Health care

Sebelius is out, but ObamaCare's problems are here to stay

Chris Stirewalt breaks down the latest developments

 

Kathleen Sebelius, the face of ObamaCare, is out. If only the Affordable Care Act were going with her.

Unhappily, as much as Republicans may cheer the departure of the Health and Human Services Secretary, who oversaw the bungled roll-out of President Obama’s signature health care legislation, the damaging law will continue to infect the economy like a great virus.

Sebelius may have drastically mismanaged the start-up of ObamaCare, but she cannot be blamed for the law’s fundamental flaws.

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The law forces healthy young people to pay excessive rates for a level of insurance they do not need in order to fund the costs of coverage for older sicker people.

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The fines that are meant to drive young people to this foolish economic choice are inadequate; many will simply choose to go without.

Since insurers can no longer deny insurance to those who are sick – many Americans will simply wait till they need medical care, and then sign up. There is a reason why President Obama made promises he could not keep – telling Americans that they could keep their insurance and doctors if they like them; if he had told the truth he would not have been reelected.

Higher insurance premiums, lost coverage, narrower health care choices, fewer doctors, job losses, slower economic growth – these are the true costs of the ACA.

Our health care system – which satisfied the demands of most Americans – has been recklessly upended by a president thirsty for legacy, all in the name of providing free health care to 30 million previously uninsured Americans. And the most tragic thing of all? According to the CBO, in 2024, after we have spent $2 trillion, 31 million people in the U.S. will still not have health insurance. Who can possibly think this is a success?

Only someone who is desperate, and that would be President Obama. The White House is desperate to claim victory, and likely thrilled to see the departure of the tainted Sebelius.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration was jubilant when it announced that 7.5 million Americans had signed up for ObamaCare, surpassing expectations that had been dumbed down after the website’s ghastly launch.

Even the liberal media acknowledged, however, that it is still unclear how many of those sign-ups are people who had their insurance cancelled earlier (thanks to ObamaCare) and how many have not paid their premiums. Sebelius repeatedly stonewalled Congress and the media on these issues, provoking the wrath of critics.

Obama clearly viewed the end of the sign-up period as the start of a new era, when his team could put the messy roll-out behind them.

He convened a supportive group in the Rose Garden April first to celebrate the milestone; he thanked numerous people for their contributions to the ACA’s “success.” He conspicuously did not mention Kathleen Sebelius, giving rise to speculation that she was on the way out.

Mr. Obama may hope that the departure of Kathleen Sebelius will mollify Americans who are hostile to ObamaCare.

Fat chance. Currently, according to a recent Pew poll, only 37% of the country approves of the bill versus 41% who were positive a month ago, before the surge in enrollment.

People are more focused on tales of limited doctor choices and impending premium hikes than on Ms. Sebelius’ competence.

Wellpoint—the biggest commercial insurer on the ObamaCare exchanges -- surprised industry observers last month by being the first insurer to suggest it might seek “double digit plus” rate hikes for next year. That is more important than Sebelius’ shortcomings.

Those who dislike the bill responded to the Pew survey by saying it will be an important factor in how they vote come November. 

This is catnip to Republicans, who have attempted to make the upcoming Congressional elections a referendum on the health care law. The wind is at their backs, with or without Kathleen Sebelius.

Liz Peek is a writer who contributes frequently to FoxNews.com. She is a financial columnist who also writes for The Fiscal Times. For more visit LizPeek.com. Follow her on Twitter@LizPeek.

 

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