The incessant bombardment of political campaign advertisements on television and radio have now given way to holiday advertisements and music. Thank all that is good and holy, amen. While some may say it’s too early for holiday cheer, I for one will gladly trade campaign ads for “Jingle Bells” any day of the week.
The post-election dust is settling and everyone is taking stock of what the results may mean for a myriad of issues, including insurance. Michigan’s political climate remained largely unchanged in terms of the balance of power in the legislature, governor’s office, and supreme court. So what, if anything, does that imply for reforms to the Michigan no-fault auto insurance law and the prospect of some premium relief for Michigan auto insurance consumers? The unlimited lifetime medical benefits that figure prominently in the cost of Michigan auto insurance continue to be an actuarial challenge (I’m being polite). So will another two years of complete Republican control of state government prompt any action when nothing has happened in the last few years of complete Republican control?
More interesting is the sea change at the national level. Republicans rolled to control of the Senate, increased their caucus in the House, and won more Governerships nationally. Most notably, the Republicans took over the Governor’s office in some very Democratic states: Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts. This sets the stage for considerable drama over the next two years, and from an insurance perspective the future of health insurance is very much at the center of the drama.
It is clear that the Affordable Care Act will come under fire in the new Republican Congress and that efforts to repeal or fundamentally alter the ACA will be met with Mr. Obama’s veto pen. However, the Supreme Court could force the hand of both sides as early as next June. It was just reported today that the Supreme Court will take up the King v. Burwell case that challenges the legality of some ACA subsidies. If the Court strikes down the subsidies, the ACA crumbles unless and until the gaping hole left by the subsidies is repaired by Mr. Obama and the Republican Congress. That opens the entire law up for legislative remodeling. During the debate over the ACA several years ago, President Obama famously said, “elections have consequences” and “I won.” I wonder how he feels about that same line of reasoning today.