Free Markets, Free People

Health Care

The law with the Orwellian name continues to lose support

The Affordable Care Act, the monstrosity of Democratic legislation with the Orwellian name, continues to lose supporters.   And, as an added special feature, people in employer based programs are now paying more out-of-pocket for their medical expenses than before ObamaCare.  Very “affordable”, no?

Support for the Affordable Care Act has plummeted since late last summer, and people with employer-based health insurance say they increasingly are paying more for out-of-pocket medical expenses, a new Bankrate.com survey released Wednesday revealed.

When Bankrate.com first polled people in September—right before the launch of Obamacare insurance exchanges, there was an even split between those who said they would repeal the Affordable Care Act if given the power to do so and those who would keep it: 46 percent each. (The rest either had no opinion or didn’t know how they felt.)

But three months later, after the botched launch of those government-run exchanges, the number of people who said they would gut Obamacare had risen to 48 percent, while the number of respondents who said they would keep it as law had plunged to 38 percent.

While the “botched launch” may have had some effect on that “plunge”, my guess is that hitting people’s wallet has pushed it down even more.  Health care insurance isn’t some esoteric policy argument.  It’s something that is important to everyone.  It is about their family and trying to afford the best for their family’s health. When policy negatively effects real people, they react just as negatively (and I do hope that Democrats double down on their support of the law, since it is all theirs anyway) :

The survey also found that people, by a 2-to-1 margin, felt Obamacare had had a more negative than positive impact on their own, individual health care. The poll questioned 1,005 adults, and had a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

[...]

His company’s survey also found that a total of 44 percent of people with employer-provided insurance said they are shelling out more dollars in deductibles and copayments than they were a year ago. And 47 percent of that group of people reported having more money deducted from their paycheck to pay the cost of those insurance plans than in 2012.

People earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually were the most affected group: with 64 percent of them reporting a bigger hit on their paychecks from health insurance. Just 38 percent of the people earning less than $30,000 reported paying more for insurance in payroll deductions as of 2013.

The great leveling.  Apparently you’re “rich” if you earn between $50 and $75k, so it’s okay that you’re paying more – and besides, those “Cadillac plans” just aren’t fair (well, except for the exempt unions, of course … and Congress, and ….).  Don’t forget the tsunami of cancellations that will hit employer based programs hasn’t yet happened.

Obviously it doesn’t take great powers of perception to realize that this is just going to get worse and worse as the months pass.  And as those months pass, those supporting the legislation will become fewer and fewer.  It will be a grand issue on which Congressional Republicans can run (if they actually can figure out how to do that successfully without the usual idiocy).  Unfortunately, politics aside, it is going to be a building disaster for the American people.

Repeal is the best remedy.

~McQ

ObamaCare’s net effect so far? More cancellations than enrollments

Not that anyone should be surprised:

Even without the full number of enrollments, Obamacare’s current net effect is clearly in favor of cancellations. Millions are already seeing Obamacare’s adverse effects — largely due to more mandates for more services.

The mandates?  Well they’re one of the major reasons for most of the cancellation notices – their plan just doesn’t have all the benefits your wise and caring public servants think you should have:

The health-care law requires that all insurance plans cover 10 “essential benefits,” eliminating millions of plans that don’t fit the bill and boosting costs for consumers that have to purchase coverage for services they may not want or need.

All plans must include maternity coverage, for example — including plans for men and post-menopausal women. Even customers without children must purchase plans that cover pediatric services. Other newly established essential benefits include hospitalization, mental-health services and preventive and wellness services.

While a grandfather clause allowed plans purchased before Obamacare passed in 2010 to continue, HHS estimated that 40-67 percent of plans would eventually lose their status and cost millions of Americans their insurance plans.

So you see little horror shows like this family’s acted out all over the nation.

And those cheap affordable plans?  How are they working out so far (if you can even get one).  Well with high deductibles, not so hot (but all the men have maternity coverage, that’s a plus):

Experts are worrying that some new enrollees will be discouraged from seeing doctors if they have to pay the full charge, rather than simply a copayment. In Miami, for example, 40 percent of bronze plans require consumers to pay the full deductible before coverage kicks in, according to an analysis by online broker eHealthinsurance.com, a private online marketplace, for Kaiser Health News. The average deductible among the examined bronze plans in Miami is $5,735.

