Restoring respect for individual voters and traditional American values.
For those of you who don't receive the "Morning Jolt" email broadcasts from National Review, here is the latest one with insights into the Upton bill which will be in the news tomorrow. You can subscribe at National Review online.
Obama tried to deflect criticism today by declaring that health insurers no longer have to cancel existing private health insurance plans to comply with Obamacare.
This "fix" is for one year - until after the 2014 election is behind for the many Democrats who now fear getting voted out of office. In short, he isn't trying to fix your health insurance problem. He wants to fix his political problem. Once the 2014 election is past, just like the way he lied to all Americans to get past the 2012 election, you will still lose your health insurance.
In the interim, they are just shifting blame to the state insurance commissions and the insurance companies. It's all about shifting blame away from the Democrats who inflicted this stupid law on you. They still want you to believe that the insurance companies are to blame for any problems, while Obama and HHS are not responsible for any of this mess, and are still trying valiantly to help you. It's pure political BS.
The reality is that Obama has no power to actually restore any such cancelled plans, especially at their former cost levels. He screwed up and destroyed what worked, and now is trying to avoid the blame for the mess he made. Insurance companies do not have to do what he said today, nor do state insurance commissioners have to approve the reinstatement of such plans. Even if they reinstate the old plans, they can change the pricing of them.
For example, here in Illinois, there were federal subsidies for the state insurance plans such as ICHIP which effectively reduced their premium costs in a manner similar to the value of employer tax breaks for offering insurance plans. The plans were still very expensive, but there was some relief even though the premium costs were far higher than what individuals would usually pay on a business plan, because there was nothing to offset what an employer would usually contribute. Those subsidies have been cancelled by the Obamacare law, and that's not going to change, so even if the plans are restored, the cost will go up substantially, Furthermore the income tax deduction for medical expenses has been limited so that it will apply to fewer Americans, although many don't realize that yet.
In other words, only the plans in the new Obamacare exchanges will be eligible for any subsidies, and only if you have a low income. Meanwhile, the Healthcare.gov website has been designed to overestimate the available subsidies and underestimate the premium costs of exchange plans. Once people actually sign up for the plans and get the real bill and real subsidy (if any), they will be shocked at how much their costs have gone up.
In the past, employers got a tax break regardless of your income level to reduce the cost of offering you health insurance benefits. The federal subsidies for state "high risk pools" like ICHIP were not limited by income. Such high risk pools were set up to serve people who didn't have health insurance through an employers and couldn't otherwise purchase private healthcare insurance, even at a high price, because of chronic conditions.
I know, because I have been on ICHIP for over a decade. It used to cost me about $17,000 per year for my family of four. That was already pretty bad, but at least I had coverage. Now, thanks to Obamacare, it costs about $23,000 per year and my ICHIP plan is being cancelled at the end of this year, forcing us into the Obamacare exchanges.
Will the ICHIP plan be restored on the basis of Obama's speech this morning? Probably not. Even if the cancellation is reversed, however, the price will go up dramatically (because the federal subsidy will end) while the income tax deduction for medical costs will go down.
So, once again, middle income people will get the short end of the stick. They will lose their existing plans or face higher costs, while lower income people will get subsidized by those higher costs.
It is time for Republicans to go back to pushing for "repeal and replace". Rather than playing political games with the Upton bill or others, they need to propose a simple and serious alternative to repeal and replace Obamacare. By replace, I mean a totally different approach which does not put the idiots at HHS (and IRS) in charge of our health.
. . . with Jim Geraghty
November 14, 2013
The Upton Plan Will Never Get Enacted, But It's Beautiful Anyway
We don't know precisely how the rest of this month will play out. But we know it will include an excruciating amount of political pain for President Obama and Congressional Democrats.
First, understand what we're talking about when we discuss the Upton bill. Erick Erickson worries that a bill offered by Representative Fred Upton (R., Mich.) represents a trap for Republicans and opponents of Obamacare. He concludes, "the Republicans should not be helping Democrats with their re-election plans, which is all [they] are doing with Upton/Landrieu."
The concern has some validity, but the Upton and Landrieu plans do a heck of a lot more than just help Democrats insist they're trying to do something to help those losing their plans.
