Posted 10 months ago on Oct. 30, 2013, 1:57 p.m. EST by GirlFriday
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Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee were on the leading edge. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and his colleagues tried to stoke a fire of panic by advancing the false charge that Healthcare.gov violates legal protections preventing the government and private entities from disclosing people’s health status information.
Other Republicans settled on a less mendacious strategy. It’s true that a subset of Affordable Care Act beneficiaries will see their overall out-of-pocket costs increase under the law, or be required to pay hundreds of dollars a month for first-time coverage, with no premium support from the government. Those people are coming out of the woodwork. And so Republicans are now spending as much time disingenuously bemoaning Healthcare.gov’s problems as they are pretending that the Obamacare marketplaces will create more losers than winners.
If a flood of stories about “rate shock” scare people out of browsing for plans themselves, all the better. But the real backup plan, such as it is, is to pit a thin demographic — healthy, young, middle-class, disproportionately male individuals who had cheap but crappy insurance until now and are resentful that they have to pay more — against the newly insured, and older, sicker beneficiaries who will see their costs go down, and hope the latter don’t have enough clout to prevail in a political brawl.
The right’s demographic will probably be easier to mobilize. See this L.A. Times story, or David Frum’s Twitter account, for a taste of the (in some cases understandable) resentment. But if Healthcare.gov works soon, it probably won’t have the numbers. We’ve known for years that Obamacare wouldn’t be immediately beneficial to everyone’s bottom line — that it would create a new financial hardship for a small minority of consumers. But first-year premiums actually came in lower than expected, which means this demographic will be smaller than anticipated. Moreover, I think the right is badly underestimating how important the law is already proving to people who were uninsurable until this month. Many of them will be happily paying thousands of dollars a year more than they had been — because it costs $0.00 a month to apply for insurance and get turned down. http://www.salon.com/2013/10/28/republicans_new_anti_obamacare_tactic_class_war/