The hits just keep on coming for Obamacare, a bill that Democrats hoped would be their signature achievement and take its place among the pantheon of progressive policies. Two months ago the administration admitted its expectations of the health insurance exchanges had been lowered to the point that they simply hoped it wouldn’t be a “third world experience,” last month the bill’s primary author, Sen. Max Baucus, warned that implementation of the bill could be “train wreck,” seemingly every week there is a news story about a problem with the rollout, new polls show that support for the law are near all-time lows, and the Democratic nominee for next week’s special election calling the bill “extremely problematic.”
Given the spate of recent news revealing Obamacare’s true colors it should come as little surprise that Democrats are panicking. Robert Pear reports for the New York Times:
“Democratic senators, at a caucus meeting with White House officials, expressed concerns on Thursday about how the Obama administration was carrying out the health care law they adopted three years ago.
Democrats in both houses of Congress said some members of their party were getting nervous that they could pay a political price if the rollout of the law was messy or if premiums went up significantly.”
Adding fuel to the growing fire is Sen. Harry Reid’s statement yesterday that he shares his Sen. Baucus’ concern that Obamacare is fast becoming a “train wreck.”
“Max said unless we implement this properly it’s going to be a train wreck, and I agree with him,” Reid said. “Here’s what we have now, we have the menu but we don’t have any way to get to the menu,” he continued, in an apparent warning that the federal government needs to spend more money to implement the law.
So let me get this straight. Obamacare is projected to cost $2.6 trillion in the first decade after full implementation and that only paid for “the menu”! And now Reid is telling us that to actually get to the meal we’ll have to shell out even more money? This may be the first entitlement to need a government bailout before the majority of it has even been implemented.
Unsurprisingly, President Obama has leapt to the defense of his bill, in no small part because he knows it is the key to his legacy. The problem is he’s not getting his facts straight.
“Let’s just step back for a second and make sure the American people understand what it is that we’re doing,” Obama said when asked about Baucus’ comments. “A huge chunk of it has already been implemented. And for the 85 to 90 percent of Americans who already have insurance, they’re already experiencing most of the Affordable Care Act even if they don’t know it.”
I’m not sure this is exactly the defense President Obama wanted to give. If most people are already experiencing Obamacare, but polling finds that only 35 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the law, then can that really be considered a good thing? And then there’s the simple problem of Obama’s claims just not being true. As New York Times political reporter Jonathan Weisman tweeted during Obama’s press conference, “Whoa, Obama claim that folks who have insurance now have already gone through the ACA implementation is just not right. Lots of issues left.”
Sadly, Weisman is being generous. There are tons of issues left. Setting up workable exchanges, making proper eligibility determinations, paying out subsidies, figuring out what happens if people defy the individual mandate, creating SHOP exchanges, working through the employer mandate, keeping an eye on insurance rate schedules, and trying to coax young, healthy people to buy coverage in order to subsidize everyone else.
That’s a lot of work especially since we already know that the bill isn’t going to accomplish the main goal of any health reform: bending the cost curve. As Hadley Heath writes for Forbes:
“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—better known as Obamacare—was sold to Americans as the solution to the problems plaguing our nation’s healthcare system. . . Costs were supposed to come down, and they would thanks to an individual mandate that would force healthy people into the insurance pool. New, aggressive government oversight of how insurance companies operate would also bring down costs and rid the system of waste. And all of this wasn’t supposed to add to a dime of the national debt.”
That’s a big broken promise to have hanging over your head. And that’s why Obamacare’s lasting legacy may be hurting Democrats’ political health, not improving American’s physical wellbeing.