Last week I wrote about the recent midterm elections and a few potential effects on the insurance industry. In that post, I mentioned the Supreme Court’s acceptance of the King v. Burwell case which could ultimately reverse many of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) subsidies, which would ultimately lead to an unraveling of the current law. That eventuality would require the Obama Administration and the Republican-led Congress to reopen the law for significant legislative re-writing. Or under normal circumstances that would be the expectation.
Of course, these are not normal times. President Obama has taken several unilateral steps to modify the ACA without any legislative action. The President’s actions have led to criticisms of lawlessness and anti-Constitutional exertions of power. The Administration argues that they are simply taking common sense steps to smooth the implementation of the complex law. Based on last year’s enrollment troubles, they apparently didn’t take enough such actions. With more unilateral executive orders looming on immigration policy, nothing should be assumed to be beyond the reach of this Administration’s use of executive power, legitimate or otherwise.
I can’t help but wonder when this entire ACA house-of-cards will finally tumble. It has been controversial and lacking any majority public support since its passage. It barely survived its first major Supreme Court challenge but the King v. Burwell case looks rather ominous to the law’s future in my opinion. Then just a few days after the Supreme Court accepted that case, the midterm elections gave new power and emboldened the Republican opposition and their desire to dramatically change, if not repeal, the law. Now this week we’ve seen and heard from economist Jonathan Gruber as he repeatedly spoke of the deceptions built into the ACA law and the selling thereof to the public and to Congress. Dozens of Representatives and Senators who fell for the deceptions and voted for the law have since lost their jobs. Making matters worse for the ACA is that Gruber’s vocalizations were insulting and arrogant, and cannot be dismissed as a one-time slip of the tongue. Here he is calling American voters stupid, and the deception (beginning at the 1:50 point of the video), and more insults. Taxpayers paid this guy to deceive them.
At the Risky Business event hosted on the Ferris State campus last Tuesday, one of our insurance professional panelists was asked about the ACA. The panelist’s response began by saying, “It’s a train wreck.” Indeed. Most shams that are built as a house-of-cards on a foundation of lies, deception, and arrogance do eventually turn into a train wreck. The ACA train has had a bad couple of weeks and the Supreme Court could make it even worse next year. The train is picking up speed on very rickety rails. This is not going to end well. My fear is that we the people are going to be injured far more extensively than the conductors of this runaway train.