Fox News Halftime Report

Remember ObamaCare?

Trump or Clinton administration will take office just as the latest ObamaCare enrollment tally comes in - after a year of big insurers complaining about losing money. 'The Hill's' Sarah Ferris goes 'On the Record'


On the roster: Remember ObamaCare? - Time Out: We’ll see you on the radio - FBI: Foreign hackers got in state election systems - Here we go again: Clinton foundation sought access for donors - Intense scoring drive

One of the core advantages of delaying big chunks of ObamaCare’s implementation past three election cycles is that its namesake would face less of the blowback for the unpopular portions.

But that also means that President Obama may have little to say about what happens to his signature initiative as it comes unwound.

And unwinding seems to be exactly what is happening to the law.

The brand-new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation – among the most influential boosters for universal insurance coverage – says that the core part of the law, subsidized insurance markets on the state level, are failing.

Big insurers like Aetna, UnitedHealth and Humana have fled the exchanges as promised profits failed to materialize. And because of the successful bid by congressional Republicans to block “risk corridors” that would have allowed the Obama administration to directly bail out big losses, there’s little incentive to stick around.

That means that with the law’s requirements that insurers must cover those with pre-existing conditions, the companies that do remain in the exchanges find themselves with the most expensive customers to cover and far fewer of the desirable “young invincibles” the law’s other key component – fines for those who refuse to enroll – have failed to deliver.

The mandate that was at the heart of the legal challenges to the law and considered to be the key to the law’s fiscal success appears to be failing. And since the president delayed the mandates on medium-sized businesses to provide coverage amid fears of economic slowdown, there’s been no help on that side either.

The result is that residents in nearly a third of the counties in America will have only one option for health insurance coverage through ObamaCare. And once these trends have strongly taken hold, reversing them seems unlikely.

As the WSJ tells the story today: “Joseph Devoy, a 31-year-old construction worker who lives in Arizona’s Pinal County, said he had to switch insurers to UnitedHealth this year after his previous provider, the co-op Meritus, stopped selling plans. Now, with UnitedHealth leaving Arizona, Mr. Devoy, who has to buy coverage through the ACA marketplace to qualify for a federal subsidy, isn’t sure if any insurer will be offering a plan he can buy for next year. Without one, he fears he could face a penalty under the law. ‘I don’t know what to do now,’ Mr. Devoy said. Even if an insurer does come into Pinal, ‘at that point, it’s a monopoly.’”

Obama had a solution in mind for this prospective problem even beyond the subsidies and penalties: a government run insurance provider to compete with the private sector companies. Democrats rejected the idea in the end, though, for fear of a moment just like this one in which private companies would balk and taxpayers got stuck with the sickest consumers and costs rapidly spiraled out of control.

We’ve long suspected that ObamaCare would not survive in its original form and we once imagined that a hefty chunk of the 2016 election would be dedicated to the fight over its replacement. Certainly no domestic issue has more consequences for more voters than the shape of health care for the next generation.

And yet…

It’s understandable that Hillary Clinton would not be eager to tackle the subject. She is lashed to the basic concept of the law but would not like to be seen as the kind of Democrat who goes around creating brand new unfunded entitlements like another government insurance program. Does she want to go with a “Medicare for all” plan? How much will it cost? What will happen to the already ruined delivery systems if millions more non-seniors come into the system?

No doubt she would rather call her rival a racist and call it a day.

But as Byron York reports, neither is her rival discussing it. Donald Trump has taken sundry positions on health insurance and health care over time, but of late has limited himself to calls for the current law to be repealed and replaced.

Does Trump favor universal health insurance as a right? If so, how would he deliver the coverage without breaking the bank? If not, what would he plan to do with the people like Devoy who are falling through the cracks under the current law?

Trump might also rather call his rival a racist and move along himself.

This is arguably no bigger issue that the next president will face than the ObamaCare implosion but the subject has gotten next to no attention amid this nastiest and most personal presidential election in modern history.

There is a lot for voters to not like about 2016, but the longest-lasting regret may be not getting the next president pinned down on this and other essential subjects.

