Salon's Brian Beutler thinks Republicans are about to make a big mistake. He thinks if they succeed in enacting their latest Obamacare ploy -- the Keep Your Health Plan Act, which would reverse cancellations of existing policies -- it would eventually be recognized as the cause of the cancellation of many other policies:
Like many other Republican attacks on Obamacare, this one is subterfuge -- a proposal that sounds great but in reality would plant the seeds of the law's destruction. The real goal is to deny Obamacare marketplaces across the country the critical mass and demographic balance they’ll need to function properly.Allow certain people, mostly upscale and healthy, to opt out of the system, and eventually the ability to provide health insurance to those who struggled to get it (or keep it) before Obamacare will be lost.
But, of course, it isn't just Republicans who are seeking to do this -- many Democrats are now backing this approach, goaded on, in part, by Bill Clinton. And -- accurately or not -- we're hearing this from CNN's Dana Bash:
CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash told her network's anchors on Tuesday that the end of the week is the "de facto deadline" at which point the White House needs to have settled on a series of fixes to address the crisis of Americans losing their health coverage. After Friday, Bash reported, House Democrats are going to be backing GOP proposed fixes to the Affordable Care Act against the wishes of President Barack Obama's administration.Meanwhile, it's looking as if the White House's best counterargument -- stay the course because we're getting the website fixed -- is not going to hold up. The Washington Post reports:
Software problems with the federal online health insurance marketplace, especially in handling high volumes, are proving so stubborn that the system is unlikely to work fully by the end of the month as the White House has promised, according to an official with knowledge of the project.So if all this is true, the White House needs a plausible set of kludges to get us over this hump and save Obamacare. Otherwise, a lot of Democrats are going to jump ship.
On Monday, Steven Hayward of Forbes predicted with a cackle that Obamacare will be repealed before 2014, with Democrats joining Republicans in the hope of saving their own political necks:
... if the website continues to fail, the push for repeal -- from endangered Democrats -- will occur very rapidly. The website is a sideshow: the real action is the number of people and businesses who are losing their health plans or having to pay a lot more. Fixing the website will only delay the inevitable....But Jonathan Bernstein continues to insist that even if Obamacare is modified, it will still be the basis for what emerges, because we can't possibly go back, can we?
Senate Democrats endangered for re-election will lead the charge for repeal perhaps as soon as January, after they get an earful over the Christmas break. They'll call it "reform," and clothe it in calls for delaying the individual mandate and allowing people and businesses to keep their existing health insurance policies. But it is probably too late to go back in many cases. With the political damage guaranteed to continue, the momentum toward repeal will be unstoppable. Democrats will not want to face the voters next November with the albatross of Obamacare.
But regardless: the law is here, it's being implemented, half a million people have signed up for Medicaid, young adults are on their parents' plans, the donut hole is disappearing and other Medicare benefits have begun, lifetime and yearly caps and rescissions are gone...all of that is going to be very, very, difficult to displace.... Repeal? No, we're never going back to the status quo ante.Why does he believe that? Republicans don't care about these people -- to Republican officeholders and voters, people availing themselves of most of these benefits are "takers." (This is true even of Republican voters who are beneficiaries themselves.) And it's not as if the beneficiaries themselves are going to take to the streets or airways or op-ed pages in effectively large numbers to demand the preservation of these benefits -- if there's anything we should have learned in the 33 years since Ronald Reagan's election, it's that America's have-nots simply don't have the inclination or ability to fight on behalf of their own economic self-interest. And even if they do fight, the wired-for-Republicans Beltway establishment will be much less inclined to highlight these victims than it has been in recent weeks to highlight the Dylan Ratigans and Lori Gottliebs whose Obamacare sticker-shock complaints advance the message of the right-wing noise machine.
And besides: if benefits are lost and voters are upset, Republicans will just blame it on the Democrats. They will have signed on to the changes, after all. Republicans would love to have Democrats' fingerprints on this, the same way they want Democrats' fingerprints on a budget "grand bargain" that guts Social Security and Medicare, because it would really undermine the perception that Democrats care for ordinary people.
All of this is a long way of saying: this thing needs to be saved or it really might be completely lost.
Would we ever repeal a health benefit program that's been enacted? Hayward reminds us that, in the not-so-distant past, we did:
This wouldn't be the first time that a health care entitlement was repealed. The same thing happened in the late 1980s with catastrophic coverage for seniors. Because seniors were made to pay for their benefits under that scheme, the uproar forced Congress to repeal the measure barely a year after it went into effect.Ordinary people aren't like the rich. We don't treat everything we get from government as a birthright. We won't fight to save Obamacare's benefits. So it's up to the White House and congressional Democrats to save them -- right now.