ObamaCare was a big issue in the Republican mid-term election victories of 2010 and 2014. If Republicans want to win the White House in 2016, it must remain a dominant issue in the campaign.
Hillary Clinton, the presumptive candidate of the Democratic party, is particularly vulnerable on the issue of healthcare. As First Lady under President Bill Clinton she was assigned the task of reforming healthcare. Her brand of reform, known as HillaryCare, was a disaster that failed largely due to her obsessive need for secrecy and her obvious intent on mendacity. HillaryCare went down in flames just as it deserved.
In 2010, The Affordable Care Act revived many of the tenants of HillaryCare but with the added advantage of congressional majorities in both the House and the Senate. Without a single Republican vote, President Obama railroaded through his version of healthcare reform, which we now call ObamaCare.
But imposing your will upon Congress is not the same thing as gaining support of the American people. Ever since the passage of the law in March, 2010, the American electorate has shown its disapproval with polls repeatedly showing a majority of the American people opposed ObamaCare. According to the most current Real Clear Politics average of recent polls, almost half (48.8%) of Americans oppose it and only 39.2% favor it.
Karl Rove, writing in The Wall Street Journal, breaks down the numbers further. He says 78% of Democrats favor the law, but 89% of Republicans oppose it. Even more significant is that 59% of Independents are opposed. As everyone knows, in today’s elections it is the independents that usually determine the outcome of elections. This bodes poorly for the Democratic nominee.
Rising Insurance Rates
These poll results are not likely to improve for Democrats before the election. Recently released healthcare insurance premium rate increases will only make ObamaCare even more unpopular. Rove points out this is especially true in the battleground states of the election.
For instance, Florida, my home state, where insurance companies are asking regulators for an average premium increase of 17.7% for individual coverage under ObamaCare and 9.6% for small-group plans. In Virginia, the largest insurer is seeking a 15.8% premium increase, while another major provider is requesting 16.6%.
In Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield has warned its customers of premium increases of 38% to 43% in 2017. They claim this year they are spending $1.27 on ObamaCare policies for every $1 in premiums paid. Obviously, that is a losing business model.
In New Hampshire, the second largest provider is seeking a premium increase of 45.2%. Pennsylvania’s insurers are asking for increases averaging 23.6% for the individual market and 7.9% for small-group plans. Many companies are simply getting out of the market, which will only lead to less competition and higher premiums for everyone.
In Ohio, perhaps the most important battleground state, insurers have yet to file rate requests for next year. However, the state’s nonprofit ObamaCare Co-Op just shut down. It reported it would have taken premium increases of 60% just to break even. Of the 23 Co-Ops that were formed, 13 have shut down and the other 10 are all in financial trouble.
All of this information on rising premiums actually understates the problem. Insurance companies are also raising the cost of healthcare insurance through higher deductibles and narrow networks. This issue was more thoroughly discussed in a recent post called White House Spins ObamaCare Rate Increases.
Republicans must not let up on this issue of critical importance to the American people. But they must also put forth their alternatives to the ObamaCare train wreck. Many well-designed alternatives are available from conservative think-tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, The 2017 Project, The Manhattan Institute, and others. Several excellent alternatives have been proposed by GOP lawmakers including Reps. Tom Price, Pete Sessions, Mike Burgess, and Senators Bill Cassidy, John Barasso, Ron Johnson, and others.
There’s no time to waste. ObamaCare is slowly but surely imploding from the weight of unaffordable costs. It’s time to show the American people a better way.