Economics, Health Care, Pethokoukis

Might there be a big Obamacare delay? Why ‘the chances are not zero’

Geoff Livingston (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Geoff Livingston (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

In addition, of course, to the de facto delay the malfunctioning website is causing for Americans. Interesting comments today from the great Greg Valliere at Potomac Research:

DEMOCRATS THINK THE UNTHINKABLE: Our colleague Paul Heldman thinks the sign-up period could be extended and penalties could be delayed, most likely if the systemic web site problems continue into the new year but possibly with a congressional vote in December. But is there a credible chance that the entire program could be delayed, perhaps for a year? It’s unlikely — Obama still has his veto power — but chances are not zero that there could be a significant delay.

THE PUSHBACK: Paul says delaying implementation would likely face fierce opposition from a health care industry that absorbed tax increases and cuts in projected Medicare and Medicaid payments in exchange for new customers promised by the coverage expansion. Paul says this law, unlike Medicare catastrophic coverage in the late 1980s, would not be easy to unwind.

What does “delaying implementation” mean? Delaying the mandate and extending the signup period would leave the Medicaid expansion, help turn the exchanges into pricey high-risk pools, continue guaranteed issue. Rather than a repeal vote that Obama vetoes, more likely you see insurers abandon Obamacare as the economics become daunting without a flood of new customers. And of course that would create additional pressure for major reform of something that might be continued to be called Obamacare but would be considerably reworked.

I say “additional pressure” because the polling right now is terrible for Team Obamacare The new Washington Post-ABC poll is dreadful:

Opposition to the new health-care law also hit a record high in the survey, with 57 percent saying they oppose the president’s most significant domestic initiative. Forty-six percent say they are strongly against it. … Disapproval of Obama’s handling of the health-care law’s rollout stands at 63 percent, with a majority saying they strongly disapprove. … By almost 2 to 1, Americans oppose the individual mandate, with more than half saying they strongly oppose it.  … The health-care law has become a political burden for elected officials who support it. Almost four in 10 Americans say they are more likely to oppose a politician who backs the legislation, while just over a fifth say they would be more likely to support such a politician. That’s the biggest gap recorded in Post-ABC polling during the entire debate over the law.

And Obama is the chief target. His overall approval rating has fallen to 42 percent, having dropped six percentage points in a month, and equals his record low in Post-ABC polls. His disapproval rating stands at 55 percent, which is the worst of his presidency. Forty-four percent say they strongly disapprove of the way he is handling his job, also the worst of his presidency.

Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukis, and AEIdeas at @AEIdeas.

2 thoughts on “Might there be a big Obamacare delay? Why ‘the chances are not zero’

  1. I doubt the likelihood of any legislative action. The individual mandate will be effectively delayed by prosecutorial and administrative discretion.

    I don’t see any reason for the President to allow the legislation to be re-opened. If he did, it is more likely to unravel now more than ever.

    What would his signing an amendment achieve? The Democrats will not take the majority in the House in 2014, so he has no hope of any significant legislative action in 2015-2017.

    Which means he is not likely to risk unraveling Obamacare just to save a few Democratic Senate seats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>