My View: What a difference a year can make
November 27, 2013
In the GOP’s war on ObamaCare, Republicans are taking a risk if they rely on anti-ObamaCare messages in the Nov. 2014 midterms. The issues today will not be the same a year from now. There is time for a significant number of their voters to realize while Republicans want ObamaCare to fail, they also will begin to realize that the GOP wants the failure of good, affordable insurance.
While the GOP has had a field day attacking the administration for the botched website rollout and shaming the President’s failure to live up to his alleged “promise” to allow “all to keep their insurance if they liked it,” these are short-term jolts. A year from now the federal website will have been up and running for months. Enough customers will have signed up for ObamaCare by midterm elections in 2014 to have heard good things from friends and family and realize the GOP’s fear-hyping predictions were more hot air than not.
After four years of trying, the GOP still would not be able to propose a comparable alternative and have concluded that it is political suicide to repeal benefits many already enjoyed.
The President’s administrative fix of allowing consumers to keep their substandard policies for a year and to allow insurers to sell substandard plans to existing customers, takes the wind out of the sails of that issue. All holders of cancelled policies will have had a year’s chance to seek better, cheaper policies. In fact, in Colorado (www.connectforhealthco.com) and in 14 other states, they have the opportunity now to shop in the state-run exchanges that are functioning well.
The President’s fix shoves the responsibility to reinstate cancelled policies to the insurers and the state insurance commissioners. However, as insurance executives complain about administrative hardships and a few state insurance commissioners sided with insurers, other commissioners, including Colorado’s, announced they would cooperate with Obama’s plan.
During the shaping and passage of the health reform law, President Obama had studiously avoided bad-mouthing insurance companies whose anti consumer practices were the reasons for the reform law in the first place. He needed their participation in the exchanges. But Democrats in Congress feel no constraints. Democrats have already indicated they will go on the offensive, threatening to hold insurers’ feet to the fire for excessive rate increases in advance of the health care law taking effect as a way to pressure them to go along with the President’s “fix.”
The GOP overreached and lost a chance to override a veto promised by the president. Some Democratic members of the House facing re-election in unsafe seats, voted for a Republican bill, but not enough of them to make the bill veto proof. In addition to allowing individual policy holders to keep their old policies, the GOP proposed that even new customers could buy substandard policies. This was a subtle time bomb. It would cancel out ObamaCare’s purpose to protect consumers from insurer’s unfair practices and divert the healthy from buying insurance through the exchanges, undermining the law’s financial soundness that depends on a diverse pool of healthy young and others that are all paying in.
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