“Insurers and the government have developed a symbiotic relationship, nurtured by tens of billions of dollars that flow from the federal Treasury to insurers each year,” said Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute.So much so, in fact, that insurers may soon be on a collision course with the Republican majority in the new Congress. Insurers, often aligned with Republicans in the past, have built their business plans around the law and will strenuously resist Republican efforts to dismantle it. Since Mr. Obama signed the law, share prices for four of the major insurance companies — Aetna, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth — have more than doubled, while the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has increased about 70 percent. . . .“With all the politics of the Affordable Care Act, people don’t realize how much the industry has benefited, and will continue to benefit, from the law,” said Jay Angoff, the Obama administration’s top insurance regulator from 2010 through 2012.
Well, some people certainly do. This can easily come to a head in the new Congress when Republicans go after the risk corridors, the mechanism by which the insurance companies again get taxpayer cash if the exchanges wind up skewed by adverse selection and their costs rise. Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) want to attack the risk corridors, making the insurance companies eat the costs of the monstrous legislation they foisted on the voters.
Changing the rules in the middle of the game? You betcha, and it could not be more justly delivered. Obama, Democrats in Congress and Hillary Clinton can defend Big Insurance; the GOP should blow the whistle on this egregious enrichment of private business by government. The administration protests, “The relationship between the marketplace and insurers is really critical to a successful program. Without that, we don’t have any coverage.” That is because the massive transfer of wealth only works when billions in taxpayer money gets shifted to mega-corporations.
It is both good politics and good policy to end this incestuous relationship. (“In another sign of the close relationship, the administration has recruited experts from the industry to provide operational expertise. Eight months after the unit of UnitedHealth Group, called Optum, helped repair HealthCare.gov, the administration hired a top Optum executive, Andrew M. Slavitt, as the No. 2 official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The administration waived conflict-of-interest rules so Mr. Slavitt could participate in decisions affecting UnitedHealth and Optum.” Of course it did.)
Insurers can either live without the risk corridors, raise their rates to reflect the true cost of what they are offering or get out of the exchanges. Provided that choice, they might rethink their support for a law that survives only so long as the transfers of wealth (young to old, taxpayer to insurance industry, the health conscious to coach potatoes, etc.) remain in the shadows.
How helpful it would have been had the MSM investigated this issue before the bill was passed. Why didn’t they, do you suppose?