At the conference I’m going to today, one of the topics of discussion will be whether Obamacare will be altered in the coming Congress.
My first instinct is that any reform of Obamacare is unlikely to pass, because the major factions in Washington have completely different priorities. Most Republicans would like to stop it in its tracks, repeal it entirely or almost entirely, and replace it with free-market-oriented reforms and tort reform and so on. As Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said yesterday:
I am proud that Senate Republicans stood united today and voted unanimously to defund Obamacare. While I’m disappointed that the amendment did not pass, we will not give up. And today’s vote demonstrates that the fight to repeal Obamacare is far from over.
There are some Democrats who want to delay or repeal parts of Obamacare, such as the new tax on medical devices. Senator Al Franken (D., Minn.) calls it a “job-killing tax.” But there are probably very few Republicans who are eager to save congressional Democrats from the consequences of their actions. You passed it, guys, now you explain the consequences to your displeased constituents.
Of course, unifying Democrats behind a series of reforms to Obamacare will present its own challenges. There are quite a few who would prefer that any changes to Obamacare bring it closer to single-payer. Last year, all 75 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said they would push for a single-payer system if the Supreme Court struck down Obamacare.
And of course, President Obama would want changes to the bill to be minimal or little-noticed, as each change represents a concession that he and his allies didn’t get it right the first time.
(“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”)
So my conclusion is that it would take some sort of really catastrophic consequence to get all the factions in Washington united on changing Obamacare as is.
Enter a really catastrophic consequence, stage left:
Some Americans could see their insurance bills double next year as the health care overhaul law expands coverage to millions of people. The nation’s big health insurers say they expect premiums — or the cost for insurance coverage — to rise between 20 and 100 percent for millions of people due to changes that will occur when key provisions of the Affordable Care Act roll out in January.
A giant increase in the cost of health insurance, driven by the “Affordable Care Act,” might drive a national fury that will make the 2009 and 2010 Tea Party rallies look like . . . well, actual tea parties with little finger sandwiches and cloth napkins.