Several insurance industry officials and state insurance commissioners expressed frustration Friday, saying they were “baffled” by President Barack Obama’s assertion that the cancellation of millions of insurance policies occurred because a key provision of the Affordable Care Act didn’t work as expected. The administration was warned three years ago that regulations would have exactly that effect, they said…

“We have been saying for years that the requirements in the law were going to mean that people couldn’t keep their current plans and they were going to have to purchase coverage that was more expensive,” said one high-level heath industry insider who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We said these changes would disrupt coverage and increase premiums for consumers. And now everything we said is coming true and people are acting surprised.”

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Three health insurers faced a prescient question the night of Nov. 13: What if President Obama suddenly preserves health plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act?…

“The unanimous response was, ‘That’s impossible. Those plans are gone,'” O’Grady says…

“It would be a mad scramble to file rates. And it would be a huge administrative burden to go into great detail explaining why we’re letting substandard policies continue,” O’Grady says. “We’re six weeks away from Jan. 1. All that is almost impossible to do now.”…

O’Grady says he does not know what to expect next.

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The insurers, many of whom expressed anger that the president had not consulted them before Thursday’s announcement, said they had come away from the meeting [with Obama] willing to work with the White House on the cancellation issue and still protect the financial viability of the new insurance marketplaces. They did not discuss in detail how the president’s goal might be achieved…

At the meeting, insurers emphasized their concerns that the president’s proposal could actually lead to higher insurance prices in 2015 and beyond by skewing the mix of customers in the new insurance marketplace. In other words, people who now have cheaper insurance — because their plans have fewer benefits — may still choose to keep them, rather than buying the new policies. Generally, those people are thought to be younger and healthier…

Logan Harrison, chief deputy commissioner of the Indiana Department of Insurance, said his state had not decided how to proceed but the fact that they were having to scramble to do anything was maddening.

“This is absurd,” he said. The president, he said, made a “purely political decision” that punts his problem squarely into the laps of state insurance commissioners. “It’s unfair to us and our citizens.” A number of other state officials, both Democrats and Republicans, echoed Mr. Harrison’s frustration but were not willing to speak on the record.

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A cursory discussion with almost anyone who knows anything about the insurance business would have alerted the president to the fact that his proposal is unworkable. The initial take from experts on both the right and the left is that the president did not fix anything yesterday. Insurance industry experts agree that the very idea that canceled health policies can be renewed or extended for one year is laughable — especially with the cumbersome rules that would have to accompany any such temporary reinstatements or extensions. One must assume the White House consulted experts before President Obama announced his plan. So we can rule out delusion. Surely this was an informed decision … right?…

Now we are headed into the holiday season, when families will get together and trade stories of the personal turmoil they’ve experienced thanks to the president and his Democratic allies. Very few will share happy tales of satisfaction with Obamacare or anything else the president is doing right now.

Yes, things will ultimately get better, but the president and his allies are in for a long, cold winter.

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But on the broader question of whether Obama can rebuild an effective presidency after this debacle, it’s starting to look as if it may be game over.

The record for recent second-term presidents is not good: Reagan had Iran-contra, Clinton had impeachment and Bush had Katrina and Iraq. Once a president suffers a blow such as Obama is now suffering with his health-care law — in which the public not only disapproves of a president’s actions but starts to take a negative view of him personally — it is difficult to recover…

We have seen this before. After the flubbed response to Katrina in 2005, George W. Bush’s honest-and-trustworthy rating fell below 50 percent for the first time, and it never returned.

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“The elements of hope and change just aren’t there,” said one former senior administration official, who worked on the campaign and went on to work in the Obama White House…

“On a question of competency, an in particular for this White House which sold themselves as technically competent, they failed so spectacularly on the president’s number one priority,” Fratto said. “That’s really hard to recover from. It tends to be lasting and it’s very difficult to bounce back. I don’t know if there’s much the White House can do about it now.”…

One observer close to the West Wing described staff as being in “full triage mode.”

“They’re only focusing on the things around them that have a potential to crash around them…the things that if not immediately addressed will put [Obama] deeper and deeper in the quicksand.”

“It’s a serious problem,” one official said,“ and there’s a palpable sense of urgency” that its not typical of the way the no-drama-Obama West Wing works.

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The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings. Rule by personal charisma has met its proper fate. The spell has been broken, and the magician stands exposed. We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama’s policies—and, more significantly, in the man himself. Charisma is like that. Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer. The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts—a year, an era—the redeemer is above and beyond judgment. He glides through crises, he knits together groups of varied, often clashing, interests. Always there is that magical moment, and its beauty, as a reference point…

A leader who set out to remake the health-care system in the country, a sixth of the national economy, on a razor-thin majority with no support whatsoever from the opposition party, misunderstood the nature of democratic politics. An election victory is the beginning of things, not the culmination. With Air Force One and the other prerogatives of office come the need for compromise, and for the disputations of democracy. A president who sought consensus would have never left his agenda on Capitol Hill in the hands of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi…

If Barack Obama seems like a man alone, with nervous Democrats up for re-election next year running for cover, and away from him, this was the world he made. No advisers of stature can question his policies; the price of access in the Obama court is quiescence before the leader’s will. The imperial presidency is in full bloom.

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Offer them full repeal only. Over and over. Upton showed a crack in their coalition. The tension and fear is building. Build a plan to pressure vulnerable red state Democrats. Hang the stories of the victims of Obamacare around their necks. Make them bleed. Make them own it. Stretch out the pain until consumer and voter pressure does your work for you.

It’s important to not allow them to make an easy, one-time vote and then run home saying, “I know we built the monster. I know, I was there in the lab. I know I popped champagne when it came to life. But now I’m with you, friends! I voted to fix it! I’m a Blue-Dog centrist! Damn, I wish Baron von Obama had done this better! No one could foresee the creature’s murderous rampage!”

No issue has the potential to cause more damage to the Democrats in 2014 and beyond than Obamacare. Let the Democrats’ monster rage.

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All this for a law created to insure the uninsured. Instead, in one month’s time, around 100,000 policies have been sold while millions of Americans on the individual market have had their policies canceled. The law has left the insured uninsured, the president’s purported fix notwithstanding…

As the guys in those Guinness commercials would say, “Brilliant!” Obamacare policy premiums in many cases were already going to cost significantly more money; this “fix” could cause even bigger increases. The law is so deeply flawed, with so many components in direct conflict with one another, that tweaking just one part will accelerate its collapse.

The Obamacare debacle is just getting started — and it only gets worse from here. Repeal and replace.

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