From the Thursday editon of the Morning Jolt:
That Extreme, Reckless, Unserious GOP Idea Is Now Absolutely Necessary
I know about the death spiral, in regard to health insurance. You know about the death spiral.
Is it possible that most congressional Democrats don’t know about the death spiral? Or that they don’t really understand the death spiral? Or that they somehow don’t believe in it? Are they convinced you can add a lot of sick, elderly people requiring expensive care to existing insurance plans, and the insurance companies won’t suddenly need a lot more money? The insurance companies will raise premiums on their healthy customers, who will in some cases drop coverage, which will exacerbate the financial pressure . . . and the cycle continues until way too few healthy people are paying for the care of way too many sick people, and the insurance company goes under.
Is it that most Democrats just think health insurance companies have access to Uncle Scrooge McDuck’s Money Bin and can always find more money from somewhere when they need it?
Think about it. Republicans in Congress were willing to go through with a shutdown in an effort to force a delay in the individual mandate specifically because it would greatly increase the odds of the whole thing collapsing within a year. And now, three weeks after Democrats fought through the shutdown and declared, “Over my dead body!” . . . it’s looking extremely likely. Maybe by the time this e-mail reaches you, maybe the delay will be official.
The White House is delaying the deadline to buy health insurance by six weeks amid growing House Democratic concerns that the ObamaCare enrollment site’s botched rollout will prevent them from winning the House in 2014.
ObamaCare requires people to have health insurance by March 31, 2014. To guarantee the coverage, people must begin the process of applying for insurance no later than Feb. 15.
Under the change, people who have signed up for insurance by the end of March will not face a penalty even if they do not actually have the insurance.
White House officials on Wednesday argued this would not be a delay of the individual mandate because the March 31 date for having insurance would remain.
They also noted on Twitter that people would still have to have coverage in the 2014 tax year.
“Individual mandate timing hasn’t changed,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest tweeted. “[The] deadline for having insurance is 3/31. Was true this [morning]. Is true tonight.”
Do the Democrats who’ve been championing this law actually know how it works? It’s one thing for someone like Rubio to push the idea of delaying the mandate knowing that his proposal will go nowhere; it’s a crafty way to put Dems on the defensive politically. But now Democrats themselves are murmuring about delaying enrollment, which risks the same too many sick/not enough healthy financial nightmare for insurance companies, as a viable solution. It’s not viable. It’s not even viable if you subscribe to the “liberals designed ObamaCare to fail” theory. Even if that’s true, they wouldn’t design it to fail so badly that it might shake the public’s faith in liberal technocracy; that makes the goal of eventually selling people on single-payer harder, not easier. And they wouldn’t design it to fail immediately, when the public’s still skeptical of ObamaCare. To build support for greater statist control of health care, they need to impress people by showing that their contraption can run smoothly for awhile. Then, years from now, when they have a majority in Congress again, they can start touting single-payer as the key to lowering health-care costs for everyone. A meltdown on the federal exchange right out of the gate followed by skyrocketing premiums nationwide as the industry copes with the death spiral is . . . not helpful to that project. Which brings me back to my question. What are Shaheen, Pascrell, and Wasserman-Schultz doing touting a partial solution that’s apt to lead to the worst-case scenario? If you can’t fix the website immediately, your only option is to delay the law in its entirety so that insurers aren’t stuck figuring out a way to pay for preexisting conditions next year with no new revenue.
Most congressional Democrats see the world in fairly simple terms: Take money from taxpayers and give it to people they like. Maybe they genuinely can’t grasp anything more complicated than that.
The sudden enthusiasm for delaying the individual mandate is a mind-boggling turn of events, considering the administration’s line last month that delaying the individual mandate was the policy equivalent of the Ghostbusters crossing the streams:
Postponing the individual mandate would increase premiums and risk coverage for adults with pre-existing coverage, said David Simas, White House deputy senior adviser for communications.
“A delay of the individual requirement results in fewer people having insurance,” Simas said yesterday at the “Inside Politics with Bill Schneider” breakfast at the Third Way, a Washington research group aligned with Democrats.
Here’s the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities:
Specifically, a one-year delay of the individual mandate would reduce the expected coverage gains under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by nearly 85 percent, relative to current law, according to a recent CBO estimate. Delaying the individual mandate also would raise premiums for health insurance purchased in the individual market in 2014, CBO finds.
It’s simply too late to delay the mandate. Doing so would mean that every insurer participating in the Obamacare marketplaces would have to pull their product and increase their premiums to account for the fact that there would be more sick people and fewer healthy people signing up. Higher premiums would, of course, make the situation worse, as even more healthy people backed off.