House and Senate leaders may disagree on how to fix Obamacare, but they certainly don’t dispute why.
After seven years, the only thing higher than the costs of the Left’s health care law may be the mounds of evidence about its failures. Already, families are bracing themselves for January 1, when experts warn that most Americans will wake up with a headache — and not from a lack of sleep from the night before.When the Times Square ball drops, premiums won’t. In fact, the first day of 2018 may trigger one of the steepest rises in health care premiums the country has faced. For the 39 states that have stuck it out on the Obamacare exchange, they’ll ring in the New Year by wringing out their wallets — most facing a 34-percent spike in premiums, and climbing. Although the pain will be passed on to almost every customer, analysts say the middle class will be squeezed the most. Like most people, insurers understand that Obamacare is a sinking ship, and they’re doing everything they can, the Wall Street Journal points out, to “hedg[e] against broader uncertainty around other aspects of the Affordable Care Act, and my market conditions.”
Others have outright left the exchange, blowing a big hole in the number of plans consumers could pick from. “The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has estimated that 46 percent of Americans live in counties that will lose at least one exchange insurer next year.” Others are losing their plans entirely, news many of them are just getting in the mail. “Time to shop for new coverage,” their letters read. In some pockets of the country, like Virginia, people who had as many as 14 policy options last year are down to two (which also happen to cost $150 more a month).
So, while some may want to steer Congress away from the failed Obamacare debate into the greener pastures of tax reform, there are still Republicans who are trying to solve the looming crisis and give Americans some relief. Two of Congress’s key moneymen, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Senate Finance Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), are the latest to offer up a proposal that deals with some of the worst aspects of Obamacare — and, unlike the Lamar Alexander-Patty Murray deal, leaves no doubt about one of the biggest concerns: abortion. From its very first bullet point, Hatch and Brady explain that their “bicameral agreement” would fund cost savings reductions (CSRs) through 2019 “with pro-life protections.” That was a problem many of us had with the Alexander-Murray idea, since nothing in the plan addressed one of voters’ key priorities — ending the forced partnership between taxpayers and the abortion industry.
“What we’re proposing not only helps treat some of Obamacare’s symptoms: rising premiums, fewer choices, and uncertainty and instability,” Rep. Brady explained. “It takes steps to cure Obamacare’s underlying illness through patient-centered reforms that deliver relief from federal mandates, protect life, and increase choices in health care.” Like other bills, it would eliminate Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, expand health savings accounts, and fund the cost-sharing program for two years, a move, Politico explains, “designed to appeal to Republicans who want to fund the Obamacare program but feel that Alexander didn’t get enough conservative concessions in his negotiations with Murray.”
Its biggest obstacle, apart from getting time on a busy congressional calendar, is that the duo will be introducing it as a standalone bill, meaning that it would need help from Democrats to pass. But if the Obamacare implosion continues, even they’ll have to concede that something needs to be done. And soon.
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
Also in the October 26 Washington Update: