Republicans’ biggest Achilles heel is that they believe their own bullshit. Last week the House GOP cranked out a phony survey that claimed only 67 percent of Obamacare enrollees had paid for their policies. Today the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee held a hearing on Obamacare, and the Republican members were utterly dumbfounded that the insurance executives who testified did not repeat the GOP talking points.
Republicans struggled to land punches against ObamaCare in a hearing Wednesday, as responses from insurance companies deflated several lines of questioning.
Democratic lawmakers were emboldened to defend the Affordable Care Act with renewed vigor and levity, creating a dynamic rarely seen in the debate over ObamaCare. …
… Republicans were visibly exasperated, as insurers failed to confirm certain claims about ObamaCare, such as the committee’s allegation that one-third of federal exchange enrollees have not paid their first premium.
Four out of five companies represented said more than 80 percent of their new customers had paid. The fifth, Cigna, did not offer an estimate.
Republicans also stumbled in asking insurers to detail next year’s premium rates. Companies are still in the process of calculating prices, and they have a strong financial incentive not to air early projections in public.
They honestly believed the hearing would confirm their bogus report? Actual facts caught them off guard? Apparently a lot of the Republican members walked out early, once they realized they weren’t going to get any useful anti-Obamacare ammunition. Some in rightie media were left with the the old foot in the mouth …
Across the board, the health insurance executives testified that the payment rate for premiums was somewhere between 80 and 90 percent, while stressing that these data are preliminary and that outstanding payments are still coming in.
This was a stinging rebuke of the Republicans on the very committee to which the executives were testifying, who had issued a report last week claiming that the premium payment rate was actually 67 percent. That report, which was based on incomplete data and rigged to produce a low number, was met with derision by journalists and observers who saw it as a transparent ploy to create a damaging anti-Obamacare talking point.
Conservative media, however, ate it up. “White House tries spin move on gloomy Obamacare numbers,” said Fox News. “The enrollment totals were bogus and worse than expected,” clucked Townhall’s Guy Benson, who later sneered at the White House’s pushback on the report.
Naturally, the headline at Reason is “Insurers Testify that 10-20 Percent of Obamacare Sign-Ups Haven’t Paid, Some Are Duplicates.” But y’know, the 10 percent easily could be people who got insured through new jobs, or through some other way, and decided they didn’t need the exchange policy. And if some are duplicates (from people making repeated attempts to sign up), that suggests the percentage of actual unpaid policies might be lower.
It’s also notable that the House Republicans apparently expected the insurance guys to be their buddies and give them the sound bytes they wanted. It doesn’t dawn on them that the insurance execs are mostly interested in keep their companies profitable, which means they want the exchanges to work. Because they make money selling insurance policies, and the exchanges are helping them tap into a market they weren’t tapping into before. The GOP is too lost in the weeds to realize that, it seems.