Littwin: Obamacare success!
Lures Republican politicians at last to notice tens of millions of uninsured people
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.
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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