Mary Landrieu: You're damned right I ordered the code red on affordable health-care coverage, and I'd do it again

I’m having some fun with the headline, but honestly, I think her taking ownership of her role in passing O-Care (over and over again) is a smarter play than Mark Pryor’s “only Jesus has all the answers” approach. Realistically, if you voted for this Chernobyl, there’s nowhere to run from it. Pryor can claim that he was brainwashed by liberals or that the Lord opened his eyes or whatever, but conservatives aren’t going to punish him less if he convinces them he was a dupe of the left rather than a knowing participant. Landrieu’s making a rational wager here: If Obama can’t right the ship before next November, she’s finished no matter what she does to try to distance herself from ObamaCare. As is Pryor, of course. If he can right the ship and the law becomes less of a political liability, she’ll win the gratitude (and donations) of liberals for having stood by the program through trying times and even, I think, some grudging respect from centrist conservatives for not running from her record in a desperate moment. Either way, there is no spin for what’s coming. Her fate is largely out of her hands. Might as well embrace the suck and hope for the best.

That said, there’s a lot of suck still to be embraced. Read law prof Nicholas Bagley’s post today about how HHS might tweak the “risk corridor” (a.k.a. bailout) regulations of ObamaCare to increase payments to insurers now that Obama’s stuck them with the task of un-canceling people’s plans. The regs say that the feds need to compensate insurers if they incur excessive costs, but there are many ways to define “costs.” The more broadly HHS defines it, the more of your money insurers get. There’s no way to know how much that’ll be until we know how bad the adverse selection problem caused by the un-canceled plans and the endless website screw-ups is, but Megan McArdle tried a little back-of-the-envelope estimate the other day. Depending upon how many people enroll and what proportion of sick to healthy there is, it could be anywhere from $130 million to $7 billion. I wonder if Congress will appropriate that money or if, true to unconstitutional form, Obama will simply move it from one federal budget envelope to another. Stay tuned.

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