- - Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia rarely holds his tongue (and never his punches), but he was the loyal Democratic soldier when it was time to vote for Obamacare. His pending retirement from Congress has freed him now to finally say what he thinks about the president’s takeover of the nation’s health care.

Mr. Moran joins a group of departing Democrats conceding what everyone knows: Obamacare is a train wreck. An airliner crash. A battleship aground on the reef. Pick your metaphor. “I’m afraid that the millennials, if you will,” Mr. Moran tells Washington’s WAMU-FM radio, “are less likely to sign up. I think they feel more independent. I think they feel a little more invulnerable than prior generations . But I don’t think we’re going to get enough young people signing up to make this bill work as it was intended to, financially.”

His analysis is spot on, but that’s small consolation. “I just don’t know how we’re going to [fix] it, frankly,” says Mr. Moran. “If we had a solution, I’d be telling the president right now.” Now he tells us.

Belated it is, but Mr. Moran’s assessment is a breath of fresh air in an environment where the Obama administration talks about “surges” in enrollments and tells “success” stories that don’t bear the weight of scrutiny. Obamacare was sold to the nation on a similar foundation of lies.

Americans were told that if they liked their plan, they could keep it, that the uninsured would get insurance, that premiums would be reduced and health care costs would diminish. None of this happened, nor is it ever likely to.

A McKinsey & Co. survey of consumers eligible for the government health-law marketplaces finds that about 10 percent of those who bought coverage under the law were previously uninsured.

The great majority of those who signed up did so to get the federal subsidy. Obamacare moved people who were buying private, self-funded insurance to the long list of Americans beholden to government. Health Markets Inc. reports that 65 percent of those enrolling held previous coverage. Now we’ll have millions of Americans without insurance and a new, large hole in the federal budget.

The young and healthy, we were told, would sign up in big numbers. But why should they? The law allows these “invincibles” to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, and unanticipated increases in the premiums drove other, younger people from the marketplace. It’s not the young but the middle-aged and the old who account for nearly 70 percent of the sign-ups.

Perhaps it will take a wave of retirements (forced and otherwise) from Congress to create a critical mass of Democrats willing to admit defeat and join the search for something to clean up the mess. Until then, Americans will continue to lose their insurance or be socked by unexpected higher premiums.

When the short-term federal money train pulls out of the station, the states that have been padding their Medicaid numbers with Obamacare subsidies will be forced to pick up the burden. It won’t be pretty.

Mr. Moran’s late education speaks volumes, and challenges the rest of his party to follow.