Michael Cannon is a health care policy director at the libertarian Cato institute, and the architect of a mischievous legal challenge to Obamacare, which thankfully failed earlier this year.
Where there are weaknesses in Obamacare, you will find him prodding. Where there are opportunities to weaken Obamacare he will alert the cavalry. So when he blasts Republicans for trading away a victory over Obamacare, he’s probably not imagining it.
The “victory” is a provision in law, devised by Marco Rubio, that prevents the ACA’s risk corridors from drawing on public funds. Risk corridors stabilize the individual marketplace for insurance by transferring money from profitable plans with healthier patients to unprofitable plans with sicker ones. This “victory” genuinely destabilized the market this past year. Republicans undermined it, per Cannon, by agreeing “to a one-year moratorium on the tax Obamacare levies on health-insurance providers both inside and outside of Obamacare’s Exchanges…. That provision will mitigate the losses many Obamacare plans are suffering.”
In other words, companies that were losing money on their exchange plans will be remunerated indirectly, and have significant padding against losses this year, because they’ll pay no excise tax.
It’s hard to say which spectacle is more enjoyable: a libertarian zealot bemoaning a tax cut, or a Republican Party so beholden to anti-tax orthodoxy that they shielded Obamacare from Marco Rubio’s wrath. The spending bill that contains this tax holiday is on its way to President Obama’s desk.