Quote of the Day:
The grand vision of an efficient pseudo-market in health insurance under enlightened federal management — the heart of Obamacare — is not coming to pass. Obamacare, meaning the operating model that undergirded the law that Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed with great fanfare — is dead, and it will not be revived. What remains is fitful chaos.
–Kevin Williamson at NRO
An editorial in today's Wall Street Journal describes ObamaCare as "the entitlement that keeps on giving to Republicans." The editorial observes:
The Democratic Party has prospered for decades by promising voters entitlements in return for Election Day loyalty. It worked with Social Security and Medicare, and so it was supposed to work for ObamaCare: Pass it and they will come. Instead the Affordable Care Act has become a recurring political catastrophe for Democrats, most recently on Tuesday in Kentucky.
On Tuesday, Matt Bevin, a tea party Republican, became the second Republican elected to the governorship of Kentucky in forty-four years after a campaign in which he made ObamaCare a central issue. Despite polls that indicated a Democratic victory, Bevin won fifty-three to forty-four percent. His Republican Lieutenant Governor is an African American, Jenean Hampton, the first African American to win a state-wide election in Kentucky.
The Journal notes:
Democrats blamed the drubbing on low turnout and “Trump-mania”—a swipe at Mr. Bevin’s Tea Party roots. But before the election they were saying that Mr. Bevin, who tends to shoot from the lip, was unelectable. He might have been—if not for ObamaCare.
The national press had made Kentucky a showcase of the Affordable Care Act, touting Democratic Governor Steve Beshear’s state-run exchange, KYnect, and his Medicaid expansion. The local results weren’t so cheery. Two-fifths of Kentucky hospitals have had to cut services due to soaring Medicaid costs.
Thousands of residents lost the health-care plans they liked, and most insurers on Kynect are increasing premiums by double-digits. In terrible timing for Mr. Conway, the Kentucky Health Cooperative, the largest insurer on the ObamaCare exchange, imploded in October, leaving 51,000 residents without coverage.
Meanwhile, Kevin Williamson's brilliant analysis of why ObamaCare has failed at National Review comes up with the dazzlingly simple observation: it failed because, given its design, it could not do otherwise.
ObamaCare was designed by people who didn't understand what insurance really is and who distrusted the profit motive, " because, in their nearly pristine ignorance, they falsely believe profits to be net deductions from the sum of the public good rather than measures of the creation of real social value." It created perverse incentives (if pre-existing conditions must be covered, why bother with insurance before you are sick?). Some of the economic facts underlying the failure of ObamaCare should have been obvious from the start. Indeed, Williamson writes:
Obamacare’s partisans were confronted with the economic facts long before the law was even passed, and their answer was: “Never mind the economics, we’re the good guys, and you want poor people to die.” Democrats argued that Republicans literally wanted to kill poor people, that their plan was for the poor to “die quickly.” This is a habitual mode of discourse among progressives: Reality doesn’t matter; only the purity of Democrats’ motives matters. Obamacare is what it is: Another damned five-year plan based on wishful thinking and very little else. The fact is that Obamacare has fallen apart without Republicans’ dismantling it. Almost all of its basic promises have failed, it is an economic shambles, and it is a political mess: Unsurprisingly, people still don’t like it.
Of course markets work for most people, and of course there are exceptions to that. For 93 percent of the population, the solution to health-care reform is: Let markets do their thing. The only real argument is how big a check to write to those looking after the other 7 percent, and how to structure the payments. That’s a real fight, too, but it isn’t the one we’re having. Right now, the Republicans and the Democrats are two political coroners arguing over what time and cause of death to put on the paperwork; rigor mortis set in long ago.