Fearing election-year repercussions and because of pressure from both Democrats and Republicans, the Obama administration has backpedaled on cutting Medicare Advantage payments. Instead, according to The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, they will be increased next year.
The move represents yet another modification to the implementation of Obamacare, and will likely give a boost to vulnerable Democrats, and help the Democrat party overall, to gain traction in the mid-term elections. Critics view the unilateral change as another tactic in a long line of schemes to change or delay the administration‘s healthcare law.
This latest switcheroo has not subdued the furor among Republicans, who have pointed out it won’t undo the several years of cuts that have already taken place. It also doesn’t address the tens of billions of dollars that could still be cut in the future. “Because of Obamacare, many seniors are paying higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs, as well as losing their doctor and other critical health benefits — all broken promises from President Obama,” House Speaker John A. Boehner stated recently.
Though the Obama administration has been buoyed by its touted enrollment of 7 million individuals in Obamacare, dubious as those figures may be, in reality the future of Obamacare is still looking grim. Bankrupting America reports that,
“from enrollees not paying their first month premium and thus not gaining coverage, to vast geographic differences in premium prices, to a disproportionate amount of young individuals not signing up, to more technical website problems, Obamacare is still struggling to take off.”
Another important challenge facing the law is the vast geographical difference in premium prices. The premium cost is directionally proportional to the amount of sick v. healthy individuals in each state. Charging higher premiums for healthier individuals helps subsidize more expensive care for the old, sick and less fortunate. ABC News notes, ‘Since premiums are also calculated geographically, next year’s premiums could rise in some areas and fall in others. Nonpartisan healthcare policy experts estimate that for premiums to stay constant, youths need to constitute about 40 percent of each risk pool.’
Finally, the website still into its seventh month of rollout is still experiencing glitches and technical problems. On the final day of enrollment the site crashed for a short period of time. In addition, the mechanics of how the government determines how much to subsidize insurers is still not complete. According to ABC News, ‘It’s not yet clear when the so-called ‘back-end’ mechanism will be completed. In the meantime, insurers have reportedly been manually billing the government for the subsidies. But some believe manual billing will be riddled with errors and is likely to result in yet another administrative headache.’”
While quick to boast 7.1 million sign ups, not included in President Obama’s victory lap were the estimated 6 million, who lost policies they were happy with, because they did not meet the rigid, yet implausible, requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Further, Obamacare ushered in diminished choices of insurance plans, physicians and hospitals–which has become a real hardship for a vast amount of people across the country.
That’s not all that was ushered in under Obamacare. According to Morgan Stanley’s quarterly reports, the health insurance hikes — the largest in the past three years, are “largely due to changes under the [Affordable Care Act].” Rates have been rapidly escalating throughout all of 2013.
The Daily Caller has indicated that, “while insurers were hiking premiums since 2012 by smaller amounts, the lead-up to the Obamacare’s launch has seen the average rate at which premiums are growing fourfold.”
We have witnessed several high profile cases, which illuminate some of the negative and often tragic, consequences of the healthcare law, but it was also recently reported that approximately 1,800 children in one state alone – New Jersey – have had their insurance plans cancelled.
Bill Kristol, in a discussion with ABC’s Jonathan Karl, aptly summed up the situation: “So big deal. He moved people from insurance plans they liked to — forced them into the exchanges. That’s like saying you’ve got to give the Soviet Union a lot of credit, 200 million people bought bread in their grocery stories. If it’s the only place you can buy health insurance, they’re going to get people to buy health insurance there.”