playing out across one of America’s most politically influential states as residents struggle to maintain coverage. Just one insurer, Medica, is willing to sell Obamacare plans in Iowa for next year—and it plans to raise premiums by an average of more than 50 percent. Thousands of Iowans, particularly those who make too much money to qualify for financial assistance, are likely to find that monthly premiums for 2018 are less comparable to a cellphone bill and more like a mortgage payment. The Iowa Insurance Division predicts that the number of individuals enrolled in coverage will decrease by at least 25 percent next year...Iowa is not alone in having a disastrous insurance marketplace. Arizona, North Carolina and Tennessee have had similarly dysfunctional exchanges, with paltry competition and soaring premiums. Nearly half the counties in America have just a single insurer willing to sell coverage on the Obamacare markets.
Truth bomb after truth bomb, starting with the critical context that these issues have deteriorated every year since the law went into effect. Over that time period, average premium increases on Obamacare's federal exchange have ballooned by 105 percent. To drive this point home once again, rates and costs have been spiking, and battered insurers have been abandoning the marketplaces under heavy losses for years. These phenomena all pre-date Trump's presidential announcement, nomination, election, and post-January policy moves. Republicans and Democrats may manage to apply some sort of bipartisan bandaid "fix" for carriers regarding the cost sharing subsidies (CSRs), but even if the deal includes a handful of positive reforms, it won't rectify the law's fatal flaws. This should be screamingly obvious, but because of Democrats' new "Trump's fault" talking point, it must be repeated every time this issue arises: Obamacare fell apart while the Obama administration was unlawfully paying out the CSRs, and continued to unravel back when everyone expected Hillary would win and continue propping up the wheezing law. Speaking of a compromise, what's the likelihood that something gets hammered out and passed? Mitch McConnell says he'll bring a cross-aisle pact to the floor...if a certain someone signs on:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he'd be willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor — if Trump makes clear he supports it. A proposal by two senators - Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democrat Patty Murray of Washington - would extend for two years federal insurance payments that Trump has blocked, in an effort to stabilize insurance markets. But Trump has offered mixed signals, alternately praising and condemning the effort - confusing Democrats and Republicans alike. Asked whether he would bring the bill to the floor, McConnell said on CNN's "State of the Union" that he was waiting "to hear from President Trump what kind of health care bill he might sign." "If there's a need for some kind of interim step here to stabilize the market, we need a bill the president will actually sign. And I'm not certain yet what the president is looking for here, but I will be happy to bring a bill to the floor if I know President Trump would sign it," the Republican said. He added of Trump: "I think he hasn't made a final decision."
I'll leave you with a piece Matt highlighted yesterday. Democrats are fracturing over single-payer healthcare, a top litmus test of the left-wing base that is worrisome to more mainstream Democrats who are concerned about the plan's towering fiscal and political risks. Here's an Obama administration alum torching the BernieCare craze in the New York Times:
The crusty Vermont independent wants to be a senatorial pied piper for Democrats. He has made his proposal into a kind of litmus test for who is a “good Democrat,” inveigling 16 of his colleagues — more than a third of Senate Democrats — into endorsing it. A goodly number of those senators are presidential hopefuls, leaving their prospective campaigns open to attack from Republicans salivating to capitalize on an idea that has historically been a political graveyard. Remember Hillarycare? As a centrist Democrat, I’m scared to see my party pulled into positions that are both bad politics and dubious policy. And I’m disappointed that few of our party’s moderates are willing to resist the freight train coming at us from the left..Yes, recent polls seem to indicate rising support for single payer. But when factors like whether taxes would be raised or the Affordable Care Act would be repealed are introduced, the consensus swings to opposition. Spellbound Democrats should also consider the fate of past single payer proposals. In Sanders’s home state of Vermont, a single payer plan was abandoned after an analysis found that it would require a near doubling of the state budget (and increasing taxes similarly). In Colorado last November, a whopping 80 percent of voters rejected a universal plan, again over taxes and costs. And for similar reasons, California recently shelved a single-payer proposal.
These are strong warnings from someone who sees the peril in store for a party that embraces a radical healthcare scheme that makes Obamacare look like free-market child's play. The public is split evenly on "Medicare for all" (side note: Medicare is on a rapid path to insolvency), but when huge tax increases and the cancellation of all private, employer-based plans are introduced in polling questions, opposition soars. And even if you ignore all of those flaws, are Americans interested in NHS-style, unaccountable, scandal-plagued government rationing and long delays for care? The harsh truth is that despite the Republican Party's embarrassing incoherence and political failures vis-a-vis replacing Obamacare, the Democrats keep demonstrating why they simply cannot be trusted on healthcare.