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Lewis Morris / November 1, 2017

ObamaCare’s Rolling Disaster

It’s enrollment season again, but this year’s sign-up period will be like no other before.

It’s ObamaCare enrollment season again, but this year’s sign-up period for the Unaffordable Lack of Care Act will be like no other before. Despite repeated Republican attempts to bring an end to ObamaCare, the law’s own ineptitude and actions taken by the Trump administration will combine to make this year the weakest enrollment period on record.

Congressional Republicans having utterly failed to move the ball forward, President Donald Trump has used a series of executive orders to weaken ObamaCare since taking office. He has reduced the 90-day enrollment period to 45 days, cut the advertising budget for ObamaCare by 90%, and reduced the number of federally funded enrollment advisers. These actions have lowered the public awareness level to such an extent that some people already believe ObamaCare is done. If only that were true.

Trump put another nail in the ObamaCare coffin last month when he brought an end to cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies. If you recall, these were payouts Barack Obama made to insurance companies to cover their losses and keep premiums artificially low for lower-income consumers. Like many things Obama did regarding his signature law, these payouts were not constitutional because the money was never appropriated by Congress. Obama just used his “phone and pen” to give out the cash himself.

Democrats from 18 states sued the Trump administration to get their illegal money back, but Federal Judge Vince Chhabria rejected their suit. “It appears initially that the Trump Administration has the stronger legal argument,” the judge said, noting that forcing the payments to resume after 2018 insurance rates have already been set would benefit insurers and not consumers.

Though Judge Chhabria thinks otherwise, the long-term effect of the end of the CSR payouts will lead to more insurance companies pulling out of the exchanges. Those that remain will have to raise their rates. But that has already been the overwhelming trend since the year ObamaCare went into effect.

Rates increased across the board for 2017. The price of bronze plans has gone up 18%, gold plans have risen 16% and platinum plans have gone up 24%. Democrats want to blame this increase on Trump, but these rates were set last year. The current insurance landscape is as it would be no matter who won the election last November.

The downward spiral will certainly continue. S&P estimates that enrollment for next year will be 7-13% lower compared to that of 2017. Trying to make the case that this is Trump’s fault is just an excuse by Democrats who want to blame the failure of their Great Health Care Achievement™ on the Republicans. From day one, ObamaCare was on shaky ground. What we are witnessing now is the law’s continued death spiral.

If the two parties continue to play the blame game, however, the only loser will be Americans who need affordable health care. Democrats obviously have no interest in working with Republicans to find a way to achieve the goal of allowing the free market to provide affordable health care and insurance for all Americans. It should be painfully clear by this point that the federal government is incapable of making this happen. A new, market-based solution must be found, or the ranks of the uninsured will only continue to grow.

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