Insurance hikes inconvenient for Dems

Posted: Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Last December, a group called Pull the Plug PAC - created by some University of Georgia students with the purpose of finding a candidate to defeat 10th District Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Broun - visited Columbia County.

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With assistance from the Columbia and Richmond county Democratic parties, the event's organizer, Russell Edwards, spent an hour or so promoting the health care proposals of the Democrats and President Obama.

At the time, we pointed out the unlikelihood that the group would find many converts here in Republican-dominated Columbia County, though they certainly deserved credit for preaching in the lion's den.

Since that session, a couple of things have happened:

• First, Obamacare passed after a protracted fight in Congress. Polls show as much as 70 percent of the American public oppose the new law and want it repealed. Largely because of that sweeping federal takeover of the health care system, Democrats are expected to lose their majority in the House this year and could even lose the Senate.

• Second, failing to recruit someone to run against Broun, Edwards himself decided to file. He's since raised a respectable amount of money, especially for a first-time political candidate, but can't escape the image of being shackled to one of the most unpopular pieces of legislation in history.

But it isn't over yet. In fact, it's just begun.

A week from Thursday, the first changes of the so-called Affordable Care Act of 2010 go into effect: A ban on insurance companies cancelling coverage for adults who become ill, a ban on denial of coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, a ban on lifetime limits of coverage, loosened restrictions on young adults staying on their parents' insurance.

Who pays for those new benefits?

You do. As The Wall Street Journal reported last week, insurance companies around the country, during upcoming open enrollment periods for employer health insurance policies, are planning to jack up rates to pay for the new benefits mandated by Obamacare.

Coupled with rising health care costs - which haven't been slowed one bit by the "Affordable Care Act" - the Journal notes that many insurance carriers will be raising their rates by 20 percent or more.

That cost will be passed along to employers, who in turn will pass it along to workers in the form of higher premiums.

That's bad news for Edwards or anyone inclined to make Obamacare a centerpiece of their election campaign. Bad timing, too: The open enrollment period generally is in October, just before the Nov. 2 election. Those premium increases will be fresh on voters' minds.

Meanwhile, if any Columbia County residents would like to hear Democrats defend, or run away from, those health care reforms, the Columbia and Richmond county parties are again teaming up for a program in Columbia County.

From 6-9 p.m. Oct. 9, 10th and 12th District Democratic congressional candidates and Democratic statewide office hopefuls are invited to the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center for a Democratic candidate forum.

The public is invited to attend.

Incidentally, Edwards, the 10th District candidate who promoted the reforms, will be on the same bill as incumbent 12th District Democratic Congressman John Barrow - who voted against the bill.

Perhaps they'll hold their own debate.



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