The impact of ObamaCare on doctors and patients, companies inside and outside the health sector, and American workers and taxpayers

While most of the media have tuned out and the chattering class has mostly moved on, a recent article by Megan McArdle in Bloomberg View, “Obamacare delivers. Just not very much,” reminded me that the calamity that is Obamacare can’t be swept under the rug. It is clear nothing will keep President Obama from declaring victory on every front, but the fact is, Obamacare is a bust. As a result, the next president will be confronted with the reality that at the end of the day, all Obamacare amounts to is a convoluted expansion of Medicaid that we can’t afford.

The catastrophic failure of Obamacare’s launch is now far in the past. But the public’s acquiescence to a law that keeps creating new problems should not be taken as a sign of enthusiastic acceptance, much less as a sign that Obamacare is working.

The important thing is how each of Obamacare’s current problems — skyrocketing premiums, lower than expected enrollment, and the collapse of several cooperative plans — is related to the others.

After five years, two midterm disasters, and a rollout that reminded Americans why they fell out of love with big government in the 1970s, reality has finally begun to dawn on some Democrats about Obamacare. With open enrollment about to start and a third straight round of premium spikes about to hit voters’ pockets, the Democrats’ leading presidential candidate has offered a “major break” with the Obama administration on its signature domestic policy achievement.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) is throwing up roadblocks to the confirmation of two top Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) nominees over what he describes as “systematic failures” of an ObamaCare program for start-up insurers.

“I will act to block consideration and confirmation of every [HHS] nominee until families who lost their co-op insurance plans get straight answers,” Sasse announced in a press release Monday.

A total of 41 percent said the ACA would be “very important” in determining their vote. Another 33 percent said it would be “somewhat important,” according to the survey, which had a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

A school district in Tennessee is shutting classroom doors because of the added costs of Obamacare. Jerry Strong, the Clay County Director of Schools, told the Associated Press, “the Affordable Care Act… has made it very difficult for us to have our employees properly covered and meet the mandates of the law.” The school district was already struggling with their budget, “struggling with budget concerns for three years.”

In a significant win for House Speaker John Boehner and congressional Republicans, a federal judge Monday denied a request by the Obama administration to immediately appeal whether the House of Representatives has the legal right to challenge a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled last month that one part of the challenge could go forward because the House had shown it had the standing necessary to bring the case. Lawyers for the Obama administration — concerned by what they called an unprecedented ruling on the threshold issue of standing — sought to appeal Collyer’s ruling before her court heard arguments on the underlying merits of the case.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush released his 2016 health plan on Tuesday, including a 10-page background paper that fleshed out a shorter summary outline. The good news is that it’s more serious and detailed than the handful of plans offered by his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination. The better news is that it tries to suggest several steps beyond the standard “repeal and replace” orthodoxy regarding Obamacare.

Just about every presidential campaign’s policy plans leave a lot of blanks and rhetorical placeholders, to be filled in later. They also straddle conflicting pressure points and dodge inevitable tradeoffs. The preference is to point in a general, and seemingly more popular, direction, without offering too many instructions for how to traverse the complicated path from here to there. On top of that, the limited attention spans of most voters, let alone candidates, cannot be taxed too much (unlike their incomes).

No good deeds go unpunished in national politics, so let’s look a little closer under the hood of the Jeb Bush health plan unveiled earlier this week.

Attracting the most rubbernecking attention is the former Florida governor’s endorsement of a cap on the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance, as an alternative to Obamacare’s Cadillac tax on high-cost employer plans.