The main questions at hand are how well [Obamacare] will muddle through. The dreaded “death spiral,” in which insurance markets are overloaded with sick, expensive customers, is highly unlikely to materialize, for several reasons: Both insurers and the administration have extensive plans to reach out to younger customers; the enrollment period lasts through the end of March, and people tend to enroll at the last minute; the law has a crucial financial backstop to protect insurers in case they get stuck with disproportionately sick customers to begin with.Exactly.
Democrats will not repeal Obamacare. Even in their most panicked moments, only a handful of Democrats in the House voted for the Upton bill, which would have kept unregulated individual market plans that skim off healthy customers operating in perpetuity. The only way to repeal or cripple the law before 2017 is to muster a veto-proof majority in both chambers of Congress, a conservative fantasy that would require the support of huge numbers of liberals in Congress.
So what are we fighting about? How smoothly the law operates, and how many customers it manages to enroll by the end of Obama’s term, are open questions. Likewise up for debate is whether Obama’s approval ratings will recover. But these are not fundamentally questions about the life or death of Obamacare. They’re about how much political pain Democrats in Congress must endure. We’re not fighting over health-care policy. We’re fighting about the midterm elections.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Chait on Obamacare
Jonathan Chait at the Daily Intelligencer offered his own take on Obamacare's end-of-November reboot: