EDITORIAL: Health care hardball

‘Hope and change’ no longer thrills young Americans

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Chris Matthews may still get a tingling sensation whenever he listens to Barack Obama, but for millennials, the thrill is gone. A new Harvard Institute of Politics poll finds the president’s favorability rating underwater among those between the ages of 18 to 29. Not surprisingly, once-devoted youthful fans have been turned off by Obamacare.

“I felt this thrill going up my leg,” Mr. Matthews famously said on MSNBC after hearing Mr. Obama speak in February 2008. The “Hardball” host experienced another bout of restless-leg syndrome Thursday night, when he conducted a softball interview with the president. “He came to us today,” a glowing Mr. Matthews said in the ensuing panel discussion. “He came amongst us.”

Millennials no longer share this rapturous view of Mr. Obama. Wednesday’s Harvard poll found that 54 percent of the under-30 crowd disapprove of the president now that he’s five years into his tenure in office. It’s hard to blame them, as many are forced to watch “Hardball” in their old room at home, having moved back in with their parents because there are no jobs to be had. The consolation prize of being able to stay on Mom and Dad’s health insurance plan until they’re 26 is cold comfort considering the looming student-loan debt they face. A scant 14 percent say the country is headed in the right direction.

The latest survey is a remarkable turnaround, considering the same poll conducted in the spring came to the opposite conclusion, with Mr. Obama enjoying 52 percent approval. Shortly after the first inauguration, Mr. Obama beamed on a high youth approval of 58 percent.

Much of the blame for those tanking poll numbers can be traced directly to Obamacare. Fully 61 percent of those surveyed disapprove of the president’s handling of the health issue in general, and 57 percent disapprove of Obamacare itself. Millennials aren’t stupid. They know they impose the least burden on the health care system, yet they’re being soaked for cash through skyrocketing premiums that subsidize older people who tend to go to the doctor more frequently. Without young people participating, the entire scheme will fall apart.

It would make far more sense for these “young invincibles” to have an affordable catastrophic-coverage plan that takes care of them in the event they suffer a serious illness. That doesn’t work when the administration insists on one-size-fits-all. Mandates now force a 27-year-old man to have maternity coverage, even though he’s quite unlikely to ever give birth. It’s one of the primary reasons costs are going up.

Word is spreading like wildfire among students. Bowie State University, a historically black school in Bowie, Md., just 22 miles northeast of the White House, cited the president’s signature health care law last month as the reason it was suspending its schoolwide affordable health care plan. “Due to new requirements of [Obamacare],” the school announced on its official website, ” … the cost of insurance for domestic students will increase to approximately $1,800 per year.” That $900 per semester figure represented an 18-fold increase from the $50 per semester the health insurance plan had cost students in the 2012-2013 school year.

Mr. Obama said on “Hardball” Thursday that the health care law is in millennials’ “financial interest and their health interest.” The under-30s aren’t buying what Mr. Obama is selling. One out of three say they’re just not going to enroll. For them, Obamacare is a foul ball.

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