November 25, 2013

Before news broke of the Iran interim deal, the president was in mid-panic over Obamacare. How else to explain his latest change in the statute, this time to delay the open-enrollment period for 2015 until after the November, 2014 election? Is the sticker shock going to be so great as to wash Democrats out to sea if revealed before voters can decide whether to keep the authors of Obamacare? A president confident of his position and of the law’s feasibility does not do such things.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) warned months ago Obamacare would be a "train wreck." (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) warned months ago Obamacare would be a “train wreck.” (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

At the same time, the president once again is extending this year’s deadline. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in a Friday press call — you know this is going to be good — that Americans will have until Dec. 23 now to enroll for coverage commencing January 1, instead of the previously announced deadline of Dec. 15. But seriously, the new date is less than a month away. One has to be marinating in Kool-Aid to imagine millions will have signed up even by Dec. 23.

It sure doesn’t sound like the Web site will be running smoothly by Nov. 30. We therefore will have millions of new uninsured Americans, many of whom couldn’t access or afford the insurance being offered, plus those who will wind up with worse insurance than when they began the year. Moreover, it does not appear many states’ insurance regulators are going to take the president up on his offer to reincarnate cancelled policies.

The questions lawmakers should be asking and the questions voters should be asking of lawmakers are these:

If a fraction of people sign up in the exchanges and those who do are sicker and older, how will this affect next year’s costs for coverage?

What happens if a flock of insurance companies have had enough and bail out of the exchanges all together?

Aside from the increase in Medicaid, what is the per capita cost we are expending to cover that small sliver of the country getting insurance through the exchanges? If that is excessive, isn’t there an easier and cheaper way to get coverage for such people?

If lawmakers wouldn’t have voted for the bill knowing what they know now, why are they not freezing or repealing the plan?

If there are more uninsured people after Obamacare than before, what problem have we “solved”?

After Nov. 30 the discussion of HealthCare.gov “fixes” should shift. First, critics will have an argument that the faulty rollout it is not a matter of time, but of complexity and competency. If it is not working by the end of the year, it’s probably safe to say it won’t work anytime soon. Second, critics should move the debate to what could be done to rescue the newly insured in the short-term and what is the long-term fix for a scheme that is becoming less and less like the plan its supporters passed or thought they passed or told us they passed. In other words, the Web site is a symptom, not the essence, of the Obamacare catastrophe and we now need to have that larger discussion about the law’s viability (the lack thereof).

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.