House GOP: Let’s back off and let ObamaCare speak for itself
posted at 12:01 pm on November 4, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Napoleon once said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” House Republicans have decided to follow that advice, often reiterated by John Boehner, according to National Journal’s Tim Alberta and Billy House. Rather than launch a public-relations attack on ObamaCare, they’re going to let it speak for itself and head home for the recess:
Amid the drip-drip-drip of problems surrounding the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans appear to be seriously considering the notion that the best course may be to pipe down and allow Obamacare supporters to continue bleeding.
“To put it in context, we should just try to get out of our own damn way for now,” said one House GOP leadership aide.
House members left Washington on Thursday and are out this week, giving lawmakers extended time in their districts for constituent services. The timing is perfect for House Republican leaders, who have grown wary of distracting the public from Obamacare’s wobbly rollout with GOP attacks on the law.
The strategy is a stark contrast to the bombastic tone Republicans struck fighting the law to the point of a government shutdown, and then beyond. And, according to some lawmakers, there was discussion among House members about cancelling the break and staying in Washington to continue hammering the health care law.
But House leaders dismissed that idea, feeling confident that the best thing they can do is step back, be quiet, and let Americans watch Obamacare’s supporters contend with a faulty website, rising premiums, and an avalanche of policy cancellations.
Essentially, top Republicans believe the negative headlines surrounding the law are doing more damage to the Obamacare brand than any hearing they can conduct or press conference they can stage. The problems speak for themselves, they argue, and Republicans risk overplaying their hand with vocal criticism.
When they return, Darrell Issa still plans to conduct an investigation into the debacle through the Oversight Committee, but that will be to get people on the record and prepare for future policy battles. The strategy now is to stop stepping on the national news stories that erupt every day, sometimes several times a day, detailing the dishonesty and incompetence from the White House that created the Healthcare.gov debacle, and to keep people focused on the horror stories emerging from the Obama administration’s manipulations of the health-insurance market.
The Associated Press has a brand-news story today on sticker shock in the individual markets, for instance:
The Griffins are among millions of people nationwide who buy individual insurance policies and are receiving notices that those policies are being discontinued because they don’t meet the higher benefit requirements of the new law.
They can buy different policies directly from insurers for 2014 or sign up for plans on state insurance exchanges. While lower-income people could see lower costs because of government subsidies, many in the middle class may get rude awakenings when they access the websites and realize they’ll have to pay significantly more.
Those not eligible for subsidies generally receive more comprehensive coverage than they had under their soon-to-be-canceled policies, but they’ll have to pay a lot more.
Because of the higher cost, the Griffins are considering paying the federal penalty – about $100 or 1 percent of income next year – rather than buying health insurance. They say they are healthy and don’t typically run up large health care costs. Dean Griffin said that will be cheaper because it’s unlikely they will get past the nearly $13,000 deductible for the coverage to kick in. …
His company pays about $100 monthly for his basic health plan. He said he’ll now have to pay $600 monthly for a mid-tier silver plan on the state exchange. The family policy also covers his 8-year-old son. Even though the federal government is contributing a $500 subsidy, he said the $600 he’s left to pay is too high. He’s considering the penalty.
“I feel like they’re forcing me to do something that I don’t want to do or need to do,” Davis, 40, said.
Meanwhile, a Stage 4 cancer patient writes in the Wall Street Journal that ObamaCare is forcing her to drop the doctors who have kept her alive. Edie Littlefield Sundby lives in California, and until this year had a policy from United Healthcare that had never given her any coverage problems. Thanks to the mandates of ObamaCare, United is pulling out of the individual market in California, and her options don’t include keeping her specialists:
You would think it would be simple to find a health-exchange plan that allows me, living in San Diego, to continue to see my primary oncologist at Stanford University and my primary care doctors at the University of California, San Diego. Not so. UCSD has agreed to accept only one Covered California plan—a very restrictive Anthem EPO Plan. EPO stands for exclusive provider organization, which means the plan has a small network of doctors and facilities and no out-of-network coverage (as in a preferred-provider organization plan) except for emergencies. Stanford accepts an Anthem PPO plan but it is not available for purchase in San Diego (only Anthem HMO and EPO plans are available in San Diego).
So if I go with a health-exchange plan, I must choose between Stanford and UCSD. Stanford has kept me alive—but UCSD has provided emergency and local treatment support during wretched periods of this disease, and it is where my primary-care doctors are.
Before the Affordable Care Act, health-insurance policies could not be sold across state lines; now policies sold on the Affordable Care Act exchanges may not be offered across county lines.
What happened to the president’s promise, “You can keep your health plan”? Or to the promise that “You can keep your doctor”? Thanks to the law, I have been forced to give up a world-class health plan. The exchange would force me to give up a world-class physician.
For a cancer patient, medical coverage is a matter of life and death. Take away people’s ability to control their medical-coverage choices and they may die. I guess that’s a highly effective way to control medical costs. Perhaps that’s the point.
It may not be the point, but it’s going to be the result — as Republicans have warned for years. The media scoffed at the vehement arguments in that period. Maybe they can catch up in the quiet quickly enough to save Edie Littlefield Sundby and all those like her.