- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Obamacare’s viability has been threatened after Aetna, on the of the nation’s largest health insurers, said it would withdraw from three-quarters of the states where it offers Affordable Care Act exchange plans.

Instead of expanding its offerings within the health care exchange, it’s instead curtailing its coverage — following in the foot-steps of UnitedHealth Group, the largest U.S. health insurer, and Humana Inc. The reduced choices on the Obamacare exchanges will inevitably raise prices and drive down the quality of care available in the government run program — a marked threat to the program’s long-term viability.

Yet the president himself, doesn’t seem too worried. No formal comments have been given about the insurer’s withdrawal, and the administration just a few days ago released data showing the Obamacare markets were stabilizing. So why no major freakout?

Because a single-payer system has always been the goal. We just needed some time to transition there.

Remember President Obama’s comments before he was elected to office?

“My commitment is to make sure we’ve got universal health care for all Americans by the end of my first term as president,” Mr. Obama said at a SEIU health care conference in 2007. “I would hope that we could set up a system that allows those who can’t go through their employers to access a federal system or a state pool of some sort … but I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be potentially some transition process. I can envision a decade out or 15 years out or 20 years out.”

And so, my friends, we’re now in that “transition” period.

Democrats can say they tried working with private insurers, in the open, competitive markets, but it failed — those insurers just got too greedy (never mind all of them are taking losses on the Obamacare exchanges as their insurer pools are more elderly and sick than estimated).

“The Affordable Care Act just does not work in its current structure,” Raymond Farmer, the top insurance regulator in South Carolina, told Politico. “Companies are leaving the marketplace for a reason. They don’t leave the marketplace if they’re making a profit.”

So profits will be demonized, and the government will have to swoop in and rescue — turning Obamacare into a single-payer, government-run system.

Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders is already promoting this narrative.

“It is disappointing that Aetna has joined other large for-profit health insurance companies in pulling out of the insurance marketplace,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement Tuesday. “Despite the Affordable Care Act bringing them millions more paying customers than ever before, these companies are more concerned with making huge profits than ensuring access to health care for all Americans.”

But again, these companies are taking losses. Aetna has lost $430 million since its Obamacare plans first went on sale in 2014. But don’t let facts get in the way of a good narrative.

Hillary Clinton won’t be too far behind, promoting a single-payer system. She’s already taken a step to the left on health care, suggesting she would like to give people the option to buy into Medicare.

“I’m also in favor of what’s called the public option, so that people can buy into Medicare at a certain age,” Mrs. Clinton said at a campaign event in May.

As The New York Times reported, the policy idea of being able to buy into Medicare “has been embraced by many advocates of single-payer health care as a way to move more Americans into the existing government system. An incremental expansion of Medicare was the hoped-for strategy of Medicare’s original authors.”

So here we go, transitioning to what Democrats wanted all along: A government-run single-payer system.

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