Patients in those plans who haven’t yet met their annual deductibles would have to pay the full cost of the visits, unless they were for preventive services mandated by the law. A typical office visit can run $65 to $85, while more complex visits may cost more.

So, as Ed Morrissey puts it:

Put it this way: If the average deductible is $5,735 and a doctor visit is $85, it would take sixty-eight doctor visits before the insurance kicked in — more than one visit per week. And it would start all over again every year.

So how’s ObamaCare going?

About how you’d expect a politically driven piece of law from an incompetent administration to go.

However the apologists have a different reason in mind:

“[S]outhern White radicals vowed to stop implementation of the Obama-care law leading one to wonder if Tea Party members would oppose affordable healthcare if it came from a nonBlack [sic] President,” writes Browne-Marshall.

Yeah, that’s the reason.

~McQ

More ObamaCare fallout

First let me thank all the great QandO readers who sent their condolences upon my brother’s passing.  They are greatly appreciated.

Now on to the nasty business of government and politics – in particular, the abominable law called ObamaCare:

An estimated seven out of every 10 physicians in deep-blue California are rebelling against the state’s Obamacare health insurance exchange and won’t participate, the head of the state’s largest medical association said.

“It doesn’t surprise me that there’s a high rate of nonparticipation,” said Dr. Richard Thorp, president of the California Medical Association.

Why?  Because doctors refuse to work for a pittance.  They provide something of value and believe they should be compensated accordingly.  But with price fixing by the government, they’re just not going to get their just compensation.  So they’re not going to play the game and join in.

California offers one of the lowest government reimbursement rates in the country — 30 percent lower than federalMedicare payments. And reimbursement rates for some procedures are even lower.

In other states, Medicare pays doctors $76 for return-office visits. But in California, Medi-Cal’s reimbursement is $24, according to Dr. Theodore M. Mazer, a San Diego ear, nose and throat doctor.

In other states, doctors receive between $500 to $700 to perform a tonsillectomy. In California, they get $160, Mazer added.

Only in September did insurance companies disclose that their rates would be pegged to California’s Medicaid plan, called Medi-Cal. That’s driven many doctors to just say no.

In fact, as pointed out above, only 30% of the state’s doctors have opted in.

Gee, let’s see the left take the doctor’s side here, okay?  Aren’t they the ones always wanting the raise the “minimum wage”. Well, as is obvious here, the “wage” offered is below the “minimum” doctors believe they should be payed.  The left ought to be out in the street in protest of this travesty.

Higher pay for doctors!  After all, most of them are small business owners and … oh, wait, that makes them the bad guys.  I forgot.  The left isn’t going to protest this because these guys are privileged or something.  Nevermind the fact they provide jobs for others and can’t pay them more than they receive.

I’m sure trying to think this through and come to an equitable solution will shred a few brains on the left.

~McQ

Why the GOP Shouldn’t Get Too Excited About The Polls

There’s been much discussion amongst the punditry about the precipitous decline in Pres. Obama’s poll numbers. The fact that his RCP average has dropped below 40% for the first time, or that Hispanics and white women have seemingly soured on Obama and the Democrats, is causing much buzz. Most alarming, are the numbers on millenials:

Young Americans are turning against Barack Obama and Obamacare, according to a new survey of millennials, people between the ages of 18 and 29 who are vital to the fortunes of the president and his signature health care law.

The most startling finding of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics: A majority of Americans under age 25–the youngest millennials–would favor throwing Obama out of office.

[...]

Obama’s approval rating among young Americans is just 41 percent, down 11 points from a year ago, and now tracking with all adults. While 55 percent said they voted for Obama in 2012, only 46 percent said they would do so again.

When asked if they would want to recall various elected officials, 45 percent of millennials said they would oust their member of Congress; 52 percent replied “all members of Congress” should go; and 47 percent said they would recall Obama. The recall-Obama figure was even higher among the youngest millennials, ages 18 to 24, at 52 percent.

To be sure, these numbers don’t bode well for the survival of Obamacare, or for the Democrats chances in 2014. But I don’t think they necessarily mean that the GOP will reap the benefits.

