The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Obamacare Has Democrats Nervous about Their Political Future

obamacare

The trickle of Democrats getting shifty about Obamacare is quickly becoming a flood. Yesterday leading Democrats spent an hour at a senatorial lunch grilling President Obama’s Chief of Staff about the rollout of the health care law. Some were upset that the administration is paying for its publicity efforts with money from the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Others were concerned that premiums could skyrocket under the new law, or that businesses will cut workers’ hours to avoid having to pay for their insurance.

Here’s the key quote to understanding the story. NYT: 

Democrats in both houses of Congress said some members of their party were getting nervous that they could pay a political price if the rollout of the law was messy or if premiums went up significantly.

The Democratic party’s fate is tied to this law for the foreseeable future, and legislators know this. If Obamacare turns out well, the party’s future is all sunshine and rainbows. If the implementation process falls into chaos, the ACA will be an albatross hanging around the party’s neck for years to come. Nothing can change that now, hence the growing unease in the President’s party.

It’s too early to tell which way Obamacare will break. There are plenty of discouraging signs, from predicted rate hikes to former supporters turning against the law. But there are also some signs pointing the opposite way. Some insurers, while still predicting rate hikes, have revised down their estimates about the extent of cost increases. And according to the NYT story, Max Baucus, who helped write the ACA but foresaw “a train wreck coming down,” now says he’s encouraged by how implementation is going.

We’ll be watching.

Published on April 26, 2013 1:30 pm
  • http://triablogue.blogspot.com/ Matthew Schultz

    Honestly, I hope for one of two outcomes, either:

    (1) The law defies economics and is wildly successful and actually does lower premiums and health care costs (this is highly unlikely)

    or,

    (2) The law is an abysmal failure, inflicting obvious and clear monetary pain on a huge portion of the population

    Sadly, it’s more likely to be:

    (3) The law is a moderate failure and/or the costs associated with its “benefits” are unclear or largely disconnected from the average American

    If this law fails, it needs to fail hard so as to awaken the population to just how terrible an idea it was. If it is just a mild failure, people might actually tolerate it enough to keep it, or, worse, think that it is failing only because of some capitalist interference or “selfish” insurance companies.

    • Rick Caird

      That is exactly the potential problem. ACA could become a “muddle through” program that increases costs and aggravation, but it is difficult to point out exactly where the problem is.

    • Gmama

      The problem is that it will be a great deal for people who are poor, they will get good coverage for nothing. Those of us who work will have our small employer drop coverage (mine thinks she won’t be able to afford it). We will have to buy insurance from the exchange. Because we have a moderate income coverage for the family will go from about $750 month for good coverage with a 2500 deductible, to the Obamacare bronze plan for about $1200 month, 10 K deductible and 60% coverage, in other words a plan that is expensive and also completely sucks for major items, but pays for trival things like birth control pills. If we were poor we would get a better plan for free.

  • Greg ‘n Denver

    As for increased premiums, how does 19.3% sound? That is what we got in the mail today for our June 1 annual renewal. And our deductible is not that low… One anecdote, but we have never had more than 7% increase, what ever could have changed?

    • Gmama

      My husband is self insured. His policy already went from 200 mo to 380, and the agent said it will be much higher in December. You are lucky it only went up 18%.

  • AD_Rtr_OS

    Sure, Max is “encouraged”, he doesn’t have to face the consequences.

  • Rich K

    I won’t be participating in the Marxist Program so I could care one wit how it affects all you W2 folks. All you had to do was vote for Romney and you stayed home. Now you get to pay for your inaction if this goes all pear shaped.

  • Peter Parker

    Obamacare was never designed to improve health care or increase access to care. This is demonstrated by the fact that obamacare specifically calls for (and funds) for 16 THOUSAND additional IRS agents, but does not call for (nor fund) a single additional physician to actually provide more medical care to the alleged 30-50 million the marxists claim have no access to health care.
    Now with it leaked out this week that these despicable SOBs are trying to figure out how to enact a law to exempt themselves and their congressional aides from obamacare because “it may affect employment and result in a loss of quality workers” in the government – what more reason do we need for the immediate repeal of all aspects of obamacare.
    Why is it congress will acknowledge the negative impact of obamacare on government jobs/workers, but somehow the private sector is supposed to just shut up and eat the ridiculous costs of this collectivist nightmare?
    Any vote for any democrat and for any RINO is treason. Anyone who votes for these marxist bastards is too stupid to recognize they are forging their own chains of slavery.

  • j Ray

    The Democrats have it coming. I hope their party is destroyed. I hope that they kick the progressives and their influence out of their party. They have destroyed America!

  • Lorenz Gude

    Here I go again. The US healthcare industry costs about twice as much as the Australian healthcare system as a percentage pf GDP. 16% as opposed 8.5%. The ACA caps that percentage @17% by 2017. Steven Brill’s Bitter Pill in Time magazine lays it out. It’s worse than I thought. I believe it needs to be under 10%, but the hogs have their snouts in the trough for 7 or 8% of US GDP and they are already upping the charges. I don’t think there is any muddling through although the increase in US energy production might allow the economy to go on bleeding at current rates for longer. In Australia if waiting lists get too long in the public system people buy private insurance. If the insurance rates go up too much they drop their insurance and rely on the public system. There are no such self regulating structures built into the US system. Force universal coverage on top of an already prohibitively expensive system and it will get more expensive – as we are seeing. But the good news is that US health outcomes are only slightly worse than Australia’s. Enjoy. Note: I am a US citizen living in Australia, so this pachyderm in the parlor seems rather obvious to me.