Littwin: Obamacare success!

Lures Republican politicians at last to notice tens of millions of uninsured people

Littwin: Obamacare success!

 
Mike Kopp is worried — very worried — about what Obamacare has done to single mothers. I know this because I went to a Republican gubernatorial forum the other night, and Kopp told Aaron Harber’s TV cameras and a live audience about the impact of the insurance cancellations on single moms.

It was, well, I’ll let you decide what it was.

“Think about a single mom who’s just lost her coverage,” says Kopp, the former state Senate minority leader. “She has to work as much as she can to make ends meet. Now she’s got to take time away from her job somehow and figure out how to get coverage again.”

He imagines her plight. “How do I afford it? Where do I go? How do I get it done?”

Kopp is just getting warmed up. “This is incredible,” he says, “that our government has foisted this upon us.”

I don’t bring this up to pick on Kopp, who does care about single moms — certainly as much as his rivals, Tom Tancredo and Greg Brophy and Scott Gessler, do — but as a prologue for the Obama pick-up-my-fumble-and-try-to-run-with-it-athon.

There are 40 million uninsured people in America and many tens of millions more who are underinsured. Obamacare isn’t the crisis. The delivery and cost of health care in America account for the crisis.

In case you missed it: Over the course of an hour Thursday, Obama apologized for fumbling the rollout of the exchanges and for nearly everything else. He apologized for fumbling the cancellation-letter issue by not letting people know that it might come and what the alternatives would be. He apologized for possibly fumbling away the 2014 midterms by putting his fellow Democrats in the terrible position of having to deal with the disastrous rollout. All that was missing was his apology for Ronnie Hillman’s fumble on the Colts’ 3-yard-line.

For the first time in his presidency, Obama looked defeated. Not by the Republicans who have tried so hard to beat him. But by his own hand, which doesn’t look quite as sure as it did a month ago.

While apologizing, Obama did offer up a fix for the rollout problems, saying that people could keep their insurance policies – however substandard they might be — through 2014 if they wanted them. That’s if the state insurance commissioners didn’t mind and if the insurance companies don’t mind. And also if the insurance companies — who sent out those scary cancellation notices — include a letter pointing out the bigger and better alternatives available at a reasonable price on the exchanges.

If it sounds like a bigger fix than it is, that’s because (here’s a shock) the insurance companies do mind. Ask Colorado’s insurance commissioner, who is amenable to the switch but who doubts if many insurance companies will follow. This is what Obama counted on. The only fix right now that is good for Obamacare is a successful computer reboot.

For all the mea culpas, the one person Obama didn’t need to apologize to was Kopp’s single mom. There’s a very simple reason for that. That’s because it’s Kopp — and his friends on stage — who should be doing the apologizing.

Kopp’s single mom is the reason we have Obamacare. She’s just getting by, according to Kopp. Under Obamacare, that would make her eligible for significant subsidies toward her health insurance. If she headed up a family of three and was making, say, $40,000, she would get a 50 percent subsidy toward the silver plan — which is almost certainly better than the insurance she had and, with the subsidy, far less expensive. In any case, her children would probably be eligible for the Obamacare-enhanced Medicaid, reducing her costs even more.

The truth is, most people who lost their open-market insurance were stuck with junk insurance. Getting canceled might well turn out to be the best thing that could happen to Kopp’s single mom. She deserves better.

This is why the Republican sob stories on Obamacare are so disingenuous. There are 40 million uninsured people in America and many tens of millions more who are underinsured. Obamacare isn’t the crisis. The delivery and cost of health care in America account for the crisis.

But, as I said, I’m not here to dump on Kopp, who’s a reasonable guy.

I’m here to dump on Mark Udall, who forced Obama into this pitiable position. OK, that’s not fair. It was Obama and Obama’s IT guy who forced him into this pitiable position. But it is Udall and friends — those Democrats scared that Obamacare will cost them re-election — who forced the fix and who, by demanding more, are putting Obamacare at risk. Obama can hold off the Republicans. He can’t survive panicked Democrats.

