Sen. Susan Collins is not your typical Obamacare critic.
The moderate Maine Republican has a history of working with Democrats on key issues and spent five years as the Pine Tree State's top insurance regulator. So people were inclined to listen when Collins issued a dire warning about the future of the troubled new health care law.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner late Tuesday, the third-term senator questioned the practicality of President Obama’s administrative move to allow Americans to keep their existing health insurance policies and said the prospect of rate spikes in the Obamacare insurance exchanges in 2015 are “high, high, high.”
“This law is a disaster," Collins said, "and the problems with the website are only the start of continuing problems.”
Here’s what else the senator had to say about the challenges the Obama administration faces in implementing the law:
Washington Examiner: How practical is the president’s administrative fix to implement?
Susan Collins: I do not understand how the president thinks that by executive fiat, he can require states, which are the regulators of insurance, not the federal government, to order insurance companies to reinstate policies that have been canceled due to federal law. I just don’t see how he has that authority.
On a practical side, insurers are going to have an extremely difficult time pricing their insurance coverage because they priced it based on insurance pools being of a certain size and Obamacare going into effect.
Examiner: If a lot of Americans choose to keep their current health plans, how would that effect the financial viability of the Obamacare exchanges?
Collins: The Affordable Care Act is based on having very large pools of largely healthy people to subsidize the ill. And the law has resulted in high-risk pools going away in most states, if not all states, so it’s an entirely different approach. Now, with the delay of the employer mandate, with the fine for not signing up being only $95, which is a lot cheaper than insurance, and with the system in total chaos, and with choices being limited, I just don’t see how the system can work.
Examiner: What are the prospects that the cost of insurance developed for 2015 will rise significantly?
Collins: High, high, high. They are. They’re going to have to be, because the insurers are not going to have had sufficient experience under the new law for their actuaries to crunch reliable numbers. So, they’re going to have to err on the high side, and I just think that everything those of us who had something to do with insurance predicted would happen has come about, and that is higher costs, more uncertainty, few choices and more and more medical facilities and health care providers exiting the system.