It's finally dawning on Congressional Republicans that they own the mess they made now.
On the other hand, assuming there isn't enough time to re-set the premiums back to "CSRs funded" levels for 2018, that means that prices will spike for next year ...and then presumably would drop by about 15-20% starting in 2019, just in time for the midterms. If that happens, I guarantee that the GOP will run around trying to claim that they "fixed" Obamacare and "saved" the American public from spiraling premiums, bla bla bla. Of course they'll try to do that whether it kicks in for 2018 or 2019, but if prices go up this year and drop next, it'll make for much more dramatic campaign ads.
Trump, of course, will claim to have "saved" (or even "repealed") Obamacare no matter when anything kicks into effect. If the deal falls through, of course, he'll once again blame everyone but himself as he always does.
Cut to February 15, 2018: (via Stephanie Armour of the Wall St. Journal)
Republican Foes of Health Law Try a Patch Job Ahead of Midterms
In a reversal, state and federal GOP lawmakers are backing or considering reinsurance proposals that aim to curb premiums
Republicans opposed to the Affordable Care Act are showing interest in proposals to shore up the health law and lower premiums, driven partly by their concerns that any big jump in insurance costs may hurt them in the midterm elections.
State and federal GOP lawmakers are backing or considering reinsurance proposals that aim to curb premiums by offsetting insurers’ costlier claims. That stance is a reversal from last year, when Republicans almost uniformly opposed measures to aid the health law they tried to repeal.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker faces re-election in a state where a Democrat recently won a special legislative election in a previously Republican district. The Republican governor, a vocal critic of the ACA, has proposed a $200 million reinsurance program, following the lead of states such as Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon.
I noted Walker's sudden reversal a few weeks ago. Amazing what the prospect of having your ass handed to you in November does for motivation. I knew that Alaska, Minnesota and Oregon had established reinsurance programs, but I haven't really heard anything about Hawaii on the issue.
...Until recently, Republicans generally rejected the notion that the ACA could be fixed, saying it needed to be uprooted. Some GOP state legislators in Washington and Colorado are backing reinsurance proposals sponsored by Democrats.
In Congress, many Republicans are also warming to a reinsurance measure. Some want one to be part of an omnibus spending package next month, several Republican and Democratic aides said.
Of course, they may have their work cut out for them...
This push is facing resistance from conservative advocacy groups who say Republicans shouldn’t strengthen a law they are still trying to dismantle.
“Shame on Republican supporters especially,” said Andy Roth, vice president of government affairs at the Club for Growth. “They shouldn’t demand repeal for eight years and then suddenly decide it’s wise to bail out the very program they claim to detest.”
As a progressive Democrat, I'm kind of torn here: On the one hand, not adding reinsurance funding (and/or other measures like raising/removing the 400% FPL income cap for subsidies) market will hurt the GOP in November. On the other hand, doing so would be the right thing to do for millions of people...including my own family. Hmmmm...
Of course, you can't just say "Stabilize it!". There's a right way and a wrong way to do so. For instance, restoring CSR reimbursement payments would have been the right thing to do last summer...but the situation has changed dramatically since then thanks to Silver Loading, so it would actually cause net harm at this point:
Other proposals, including one from Sens. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), would temporarily restore certain federal payments to insurers. Those payments covered consumer subsidies that insurers must provide under the ACA.
President Donald Trump ended the payments in October, saying they were illegal because the money hadn’t been appropriated by Congress.
That decision paradoxically lowered costs for many people who get federal tax credits to offset high premiums. But the value of the credits is tied to premiums, so in many cases the higher premiums meant larger tax credits.
Democrats are now concerned that legislation restoring the payments could cause higher prices for those people, so they want additional measures in any such bill. These include bigger tax credits, an increase in people eligible for them, a restoration of ACA outreach funding, and a ban on any administration move easing the sale of cheaper, less-comprehensive policies.
This refers to last week's story from Caitlin Owens of Axios about Sen. Patty Murray's latest negotiations with Sen. Alexander. I applaud all four of the additional bullet points (though the outreach funding restoration is probably the least vital of them).
Meanwhile, the GOP is in a bit of a damned if they do, damned if they don't corner that they've painted themselves into:
...If lawmakers don’t act soon to soften premium increases, many consumers could get notifications of higher premiums before the midterm elections, potentially hurting vulnerable incumbents. GOP lawmakers also risk angering their constituents, however, if they further cement the ACA.
Yeah, cry me a river, jackholes.