For example, with respect to younger voters, Kristen Soltis Anderson makes some interesting points over at The Daily Beast:

The way young voters feel about Obama doesn’t just matter in 2014 or even 2016. Despite the conventional wisdom that young voters don’t matter in politics, the way a voter first looks at politics when they come of age resonates throughout their voting behavior through their lifetimes. Just last month, Pew Research Center released a study showing that if you came of age under Nixon, you’re more likely to vote Democratic, even to this day. Came of age during the Reagan years? You’re still more likely to lean Republican.

[...]

Harvard rolled out a chart of party identification by age, which showed that in November 2009, some 43 percent of those aged 18-24 called themselves Democrats. Four years later, that has fallen to 31 percent. A huge drop to be sure, but that doesn’t mean people were necessarily changing their minds; it mostly means last election cycle’s bright-eyed kiddo has had a few birthdays. Our gender and race don’t change much year to year, but each of us is constantly moving up in our age bracket. And sure enough, when you look at the Harvard survey’s 25-29 year olds, they’re as Democratic as ever.

That doesn’t mean that this block of voters won’t ever change their minds and views, but it does suggest that, however low their opinion of the Democrats and their leader is now, they are more likely to remain loyal to that party and change it from within.

Another way to look at this is, those who voted for Obama because they wanted to see the ACA enacted and implemented, among other changes he promised, are going to suddenly change their minds about state vs. market solutions just because of a failed implementation. If anything, they are likely to seek out more capable technocrats as their political leaders, and to express greater interest in single-payer health care.

Even so, Anderson makes another great point, i.e. that not all millenials are the same:

To better understand what’s happening with today’s “youth vote,” first consider this fact: someone who turned eighteen on election day last year would have been just six years old on September 11, 2001. They would have been eighth graders during Obama’s first election.

I’ll violate some rules of decorum here by revealing my age: I am 29 years old. I’m a few short months away from aging out of “the youth vote” entirely. And I have about as much in common with today’s high school seniors as I do with my own parents. We researchers and pundits lump 18-year-olds and 29-year-olds into the same bucket when we talk about the “youth vote,” but the truth is that the back end of the “Millennial” generation has little memory of “hope and change” at all.

In short, provided that the GOP can deliver a compelling alternative to the Democrats, it’s possible that they can pick up some of those young voters. Of course, they aren’t called the stupid party for nothing, so don’t expect much on this front.

It’s fixed! The White House say so!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and I know you’ll rest much better knowing the ObamaCare website is now “fixed”.  No.  Really.  They say so:

The White House announced on Sunday that it had met its goal for improving HealthCare.gov so the website “will work smoothly for the vast majority of users.”

In effect, the administration gave itself a passing grade. Because of hundreds of software fixes and hardware upgrades in the last month, it said, the website — the main channel for people to buy insurance under the 2010 health care law — is now working more than 90 percent of the time, up from 40 percent during some weeks in October.

So there.  We’re at 90% and have been declared to be “working smoothly”.

Well, except for the part that actually gets you enrolled in an insurance program:

The problem is that so-called back end systems, which are supposed to deliver consumer information to insurers, still have not been fixed. And with coverage for many people scheduled to begin in just 30 days, insurers are worried the repairs may not be completed in time.

“Until the enrollment process is working from end to end, many consumers will not be able to enroll in coverage,” said Karen M. Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group.

The issues are vexing and complex. Some insurers say they have been deluged with phone calls from people who believe they have signed up for a particular health plan, only to find that the company has no record of the enrollment. Others say information they received about new enrollees was inaccurate or incomplete, so they had to track down additional data — a laborious task that would not be feasible if data is missing for tens of thousands of consumers.

In still other cases, insurers said, they have not been told how much of a customer’s premium will be subsidized by the government, so they do not know how much to charge the policyholder.

Details, details.  What’s wrong with you people.  It’s fixed!  We say so.  This other stuff is, well, something that is the insurance companies problem.  Or maybe Bush is at fault.  Certainly the Republicans.

But now that the White House has declared all its problems addressed — and on time too — well they don’t want to hear anything more about it.

“Health plans can’t process enrollments they don’t receive,” said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans.

