Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What if Obamacare Works?

Even if you don't think this will happen, stay with me imaginatively: What will the GOP do if the screw turns, and the MSM begins reporting on an Obamacare that's working? This morning, Ezra Klein's Washington Post Wonkblog was titled "Is Obamacare Turning the Corner?". Ezra's answer: It might be. Greg Sargent also entertained this possibility this am at The Plum Line at WaPo in a post titled "What if the GOP Stance on Obamacare Proves a Liability, Too?" I'm not declaring the moment is here. I'm asking us to imagine what the GOP will do if, and when, that day arrives.

What's your guess? Here's mine:
  • They won't see it or recognize it.
  • They will continue to highlight problem stories.
  • The focus will shift from the website or dropped coverage, to doctor cut-outs and their expected collapse of the employer-based insurance program.
But I predict that many fewer people will be listening, and that the MSM will provide better and more balanced coverage. One of the main reasons I think so is that over the next four months, we will see a progressive boatload of information about the numbers of people signing up in total, and state by state. Here's a great example I just found of the kind of regularly updated info that folks will have access to, that will document progress in signups - Obamacaresignups.net. The bottom line, as reported, is that after completing 8 of the 26 week enrollment cycle, we have 956,788 total enrollments - 228,578 in private insurance, and 728,210 in Medicare. Here's the graph they update weekly:

(from http://obamacaresignups.net)

If we went through the remaining 18 weeks at last week's signup pace, we would end up with 1.35 million in private insurance (versus a 7.0 million goal) and 4.1 million in Medicare (about 5 million targeted). But the pace is picking up. Where will it end up? Very hard to tell. My guess: 4-6 million in private; 5-7 million in Medicaid.

Will the GOP spin this as a disaster? Perhaps not, but they will just shift their target of attack to people losing their doctors in newly tightened networks (this will happen periodically), or the coming "collapse" in employer-based coverage (this will not happen in big numbers). One of the biggest problems for the GOP will be the release of premium increases for 2015, which will turn out to be modest, versus horrendous, because the risk pools will end up containing enough young and healthy folks to be well balanced.

In short, I do not think the GOP will be able to adjust if news gets progressively better on Obamacare, as I believe it will.

It is still possible for Dems to turf the GOP out of the House control next November. Not likely. Possible.

1 comment:

  1. The worst weeks for Democrats will be when the website starts working again. At that point, tens of thousands will pour through and discover an equivalent health plan costs more than their current plan. Throughout history, cost is the #1 concern around healthcare. This will create a far worse environment for dems than currently exists now.