ObamaCare: September surprise for Begich?

From Dan Fagan:

You think Sen. Mark Begich has a lousy record to run on now, wait until the fall season rolls around and with it a major hike in health insurance rates in Alaska. The Heritage foundation estimates health insurance rates will shoot up 13 percent in Alaska once the state finalizes its rate.  Other states will see even higher increases with estimates showing rates going up almost 25 percent. According to politico.com, so far no state has finalized its rate, but 21 have posted bids for 2015. You guessed it, premiums went up in all 21 states.

Fagan is getting his information from a Politico story called “ObamaCare’s Next Threat: A September Surprise.”

While it might be true that health care premiums will rise—though we don’t know by how much—it’s also true that health care premiums have been rising dramatically before ObamaCare. Between 2000 and 2009, health insurance premiums for Alaskans rose a whopping 90.8 percent, while earnings rose by 17.3 percent. Much the same thing was happening across the country, which was one of the main impetuses behind ObamaCare in the first place. Republicans had no answers. Democrats thought that they did.

On the Dan Fagan/Glen Biegel show last week, I asked GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan–who like the other two candidates running for the GOP seat has been promising repeal of ObamaCare–what he would put in its place. After all, more than 9 more people are insured under ObamaCare, now than last year, and studies have shown that the people who have the insurance like it.

Sullivan pulled out the Republican panacea, and talked about federal tort reform law. Not withstanding the fact that Republicans and Sullivan have been railing about federal overreach—and such a law would trump state law—what actual effect this would have is hotly debated. Already, most states have enacted some form of tort reform. In 1997, the Alaska State Legislature passed a law that limited the amount of “non-economic damages” that can be recovered in a wrongful death action to $400,000, or $8,000 times the person’s life expectancy, whichever is greater.

It was tough to get it through, but proponents promised that such reform would open up Alaska’s insurance market to its citizens, lower malpractice insurance rates for doctors and entice them to come to the state.

Neither happened. According to the American Medical Association, Alaska was one of five states where, between 1998 and 2007, an increase in population did not lead to a proportional increase in the number of doctors.

However, the facts here will probably not matter much. ObamaCare has turned into a symbol, and facts don’t easily perforate symbols. The act is unpopular in Alaska and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.

Begich was a first-year senator at the time of its passage. His vote was crucial, and apparently, he didn’t either know or understand then how to trade votes. Had he played tough, he could have likely gotten anything he wanted for that vote. From what I can tell, he didn’t ask.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


5 thoughts on “ObamaCare: September surprise for Begich?

  1. J. Katz

    ObamaCare is a great example of what is wrong with our political system. The partisanship is polarizing our government. Politics needs to regain some civility and our politicians recognize that it is not a game; rather, they are making decisions that impact our lives.

  2. Albie

    I have mixed feelings about ObamaCare. I don’t have all the facts I’d like to make a final decision. I do think its nuts to repeal the whole enchilada. Wish our elected officials would approach the issue, outside the political arena, and make the fixes necessary to improve the law, protect emloyers, the newly insured and federal treasury. Politics aside, we need to fix this for the country.

  3. Jon K

    We have a very good idea that millions of people now have insurance and more would have if additional states expanded Medicaid. Kaiser, Gallup and others all show the same thing: a steep decline in the % of uninsured – it could be as many as 11 million newly insured. Uninsured are now covered through the exchanges, Medicaid expansion, and by being able to stay on their parents insurance. It’s time to let facts inform our thinking. Killing Obamacare will result in millions plain health care – including the young and working poor.

  4. Lynn Willis

    The Democrats literally abandoned all logic in a quest for a pyrrhic victory. The Republicans refused to participate in the effort because they were(and apparently still are)more than willing to accept half of the baby if it involves the other party.
    Anybody up for immigration reform?

  5. Dan Fagan


    We don’t know nine million are now newly insured under Obamacare. Remember 6 million lost there insurance under Obamacare. Many now have insurance because of the expansion of Medicaid which is a growth of the welfare state. Others could be newly insured because of the growth in the economy.

    Mr. Obama refuses to tell us how many of the newly insured are a direct result of Obamacare. Don’t you find that curious?

    The polling does seem to indicate we have fewer uninsured now but how the uninsured became insured is not known.

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