It’s fixed.  End of story.

Time to move on.  Change the subject.

Oh, and don’t call it ObamaCare anymore.

~McQ

The wages of mendacity

They’re finally “coming home to roost” as Mr. Obama’s favorite preacher might say:

According to a new CNN/ORC International survey, only four out of 10 Americans believe Mr. Obama can manage the federal government effectively. Fifty-three percent don’t view him as a strong and decisive leader. And 56 percent say he does not agree with them on important issues and he does not inspire confidence.

But the numbers on the president’s personal characteristics should alarm the White House most of all. More than half (53 percent) believe he’s not honest and trustworthy, while 56 percent say he’s not a person they admire.

Each of these figures are all-time records for Mr. Obama in CNN polling.

In their fascinating behind-the-scenes book on the 2012 election, Double Down, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann write that the campaign’s research showed “that there was a deep well of sympathy for Obama among voters.” In focus groups after the first debate, they write, “people offered excuse after excuse for his horrific presentation. In Florida, one woman said, almost protectively, ‘I just bet you he wasn’t feeling well.’”

That deep well of sympathy–that willingness to give the president the benefit of the doubt and the attachment and connection voters felt for Mr. Obama–has been crucial to his success for his entire political life. He has always been viewed as a likeable and decent man, even when his campaign employed fairly ruthless tactics. But the days of broad public faith and trust in this president appear to be over. And no wonder.

The fact that the president knowingly misled the public on such a crucial element of his health-care program so many times, over such a long period of time, with such apparent ease, has penetrated the public consciousness in a way nothing else ever has. Incompetence has now been twinned to mendacity. And not surprisingly, that deep well of sympathy is drying up.

The characteristics which have taken such a beating are the one’s that kill a reputation – honesty, trustworthiness and admiration.  You can forgive a goof.  You can even forgive a certain level of incompetence if you have a deep reservoir of admiration for someone based on your belief that they’re an honest and trustworthy person.

Obama’s killed that with this monstrosity he claims as his legacy.  The Democrats too suffer from that albatross.

The usual excuse makers are having trouble ginning up the enthusiasm for attempting to support this president.  Why?  Because their honesty and trustworthiness are at stake if they do.  Oh, sure, there are those that are so much a party hack that they’re going to sputter and spout the usual reality defying nonsense.  Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the poster children of this breed.

But as mentioned many times before, reality is a bitch and she has shown up after 5 years of this nonsense with a vengeance.  She is taking no prisoners.  I can think of a million cliches that fit this situation and none of them are complementary to the President or Democrats.

By the very way they went about putting this law through the legislative process, they deserve each and every negative thing that happens to them.  It is so bad, that Obama and company are left with trying to hijack Thanksgiving in order to save this awful law.

Barack Obama is the lamest of lame ducks (and that pretty much includes internationally as well, for mostly the same reasons).   Because what he messed with went so badly and the fact that what he messed with was so important and personal to all Americans, you better believe any “well of sympathy” has dried up.  And according to some reports, the worst is yet to come (the possibility that up to 80 million Americans will be dropped from their employer plans).

It is difficult to survey the wreckage of his reputation and not realize that this was all brought on by his own incompetence, arrogance and narcism. What’s interesting is he is a product of his ideology. He is its crowning achievement.  And he demonstrates better than any tome, op-ed or television piece how bankrupt that ideology is.

Whether anyone will really pick up on that is probably arguable.  But there it is – he is indeed the prefect product of liberalism.  And, as anyone who has eyes and a will to actually see, the emperor has no clothes.

~McQ

Clueless and incompetent

That’s a dangerous combination but that pretty aptly describes the ObamaCare roll out (ObamaCare is a name that the administration and Democrats would now like to distance themselves from).

It seems now that “no one knew” that the roll out was going to be a disaster because, well, no one knew.  Gee, maybe they should have asked the IT guy:

A key player in the development of the Obamacare website said Tuesday that up to 40 percent of IT systems supporting the exchange still need to be built.

The revelation from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Deputy Chief Information Officer Henry Chao occurs as the administration works to meet its Nov. 30 deadline to shore up the website.

40% of the supporting systems … still need to be built?!

