Let's Fix This Country

Obamacare: Is It Here to Stay?

For the answer, follow the money

Big money conservatives are slated to spend record millions to effect a complete Republican takeover, first the Senate this year (the House is a given), then the presidency in 2016. For now, their primary weapon is an endless tirade against Obamacare, and it works — as just seen in the Florida special election for a vacant House seat that went to a Republican.

Debunking hard luck stories of people who tell of their Obamacare horror stories in television commmercials funded by organizations such as the Koch-brothers' Americans for Prosperity have provided high sport for those journalists with the energy to track them down. Best known is Julie Boonstra of Michigan, a leukemia sufferer who says in a commercial that her treatment has become "unaffordable" and the Affordable Care Act has "jeopardized" her health. But The Washington Post followed up and found that Obamacare provided cheaper coverage for her continued treatment and with her same doctor. The Los Angeles Times recounts a number of such stories and says "virtually every yarn promoted by Republicans or conservatives about people hurt by the Affordable Care Act has deflated like a pricked balloon on the merest examination".

adhocable care act

President Obama has treated the Affordable Care Act as his personal license to do with as he pleases, issuing one after another decree to waive this or postpone that to make the healthcare law work, which has outraged Republicans. And we’ve yet to see a tally of what all this will cost.

Enrollment is falling well short of the target thanks largely to its disastrous launch in October at the hands of government techni-klutzes and less than hoped for enrollment by the millennial generation since. Five months after, 4.2 million had bought plans by the close of February compared to the goal of 7.1 million hoped for by the end-March sign-up deadline.

Conservatives’ biggest hope is that Obamacare will collapse of its own weight, that too few among the young will sign up causing dropout from soaring premiums for the rest, that Obama’s waivers will beggar the plan’s income stream. Marco Rubio wants to sabotage the law by blocking “risk corridor” payments whereby insurers are reimbursed by the government if their costs outrun revenue. That guarantee was a surprise item in a law that famously no one read.

But getting rid of Obamacare by other means is another matter. Its use in the election campaigns has no purpose other than to infuriate a public enough so that they check the boxes or pull the levers in the Republican column. To remind you of the obvious, even with total control of both houses of Congress, a vote to repeal would not surmount a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. And even if it could, it would — until January 2017, anyway — face Obama’s veto.

But even looking beyond, Obamacare is a done deal. Gradually, it could become well-liked. But even if not, even if it continues to score low in public opinion polls for years to come, a conservative move to scuttle the law would see a huge public uprising for the simple reason that they do not want to go through this upheaval all over again.

markets tell the story

What does the smart money have to say? An outfit called Motif Investing offers funds built around trends in the marketplace. It assembles baskets of up to 30 stocks per fund with each limited to a single concept: the future of caffeinated drinks is one fund, companies in 3D printing is another, Chinese solar a third, and so on.

Well, one of the funds is made up of stocks thought to do well if Obamacare succeeds. As reported by Bloomberg/BusinessWeek, it is made up of hospitals, generic drug makers, pharmacy-benefit managers, companies specializing in electronic medical records, etc. — all of which will see money flow from Obamacare.

Repeal Obamacare is another Motif fund. It is comprised of medical device makers who would see Obamacare’s 2.3% excise tax go away, assisted living businesses whose reduced payment schedule under Obamacare would rise again, and so forth.

How have the funds done so far? In the past 12 months Repeal Obamacare has posted a 13.8% return. The value of what we’ll call Success Obamacare has risen 46.9%.

But that’s less than half the story. What is startling is that 45 times more money has been placed in the Success fund than in the Repeal fund.

Faites vos jeux, mesdames et messieurs.

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