fresh voices from the front lines of change







There has been some push-back among conservatives at the charge they are sabotaging Obamacare. They insist it’s just imploding all on its own (despite the fact that it actually isn’t.) But as Sahil Kapur reports, in one case, they’re just admitting it right up front:

Conservative wonks and Republican lawmakers are coalescing around a new strategy to sabotage Obamacare by repealing a temporary piece of the law designed to hold down premiums in the event of major market disruptions.

The provision — called “risk corridors,” but dubbed the “Obamacare bailout” by the law’s opponents — seeks to stabilize costs by creating a pot of money that takes in funds from insurers who enroll healthier customers and uses it to pay out insurers who enroll sicker customers. It’s a safety valve that sunsets after 2016. The repeal push is clever messaging in a sense because it lets conservatives snatch the mantle of populism from liberals against wealthy insurance companies. But it comes with its share of dangers, too.

Last November, as TPM reported, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation to repeal this provision. Since then it has picked up 13 Republican co-sponsors, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and spawned two companion bills in the House, which are supported by numerous Republicans. The idea has been championed by conservative lobbying groups like the Club For Growth and Heritage Action, and pushed by writers including Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post, Ramesh Punnuru in Bloomberg View and Deroy Murdock in National Review.

The conservatives are open about the end goal: collapse Obamacare by causing higher premiums on the law’s marketplaces for the newly insured, which progressive experts who support Obamacare agree would occur if the provision is scrapped.

Ponnuru, labeling the risk corridors “outrageous,” writes that without them insurance companies “would have to raise premiums and thus make their plans even more unattractive than they already are — or just withdraw from the exchanges. Obamacare would, in other words, become even less likely to succeed than it already is.”

And then he rubbed his hands together with glee and cackled maniacally.

Keep in mind that this “bailout” is a temporary transition program anticipated as possibly being necessary in the original legislation. There was no way of knowing how long it would take for the healthier people to sign up or how long it would take for the market to even itself out.

They obviously feel they have latched on to an excellent way to derail the reforms. But as Kapur points out, it also allows the Democrats to accuse them of raising premiums — and angering the insurance companies who fund them right along with the Dems.

Lord this is a crappy political system.

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