So the House voted — for the 38th and 39th times, since there’s two different bills — to strangle Obamacare in its cradle, which pretty much means it was Wednesday. But this time it is Historic, because Newt Gingrich said it is. (Best footnote: Newt’s Twitter page still has a “Newt 2012” campaign banner on it. History!) Elsewhere, in reality, the Department of Health and Human Services is preparing a report showing that in 11 states where insurance exchanges have been set up, rates for insurance plans will actually be lower than Congressional Budget Office projections. But they would say that, wouldn’t they?
This time around, the House didn’t quite vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act altogether; instead, it passed two cute little “delays” to the legislation, in response to the administration’s dumb decision to delay the employer mandate on businesses with more than 50 employees:
Republicans seized upon this delay, seeing it as yet another weakness in Obamacare. Representatives introduced two bills that will be voted upon on Wednesday evening: One calls for a one-year delay for employers, the action that the Obama administration has already taken despite Republicans stating that the executive branch does not have the power “to write or rewrite law at whim.” The second bill calls for a one-year delay on the requirement that nearly all Americans buy health insurance.
The White House said in a statement that the first bill is “unnecessary” and the second would increase health insurance premiums and the number of uninsured people.
So yeah, death knell for Obamacare, totally. Chalk up another infallible prediction for Newt Gingrich.
As to the actual insurance-y side of things, ThinkProgress notes that the HHS study provides further evidence against conservatives’ predictions that the ACA will cause insurance rates to skyrocket, and is consistent with earlier reports of lower insurance rates from California’s new exchanges. In New York, rates for individual insurance plans will be cut by 50%, although that’s mostly due to some quirks of existing New York insurance laws that prohibit limits on pre-existing conditions but allow insurers to set exorbitant rates. The HHS report looks at 11 states where exchanges have been set up, and finds that
the weighted average of the least expensive mid-level health plans in those states’ marketplaces are 18 percent lower than what the CBO thought they would be when the law first passed.
The HHS report seems consistent with other analyses indicating that getting more healthy younger people into the insurance risk pool will reduce rates across the board, which was the whole idea behind market-based healthcare reform back when the Heritage Foundation was still behind it (before a centrist Democrat actually implemented it, and it turned into a Massive Government Takeover, of course).
In other news, House Republicans are said to be exploring the possibility of saving time by starting each day’s session by repealing Obamacare and cutting off funding for ACORN, along with a prayer.