Moreover — and important — the Upton bill would not help fix Obamacare. To the contrary, if it were to become law, it would badly undermine Obamacare's exchanges, which would then be drained of millions of (previously insured and hence generally healthier) people whom Obama wanted to compel to buy exchange-based plans by banning their preferred plans. In short, Upton would hurt Obamacare, not fix it — which is why Obama opposes it.
The defenders of Obamacare know full well that the Upton legislation represents a serious threat to the viability of the law. It would provide a lifeline for a viable insurance market outside of Obamacare's rules and suffocating structure. Millions of Americans would flock to a revitalized insurance marketplace that offered lower premium products with better coverage. The end result would be one more step toward fully reversing the catastrophic mistake of Obamacare.
Put another way, if the Upton bill's primary impact really was just to provide cover for Democrats, why would Obama and his closest allies be fighting it tooth and nail? Why are they arm-twisting their own members to not vote for something that could...?
House Democratic leaders are doubling down in their opposition to GOP legislation that would allow Americans to keep their healthcare plans, even as the party is taking a political drubbing over the contentious issue.
Think about it. Nancy Pelosi and company are insisting to their rank-and-file -- approaching reelection less than twelve months from now -- that stopping the Upton bill is worth taking a beating in the press right now. The only way this stance makes sense is if the Upton bill represents a metaphorical bullet to the gut of Obamacare. It may not kill it immediately, but it will kill it eventually.
Right now, Fred Upton is competing for the title of your favorite member of the Upton family, against his perennial favorite niece.
You'll always be special to us, Kate.
The House is going to take up the Upton bill. It's going to pass. It's going to pass with just about every Republican vote, and in all likelihood, a heck of a lot of Democratic votes.
Then it goes to the Senate, where three things can happen.
Harry Reid refuses to bring it to the floor for a vote.
You're already smiling, aren't you? You're already picturing the ad:
"A bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives passed the Keep Your Plan Bill. But Harry Reid is playing politics, not even allowing the Senate to vote on it."
Ouch. Every Senate Democrat will be asked, on the record, if they agree with Reid's decision. They'll have to denounce him.
The second possibility is that Harry Reid allows the bill to go to the floor, and the Senate rejects it.
Picture the ad, coming from the NRSC and various conservative groups.
"A bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives passed the Keep Your Plan Bill. But after voting for the Obamacare bill that cancelled your health insurance,[insert Democratic incumbent here] voted NO -- leaving you and your family without insurance."
Brutal, just brutal. Under that scenario, the 2014 midterms turn into a Democratic bloodbath that makes the 2010 midterms look like the good old days.
Then there's the third possibility… the Senate passes it… and it goes before Obama.
And then Obama can either sign the metaphorical gut-shot into law, or he can veto it.
He's not going to sign it. Instead President Obama will provide the most excruciatingly painful veto in recent memory, as he becomes the president who assured the American people dozens of times they could keep their plan, broke his promise, and then shot down the bipartisan legislation to keep his promise after he broke it. You think his approval rating is low now? He'll make Bush's second term look like a joyous series of unhindered triumphs.
Nobody knows what Democrats are going to do. Because they themselves don't know what they're going to do:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) on Thursday will convene a special meeting of the Senate Democratic caucus and senior White Officials to discuss the troubled rollout of ObamaCare. Reid on Wednesday told reporters he would not answer questions about the hundreds of thousands of insurance policy cancellations or other issues until he has further discussions with the White House.
Very soon, the question is going to be put before Obama, Reid, and the rest: Save the policy or save the party. Pick one.
Oh, and after They Get Rid of the Upton Plan . . .
Brutal month. But at least in December the Obamacare exchange website starts working, right?
"The frustration is they are setting up deadlines they know they can't meet. They are not going to meet the Nov. 30deadline, I would bet anything on that. If I had a farm I'd bet the farm on that."
Man, who's that cynical right-wing administration critic?
Now . . . it's November 14. They've got about two weeks left before their much-touted deadline. They already know if they're going to make it or not. (SPOILER ALERT: They won't.) So why are they publicly insisting that they're going to make the deadline?
The Obama administration continues to stand behind its prediction that it will fix the Obamacare website "for the vast majority of users" by the end of the month, administration spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri confirms over e-mail.
Is the mentality over there, "we've already broken all our other promises, why worry about one more"?