I predict Democrats in the House and Senate will force President Obama to stop canceling insurance policies and restore those he has already caused insurance companies to cancel, these cancellations carry too big a political price for his party to bear.
The pretense that the new policies on the exchanges will be better and cheaper than the policies voters already had will have been exposed as a lie by election time, and the congressman will face a very difficult road to reelection. To roll back the cancellations and to prevent future terminations would require no statutory amendment of the healthcare reform legislation. The Affordable Care Act provides that policies in force before February 2010 will be grandfathered in and accepted even if they fall short of the exalted requirements of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulators.
The cancellations stem not from anything in the law itself but from regulations adopted by the Health Department after its passage — and never affirmed by Congress. These administrative fiats preclude grandfathering in any policies that have been changed, in any way, since February 2010. Any change in premiums, deductibles, coverage, eligibility and so forth triggers the termination of the policy unless it is fully in conformity with ObamaCare standards. Democrats will argue that they never intended for the grandfathering clause to be waived so easily. They will argue that they inserted the provision precisely to permit the president to claim that “if you like your healthcare plan, were never consulted on the HHS regulation that effectively vitiates the grandfathering provision and will demand its repeal.
The president, with his personal credibility at stake, will have to give in and void the HHS regulation. Enrollments that would be generated by a stream of cancellations of current coverage, the enrollment statistics for ObamaCare will be pathetic. State statistics indicate that between 65 percent and 85 percent of the enrollments have been in traditional Medicaid (two-thirds under the new eligibility and one-third under the old standards). The individual mandate will become a national farce. It will be dwarfed by the 100 million on Medicaid or the 170 million with individual- or employer-based insurance. That level of participation will never justify the administrative superstructure that has been created to run it. ObamaCare will fade into oblivion as a token program. Now that it appears that 16 million Americans will lose the health insurance they currently have as a result of ObamaCare, where will they turn for coverage?
They will have to explain why more than three-quarters of the new enrollees are signing up in the Medicaid program rather than in his new ObamaCare. But they may be spared the embarrassment. The very people who are now contentedly covered by individual policies and are about to be thrown off coverage will be the forced clients of ObamaCare.
The Affordable Care Act will have created a demand for itself. The feds have ruled that if the policy was changed in any way since then, it may not be grand-fathered in– even if it was made more comprehensive. Could it have been that they wanted to dump people from individual coverage into the exchanges and closer to a single payer system? Was it that they realized that ObamaCare might be short of enrollees and might need the massive numbers of new customers, even if they did not have insurance because ObamaCare had cancelled it? Most of the new people covered by the ObamaCare exchanges will be folks who were contented with their coverage all along and were forced to give up their policies and go to the exchanges whether they wanted it or not. Sign-ups at local exchanges indicates that it is the Medicaid feature of the program that is attracting the most attention and enrollments.
In Washington State, for example, 88% of the enrollments have been in Medicaid. In Kentucky, 82% were on Medicaid. In New York State, two-thirds of the new enrollments were into the Medicaid program. Should this trend continue in other states and in federal exchanges — and there is no reason to assume they won’t — ObamaCare will amount to little more than an expansion of Medicaid.
Nationally, 82 million Americans are one Medicaid, making it the largest of our entitlement programs. Only 46 million, by comparison, get Medicare. 47 million get food stamps. 50 million get Social Security. But Medicaid is, by far, the largest program. By the time it is expanded, as provided in ObamaCare, it will surge to over 100 million in its coverage. This change in enrollment patterns raises some key questions: Do we need ObamaCare, if they cover only a few million people; What of the implications for state budgets? If ObamaCare is to be largely a Medicaid expansion, what will the impact on state budgets be? Those who enroll under the newly expanded Medicaid eligibility standards will be financed fully by the feds for three years, after which the states will be obliged to chip in 10% for another three years. After that, the funding goes back to the usual federal-state Medicaid match of 1/3 to 1/2 federal funding.
The glitches have permitted the administration to hide the dismally low enrollment figures behind assurances that people wanted to sign up but couldn’t. Nationally, that would work out to only about 50,000 enrollment applications — a dismal performance for the first three weeks. Obama is trying to hide the fact of low interest and low enrollment behind the computer glitches. He avows that he is furious and imports techies to fix it and puts Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius out to testify before Congress on the glitches. If the first half of October was about the shutdown, the second half is about the glitches. Obama wants us to focus on the glitches so that we don’t look behind the curtain at the more serious problem — that he monopolized America’s attention, neglected the economy, polarized us politically and staked his whole administration and spent billions of dollars to fix something that wasn’t broken.
Sources, dick morris, the hill