Charles Osgood
announced Sunday that he is stepping down as the anchor of “CBS Sunday Morning” after 26 years. Osgood’s all-American, impossibly decent, respectful and smart style has earned him the adoration of millions of devoted fans. And it all started quite by accident…

AP: “Charles Kuralt retired in 1994 after molding the position in his own easygoing image and hosting for 15 years. Mr. Osgood seemingly had an impossible act to follow. But with his folksy erudition and his slightly bookish, bow-tied style, he quickly clicked with viewers who continued to embrace the program as an unhurried TV magazine that, as before, seemed defined only by the curiosity of its host and staff. Even then, Mr. Osgood already was a CBS veteran. In 1967, he took a job as reporter on the CBS-owned New York news radio station. Then, one fateful weekend, he was summoned to fill in at the anchor desk for the TV network’s Saturday newscast. In 1971, he joined the CBS network. … He once described himself as ‘a radio guy who finally stopped being terrified of the camera.’ His ‘Sunday Morning’ trademark signoff included: ‘I’ll see you on the radio.’” Indeed we will. Thank you, Mr. Osgood.

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions

Average of national head-to-head presidential polls
: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +9.6 points
Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton +7.2 points
Generic congressional vote: Democrats +4.2

Yahoo News: “The FBI has uncovered evidence that foreign hackers penetrated two state election databases in recent weeks, prompting the bureau to warn election officials across the country to take new steps to enhance the security of their computer systems, according to federal and state law enforcement officials. …the FBI Cyber Division issued a potentially more disturbing warning, entitled “Targeting Activity Against State Board of Election Systems.” The alert, labeled as restricted for “NEED TO KNOW recipients,” disclosed that the bureau was investigating cyberintrusions against two state election websites this summer, including one that resulted in the “exfiltration,” or theft, of voter registration data. … The bulletin does not identify the states in question, but sources familiar with the document say it refers to the targeting by suspected foreign hackers of voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois.”

Fox News: Recently released emails appear to further show a direct connection between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, including efforts to get foundation donors seats to an official lunch with Chinese President Hu Jintao. In emails dated December 2010, Clinton State Department aide Huma Abedin and then-top Clinton Foundation official Doug Band discussed potential guests for the lunch with the Chinese president -- including three executives from groups that had donated millions to the foundation, according to an ABC News report late Saturday. Among the possible guests discussed were Bob McCann, then-president of wealth management at UBS; Judith Rodin, Rockefeller Foundation president, and Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek.”

Hillary’s press conference pressure grows -WaPo: “[I]t’s beyond debate that Clinton has honesty and trustworthiness issues with the general public. In an August WaPo-ABC poll, 62 percent of voters said Clinton was neither honest nor trustworthy. (That number includes 69 percent of independents who say that Clinton isn’t honest or trustworthy.) Refusing to hold a news conference plays into that distrust — and might even magnify it. But put even the political calculation aside. Clinton is, without question, the favorite as of today to be elected the 45th president of the United States. Given that, she owes it to the public to demonstrate how she thinks on her feet and how she responds to unwanted or tough questions. The best — and maybe only — way to do that is via news conferences…Her resistance to any real engagement with the media in the campaign sets a dangerous precedent for how accountable and transparent she might be as president.”

Fox News: “Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced late Sunday he’ll be making a speech on illegal immigration on Wednesday in Arizona, after a week of speculation that he might be softening his promise to deport 11 million people living in the United States illegally. The announcement of the speech, posted in a Tweet, was initially set for last week in Phoenix, but was pushed back as Trump and his team wrestled over the details of what he would propose. There has been debate within his campaign about immigrants who haven't committed crimes beyond their immigration offenses...On Sunday, Trump’s campaign and his supporters were challenged again to explain the candidate’s evolving policy but appeared to find solid ground in arguing it was the opposite of Hillary Clinton’s plan. ‘There are very few issues where they're more different,’ Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told “Fox News Sunday.” ‘In fact, Hillary Clinton is to the left of Barack Obama on immigration.’”

Poll says voters leery of illegals, but oppose Trump wall, favor path to citizenship - The Hill: “A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows that 67 percent of Americans think illegal immigrants are more likely than citizens to commit serious crimes, data that may hearten Donald Trump given the Republican presidential nominee’s tough stance on illegal immigration…But while two-thirds of respondents nationwide think illegal immigrants are more likely to commit serious crimes, 61 percent oppose building a wall along the U.S-Mexico border, which Trump has endorsed throughout his presidential campaign. A plurality, 45 percent, believe that creating a path for illegal immigrants to become citizens and strengthening border security, along with the enforcement of immigration laws, should be given equal priority…Trump has recently opened the door to proposals that would allow illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.”

