GOP Senate Candidates Get Obamacare Gift For Campaign Endgame
As reported in several media outlets this week, the first handful of states have released approved 2017 rates for people who buy health insurance on their own and the results are scary news for Democratic Senate and House candidates wrestling with the fact there are significant increases in premiums for next year.
In nine of 11 states with competitive Senate races, for example, at least one insurer seeks to hike rates for Obamacare customers by at least 30 percent next year: Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in Pennsylvania wants to jack up average premiums by more than 40 percent. In Wisconsin, three insurers have asked for rate hikes of more than 30 percent. In New Hampshire, two of the five carriers want to sell plans with rate increase above 30 percent.
Aetna alone, the country’s third largest health insurer, will withdraw from marketplaces in 11 of the 15 states in which it operates — creating a double-trouble specter of both rate hikes and fleeing insurers.
In close toss-up races, variables that matter in the grind-it-out endgame include ‘real’ news developments that actually impact citizens’ lives. Being able to seize on the withdrawal confusion and rate increases — representing real money out of consumers’ pockets — is an opportunity in waiting.
While the smart GOP campaigns are already preparing for an Obamacare rate increase offensive late in the campaign, HHS released an analysis this week to help preempt GOP attacks, arguing that expected increases in premiums for 2017 plans in the ACA marketplaces will not make the plans unaffordable.
The issue brief from HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation proposes a scenario in which all individual and small-group premiums increase by 25% in 2017 and finds that more than 70% of consumers could find coverage for $75 or less a month.
Of course, if Donald Trump’s campaign continues to careen wildly and ineptly to the finish line, GOP incumbents will get stuck in the undertow — but whether Trump craters and disintegrates — or not — remains the open question. But GOP campaigns should prepare for the worst, and having an offensive plan on Obamacare to deploy in the end-game should be a front burner priority.