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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Obamacare Is Ailing

The president is having a bad week. USA Today reports:
The bottom-line number on didn't even meet the lowest of expectations: 26,794.

That's the number of people who were able to navigate through the troubled federal health exchange's website to select a health insurance plan in its first month of operation, the administration said in a highly anticipated announcement Wednesday.

All told, 106,185 individuals have selected an insurance plan through state and federal exchanges — and another 396,261 were found to be eligible for the expanded Medicaid insurance. Still, those numbers represent only 1% of the estimated 48 million Americans without health insurance, and are far short of the 7 million the Congressional Budget Office had said were expected to sign up in the first year.
Liberal pundit Ezra Klein writes that Democrats are starting to break with the administration on the issue:
The most serious manifestation of that break is Sen. Mary Landrieu's "Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act." It's co-sponsored not just by the usual moderate Democrats -- Landrieu and Dianne Feinstein and Mark Pryor and Kay Hagan -- but also by Oregon liberal Jeff Merkley. It's worth noting that Merkley is up for reelection in 2014.
The argument Landrieu is making on behalf of the bill will appeal to many Senate Democrats. "When we passed the Affordable Care Act, we did so with the intention that if you liked your health plan, you could keep it," she said on the Senate floor. "A promise was made and this legislation will ensure that this promise is kept." It's an underplayed dynamic of the current political storm that many congressional Democrats feel Obama broke a promise he made to them, as well.
The bill Landrieu is offering could really harm the law. It would mean millions of people who would've left the individual insurance market and gone to the exchanges will stay right where they are. Assuming those people skew younger, healthier, and richer -- and they do -- Obamacare's premiums will rise. Meanwhile, many people who could've gotten better insurance on the exchanges will stay in bad plans that will leave them bankrupt when they get sick.
 Gallup reports:
Americans' views of the 2010 healthcare law have worsened in recent weeks, with 40% approving and 55% disapproving of it. For most of the past year, Americans have been divided on the law, usually tilting slightly toward disapproval. The now 15-percentage-point gap between disapproval and approval is the largest Gallup has measured in the past year.

The results are based on Gallup's annual Health and Healthcare poll, conducted Nov. 7-10.

Currently, 73% of Democrats, 39% of independents, and 8% of Republicans approve of the healthcare law. Approval is down at least marginally among all three groups since Gallup's last update in late October.