Udall has proposed a two-year fix for those who want to keep their insurance — much like the Obama fix, except longer. His proposal is a compromise from Sen. Mary Landrieu’s forever fix. But the problem is that Obamacare is, in its way, a zero-sum game. Somebody has to pay. If people are allowed to keep their old lousy insurance — this would mostly be, it is assumed, the invincible young who want cheap insurance or none at all — then the older and sicker have to pay higher premiums. At some point — is it two years; is it longer? — the system starts to break down.

That’s why Obama put in as little fix as he could get away with. That’s why Udall and his panicked Democratic pals need to embrace it. The apologies are great. But they’re just words if Obamacare’s promise is fumbled away and life doesn’t get any better for people like Mike Kopp’s single mom.

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

4 Comments

  1. Bill Scanlon on said:

    Udall either doesn’t understand the basics of Obamacare — the need for the individual mandate, for example, or he is willing to make millions of Americans’ health plans a little bit worse for the sake of re-election

  2. Don Lopez on said:

    As comedian Dennis Miller said, “Mr. President, if you liked your apology you can keep it.”

    “Somebody has to pay. If people are allowed to keep their old lousy insurance — this would mostly be, it is assumed, the invincible young who want cheap insurance or none at all — then the older and sicker have to pay higher premiums.”

    So to “fix” this problem the Affordable Care Act—which at its core is nothing more than a wealth redistribution scheme—shifts the cost of higher premiums to the young and healthy. Most Americans have little problem shifting costs from the poor to the rich (that evil 1 percent) but most are yet unaware of how the ACA shifts costs from the old to the young. But that should change by 2016 when a 69-year-old Hillary Clinton explains to young voters that, well, “somebody has to pay”.

    And by the way, whenever Mr. Littwin uses words like lousy or bad to describe health insurance policies he actually means inexpensive.

    “Kopp’s single mom is the reason we have Obamacare. She’s just getting by, according to Kopp. Under Obamacare, that would make her eligible for significant subsidies toward her health insurance. If she headed up a family of three and was making, say, $40,000, she would get a 50 percent subsidy toward the silver plan — which is almost certainly better than the insurance she had and, with the subsidy, far less expensive.”

    Ah, yes, subsides. Well, guess what? In a letter written by Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight director Gary Cohen, the Obama administration revealed that “in many cases, health insurance plans offered through government exchanges are more expensive than plans consumers bought before the Affordable Care Act became law – even when government subsidies are figured in.”

    Really?

  3. Ryecatcher on said:

    “The Affordable Care Act is nothing more than a wealth redistribution scheme” Don says. I suppose for people of Mr. Lopez’s ilk who either are wealthy or moth eaten adherents of Glen Beck who haven’t a pot to piss in but think they know whats going on because Beck tells then so, this is true.

    The ACA is not a scheme. The Affordable Care Act is a program to help those in need and if that is wealth redistribution then bring it on. The miserly morality of the Republican party is simply appalling given the income inequality in the wealthiest country on earth where the top 1% own 50% of the stocks , bonds and mutual fund investments while the bottom 80% own 7%.

    Teabagging hatchlings like Lopez would begrudge the needy in the name of “liberty” using teabag bromides “wealth distribution”and “socialism” to augment their fear and ignorance arguments. They hear Limbaugh or the FOX noise makers pontificate and adopt their hot air as gospel.

    The Republican party cannot and never will accept President Obama and if one looks closer the racist undercurrent is just beneath the surface festering in their obsessive paranoia.

    No one said the 1% are “evil”. Those are the words of Don Lopez who by all indications knows not what the hell he is talking about in his attempts to have us think he is clever, Dennis Miller not withstanding.

  4. Ena Wason on said:

    Everyone needs to read Wendell Potter’s new book, “DEADLY SPIN,AN INSURANCE COMPANY INSIDER SPEAKS OUT ON HOW CORPORATE PR IS KILLING HEALTH CARE AND DECEIVING AMERICANS.”
    This is happening with the full compliance of for-profit media.

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