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Issues & Insights

Dems admit Obamacare is a failure, then prescribe more Obamacare

Nancy Pelosi calls her party’s latest effort to reform health care the “Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions & Making Health Care More Affordable Act.” A more appropriate title would be the “Obamacare Was A Dismal Failure So We’re Offering More Of The Same Act.”

After all, protecting people with pre-existing conditions and making healthcare more affordable were precisely what Obamacare was supposed to do. In fact, when Obama signed his health care reform into law in March 2010, Pelosi herself said that “with President Obama’s signature, health care becomes more affordable for the middle class…and we demand accountability from the insurance industry.”

So why is she now promising to push a bill through the House that, she says, “lowers health care insurance premiums, stops junk plans, [and] strengthens protections for pre-existing conditions”?

Shorn of the nice-sounding title, the real aim of this bill is to block all the exits from Obamacare. That’s evident from the sections that try to kill off increasingly popular short-term insurance and association health plans. The Trump administration took steps to make short-term insurance more viable, and to expand the reach of association health plans. Both operate outside Obamacare’s massive regulatory and benefit mandate rules, making them far more affordable.

The average family premium for a short-term plan — which has to be renewed after a year — is 80% below a typical Obamacare plan. These short-term plans have been around since Obamacare’s start, and have been popular as an affordable option to the health care exchanges. This prompted Obama, in 2016, to try to kill them off by restricting them to just three months. Trump reversed that rule. Now, millions of individuals and families who’d been priced out of Obamacare have an affordable option.

In addition, by cutting out many of the needless roadblocks imposed by the ACA, association health plans try to achieve the same goal. These plans, which can be formed by chambers of commerce or trade groups, let individuals and small businesses get group rate coverage that’s likely to be better and less expensive than the high-deductible HMO plans available in the Obamacare exchanges.

In fact, just months after Trump finalized his revised association health plan rules, there were dozens of such plans on the market. When the Washington Post — hardly a fan of the Trump administration — looked into them, it concluded that they were “more consumer-friendly and less like ‘junk’ insurance than Democrats originally charge….There are initial signs the plans are offering generous benefits and premiums lower than can be found in the Obamacare marketplaces.”

These are the new, affordable, health insurance options Democrats fervently want to deny consumers in the name of making health care more affordable.

Instead, their plan would try to counter Obamacare’s massive premium spikes — premiums in the individual market doubled in Obamacare’s first four years — by vastly expanding the existing Obamacare subisidies.

The latest bill would, among other things, entirely lift the income cap on subisidies, which is currently set at 400% of poverty.

In other words, instead of letting the market solve the problem of affordability created by Obamacare, Democrats want to expand Obamacare and foist vast new subsidy costs on taxpayers.

How does that old saying go about “fool me once, shame on me….”?

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John Merline

Veteran journalist John Merline was Deputy Editor of Commentary and Opinion at Investor's Business Daily. Before IBD, he launched and edited the Opinion section of AOL News, and was a member of the editorial board of USA Today, where he continues to be a regular contributor. He’s been published in the Washington Post, National Review, Detroit News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Forbes, and numerous other publications. He is regular commentator on the One America News Network and on local talk radio. He got his start in journalism under the tutelage of M. Stanton Evans.

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