This time last year everyone was talking about Obamacare. These days, however, Barack Obama’s legacy legislation has found itself drowned out by the tidal wave of other scandals, crises, and embarrassments plaguing the federal government, from Iraq, to illegal immigration and amnesty, to the chaos in Ferguson, Missouri, to Obama single-handedly dragging his entire party down with him. But with election season — and open enrollment — right around the corner, Republican politicians would do well to shine the spotlight on Obamacare once again:
Now, the GOP should circle back. There are nine Senate seats described as “toss-ups” by Real Clear Politics, and Obamacare could move the needle in some of those races. The ACA is still a political stink bomb, with Kaiser Family Foundation polling showing only 37 percent of the country views the law favorably – one of its lowest ratings since it passed in 2010. Some 53 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the ACA – up a shocking 8 points since June.
Democrats everywhere are running scared from Obamacare, and for good reason. As laid out by The Fiscal Times’ Liz Peek, here are six reasons why renewed focus on this unpopular mandate can win back the Senate for the GOP:
1. Premium hikes are coming in 2015. The Health Research Institute (HRI) at PricewaterhouseCoopers recently estimated that Obamacare insurance premiums in 27 states and the District of Columbia are set to increase by an average 7.5% next year — but the average hardly paints a full picture. HRI found that some consumers in Nevada could see prices go up a staggering 36%. Even more damning for Democrats are the rate increases expected to hit key election states: insurance companies in North Carolina, Iowa, Louisiana, and Arkansas have requested 10.8%, 11.5%, near 20%, and near 12% increases, respectively.
2. The Obama admin is probably fudging enrollment numbers. If you ask the White House, 8 million Americans are enrolled in Obamacare. If you ask insurers, that’s not exactly the case. Aetna reported that only about 600,000 of its 720,000 enrollees have paid their premiums, and they expect the number to drop another 500,000 by year-end.
3. People are livid about the narrow doctor networks. Ironically and completely counterintuitive to its entire purpose, Obamacare has made it more difficult for customers to obtain care thanks to narrow doctor and hospital networks. For example, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the only participating insurer in New Hampshire, and it promptly eliminated 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals from its network. Since the start of 2013, more than 70 bills have been introduced in 22 states to clarify the network rules, and multiple lawsuits have been filed in California.
4. The legislation is inherently flawed. See Halbig v. Burwell, the court case that could be Obamacare’s undoing.
5. Obamacare reeks of Obama’s imperial tendencies.
Mr. Obama has single-handedly changed the ACA some 24 times, delaying important provisions such as the employer and individual mandates. The president has rigged the rollout of the ACA to political advantage, putting off the most painful aspects of the bill and front-loading the goodies. Republicans should remind voters we have yet to encounter, for instance, the 40 percent Cadillac tax, which has been pushed back until 2018, but which is expected to raise as much as $214 billion by 2023.
6. Obamacare discourages job creation. Yes, it does. Companies have already limited hiring new employees and cut back current employee hours in order to avoid the dreaded employer mandate. Additionally, the ACA has made it possible so that Americans no longer need to work to have health insurance, which is completely disincentivizing.