Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Republicans say Obamacare with a sneer, Democrats with a smile.
But Obamacare — either used as a pejorative or a reflection of pride (depending on your view of health care reform) — is coming.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the official name for Obamacare, is law and will be a reality in 2014.
The political debate continues even as Obamacare goes on the books. Our elected officials from the political right and political left are not willingly pulling in the same direction.
Yet, the carping might ultimately yield some public benefit — at least in Washington state.
There might be be some positive news for consumers related to the Obamacare-mandated health-insurance exchange, essentially a competitive marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to purchase insurance.
This summer Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who under the new law is required to establish a state exchange, caught heat from Republicans for rejecting some applications from insurance companies to list policies on the exchange. The overridng concern was that accepting only four companies (one of which is a subsidiary of another) would eliminate the competition that was supposed to keep prices low.
Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee said the “companies that have dominated Washington’s insurance market in recent years will likely operate without new competition in the exchange.”
Despite Kreidler’s assertion that the four companies would provide enough options and value, we saw Parlette’s concern as valid.
However, a few days after the August uproar Kreidler approved new plans from a couple of companies that were originally rejected, according to Seattle Times’ editorial writer Bruce Ramsey in his editorial blog. A few days after that Kreidler approved another and then another.
After the companies’ plans were rejected, they changed their proposals to make them acceptable enough to get Kreidler’s approval. This would seem to be a positive development.
The GOP concerns might not have had anything to do with adding more companies, but they probably didn’t hurt.
Still, the concepts in the Affordable Care Act have yet to be tested in real life. Expect some bumps along the way and more political rhetoric with each bounce.
It’s not possible to keep partisan politics out of this (or any other resulting from congressional action), but it would be best for Washingtonians if the variety of plans approved for the exchange meet their various health-care needs.