Barack Obama may have proposed a “fix” for Obamacare last week, but that hasn't made much of a difference. States and insurance companies aren't exactly jumping at the new option to extend current plans through 2014. The fact remains that this is a temporary fix to a long-term problem and these industries (like most businesses) are operating with the big picture in mind.
USA Today explains the complications associated with Obama's fix: “Insurers are essentially being given a month to reprogram their computer systems for policies, rates and eligibility; mail notices to the policyholders that describe just what the differences are between the grandfathered policies and the ACA compliant plans; request and receive the consumers' decisions; then enter those decisions back into their systems, said Robert Laszewski, an analyst with Health Policy and Strategy Associates. 'They (the White House) appear to be throwing this hot potato into the hands of the insurance industry, who will now be on the hot seat to agree to do the impossible or take the heat for failing to do so,' Laszewski said.”
And then there is the curious story of D.C. insurance commissioner William White being fired just one day after publicly questioning Obama's new “fix.” The timing is awfully suspicious.
You know things are bad for this administration and for Democrats when Bob Woodward warns that things are only going to get worse when it comes to Obamacare. As we struggle with $17 trillion in debt, Woodward says that this is going to blow a big hole in the budget. So much for that promise of Obamacare reducing the deficit (who really believed that anyway?).
But it's not just the government's budget that could be effected. Obamacare effects all of us, both individuals and businesses. Take a look at what happened last week with Wal-Mart. Its latest earnings report was down and the company hinted that Obamacare may have something to do with it. Higher healthcare costs will lead to less spending money in the hands of customers. The uncertainty of it all doesn't bode well for retailers and thus our economy. As for individuals, how are we supposed to justify a law that is so perversely flawed that it incentivizes people getting a divorce in order to benefit from Obamacare subsidies.
In order to avoid the “death spiral” that many have been warning about, Obamacare relies on younger, healthy Americans buying into the exchanges. But that isn't what is happening. The AP reports the following: “In California, the state with the largest uninsured population, most of those who applied were older people with health problems. In Kentucky, nearly 3 of 4 enrollees were over 35. In Washington state, about 23 percent of enrollees were between 18 and 34. And in Ohio, groups helping with enrollment described many of those coming to them as older residents who lost their jobs and health coverage during the recession.” This is a big problem for this administration, but it shouldn't be all that surprising. What's amazing is that we passed a law that relied on these ridiculous assumptions in order to function properly.
But if young people are going to sign up for Obamacare, they are going to do it through the website. As we well know, this has been an issue and it will remain an issue for the foreseeable future. According to the Washington Post, the White House has lowered its standard for “success” when it comes to fixing the federal exchange website: “The Obama administration will consider the new federal insurance marketplace a success if 80 percent of users can buy health-care plans online, according to government and industry officials familiar with the project.” So one out of every five Americans may still not be able to purchase coverage through Healthcare.gov but that is still considered a success by this administration's standards. That's government for you!
That leads us to the issue of accountability and confidence. I told you last week how the American people are rapidly losing faith in Barack Obama. Even former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs points out how important it is that someone is held accountable for this boondoggle and that the administration gets its act together. It can't afford another setback. Gibbs told the Today Show this morning, “I think if this were to happen in the private sector, somebody would have probably already lost their job. I think the only way to restore ultimate confidence going forward is to make sure whoever was in charge of this isn’t in charge the long-term health-care plan.”
Tonight Obama will give a speech to his most ardent supporters – Organizing for Action – and will likely ask for their help in saving Obamacare. He needs all the help he can get. Michael Barone dug deeper into the Quinnipiac polling numbers I told you about last week. Obama's drop in approval rating mirrors American's approval of Obamacare. In other words, the failure of Obamacare is linked to Obama's personal failure as president. Also important to note is that Obama has lost tremendous support among young and Hispanic voters: “Quinnipiac shows young voters disapproving of Obama 54 percent to 36 percent and Hispanics disapproving 47 percent to 41 percent.” Both groups also disapprove of Obamacare.
It is harder to tell how the public associates other Democrats who were responsible for passing Obamacare with the law's failure. Byron York has a list of 27 Democratic senators who lied to the American public and told them they could keep their current coverage. After all, New York's Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand admitted over the weekend that Democrats also knew that Americans wouldn't be able to keep their current coverage. And consider the fact that these Democrats haven't had to deal with the oncoming deluge of Americans who are predicted to lose their employer-based coverage. National Review has a piece today citing the Federal Registrar from 2010, which predicts that seven out of every ten Americans covered by their employer are also expected to lose current coverage. A majority of Americans! We are talking about millions of Americans who were lied to for the purposes of political gain at the expense of their health and their wallets.
Yet despite all this, there are still some Democrats who are defiantly supporting Obamacare. Debbie Wasserman Schultz thinks Obamacare will be a great asset for Democrats in the 2014 election. Nancy Pelosi told “Meet the Press” over the weekend that “Democrats stand tall in support of the Affordable Care Act” and believes Democrats won't lose seats over it. The election is a long ways away, but this has been a political disaster of epic proportions and it's hard to see how Democrats will recover quickly.