And no one knew?  That’s freaking mindboggling.  You have a system that is 40% incomplete, you’re the head of a department charged with rolling out the system and you don’t know it’s not even close to being ready?

“It’s not that it’s not working,” Chao told lawmakers at an Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee hearing. “It’s still being developed and tested.”

Phenomenal.  If incompetence could be bottled, this administration could corner the market.

Financial management tools remain unfinished, he said, particularly the process that will deliver payments to insurers.

The update hits hardest at Democrats, hopeful that the system would function smoothly by the end of the month.

Chao said that the consumer portion of the website, including account registration, plan shopping and enrollment functions, won’t be affected by the ongoing development effort, but that “back office” functions including accounting and payment systems were not yet complete.

Did this boob tell anyone?  And if he did, didn’t they listen?  How do the insurance companies get paid?  And until they are, how can any insurance plan go into effect?

My goodness … why wasn’t Chao sounding the alarms?

Oh, wait, see, he really didn’t know either:

He also told lawmakers he didn’t see a spring report that warned of potential stumbles and foreshadowed many of the problems that thwarted the website’s launch.

“I was aware some document was being prepared,” he said, but had no knowledge of a report until it was leaked to The Washington Post and obtained by POLITICO.

Chao told the House Energy & Commerce oversight subcommittee that he may have answered questions for the study but was not involved in any briefings on it.

The report, which independent consulting firm McKinsey conducted for CMS, described a process that relied too heavily on outsider contractors, didn’t provide enough time for complete testing and failed to hand authority to one decision maker. Chao’s limited knowledge of the report feeds lawmakers’ frustrations with the site’s fractured management and unclear controls.

These are the people who would run your healthcare (and everything else in you life if you’d let them) and make it both cheaper and better (and a good number of Americans swallowed that snake oil and ordered another bottle).

Oh, by the way, speaking of trust in government, did you know the jobs numbers were faked by the Census Bureau on the eve of the 2012 election?

~McQ

Why Obama caved yesterday

Three primarily political reasons drove the Obama concession yesterday to allow insurance companies to continue to cover customers whose plans don’t meet ObamaCare standards. And none really had anything to do with doing what was right for the citizenry.  He wasn’t really doing anyone any favors except Democrats.  He was, as usual, focused solely on limiting political damage.

One reason that drove the concession was the usual – an attempt to start shifting the blame.  As Megan McArdle points out:

This may be a near-perfect specimen of that Washington perennial: the nonsolution solution. Insurers are already warning that they can’t simply allow people to stay on their old plans, firstly because all plans have to be approved by state insurers who haven’t signed onto this, and secondly because getting their computer systems to reissue the canceled policies is a hefty programming task that may not be possible to complete by the end of the year. But that’s not the administration’s problem, is it? They can say, “Hey, we changed the rule — if your insurer went ahead and canceled your policy anyway, that’s not our fault!”

Blame shifting is as natural to this administration as breathing is to the rest of us.  While they take more heat, they can now pass some of it off to insurers who were simply following the law as the Democrats and the administration had written it.  Now they’re the bad guys. As you might imagine, the insurance industry is furious.  And insurance regulators?  Well, they’re left wondering what is what.

Reason number two for the concession was Congressional Democrat panic.  Karl Rove has some thoughts on that:

Mr. Obama’s assertion in the NBC interview that “the majority of folks” whose coverage is canceled will “be able to get better care at the same cost or cheaper” is also likely to be false. The higher premiums that result from ObamaCare’s bells-and-whistles coverage mandates may be offset for some by subsidies, but most people will pay more.

This problem will get worse and poses a dilemma for Mr. Obama and Democrats. A March analysis by Healthpocket.com estimated that less than 2% of individual plans comply with ObamaCare’s mandates. A Nov. 7 study by McClatchy Newspapers suggests as many as 52 million people, including many covered by their employers, could lose their plan.

As the 2014 election approaches, these people will be (a) losing coverage or have lost it already, (b) shopping for new policies, (c) suffering sticker shock over higher premiums and deductibles and (d) wondering why Mr. Obama called their previous policy with doctors they liked “subpar.” Then, next September and October, they’ll be told about premium increases for 2015.

