Top Republican says ObamaCare could 'collapse' this year

Top Republican says ObamaCare could 'collapse' this year

A top Senate Republican is predicting that ObamaCare could “collapse” this year. 

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report Push to change wildlife act sparks lobbying blitz House and Senate negotiators reach agreement on water infrastructure bill MORE (Wyo.), the No. 4 Senate Republican and a leading critic of the healthcare law, made the prediction one day after ObamaCare’s new sign-up period began.

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“Unless something dramatic happens, this may be the year of the health care law’s collapse,” Barrasso wrote Monday in a Washington Times op-ed. “Prices keep rising and service keeps fading. It should not surprise the administration that people are not signing up.”

The senator said premiums are rising even as the choices of doctors and insurance plans are shrinking. 

“As people log on to the government exchanges this year, they will see the telltale signs of Obamacare’s impending failure,” he adds. “These include: costs soaring, cancellations mounting, and choices disappearing.”

He notes that premiums under ObamaCare are increasing by double-digit percentages in some places. Data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that the price of the second lowest cost Silver-level plan, which is used as the benchmark to calculate financial assistance, is increasing by 34 percent in Montana and 25 percent in New Mexico, for example. 

The average increase, though, is smaller, at 7.5 percent. 

For other plans, the average increase is larger. A study from consulting firm Avalere Health found that the lowest-price Silver Plan is increasing in cost by 13 percent. 

The administration emphasizes that people can shop and compare choices to find a lower-cost option, and that tax credits under the health law are available to make plans affordable. 

Still, the administration has acknowledged that it is getting tougher to find new enrollees for ObamaCare, having set a projection of 10 million sign-ups by the end of next year, up from 9.1 million.

“The administration is playing the lowered expectations game because they know how hard it is to convince more Americans to buy government-mandated insurance that costs so much,” Barrasso writes. “For so many people, Obamacare doesn’t have much to offer.”

The Obama administration strongly defends the healthcare law, saying it has racked up a record of success. Officials emphasize that 17.6 million people have gained coverage because of ObamaCare’s private plans on the marketplace, Medicaid expansion, or their ability to stay on parents’ plans. 

Meanwhile, the uninsured rate has fallen to a record low of 9 percent. Healthcare price growth has also slowed in recent years.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) noted that this slowdown has helped lower the projected cost of ObamaCare. In March 2010, CBO projected the law's coverage expansion would cost $710 billion from 2015 to 2019. In March of this year, CBO revised that estimate down 29 percent, to $506 billion.