Opinion: Editorials

Examiner Editorial: Obamacare's stumbles pose political risks for Dems

|
Photo - WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 28:  U.S. President Barack Obama holds a pen while saying he is ready to sign legislation taht would extend tax cuts for middle class people during an event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building November 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. With the end-of-the-year "fiscal cliff" looming over lawmakers in Washington, Obama will meet with 14 chief executives at the White House later in the day.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 28: U.S. President Barack Obama holds a pen while saying he is ready to sign legislation taht would extend tax cuts for middle class people during an event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building November 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. With the end-of-the-year "fiscal cliff" looming over lawmakers in Washington, Obama will meet with 14 chief executives at the White House later in the day. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Opinion,Editorial

When Democrats suffered their historic 63-seat loss in 2010, a plurality of voters (48 percent) told exit pollsters that they wanted Obamacare repealed. Only 16 percent said they wanted to see the law left as is, and 31 percent said they wanted to see it expanded.

Fast-forward to this November, when Obama won re-election despite winning fewer votes than he did in 2008. Even though the 2012 electorate was far more liberal than the one that delivered Democrats historic losses in 2010, Obamacare actually fared worse in the exit polls than it did in 2010. Just 26 percent of those who voted in 2012 said they wanted to see Obamacare expanded, only 18 percent said they wanted to leave it as is, and the percentage of Americans saying they wanted to see Obamacare repealed was up to 49 percent.

Yesterday, Gallup released a poll showing that, for the first time since it started taking the poll in 2000, a majority of Americans say it is not the federal government's responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage. Those numbers are likely to rise as Obamacare's implementation begins.

At least with respect to Obamacare, the president's re-election settled nothing. Obamacare is still extremely vulnerable because it remains highly unpopular with the American public.

In California, one of the few states that has made any significant progress establishing a health insurance exchange that is compliant with Obamacare regulations, state regulators have warned existing policyholders that their insurance premiums will rise by as much as 25 percent once the exchange comes online. The reason is that Obamacare forces all insurers to sell policies at regulated rates to anyone who applies, regardless of medical history. As individuals with greater medical needs enter the insurance market, thus driving up health care spending, insurers will simply have to raise premiums on everyone to make up the difference.

That's the best-case scenario. Most states are nowhere near on track to meet the October 2013 exchange deadline. Sixteen states have already announced they have no intention of even trying to meet it. Obama's own Department of Health and Human Services will have to set up and run the exchanges for them -- and HHS has never successfully completed a project anywhere near this large. Its last large project -- the implementation of Obamacare's high-risk insurance pools -- did not go well. Enrollment was far, far below expectations, and spending per patient was double projections.

In 2014, seven Democratic Senate seats will be up for grabs in states Mitt Romney carried (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia). Unless Obama's HHS bureaucrats pull off an unprecedented miracle of central planning, Obamacare could well sink Democrats again in 2014, the same way it did in 2010.

View article comments Leave a comment