Friday, October 3, 2014

Health Exchange’s First Birthday

It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

Motto of the Christopher Society.

It would not surprise me if you missed the health exchange’s first birthday on October 1. Even though 7.3 million people bought insurance, an ObamaCare success worth bragging about, October 1 was not an occasion for great celebration.

ObamaCare supporters were not out in the streets touting coverage of the uninsured. Small wonder. Midterm elections are barely a month away, and major polls indicated the public still opposed the health law by 12 percentage points.

The health exchanges baby had stumbled out of the starting gate, and concerns remained about rising premiums, imminent health plan cancellations, an unfixed website, subsidy paybacks for ineligible enrollees, broken promises about keeping your doctor and health plan, and legal problems over contraceptive and subsidies in federal exchanges.

The main political problem was that ObamaCare was a Republican cudgel being used to beat the brow of Democrats in Red States where fate of the Senate was a stake. Democratic candidates tended to be silent or equivocal on the ObamaCare issue, and the President was not being invited to their states to campaign.

The health law had lost its footing as the major election issue. A stalled economy, continuing unemployment, ISIS and other foreign affairs failures, IRS scandals, and the Ebola epidemic with possible spread to Dallas, overshadowed ObamaCare. The Republicans had stopped talking much about the health law. The Senate outcome and the GOP wave remained in doubt.

Happy Birthday, health exchanges. But don’t light the candle yet for your first birthday. Keep it under bushel until November 4.

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