Democrats know this, and that is why they’re pushing so hard for a delay in these cancellations.  They’re really not so much interested in a “fix” as they are in enough time to avoid the consequences of the law in 2014.  So they’re very willing to grab this totally short-term political “solution” by kicking the can down the road in order to weather the 2014 midterms.  By the time this rears its ugly head again in full, they’re hoping the elections will be over.

Again, this isn’t about people losing coverage.  This is about Democrats losing office.

And finally the third reason was a real need to get out in front of the Upton bill in the House.  Kimberley Strassel covers that:

The primary purpose of the White House “fix” was to get out ahead of the planned Friday vote on Michigan Republican Fred Upton’s “Keep Your Health Plan Act.” The stage was set for dozens of Democrats to join with the GOP for passage—potentially creating a veto-proof majority, and putting enormous pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to follow suit.

The White House couldn’t risk such a bipartisan rebuke. Moreover, the Upton bill—while it lacks those GOP joy words of “delay” or “repeal”—poses a threat, since it would allow insurers to continue providing non-ObamaCare policies to any American who wants one. Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu‘s version of the bill would in fact (unconstitutionally) order insurers to offer the plans in perpetuity. Both bills undermine the law’s central goal of forcing healthy people into costly ObamaCare exchange plans that subsidize the sick.

The president’s “fix” is designed to limit such grandfathering, but that’s why it is of dubious political help to Democrats. Within minutes of Mr. Obama’s announcement, several Democratic senators, including North Carolina’s Kay Hagan —whose poll numbers have plummeted in advance of her 2014 re-election bid—announced that they remain in favor of Landrieu-style legislation.

But it’s not going to happen.  Obama has already said he’d veto the Upton legislation.  There’s a message there for Mary Landrieu as well.

This was all about Barack Obama, as usual.  It is a result of raw political calculation – his only seeming area of competence.  He’s now managed a political solution which serves him  about as well as any solution can in the mess he and his administration have made of this atrocious law.  He’s found someone else to shift the blame too, he’s quieted Democrats, at least for the moment and he’s politically pre-empted a GOP move that would have seriously damaged his signature legislation and dumped his leadership and credibility ratings even lower.

For him, this is about as good as it gets.

~McQ

If you thought ObamaCare was unpopular before …

Gallup, fresh of noting that President Obama’s trustworthiness and decisiveness have been found wanting, says the Affordable Care Act, which has never been popular, is now even more unpopular:

Americans’ views of the 2010 healthcare law have worsened in recent weeks, with 40% approving and 55% disapproving of it. For most of the past year, Americans have been divided on the law, usually tilting slightly toward disapproval. The now 15-percentage-point gap between disapproval and approval is the largest Gallup has measured in the past year.

That 15% gap shows a decided shift in popular opinion to the negative about the law.  And say what Democrats might about running on this next election, they know as well as anyone that a 15 percent shift on any one issue is significant.  Especially an issue to which they are the sole reason for its existence and therefore the sole party to blame.

The top three reasons given for disapproval were, “Government interference/Forcing people to do things” at 37%, “Increases costs/Makes healthcare less affordable” at 21% and 11% disapproved because they’d lost their insurance.

Of the three reasons, all of which are significant, perhaps the last one is the most significant.  These are people who are likely to have nothing good to say about the law or the architects of the law.  And because it effects them personally, may take political action (i.e. vote) to satisfy their anger.  It may not be the most positive motivation in the world, but it can certainly be devastatingly effective.

The fact that the President is attempting to unilaterally thwart the provisions of his own law to save his and his party’s collective hides, notwithstanding, this is probably going to get worse before it gets better.  Expect the insurance industry to consider lawsuits to kill the requirements. And there will likely be other legal challenges.  Of course that will then let the White House do its favorite thing to do and attack and demonize them.  But the only reason this predicament exists is a result of the Democratic party’s agenda.

Gallup concludes:

Gallup has long found that Americans have been generally divided in their views of the healthcare law, both before and after its passage. Now, they are tilting more significantly toward disapproval.

That more negative evaluation may not have as much to do with the content of the law as the implementation of it, in particular how that squares with the president’s earlier characterization of how the law would work.

