With Democrats looking extremely vulnerable this election cycle, particularly Senate Democrats, a group of self-styled Democrat moderates (and one independent) have joined forces to propose some major changes for Obamacare.
North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp is one along with Senator Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana; Senator Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Senator Mark Warner; D-Virginia; Senator Angus King, I-Maine; and Senator Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia.
You can read their full proposal at Politico, where they start out with fulsome praise of the law but then launch into a number of reforms, at least one of which is a pretty good idea:
- Adding a “copper plan” to the existing bronze, gold, silver and platinum levels of “metallic” insurance coverage options. The copper plan, as you might guess, would be even cheaper than the bronze plan. After months of Democrats deriding the “substandard” insurance plans Americans were getting pushed off of, this might be a way to keep those low-cost, low-coverage plans on the market.
- Subsidies for state-based health insurance cooperatives “now operating in 23 states.” That means federal bribes to lure more states into starting their own health insurance exchanges instead of relying on what has been a disastrous federal exchange.
- Allowing state insurance commissioners to propose models that would allow insurance plans to be sold across state lines. Which, frankly, is exactly the sort of reform we need. America needs a freer market for health insurance.
- Raise the bar for the employer mandate. Currently, businesses with 50 or more employees will get caught by the employer mandate (which was supposed to be in effect now but was delayed like much of the rest of the law). Heitkamp, etc., would like to set the threshold at 100 employees which they say represents 98 percent of American businesses.
- Expand health care tax credits from businesses with 25 employees or less to business with 50 employees or less.
- Streamlining administrative reporting for employees who are family members and on the same insurance plan.
- Finally, the Senators want to “seek to provide a permanent path—in addition to HealthCare.gov—for consumers to seamlessly enroll directly through insurers, while improving access for the agents and brokers whom many families and small businesses trust and rely upon for help with these decisions.” I’m not sure what this means. Another website?
“Let us be clear,” the Senators write in closing, “We are not going back to the days when a child with a pre-existing condition could be denied coverage. When our mothers, sisters and daughters had to pay more for coverage simply for being a woman. When our seniors couldn’t afford the medicines they needed. And we are not going back to the days when Americans’ health and security could be jeopardized by an arbitrary denial of coverage.”
So this is it. The Democrat re-election strategy for 2016. Don’t repeal Obamacare, fix Obamacare.
The question is, will Americans trust the people who brought us Obamacare in the first place with the fix?