It finally seems to have sunk into the Obama Administration how badly this Obamacare thing is going. There have been rumblings that the system will not be fixed by the end of the month (color me surprised). The total enrollment is something like 100,000 (only a quarter from the federal exchange). And millions of people are livid over having their policies cancelled.
If you’ve followed Obama for the last five years, you know what comes next: rewriting the law on his own:
The White House has its own idea to stop the bleeding: Allow insurers to renew existing plans in 2014 (which means they could continue into 2015) while forcing them to send Landrieu-like letters explaining why their plans don’t conform to the Affordable Care Act’s standards.
(I’m tired from baby stuff and I first read that sentence as “Landru-like” letters … as in Landru the computer from the classic Star Trek serial “Return of the Archons”. Funny thing is that, now that I’m awake, a letter from a fictional crazed computer still sounds a lot better than one coming from Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.)
This doesn’t really ensure anyone can actually keep their plan — which means it also doesn’t affect premiums in the exchanges. But it makes it easier for Democrats to blame insurers for canceling these plans. And it perhaps makes it easier for the White House to stop congressional Democrats from signing onto something like Landrieu or Udall.
The insurance industry is furious. They’ve been working with the White House to get HealthCare.Gov up and running and they’ve been devoting countless man hours to dealing with the problems and they’ve been taking the heat from their customers over canceled plans, and now the Obama administration wants to make them into a scapegoat.
In other words, this changes the wording to, “If you liked your plan, you could have kept your plan if it weren’t for those greedy insurance companies.”
The problem is that the machinery of canceling plans and creating new ones is already moving. The insurance industry has put a million piece in motion anticipating that the exchanges would, you know, work. Stopping it at this point is like slipping you car into reverse on the highway. It’s such a bad idea that the state of Washington has already said they will not implement it.
So why is Obama trying to sell this snake oil? Well, as McCardle points out, there really isn’t a Plan B. The process has advanced so far and the individual market is so delicate right now, that we really don’t have a good option. Obama has driven us into a ditch with no way out.
No matter what happens from now on, I think we are witnessing the beginning of the end of individual insurance policies. By the time Obama leaves office, your choices will be Medicaid or employer insurance. And maybe that was the intention all along.