USA Today outlines a bleak picture in today’s edition as the Obama administration gears up for the health law’s October 1, 2013, enrollment. The newspaper reports, “As the health care exchanges at the heart of the [health care] law open for enrollment in two weeks, the public’s views of it are as negative as they have ever been, and disapproval of the president’s handling of health care has hit a new high. Confusion and misinformation about the law haven’t significantly abated, especially among the law’s main targets.” The new USA Today/Pew poll finds, “53 percent disapprove of the health care law, the highest level since it was signed.”
The Wall Street Journal adds, “A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that even those lacking health insurance, who are supposed to be the law’s biggest beneficiaries, generally believe it wouldn’t do them much good.” This poll finds, “nearly 70 percent of poll respondents said they didn’t understand the health care overhaul passed by Democrats in March 2010 or only understood part of it.”
It’s not difficult to understand why the public is filled with such angst. Implementation has been marked by delays, missed deadlines, and broken promises all of which have led to higher premiums, fewer jobs, limited health care choices, and greater uncertainty among families and businesses.
Over the weekend the LA Times reported that, “To hold down premiums, major insurers in California have sharply limited the number of doctors and hospitals available to patients in the state’s new health insurance market opening Oct. 1.” Meanwhile, North Carolina is down to two plans being offered in the exchanges and Aetna has dropped out of New Jersey’s marketplace. Trader Joe’s will no longer provide benefits to part-time workers next year and SeaWorld plans to reduce hours for up to 18,000 part-time workers. More than 1,000 Stryker employees were laid off because of the law’s medical device tax.
Each day that we get closer to October 1, it becomes increasingly clear that this law is not ready for prime time. This Thursday, the Energy and Commerce Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will receive a status update from Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) Director Gary Cohen. In April, Cohen testified that implementation was “on track.” Since Cohen’s testimony, the administration revealed implementation was not quite as seamless as indicated and took drastic action to delay major provisions of the law, including the employer mandate. This week, we’ll find out if the administration believes implementation is still “on track.”