The surge in enrollments for ObamaCare that I predicted earlier this year has come to pass with President Obama revealing on Thursday that the enrollment total has reached 6 million. With favorable publicity through the weekend, signups should climb further ahead of the March 31 deadline and with the deadline extended for customers who tried to sign up but had technical problems, the final number in April should be approximately 6.5 million. This will be very close to the original target of 7 million and if the president does the full three-month extension I recently proposed, the enrollees by July 1 should be 8 to 9 million, a smashing success.
In my column this week, I suggested that rather than run ads attacking the Koch brothers, Democrats should aggressively escalate a full-court press for immigration and ObamaCare, among other issues. The next arena for battle over healthcare will be insurance premiums, and here is the battlefield:
- First, I again urge the enrollment deadline to be fully extended with a major new marketing campaign of entertainment and sports stars aimed at younger customers, which would help keep premiums down;
- Second, as I wrote in the column, Democrats should launch all-out attacks against Republican politicians in red states with anti-consumer insurance commissioners, that I predict will make insurance premiums in those states higher than premiums in blue states with Democratic governors who support healthcare reform; and
- Third, regarding the appropriate levels for premiums, Democrats and the media should carefully follow the data offered by objective sources such as the Kaiser Family Foundation. Insurers that compete with lower premiums should receive support and favorable marketing and political publicity. Insurers that try to price gouge, such as premium increases that double or triple as suggested on background by certain industry sources in The Hill and other media, should be placed under the microscope and face harsh political and media criticism.
As premium forecasts from objective sources are compared to actual premium increases by insurers, if there is a pattern and practice of price gouging, Democrats and the media should initiate a debate about potential price-fixing and anti-trust violations as the next great battle of ObamaCare will escalate, beginning next week.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.