Obamacare’s problems haven’t gone away. (“The administration has received strong criticism for failing to disclose the error rate for forms known as 834s, which send information about ObamaCare enrollees to health insurers. The administration’s failure to disclose the error rate has led to a series of tense exchanges with journalists on a daily conference call. ”) The refusal of young people to do as they are told — sign up in large numbers in the exchanges — remains an potentially fatal flaw in the whole shebang. (“While the federal enrollment website HealthCare.gov appears to be improving by the day, polls show the ‘young invincibles’ key to making the law work are becoming less likely to enroll.”) They didn’t understand “hope and change” meant buying something you didn’t want and/or couldn’t afford.
And my colleague Marc Thiessen points out that even the “success” reports don’t amount to much:
29,000 may have signed up for Obamacare, but as of Monday about 5.6 million Americans have had their health insurance cancelled because of Obamacare. That means the administration is still in a deep, deep hole. If those people don’t find new insurance (either on the exchanges or elsewhere) soon, the White House is going end up having millions of newly un-insured Americans on January 1. To avoid that humanitarian and political disaster, they would have to be signing up about 240,000 people on federal and state exchanges a day, every single day, starting on Dec. 1 until Dec. 23rd — and that’s just to break even.
And this doesn’t address the exchange to nowhere problem — the information garbled or not conveyed to insurance carriers.
With all that, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) is doing precisely what we’ve pleaded for months the GOP should do: Focus on an alternative. Price has had an alternative (“Empowering Patients First Act“) for some time, but he is smartly highlighting it now as a safe harbor from the Obamacare storm.
Today, Price sent out a written statement announcing that “an independent review of H.R. 2300, the Empowering Patients First Act, estimates the legislation would save $2.34 trillion while reducing health care premium increases. The estimate was produced by former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin.” His bill contains some items common in many GOP health care proposals, including legalizing interstate insurance sales, tort reform, small business and non-employer insurance purchasing pools, support for states’ high risk pools and deductions, tax credits, refundable tax credits or advanceable refundable tax credits for individual insurance purchasers. It is a serious and robust piece of legislation.
Other plans are out there, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is expected to offer one of his own in early 2014. The differences among these proposals, however, is not great. There is every reason to work out a single bill and pass it promptly through the House. Then, perhaps, Republicans can put to bed the notion that it has no alternative to Obamacare.