Some Democratic members of Congress, as well as former President Bill Clinton, are urging the president to support legislation that would rewrite portions of the law to allow Americans to keep their insurance plan if they are being dropped from it, as a way to honor his pledge. At this point, it is not clear whether the president will seriously consider that, or attempt to adjust how the law is administered without rewriting pieces of it.

Additionally, many members of Congress from both parties are asking the administration to extend the deadline by a year for Americans to get health insurance before facing a fine, given the ongoing technical issues with the exchange websites, which are still being fixed. The White House recently extended the deadline by six weeks.

How the administration handles these challenges to the implementation of the law, plus any new ones that emerge in the coming months, could be critical in determining the trajectory of the “disapprove” line in Gallup’s trend chart for the healthcare law.

Obviously this was written before the President’s announcement today.  Politically it appears to be panic-city at the White House and among the Democrats.   When you have Howard Dean – Howard Dean for heaven sake – questioning the legality of the president’s announcement today, you know there’s trouble in Democrat-land.  How long it will last is anyone’s guess at this point, but I think it is safe to say, we’re nowhere near the end of this debacle.

~McQ

Is the GOP better off than they think?

Andrew Kohut thinks so:

Tucked away in recent polls—which have documented the extraordinary anger directed at the Republican Party during the shutdown crisis—are measures of clear disappointment with the Democratic Party. The disappointment is substantial, and it raises big questions about the 2014 midterms.

The Republican Party’s favorable ratings fell substantially in most every national survey that uses this yard stick, declining to 28% in the Gallup poll at one point. Yet when the GOP was matched up against the Democrats on key political measures, it did not look so bad.

A mid-October Pew Research national poll found that a plurality regard the Republicans as “better able to deal with the economy” than the Democrats (44%-37%). Independents favored the GOP on the economy by a whopping 46%-30% margin in that survey.

The Republicans took most of the blame for the shutdown, yet a growing number see the GOP as “better able to manage the government.” In December 2012, the Democratic Party held a 45%-36% advantage over the GOP as the party Americans viewed as better able to manage the government. By Oct. 15—in the midst of the shutdown and debt crisis—the Democratic lead on this measure disappeared: 42% said the Republican Party is better able to manage the federal government, compared with 39% who named the Democrats.

An early read of voter preferences for the House in 2014 by the Pew Research Center in mid-October had the Democrats with a six-point edge: 49% to 43% among registered voters. In historical terms, this is a relatively modest margin. Six points is the same lead the Democrats had in 2009, a lead that steadily eroded in 2010. The GOP picked up six Senate seats and 63 House seats in that year’s midterm.

The anger over the government shut-down is fading. But at the moment, ObamaCare is the gift that keeps on giving. And, of course, there’s the struggling economy. Neither the economy nor ObamaCare promise to fade into obscurity before the mid-term elections next year. One indicator of how deep the looming trouble is for Democrats can be found in the numbers associated with independent voters:
One clear troubling sign for the Democrats at this early stage is independent voters, who decide most elections. They are evenly divided, according to Pew’s mid-October survey: 43% say that “if the elections for Congress were being held today,” they would vote for the Republican candidate in their district, 43% say they would vote for the Democratic candidate.

The reason there’s hope for good results in 2014 for Republicans rests with the two issues nagging Democrats. Healthcare and the economy. Both are very personal issues, i.e. they are issues that effect all voters. They’re not some issue which voters simply have an opinion about. Both effect their lives, sometimes in dramatic fashion. And those are the very issues Republicans, if they’re smart, will focus on:

The economy and ObamaCare’s inauspicious debut are likely the most powerful drags on the president and in turn on his party. In a September Pew survey, 63% of Americans say the nation’s economic system is no more secure today than it was before the 2008 market crash.

A majority of Americans say their household incomes and jobs still have not recovered from the great recession. But pluralities think that government’s policies have helped large banks, corporations and the rich more than the middle-class, the poor or small businesses.

So maybe it isn’t as bleak for Republicans as some pundits would like to believe. That said, we’ve all watched the GOP manage to screw up all sorts of issues in the past. 2014 is going to take a focused effort to lay out those 2 issues for the pubic in clear fashion and with clear and appealing alternatives.

I’ll be interested to see if they can actually do that.

~McQ