12:37 PM, Dec 23, 2014 • By ELI LEHRER
When Congress headed home for the year last week without renewing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) many in the real estate, tourism, and insurance business predicted disaster. The Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism—a broad grouping representing everyone from real estate investors to sports leagues—blasted the inaction. “Congress has let down American workers, American businesses and jeopardized US economic and national security,” it said in a released statement. Given the apparently high stakes, indeed, one might have expected a market panic.
So far that hasn’t happened. As my colleague at R Street, R.J. Lehmann, discusses in the trade publication Insurance Journal, even the parties complaining most loudly about the dangers of allowing coverage to lapse have seen only modest downward blips in their stock prices. Rating agencies haven’t even seen fit to downgrade the insurers that rely on the program. There are no reports of a building project or major event being canceled because TRIA has lapsed.
The market, for its part, has responded with a flood of new capital. The major rating agency, S&P, says that there’s “no shortage” of capital to underwrite the risk. At least one company, furthermore, has announced new types of terrorism insurance that covers just the types of risks from chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons that many once claimed were impossible for the private sector to cover. In short, government has stepped away and there hasn’t even been a hiccough. The costs, to date, have all been borne by the stakeholders of companies that benefited from the program.
All that said, it isn’t quite time to break out the champagne and declare a laissez-faire victory. Ending a longstanding government program that many rely on simply by letting it expire rather than working out an orderly phase-out is almost certainly a bad way to run a government. And there’s likely some modest long-term role for the government in providing terrorism insurance anyway. There are certain potential mega attacks—a nuclear explosion in the center of a major city for example—which the private sector just can’t handle. The problem here isn’t market failure, it’s more of a lack of money: the world just doesn’t have enough capital to pay the largest conceivable claims. Certain other types of coverage, particularly workers compensation--which is, by definition, open-ended and not allowed to exclude anything—may actually be impossible to price at all in a free market if it must include terrorism risk. If there’s no government role defined in advance at all, furthermore, there’s a good chance that Congress will follow historical precedent and put taxpayers on the hook for almost every penny of losses.
Congress is almost certainly going to pass some sort of terrorism insurance program once it returns. It should. But recent events show that a loss of one government subsidy doesn’t mean the end of the world.
7:05 AM, Oct 28, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Without offering an alternate theory for President Obama’s 42 percent approval rating — which was about the same even before it became obvious his foreign policy had tanked — the mainstream media is insisting that Obamacare isn’t driving this election. But Republican ads in Senate races say otherwise.
6:30 AM, Oct 19, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
In the wake of their passage of Obamacare, the Democrats have repeatedly claimed two things: Republicans don’t have an alternative, and in any case the health care debate is over. But a Washington Post editorial published Saturday makes it clear that neither of these claims is true.
8:01 AM, Oct 14, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Analysis of Congressional Budget Office projections by the Senate Budget Committee finds that Obamacare will increase the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next decade.
8:48 AM, Sep 30, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Even before the Healthcare.gov website disaster unfolded in October 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had been looking to the future. HHS announced in June of that year that Hewlett-Packard would be replacing Terremark, a Verizon subsidiary, as the main contractor hosting the federal insurance marketplace and data services hub.
1:08 PM, Sep 18, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
A new poll finds that 58 percent of likely voters are “more likely” to support members of Congress who vote to stop Obamacare’s taxpayer bailout of insurance companies. Half of that 58 percent (29 percent) are “much” more likely to do so. Meanwhile, only 15 percent of likely voters are “less likely” to support such members, with only 6 percent being “much” less likely to support them. In other words, almost four times as many voters would reward members of Congress for voting to stop the bailout as would punish them for doing so.
4:44 PM, Sep 8, 2014 • By JAMES C. CAPRETTA
Obamacare’s defenders are busy declaring victory again. Ezra Klein is touting a new survey of Obamacare benchmark premiums in some regions of the country as evidence that the law is defying the predictions of critics and working to cut costs rather than increase them.
7:41 AM, Aug 29, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
The Palm Beach Post reports that Florida Blue CEO Pat Geraghty is characterizing as “unfair” Marco Rubio’s argument that American taxpayers should not be forced to provide a bailout for health insurance companies that lose money under Obamacare. It’s not entirely clear whether Geraghty thinks it’s “unfair” to oppose the bailout, to call it that, or both. Regardless, Obamacare is poised to force taxpayers to help cover health insurers’ losses — and it’s harder to imagine a clearer example of a bailout, or of cronyism, than that.
3:31 PM, Aug 26, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
During President Obama’s second term, about the only thing more common than seeing him out on the golf course has been seeing polls highlighting the striking unpopularity of his signature legislation. Obama has golfed a reported 79 times so far in his sec
Nine in ten heard from clients again with post-enrollment problems.
8:33 AM, Jul 17, 2014 • By WHITNEY BLAKE
During the open enrollment period for the state and federal health care exchanges, each staff member and volunteer worked with an average of 1.8 people per day, according to a survey of assister programs released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
10:05 AM, Jul 15, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
In March 2010, Obamacare was about to be voted upon by the House of Representatives, and the Democrats were in the process of deciding whether to ignore public opinion at their peril. At that time, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that Obamacare would cost $938 billion over a decade and would reduce the number of uninsured people by 19 million as of 2014 (with a reduction of 1 million prior to 2014 and 18 million in 2014 alone). Unimpressed, the American people overwhelmingly opposed the intrusive overhaul — with 20 of 21 polls taken that month showing it to be unpopular, most of them by double digits. The Democrats willfully passed Obamacare anyway and lost 63 House seats that November.
Even the sign in button is broken.7:01 AM, Jul 3, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Colorado's 9News reviews its state's Obamacare exchange and finds that it's "clunky, counterintuitive, and confusing." The site was built with a $179 million grant from the federal government, but even the sign in button doesn't work.