Obama vetoes ObamaCare repeal ... quietly

Missed opportunity — or a tacit admission of political vulnerability? When Paul Ryan sent the ObamaCare repeal bill to Barack Obama, he held a public “enrollment” event to celebrate the accomplishment. Rather than return the favor, Roll Call reports that Obama opted to veto the bill with minimal publicity:

With little public fanfare, President Barack Obama on Friday vetoed a Republican-crafted measure designed to repeal his signature health care overhaul. But Republican leaders are signaling their repeal push is far from over.

In a statement, Obama said the health care overhaul “is working,” slamming the bill because it would “reverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America.”

“The Affordable Care Act includes a set of fairer rules and stronger consumer protections that have made health care coverage more affordable, more attainable, and more patient centered,” Obama added.

The measure’s quiet death stood in sharp contrast to the very loud and public debate that has characterized the president’s health care push from conception to adoption to implementation. It also would have defunded Planned Parenthood, which was the subject of its own partisan uproar last year.

Yes, it does stand in contrast, does it not? Obama keeps insisting that his signature legislative accomplishment is popular and has expanded access to health care. However, those stuck paying high premiums — even with tax subsidies — find that they are still paying retail for their health care, in some cases the first $5000 or more each year, thanks to skyrocketing deductibles. Let’s not overlook the fact that the New York Times sees this as enough of a trend to cover this week:

Administration officials said last month that about 2.5 million new customers had bought insurance through HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange serving 38 states, since open enrollment began on Nov. 1. The number of new enrollees is 29 percent higher than last year at this time, suggesting that the threat of a larger penalty may be motivating more people to get covered.

But plenty of healthy holdouts remain, and their resistance helps explain why insurers are worried about the financial viability of the exchanges over time. They say they sorely need more healthy customers to balance out the costs of covering the sicker, older people who have flocked to exchange plans.

People, like Mr. Murphy, who earn too much to qualify for federal subsidies that defray the cost of coverage may be most likely to opt out. A recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than seven million people who are eligible for exchange coverage would pay less in penalties than for the least expensive insurance available to them. More than half would not qualify for subsidies, the analysis found.

If you spend $75 a month after subsidies for health insurance, as the White House claims for the average individual-market user, and end up with a Bronze Plan with an average deductible over $5000, then you have to spend $5900 in a year before getting anything covered other than wellness checks — which would have probably cost no more than $300-$400 retail anyway. For younger and healthier Americans, ObamaCare isn’t just a bad deal — it’s a huge redistribution of wealth from younger and less wealthy Americans to older and more wealthy Americans, whose premiums stay lower with more of the former in the risk pool.

No wonder Obama wants to keep his veto locking those people into exploitation as much on the down-low as possible. Too bad that Republicans took this long into forcing Obama to veto the repeal. Imagine how well this could have been used to reassure GOP voters that leadership wanted to keep the pressure on Obama all along.