Earlier this year we asked a provocative question, “With Obamacare failing will Democrats push for a single payer system?”
Although the post may have seemed prescient, there was no way we could have anticipated just how much worse things have gotten for President Obama’s signature piece of legislation. At the time we interpreted “failing” to mean that the bill, contrary to its stated goals, would actually bend the cost curve of health care upwards and increase the deficit in the process.
This, we argued, would create a fork in the road for Washington.
“The question is whether President Obama will finally heed the advice of conservatives and introduce free market forces into the health care arena,” we wrote “or will he use it as further proof that what American ‘really needs’ is a single-payer health plan.”
Six months later and we now know that the problems are more fundamental than we thought. It’s not just that Obamacare creates perverse incentives that actually increase the cost of health insurance because that would imply that the bill at least works, just not as it was promised. What we’re finding out now is that the bill is so profoundly broken that large and important portions of it may be unimplementable.
In just the last few months we’ve learned that Obamacare’s small business exchange would not allow employees to shop among plans, that the bill’s employer mandate would be delayed and that because of that delay the government would be unable to verify people’s eligibility for subsidies within exchanges. We also discovered that deadlines for crucial privacy protections to guard against identity theft were not being met and that the bill’s provisions that limit consumers’ out of pocket costs were being put off for at least a year.
In other words, the thing is coming apart.
Obviously that has the potential to create some potential political trouble for Democrats, whose election hopes ride on a successful implementation. In fact, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) recently admitted that the decision to delay the implementation dates of some of Obamacare’s more popular provisions was purposely delayed to coincide with the 2014 elections.
“We will be running on Obamacare in 2014,” Clyburn said. “In fact, we set it up to run on it in 2014.”
That plan looks increasingly like it’s going to be a flop. Nevertheless, focusing more on the political health of your party rather than the physical health of your constituents is a pretty shallow motive. If Democrats truly believed in Obamacare’s ability to reduce insurance costs and increase health care coverage why not implement it as soon as possible? Delaying the bill to hide its true costs in the 10-year budget window is not a good reason, as we’ve speculated before, and neither is using it for political gain.
Sadly, that wasn’t even the most cynical thing Democrats said about Obamacare this week. Eric Pfeiffer reports for Yahoo! News:
The Las Vegas Sun reports that Reid made the statement during a Friday appearance on the PBS program “Nevada Week in Review.” Reid said that Congress could eventually reform the Affordable Care Act into one providing universal health care without relying on the private health insurance industry.
“What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever,” Reid said.
When show panelist Steve Sebelius asked if that meant eventually doing away with insurance-based coverage, Reid replied, “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.”
During the same interview, Reid noted that Senate Democrats originally pushed for a single-payer plan back in 2009 but were met with opposition by former Sen. Joe Lieberman. In order to curb Lieberman’s opposition, Reid took the public option off the table as well as making other concessions.
At its core this is Harry Reid admitting that Obamacare won’t work, at least in the long-term. But rather than take a step back to assess the inherent problems of government overreaching into the world of health care, Democrats view it as a strategy for the government to take over the entire industry. That is hubris at its worst.