A recent report in the Washington Post cites a Kaiser Family Foundation Poll, tracking as recently as October, 2014 – finding that Obamacare negativity runs at 43 percent. Favorability tracks at some 36 percent.
Concurrently, according to The Washington Post account (by Aaron Blake, Nov. 12) now ell-publicized remarks by ACA architect Jonathan Gruber do not represent the first time someone with loose lips has said things potentially harmful to the healthcare law, only to find they really weren’t. But, they continue to fuel the fires of the healthcare debate nonetheless. Threats to either starkly revamp the healthcare law or scrap it altogether continue – – in at least intimated form. Blake says in his Washington Post article, “[T]he idea that Gruber’s comments will suddenly swing public sentiment against Obamacare is wishful thinking. That’s because throughout the law’s history, support and opposition have been pretty consistent. Yes, there have been some rises and dips along the way, but, overall, the picture is one of stasis for the better part of five years.”
National Journal (online, Nov. 12) suggests that Republicans could well vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but there is also an equal chance they will not vote on a replacement for it. Baker says, “Criticizing an unpopular law and holding bipartisan votes to actually change it have obvious political upsides and very little risk.”
Baker also says the famed employer mandate could be done away with – by Republicans.
The National Journal report elaborate, that if Republicans adopt an outright Obamacare replacement they could find themselves in the position of having to justify what Baker describes as ”politically painful trade-offs” Baker asks, “Why would a political party looking to expand its power in 2016 want to face those trade-offs head-on, for two years, when it’s impossible to actually change the direction of federal health policy?”
The United States Supreme Court won’t hear the case concerning validity of the Obamacare health insurance subsidies until March 2015. According to a report in the Financial Times (online, of Nov. 12, 2014) some ACA proponents suggest that it will still be okay for many to continue with their Obamacare application process, that if the Supreme Court rules against subsidies next year, they will not have to be paid back.
The FT report by Brainna Ehley cites a Brookings Institute Blog by Stuart Butler, a senior fellow there, who is quoted as saying, “If the Court does strike down federal insurance subsidies in states with federal rather than state-run exchanges that would be quite a body blow. At the very least it would eliminate a central plank of the ACA in over 30 states.”
Burke Beu, an ex-hospital insurance coordinator, now employed as a counselor at a non-profit in Denver, Colorado, is a self-described Democrat. He says, “We Democrats need to get over ourselves.” This self-assessment cuts to Beu’s own belief, that (collectively) Democrats need to, “start anew on national healthcare policy, and return to our progressive principles.” “We claim to be the party of the underdogs, but on Obamacare we simply catered to a different set of fat cats.”
Beu adds in the Wall Street Journal (online Nov. 13) “Worst of all, Obamacare looks and feels exactly like what it is: a healthcare plan devised by lawyers and corporate executives rather than true healthcare providers. Democrats are top heavy with attorneys, and this hurts the party on many issues.”
Albert R. Hunt reports recently in the Chicago Tribune – – Nov. 17, online – – should the U.S. Supreme Court toss Obamacare subsides – this would translate into some very real numbers for a significant number of people. It would also impact the Federal Exchanges (or marketplaces) as they are also known.
Currently they operate in some or approximately 37 U.S. states. Yet, for example, a ruling of this sort would not really adversely impact Washington D.C., and 13 other states where they oversee their own marketplaces.
Hunt also comments on the concept of the reclassification of part-time workers – – in relation to the Affordable Care Act. Hunt says in his Tribune piece, “Given that a fairly large number of workers might be reclassified as part time, it might make more sense to replace the entire employer mandate. But that’s politically difficult because it would be virtually impossible to find a way to take care of those who would lose their coverage.” Hunt adds that any movement in the direction of restructuring the “employer mandate” would face an Obama veto. The irony here is in the fact this was initially Republican idea. It was part of Mitt Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts some years ago.
A new article in Human Events (online, Nov. 11) asks a possibly all too significant question, one asked before, “What happens to ObamaCare if just about everyone’s subsidies go away?” Both the question and answer may be compelling, in light of Tony Nefouse’s – – a local health insurance broker in Indianapolis Indiana – – claims, “[M]ost of his clients having their Anthem policies canceled are not eligible for the tax credits. Obamacare makes available to low and moderate income households. So they are getting hit with premium increases of 15 to 20 percent,” (Human Events).
As things stand now, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is canceling policies of about 30,000 Indiana residents. They’re asking them to switch over to new health plans that comply with Obamacare’s rules. That change could cause some customers’ premiums to spike while at the same time limiting their choices of hospitals and healthcare providers. For the past few months, the Indianapolis-based health insurer has been sending out notices to holders of individual insurance policies who renewed their coverage before Dec. 31, 2013. Such early renewals allowed Anthem customers to continue coverage under pre-Obamacare rules.
