President Obama won the news cycle Tuesday with his Obamacare victory lap, but Republicans are looking ahead to how the law will play out in November, and in 2016. GOP presidential hopefuls are unveiling dead-on-arrival bills to repeal or reduce the health care law and promising that the party has viable alternatives. The problem is, the longer the law is in place, the more people it insures and the riskier it is for the right to offer up a plan.
And while Congress works on its 2016 pitches, Jaime Fuller at The Washington Post explains what's actually in store for Obamacare. By May or June of this year we'll know how much insurers plan to raise premium prices — anything more than 10 percent is bad for Democrats — and in January of 2016 the employer mandate will kick in for businesses with 50 to 99 employees. So while Tuesday was a good day for the president, there are still plenty of potential rough patches for campaigners on both sides to look out for.
Marco Rubio's insurance "bailout" bill
The Florida senator is to the Obamacare bailout what Sarah Palin was to the Obamacare death panels. Rubio's new "Obamacare Taxpayer Bailout" bill would reduce the burden of the law's risk corridors — which transfers profits from insurers with more healthy customers than expected to insurers with more sick customers than expected — on taxpayers to zero, Reuters reports. The thing is, the risk corridors are already costing taxpayers zero dollars.
In early March, Bloomberg noticed that the White House budget allots $5.5 billion toward potential payments to insurers. Later the administration said the program would be budget neutral, but didn't offer details. "The White House has said ... it will have to be budget neutral, that no money from taxpayers or general revenue will be spent in bailing out the exchanges," Rubio said. "And all I'm offering now is a bill that will say: 'Let's codify what you've already agreed to do.'" In the past Rubio has called for bills to repeal the law's risk corridors — which, as New York's Jonathan Chait explains, is not a bailout. The Congressional Budget Office has said the government will actually make $8 billion over the three year life of the program.
Bobby Jindal's Bobbycare
The Washington Post's Robert Costa and Amy Goldstein report that Bobby Jindal is "making clear that he wants to be seen as a policy-driven problem solver," by announcing a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare on Wednesday. (Note: he's not actually calling it Bobbycare, we made that up.) Jindal, who was a senior advisor to the Department of Health and Human Services under President Bush, wants to revamp Medicaid, turn Medicare into a "premium support" system, and allow insurance to be sold across state lines.
According to the Post, Jindal's 26-page plan criticizes Obamacare, then offers a series of recycled ideas "that have run through conservative thought for years." The details of the plan are limited so far, but according to Time his plan "nibbles at the edges of health care reform without ever taking a bite."
Paul Ryan's repeal Obamacare budget
Rep. Ryan's 2015 budget embodies the GOP's repeal strategy so far — it repeals Obamacare but "doesn't embrace a specific replacement," as Philip Klein at The Washington Examiner put it. At the same time, Ryan insists that a plan is coming, and that Republicans have lots of ideas. “I think Obamacare is a slow-rolling fiasco,” he said. “I think it’s a Pyrrhic victory. We have lots of ideas of how to offer patient-centered health care ...You’ll also see, I believe, as the year goes on, various reforms that we’ll be bringing to the floor on what we think are the components of a replacement for health care.”
The thing is, Republicans aren't lacking ideas. We've written about the various alternatives members of the House and Senate have pitched in recents months. Those plans are purposefully vague, for two reasons. First, many of their ideas — like the expansion of unsustainable high risk insurance pools — have been proven to be bad ideas. Second, as long as the GOP can campaign on Obamacare's problems, they won't want to draw attention to their own plan and its potential flaws. That means that having "lots of ideas" will likely be the game plan for the next two years.