GOP.com, the website for the Republican National Committee (RNC), is currently featuring a blog entry titled, “Another ObamaCare Promise From Peters And Schauer Falls Flat In Michigan”. In it, they continue to senselessly pound the dead Obamacare horse as they attack Michigan Democrats Mark Schauer, our gubernatorial candidate, and Gary Peters, our candidate for the U.S. Senate.
The RNC clearly didn’t get the memo.
This time, they are highlighting the fact that a handful of health insurance companies that offer policies under the exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act are asking for price increases and offer this titillating subtitle: Hundreds Of Thousands Of Michiganders Face Double-Digit Premium Increases Under ObamaCare. It would be shocking if it were actually, you know, true.
Here’s the reality:
There could be some sticker shock, but some welcomed price cuts as well, when consumers go shopping for insurance this fall on the Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace, according to numbers the state released earlier today.
Overall, it appears that Michigan’s proposed average rate increase of just 2.2% is modest compared to changes in some other states, according to an ongoing analysis by consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers that so far has compared insurance pricing on more than a dozen state marketplaces.
An average rate increase of 2.2%. That’s pretty big news, alright. Not, however, the news the GOP wants you to hear.
Sure, Michigan’s largest insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is asking for a 9.7% increase. But that’s actually lower than the average annual increase before the Affordable Care Act was passed and substantially lower than previous increase. In 2009, for example, they raised their rates by a whopping 22%.
What the GOP also fails to mention about the Michigan insurance exchange is that six of the companies actually will be lowering their rates.
And, in what is the best news of all — something our free market Republican friends ought to be having little Adam Smith invisible hand pleasure spasms about — is that we have some new companies entering the exchange including health insurance giant UnitedHealthcare. Why is this the best news of all? Because it means that competition in the insurance industry is actually happening and that even big providers see benefit in participating. As these companies begin tailoring their plans and prices to compete with other companies, the inevitable result is better choices and lower costs for consumers.
Like I said, it’s a Republican’s free market dream come true. However, they’ve spent so much time demonizing it and predicting the downfall of civilization over it that they do not have the option of saying anything positive about it. They can’t join Democrats in being excited that fewer people than ever are now uninsured. They can’t graciously concede that Obamacare has reduced the rapid rate of cost increases. And they will never, ever, ever admit that Americans are now seeing access to health insurance coverage as a true-blue, All-American right, something that Big Insurance companies can’t deny you or take away from you in order to bolster their profit statement.
The GOP.com piece has one more notably comical element. In it, they link an interview I did with Mark Schauer where he said he stands behind his “yes” vote on the Affordable Care Act, calling this blog “Eclectra Blog”.
That mangling of “Eclectablog” is about the most creative thing coming out of the Republican Party these days, a party that is rapidly running out of dead horses to wail on.