The President Creates New Problems For ACA

Keith Hennessey points to yet another problem with ACA, this one new and created by the President’s remarks yesterday.

There’s a problem, that “a small percentage of folks” (8-10 million people) are facing canceled individual market health insurance plans, and some of them are “disadvantaged” by the new options, or will be once they can see them on a functioning healthcare.gov. The President has directed his team to consider some administrative solutions to fix the problem, to “address some of those gaps.”

The problem with the President’s public statement is that he has now frozen the individual insurance market in place until he announces his new solutions. If you are one of the 8-10 million Americans with a canceled insurance policy, President Obama just created an enormous incentive for you to hold off on buying a new policy, to wait for the Administration to offer you a new solution.

Mr. Hennessey thinks that either the President and his team are genuinely concerned about the hardships being imposed on some in the individual insurance market and do intend to bring forth a plan to ameliorate the pain or that they never thought through the implications of the comments and thus shot themselves in the foot once more. I’ll go with the latter. I don’t see how they can give any relief, even temporary, to those whose plans have been or will be cancelled and not end up with dismal numbers of enrollees, not to mention a badly skewed demographic in the insurance pool.

You could argue that delay, say a year, in the migration of individual insureds to the exchanges would cause temporary but not fatal harm to the demographic and financial architecture of the ACA but that ignores the politics. Delay any change for those now insured and the cry for a year’s delay in the individual mandate will reach jet level decibel readings. The law then effectively unimplemented becomes the focal point of the 2014 elections and if those turn out badly for the Democrats implementation will never occur. From a political point of view the law simply has to be seen as up and running in order to fend off attempts to alter it in a new Congress.

I’ll stick with my previous thoughts on this. This administration will tough out the current firestorm just as they have others and see the law operational. The only caveat I would throw in is that they must have the exchanges operational by the end of the month. If they can’t accomplish that then the whole thing is in meltdown.

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