This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," September 28, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," get ready for ObamaCare. A look at what to expect when the health insurance exchanges go live on Tuesday.
Plus, he's the man at the center of the budget showdown. So just what did Texas Senator Ted Cruz accomplish this week?
And President Obama speaks to Iran's Rouhani but will nuclear negotiations be different this time around?
Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
Well, are you ready for ObamaCare? With health insurance exchanges set to open Tuesday, both critics and supporters of the controversial law are waiting to find out just who will sign up and what premiums they'll pay.
President Obama said this week he has no doubt his signature piece of legislation will succeed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What we are confident about is that when people look and see that they can get high-quality affordable health care for less than their cell phone bill, they're going to sign up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; Washington columnist, Kim Strassel; and editorial board member, Joe Rago.
So, Joe, you heard the president's optimism. What do you expect to happen on Tuesday?
JOE RAGO, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Well, I think we're expecting a very choppy rollout here, very disruptive. We've seen a lot of delays this week. The D.C. health exchange said it wouldn't be able to perform core functions. I think we're going to see the same thing in the 34 states where the federal government is running the exchanges, in lieu of the governors, and a lot of problems overtime.
Now, that said, everyone's expecting this to be such a mess that they're really judging it with the soft bigotry of low expectations.
GIGOT: All right, Joe. What about the premiums? What are people going to pay? Are they going to pay more than they would be paying now in the private marketplace or less as the president asserts?
RAGO: The answer's both, depending on where you live and how much income you make and how healthy you are. In general, I think premiums are going to be about 20 to 30 percent higher on average than they are in the individual market today. That will be offset a little bit by the subsidies for some people. But some people are also on the hook. The younger and healthier people are on the hook, cross-subsidizing older people, people over 40. So much more expensive. But in some cases, less, depending on who you are.
GIGOT: One of the interesting things here is that private insurance, some of the big private insurers, like Aetna, for example, are not participating in these exchanges, these government-run exchanges. For example, Aetna isn't even participating in Connecticut. Why is that, Joe?
RAGO: The exchanges are supposedly marketplaces but they're really marketplaces for political competition. The Health and Human Services Department and state insurance commissioners have been saying, well, regulations are going to increase the cost. We need you to find ways to offset some of that, to hit the cheapest price points that you can. So the insurers that are running -- that are offering policies on the exchanges are really the contractors who currently run Medicaid in a lot of states. So we've been talking about --
RAGO: -- rate shock here. People are going to see what I think is going to be benefit shock, where they're going to have very limited networks of doctors, hospitals and other providers and just not a lot of choices in return for some of these discounts.
GIGOT: Yeah, that's why the insurers are calling some of the products on these exchanges so-called Medicaid Plus.
So, Kim, what's the big fear inside the Obama administration about this rollout? What are they really worried about most?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Well, you know, the problem here for Democrats, they have been telling themselves for years, you know, our problem politically is we're running against a law that has not even yet started, people don't like it, and so when they finally get it, they will understand how great it is. The big fear is that is not going to be the case. And that as you have benefit shock and price shock and you lose your doctors, and combined with people -- layoffs at companies trying to avoid to be hit by this law, reduced hours, that, in fact, there is going to be a public revolt against this, which is going to be reflected in next year's midterm elections and Democrats' hold, for instance, on the Senate.
GIGOT: Right, but the history of entitlements, Dan -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid -- is that despite initial glitches, people come to love the free lunch. They love the subsidies and they warm to it. And is that going to happen again this time?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: I don't think so, Paul. Let me put it this way: Who are you going to believe about ObamaCare, Joe Rago or Barack Obama?
Because we just heard the president of the United States say this will provide high-quality health care for less than the cost of your cell phone bill, OK?
HENNINGER: And now the question is, is that going to happen? I think the consensus is, it's going to be complex, it is going to falter, it's going to be a mess. And I don't think that this entitlement is going to become as entrenched as Social Security did.
GIGOT: Well, you wrote this week in a piece that let ObamaCare fail. This thing is going to fail of its own accord, in essence.
GIGOT: It's just too big and too complicated. Explain your argument.
HENNINGER: Well, I said let it collapse. Now, it may not literally collapse. It may not literally fail. But I think it's going to be a very poor federal program, poor health care program. There's going to be enormous problems such as people discovering that they only have a limited number of doctors to choose from or getting their bills paid is going to be complicated. When that starts happening, as is already happening, people are going to start looking for alternatives. I think that's the point when conservatives and Republicans should tell the American people, this was a big entitlement, and if in our time this thing doesn't work, we have to look for alternatives to the entitlement state and having the federal government provide services like this.
GIGOT: Joe, what do you think ultimately is going to happen? You share Dan's belief that it's going to collapse?
RAGO: No, I mean, think its problems are going to create an opportunity for a real alternative. But, you know, Paul, in the health care, government failure is usually solved by another regulation, and then that failure is solved by another regulation. So I think the problems that we're going to see in practice with the Affordable Care Act, if there isn't a real alternative offered from the Republicans, Democrats are going to come in and say, well, all doctors and hospitals need to accept government coverage.
GIGOT: OK. All right, Joe.
Thank you, all.
When we come back, one Republican Senator making his opposition to ObamaCare the centerpiece of the federal budget fight. So what did Ted Cruz accomplish this week with his 21-hour floor speech?