The Obama administration has said these so-called transitional policies can continue until 2016. However, an Anthem spokesman said the insurer chose to end them now due to what it perceived as modest demand.
Rich Weinstein is an investment advisor based in the metropolitan Philadelphia area. In a recent Bloomberg Politics story (online, Nov. 11) by David Weigel, Weinstein is quoted, as saying about himself, “It’s terrifying that the guy in his mom’s basement is finding this stuff, and nobody else is.” Mr. Weinstein has been acting as his own independent journalist. Thus, his findings regarding Jonathan Gruber, who some regard as the “architect” of the Affordable Care Act, have turned up other instances in which Gruber has voiced a cynical view of Obamacare supporters. For example, as early as January, 2012 – at a symposium Bloomberg’s Weigel claims, Gruber seemed to be advocating conservatives’ positions (or at least cursory views) on Obamacare. “What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits – but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill,” Gruber is quoted as saying. Adding, “So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country.” Meanwhile, Weinstein, the investment adviser circulated an e-mail about this. No one expressed interest. Gruber’s clip(s) were not paid attention to until following a Nobody noticed the clip until following a D.C. circuit court ruling for plaintiffs – – who were suing to end subsidies, according to Bloomberg. Weinstein dates his debut as citizen journalist toward the end of 2013. This was when he was among those who received a notice informing him that is old health insurance policy was not ACA compliant.
In the wake of the now legendary botched Obamacare rollout of October, 2013 – – proposed remedies in an effort to prevent that from happening again are in the wings — by the federal government. With an eye towards investors, a recent CNBC report (online, by Bertha Coombs – Nov. 15) elaborates. Repairs to the online enrollment process include a shorter web application, one that will also be available for the first time in mobile / portable application(s). Also the Healthcare.gov and the small business portal is now purportedly functional – – following a one year postponement. Healthcare officials have also enhanced the ability to browse on the site — so consumers can peruse healthcare plans before actually purchasing them. The CNBC report says, for investors in health insurance providers, such initiative aimed at ACA enrollment improvements could spell greater confidence – that the industry can actually garner more money on the exchange plans. Yet, the worry on the equities markets is that the demographic of actual enrollees will wind up being comprised of those who are elderly, and less than healthy. This could potentially mean “driving up health care costs and pressuring profit margins,” so says CNBC.
According to a recent article in The New Republic (online, Nov. 4) a few ideas about either totally repealing or partially altering Obamacare have potential to get the attention of Democrats, as well as garner their votes. Some could even clear a filibuster – winding up on President Obama’s desk. The New Republic Report adds, “But most of the ideas under discussion would also have negative side effects, like raising the deficit or blatantly helping well-connected lobbying groups. That would give the White House a legitimate reason to veto the measures.”
Currently, the GOP is mulling over the following options for, at least amending structurally in part, The Affordable Care Act:
A report on the CNS Web site (CNSNews.com, Nov. 5) claims that 100 percent of the newly elected GOP Senators winning Tuesday (Nov. 4) election spent a notable amount of time on the campaign trail pushing repeal of the Affordable Care Act. At one point, Corey Gardner, U.S. Sen.-elect, Colo., said, “Small businesses and the American people cannot afford President Obama’s countless new regulations and tax increases. There is a right way and a wrong to improve our country’s healthcare system, and the President’s healthcare law just isn’t working. We need patient-centered care and lower costs. It is not too late to start over with a full repeal and replacement of the President’s healthcare law,”
In the Alaska and Louisiana Senate races, both Republican candidates said, while campaigning, they would advocate for a scrapping of the Affordable Care Act. The CNS report specifically highlights Louisiana Senate GOP contender Bill Cassidy, a Doctor, who also made his position on Obamacare repeal pointedly known. Apart from contending that Obamacare would cause costs to rise, jeopardize healthcare availability, is a job-growth inhibiter, and will increases taxes, Cassidy threw in, “By definition, a law that creates over 150 boards, bureaucracies, and commissions does not empower patients. Repealing this law is the first step to enacting real health care reform that lowers costs and expands access to quality health care for all Americans,” Cassidy is on record as saying – according to CNS.
Also, according to CNS, other proposals 2014 Midterm candidates have offered up, include, “common sense, free-market alternatives that put patients first, and health care decisions back in the hands of each of us rather than Washington bureaucrats.” This one comes from Joni Ernst’s campaign page.
Former congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who has voted for a complete scuttling of Obamacare, highlighting the massive tax increases that the law would impose on Americans:
“Americans of all ages and income brackets, and businesses across the country are learning the disturbing truth about the partisan legislation that was rammed through Congress without a single Republican vote. With the law’s full implementation looming, Americans are bracing for massive tax increases and daunting uncertainty. As health care costs soar, families’ access to care is limited and businesses contemplate closing their doors, it is time to fully repeal Obamacare,” says Capito – according to CNS.