Dems trying to distance themselves from Obamacare
The Kansas City Star
This topic has been bubbling on the back burners of the news for several weeks now — the growing fear among Dems that implementing, or attempting to implement, the main provisions of Obamacare will be a political disaster.
Last month, The Wall Street Journal ran a big story headlined “Some Unions Grow Wary of Health Law They Backed.” They fear the law will drive up health care costs for their members and make unionized companies less competitive.
The story was mainly about workers who had plans jointly sponsored by their union and employer. Their proposed solution? They wanted those workers to be able to obtain the subsidies that will be ostensibly available in the health-care exchanges the law attempts to set up. Except those subsidies and tax breaks are for people who don’t have employeer plans.
The irony here is priceless. It reminds me of H.L. Mencken’s observation that democracy is a system where the people get what they want, “good and hard.”
More recently came a piece on a left-leaning site, Talking Points Memo, attempting to blame Republicans for implementation problems with the law. But as James Taranto notes, the emphasis in the piece makes it clear that most of the law’s problems are … in the law.
Sure, Republicans are trying to block it. But Sen. Mitch McConnell may be right in his prediction that Obamacare will collapse of its own weight. Many states are refusing to expand Medicaid or build the insurance exchanges needed. A big problem is Obamacare doesn’t have a funding mechanism allowing the feds to step in and set up exchanges for states that decline to do it themselves. This is an ongoing legal battle that will probably be worked out in the courts.
Now lawmakers are beginning to hear from their constituents and some are distancing themselves from Obamacare. At a recent Senate hearing, Obamacare chief administrator, Gary Cohen, faced blistering criticism from several Democrats.
A key bit was from Sen. Ron Wyden. As Kaiser Health News put it, Wyden “pressed Cohen to help find ways to resolve a glitch in the law which may result in the denial of federal assistance to millions of Americans of modest means who could be priced out of family health coverage at work.”
This was a recent IRS ruling that said workers can’t get tax credits for health insurance in the exchanges unless the cost of their coverage through their workplace was more than 9.5 percent of their household income. The problem is that the cost of family coverage would be much higher.
“We’ve got millions of people – working-class, middle-class people – who are going to be pushed into a regulatory health coverage no man’s land,” Wyden said. “They are unable to afford the family coverage through their employer and ineligible for the subsidy that could be used by dependents on the exchange.”
Other Democratic senators had other complaints. A remark by Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, however, stood out. Nelson told Cohen: “The people of Florida are going to suffer. I want someone to be held accountable for this.
If McConnell’s prediction is right, the result will be a political earthquake and yes, some people will be held accountable — namely those who voted for this unworkable law. If that happens, Republicans will have to be ready with a viable alternative. You can find one here.