The wheels are coming off Obamacare even sooner than most had predicted. The American people are not being fooled by the sugar-coated sales campaign, jobs are being lost, health costs are rising, and the first program to be launched is a dud.
● A new CNN poll shows that 56 percent of Americans oppose the health-care law, with only 40 percent supporting it — virtually unchanged from March when the legislation passed. Rasmussen’s latest poll of likely voters shows that 56 percent want it repealed and 54 percent say the law is bad for the country.
● Liberal advocates for Obamacare now have no choice but to admit that their messaging campaign has failed. In a conference call last week hosted by Families USA to share extensive polling data, advocates were told to stop saying that the law will reduce costs and lower the deficit. It’s not true and people don’t believe it. Instead, they advised liberals to focus on anecdotes about people who have been helped by the changes.
Do they really believe that people won’t pay attention to the double-digit premium increases that are coming, the $575 billion coming out of Medicare to pay for massive new entitlement programs, the $500 billion in new taxes that are driving up health-care costs, the barrage of new regulations putting employers and the health-care sector in a straightjacket, and the despised individual mandate that will force Americans to purchase expensive, government-dictated health insurance?
● We have (more) direct evidence of jobs being lost as a result of Obamacare. Assurant Health, a health insurer based in Milwaukee that specializes in individual and small-group policies, has announced that it is laying off 130 workers as of October 1. Assurant is a terrific company that was the first to sell a Health Savings Account policy and has continued to be responsive with innovative products to serve customer needs.
But new one-size-fits-all regulatory requirements are forcing insurers to slash personnel to meet new “administrative” tests, rules that present real challenges to a company that focuses on direct customer service rather than selling policies thousands at a time. Assurant is highly adaptable and will survive, but many capable employees and their families can thank Obamacare for losing their jobs.
● The president’s much-touted high-risk pools so far are a flop. Kaiser Health News reports that “an unexpectedly small number of people” have signed up for the program designed to provide insurance for people with preexisting conditions who were uninsured for at least six months. So far, a total of about 3,600 people have applied for state plans and 1,200 have been approved, with another 2,400 in the 22 state plans operated by the federal government.
North Carolina’s risk pool director says that “interest in the program has been lower than we expected.” As of last week, Connecticut had enrolled just one person.
The risk pools were flawed from the start, as we have written. Washington should have instead provided adequate resources to the states to supplement existing risk pools or create their own.
Obamacare will get even more unpopular as the damage of this fatally flawed legislation becomes clearer. And it also will become clear that the only solution is to start over with a clean sheet of paper and sensible reforms that don’t take a wrecking ball to our health-care sector.
Published in National Review Online: Critical Condition, August 23, 2010.