In blue Washington State, where, unlike HealthCare.gov, the state-run exchange has rolled out with great success, the insurance commissioner rebuffed the president and announced his state would not be reissuing old policies.“I do not believe his proposal is a good deal for the state of Washington,” Mike Kreidler, the commissioner, said in a statement. “In the interest of keeping the consumer protections we have enacted and ensuring that we keep health insurance costs down for all consumers, we are staying the course. We will not be allowing insurance companies to extend their policies. I believe this is in the best interest of the health insurance market in Washington.”
Insurance companies and commissioners aren’t the only ones getting an immense headache from this “fix.” In the White House also people are coming to grips with the huge mess created by the President’s desperate maneuver, and in the Beltway wonks are panicking. The American health and insurance system, badly flawed as it is, is as complex a web of interests and institutions as you will find. It can’t be uprooted and overturned by casual comments and presidential decrees—not without serious side effects.This miscalculation is sadly entirely consistent with the long series of miscalculations this President has made about health care going back all the way to 2010. Obama is in trouble because he did not fully understand the interplay of forces in the American health care system, and is trying to reform it via a clumsy set of fixes, off-sets, mandates and subsidies. Imposing a new and even less well-considered decree is not going to end his troubles.