Scapegoated insurers fire back at Obama over “administrative fix”: You’re not pinning this ObamaCare mess on us
posted at 2:51 pm on November 14, 2013 by Allahpundit
Don’t cry for these people, needless to say. They helped make ObamaCare happen. They were only too happy to see healthy young adults forced into buying their product by a constitutionally dubious mandate and to gouge healthy middle-class people with the new, more expensive plans required by the exchanges. They wouldn’t have partnered with the White House if this wasn’t a payday for them. But now they’re screwed twice over: Not only are Democrats trying to make them the fall guy for the cancellations, they’re looking at their payday melting down into red ink if they take Obama’s “advice” and re-create the old risk pool. Oh well. No honor among thieves.
They’re not going to take it lying down. An industry insider told BuzzFeed earlier of the White House’s “fix,” “This doesn’t change anything other than force insurers to be the political flack jackets for the administration.” And within the past hour, the president of America’s Health Insurance Plans released this statement:
“Making sure consumers have secure, affordable coverage is health plans’ top priority. The only reason consumers are getting notices about their current coverage changing is because the ACA requires all policies to cover a broad range of benefits that go beyond what many people choose to purchase today.
“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers. Premiums have already been set for next year based on an assumption of when consumers will be transitioning to the new marketplace. If now fewer younger and healthier people choose to purchase coverage in the exchange, premiums will increase and there will be fewer choices for consumers. Additional steps must be taken to stabilize the marketplace and mitigate the adverse impact on consumers.”
There’s a reason un-canceling canceled plans started out as a GOP idea: It’s really bad for ObamaCare. There’s no policy upside for Democrats in supporting the idea; it’s pure political CYA, and insanely myopic in that it’ll only compound their political problem next year if AHIP’s prediction is borne out and exchange plans become even more expensive. In that sense, it’s an analog to HHS refusing to bring in outside contractors who might have improved Healthcare.gov before launch for fear that Republicans might subpoena them and the White House would be politically embarrassed. The political embarrassment they’ve suffered from the website meltdown is far worse than the embarrassment they would have suffered from discouraging chatter before the site debuted. How strange that Democrats would have taken such a long view of health-care reform in 2010, risking their majority in the House to pass it, when now they wet their pants at the first signs of trouble during implementation.
A little more insurance-industry anger from David Steinberg at PJM:
This [is] a new insanity.
I do not know how the insurance carriers and federal government are going to be dealing with this. First, many states require a 60-day notice of a change in plan or a cancellation. It’s November 15! How can they comply with this new element of federal law, and with their state laws?
Second, do they really think carriers are going to be willing to recreate the old plans, while also being mandated to offer the new ones that comply with the exchanges? I have a large number of clients, small to medium-sized businesses, who would much rather renew their old policies on 12/1 than sign up with the newly mandated exchange policies. Everyone is going to want the old ones! You really expect the insurance carriers to willingly deal with the financial loss and legal headaches of switching back?
It is going to be very difficult for carriers to honor this.
Of course it’s going to be difficult. That’s the point — the White House’s hope, I’m sure, is that most insurers will ignore the “fix” and refuse to un-cancel any plans. That would eliminate the extra risk of adverse selection to the exchanges and give O the scapegoat he’s looking for. If insurers really want to screw him, they’ll scramble to do just what he said: Un-cancel the plans, just as the president requested, and then lay the resulting premium hikes next fall squarely at his feet, just in time for the midterms. Problem is, that means heavy losses for them potentially; as much as they’d like to retaliate, it might end up as a kamikaze mission. On the other hand, my pal Karl is urging me and other righties on Twitter not to get caught up too much in a war between Obama and insurers. That’s exactly what the White House wants, after all. The more O can make it look like he’s on the side of the people, with the big bad insurance companies treating him as a sworn enemy, the more it’ll mitigate the political damage he’s suffered from this. He’s the guy who got reelected last year as a champion of the middle class, remember? He’d never do something that roundly screws middle-income people in the name of propping up some new Rube-Goldberg-esque redistribution scheme he’s concocted. That’s the insurers’ fault.
Much more at link!http://hotair.com/archives/2013/11/14/scapegoated-insurers-fire-back-at-obama-over-administrative-fix-youre-not-pinning-this-obamacare-mess-on-us/