|By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER; BY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER|
FIRST ORDER of business for the returning
Make it one line long: "Sections 1341 and 1342 of the Affordable Care Act are hereby repealed."
End of bill. End of bailout. End of story.
Why do we need it? On
But of course there's a Plan B. It's a government bailout.
Administration officials can't say it for political reasons. And they don't have to say it because it's already in the Affordable Care Act, buried deep.
First, Section 1341, the "reinsurance" fund collected from insurers and self-insuring employers at a nifty
Then there is Section 1342, the "risk corridor" provision that mandates a major taxpayer payout covering up to 80 percent of insurance-company losses.
Never heard of these? That's the beauty of passing a bill of such monstrous length. You can insert a chicken soup recipe and no one will notice.
The whole scheme was risky enough to begin with - getting enough enrollees and making sure 40 percent are young and healthy. Obamacare is already far behind its own enrollment estimates. But things have gotten worse. The administration has been changing the rules repeatedly - with every scrimmage-line audible raising costs and diminishing revenue.
First, it postponed the employer mandate. Then, it exempted from the individual mandate people whose policies were canceled (by Obamacare). And for those who did join the exchanges, Health and Human Services Secretary
The insurers were stunned. Told to give free coverage. Deprived of their best customers. Forced to offer stripped-down "catastrophic" plans to over-30 clients (contrary to the law). These dictates, complained their spokesman, could "destabilize" the insurance market.
Translation: How are we going to survive this? Shrinking revenues and rising costs could bring on the "death spiral" - an unbalanced patient pool forcing huge premium increases (to restore revenue) that would further unbalance the patient pool as the young and healthy drop out.
End result? Insolvency - before which the insurance companies will pull out of Obamacare.
Solution? A huge government bailout. It's Obamacare's escape hatch. And - surprise, surprise - it's already baked into the law.
Which is why the
Such a bill would be overwhelmingly popular because Americans hate fat-cat bailouts of any kind. Why should their tax dollars be spent not only saving giant insurers but also rescuing this unworkable, unbalanced, unstable, unpopular money-pit of a health care scheme?
The GOP House should pass it and send it to
Do you really think vulnerable Democrats up for re-election will vote for a bailout? And who better to slay Obamacare than a Democratic
Want to be even bolder? Attach the anti-bailout bill to the debt ceiling. That and nothing else. Dare the president to stand up and say: "I'm willing to let the country default in order to preserve a massive bailout for insurance companies."
In the past, Republicans made unrealistic and unpopular debt- ceiling demands - and lost badly. They learned their lesson. Last year, Republicans presented one simple unassailable debt-ceiling demand - that the
Who could argue with that? The
Who can argue with no bailout? Let the Senate Democrats decide - support the bailout and lose the
Happy New Year.
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