Meet the Press   |  November 17, 2013

Klein, Henninger: 'Too early to say' effects of Obamacare debacle

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein and the Wall Street Journal's Dan Henninger talk about the impending effects of the Affordable Care Act implementation.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> of confusion over some of the latest obama care developments, what they actually mean. joining me to break it down, columnist for the wall street journal dan henninger and ed -- editor of the post. is there a worry about this?

>> the big worry is that people who can't sign up now, the people signing up are older or sicker because they need insurance more. the younger people you have to balance out the risks to keep premiums low. in the second year you have premiums going up in the insurance market. but look, if they get the website up and running in a much better way in the next two weeks, in the next month, you have a number of months after that until at least march for people to sign up and get the high- risk pool going. it w i think it's much too early to say whether it will follow that trajectory or some other.

>> my friend in college said, i would be willing to sign up for something the government said i should sign up for if they were running it right. they're not running it right.

>> they're not running it right, and i think ezra put his finger on the issue and whether they can construct it from front to rear, where you go in, price the insurance policies , interact with the insurance companies and the medical providers. this is extraordinarily complicated. there is no way they're going to get this done in two weeks or a month. if they continue to fail like that, i think that at the margins, the young people , the healthy people who, of course, are running around using iphones and applications successfully to redesign their own lives, they're the ones that are going to fall off obama care and lose faith in it. i think to a great extent their faith to the government's ability to deliver an entitlement like this is also being put at risk by the problems.

>> ultimately, i'm trying to find one or two things to kind of keep our eye on, because any one of us can get lost in a level of detail that if you don't have experience in the policy, the health care background, you just can't keep up with it. are premiums going to go up or not? the insurance companies will be happy to just raise premiums if this thing doesn't work out. they were told they would get more people signed up. if not, they'll raise their premiums.

>> obama care was up against too many sick people coming in and not young people coming in. one of the things is a risk corridor. if they misprice their insurance, if they price it too low, the government will reimburse them about half the difference. that's a big thing. let's say they think in 2014 this thing will just be a mess. you'll have the exact same problem of what we're talking about here. but by 2015 , you have a tighter mandate, uyou have the website up and boworking because i don't think anybody thinks they can't get it in a year. and it might make a ton of sense for them to keep premiums low in 2015 in order to get the healthy people because otherwise they've got the worst of both worlds, they have a terrible risk pool . i don't think it's automatic what they do, we just don't know yet.

>> dan, you and i had an exchange this week and you made the point that this president has gone way too far in his quest to use government to do good, that it's become coercive, the idea of the mandate is the center piece of obama care. is that the big test of this?

>> i think so. the theory of liberal politics going back to fdr is they could come up with ideas to do good like social security and medicare and medicaid , and although it might be inefficient, they could just make it work. the administrative state, the bureaucracies could make it work. that has been the theory. we are seeing a test case right now with obama care whether this grand entitlement can be made to work by the administrative bureaucracies. if it continues to have the sorts of problems it is, i think a lot of voters for whom government is on the bubble right now, make no mistake about it, are going to start pulling back their support for this basic idea that liberals and progressives have pushed for the last 80 years.

>> i think there is a lot of truth to that. i think sometimes we underestimate how much everybody has at stake in government trying to do these things well. if you look at paul ryan 's health care plan that he brought out in 2009 , it had exchanges. the federal and state had to set up exchanges. if you look at the medicare plan which is also in the budget, it also moves medicare over to exchanges. so republicans, democrats, liberals and conservatives, they somehow need the government to be able to function well. it's bad on both sides if the government can't construct these kinds of tasks conservatively.

>> we need a reality check beyond what the politics are saying, which lead people kind of in the argument of confusion. thank you both for being here. i appreciate it.