Trump rolls out first big ad buy - AP: “Donald Trump’s campaign is planning its biggest ad buy to date, upward of $10 million on commercials airing over the next week or so. The campaign expects the ads to begin airing as soon as Monday in nine states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, where the campaign has already been on the air, along with New Hampshire, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. They’re all important swing states...Trump has so far been badly out spent by his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and groups supporting her candidacy.”

Jill Stein
is the Harambe candidate - The Guardian

Trump tweets Clinton: Show me your medical records and I'll show you mine - USA Today

Hillary refused the chance to be gay rights champion in 2008 - WaPo

Nate Silver runs the stats on why it's too early for Hillary to ‘run out the clock’ - FiveThirtyEight

New influx of White Retirees helps Trump in Florida - WSJ

Wasserman Schultz down to the wire in bid to hold on to her seat - The Hill

Weiner's twitter account vanishes after latest sexting scandal - Politico

“[The media is always] trying to demean and belittle me and our incredible movement to take our country back from the death spiral it is currently in.” – Donald Trump speaking at a campaign event for Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.

“Well, the ‘useful idiots’ gave us obama and are on target to give us hillary. What happened to the idea that America was a center right ideology nation? Perhaps America does need and will get re-education camps. Also, It’s sad that Julian Assange has to do what the FBI, DOJ and media refuse to do.” – Gil Breaux, Beaumont, Texas

[Ed. note: I’m not sure who is being re-educated in these camps or who is doing the educating, but just see if the one where they’re sending me is where the weather is cool and the mountains are all around. If they’re looking for the right spot, they could convert the federal prison camp at Alderson, W.Va. for the purposes. And if I got to go with the right folks, it might be rather nice. I bet Dana Perino and I could have a bang-up time with the camp talent show! But seriously, you might want to rethink whether you want to rely on foreign nationals brandishing unverifiable hacked documents as your deliverance. You may approve of this batch, but might find the next one not at all to your liking. Or not even authentic.]

“I am sure you know that Dr. [Kelli Ward] was a native West Virginian.” – Bill Montgomery, Bridgeport, W.Va.

[Ed. note: I did! It’s a reminder that too many of the sons and daughters of the “green rolling hills of West Virginia” have had to make their lives elsewhere. It tells us something that the best songs about our state are often sad ones about missing home: “I hear her voice in the morning hours, she calls me. Radio reminds me of my home far away. And driving down the road, I get a feeling that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday...”]

“Is it possible that the DOJ would indict Hillary after her election but before inauguration where by Obama might be able to declare himself President for another 4 years or until a new election could be scheduled? This could be the ultimate game plan if he could get away with it.” – Frank Higgins, Anacortes, WA

[Ed. note: Now that is a scenario worthy of the great Charles McCarry! But I’m game for a little “what if” on this late-summer Monday. If Clinton were indicted before she took the oath of office… she would still take the oath of office. There’s no requirement that the president be free from criminal offense or allegation. Then you’d have the question about whether she could pardon herself or whether we would see a doozy of a criminal trial: the people of the United States of America versus the president of the United States of America. Pop that popcorn! If she opted to bow out, though, the 20thAmendment makes clear that the presidency would devolve to her running mate, Tim Kaine. And if, for some reason, Kaine were ineligible, the process puts the power of choosing a temporary commander in chief and the means for the selection of a permanent president completely in the hands of Congress. Paul Ryan would have a lot more to say about the matter than Obama.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

Baltimore Sun: “There’s not much to be said about this story except 1) this newspaper's photographers have an incredible eye for animal life and 2) their photo captions say it all. ‘A flag is thrown while Baltimore Ravens’ Jeremy Butler (17) crosses the end zone over two bats that are copulating in the grass at his feet during preseason NFL football in Baltimore. The bats were escorted from the field unharmed as Baltimore won, 30-9. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun Staff)’ As the Lions’ SB Nation site explained: ‘The Lions may not have scored in the end zone on Saturday, but these bats did.’ Despite what you might have heard growing up, bats are actually not blind, but love (or at least the species’ biological imperative to procreate) truly is.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.