Obamacare: Can it be healed?
President Obama once predicted that people would look back on his signature health-care law as a “monumental achievement,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. But “reality is confirming what the critics predicted”: The Affordable Care Act is neither affordable nor remotely sustainable. The Obama administration just admitted that premiums for midlevel plans on the federal Obamacare exchange will jump an average of 25 percent in 2017, as insurers adjust to a pool of customers with too many older sick people and too few young healthy ones. The dreaded “death spiral” has begun, said Michael Tanner in NYPost.com. With premiums in some states soaring 116 per cent, and deductibles for some plans rising to more than $5,000, even fewer young people will sign up. “Listen closely. That’s the sound of a health-care plan dying.”
This is no death spiral—no matter what Republicans might hope, said Michael Cohen in The Boston Globe. This year’s premium hikes will affect only a fraction of the roughly 3 percent of Americans who get their insurance through an Obamacare exchange—85 percent of whom “receive government subsidies to minimize the cost.” The reality is that in blue states that have embraced Obamacare, the program “has made American health care both dramatically more affordable and humanitarian,” said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com. Competition is vigorous and price increases are lower. But in red states whose leaders “are committed to its failure,” the Obamacar e markets are struggling. It would be fairly easy to make the “technical fixes” necessary to ensure the program’s success everywhere, but thanks to the Republicans’ relentless propaganda campaign to portray Obamacare as a sinister, catastrophic failure, it’s politically impossible to do so.
It will probably remain that way even after a new president takes office, said Jonathan Tobin in CommentaryMagazine.com. Republican nominee Donald Trump has offered no specific solution other than to “repeal and replace,” but unless Republicans control both houses of Congress, a full repeal—which would end Obamacare coverage for 20 million people—is unlikely. If Hillary Clinton wins, she’ll have to ask Republicans to provide billions in additional funding “to ensure that this new entitlement stays afloat.” That’s not happening. Politics has become wildly unpredictable—yet the “one thing that you can count on not happening in 2017 is an Obamacare fix.”