As Democrats head into the November midterms with historically low approval ratings, another major factor could arise that will further contribute to the shrinking of their already-slim majorities.
As reported by The Hill, the Affordable Care Act – known colloquially as “Obamacare” – could face a significant increase in premiums due to a lapse in special funding provided by the coronavirus aid bill passed last year. That bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, temporarily increased financial assistance for Americans seeking healthcare through Obamacare; the increase was set to expire just one year after the bill’s passage.
Unless Congress passes a similar extension between now and November, many premiums will rise as a result, and most notices about the increases will be sent out before most voters go to the polls.
“Right before the election, people would get notices of big premium increases, and that will certainly not reflect well on Democrats,” said the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt. Estimates from Kaiser show that the premium increases would affect up to 13 million people, with an average increase of 53 percent per person.
“I’m worried that we’re running up on a cliff,” said Rep. Susan Wild (D-Penn.). “It’s similar to the child tax credit, which, you know, just kind of came and went, the expiration of it. I just don’t want to see that happen. I think it is absolutely game-changing.”
Wild and 25 other Democratic members of the House of Representatives recently signed a letter to House Democratic leadership urging action on Obamacare premiums, warning about the political backlash the party would face if the financial assistance is not extended. But any legislation on Obamacare would have to pass the strict standards of the Senate’s swing vote, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who has been responsible for killing several of the Democrats’ more radical bills, such as Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan and the attempt to federalize national elections.
The potential increase in premiums would only add to the growing list of political woes that the Democratic Party has been suffering from since Joe Biden came to power. The biggest crisis is inflation, which has reached 40-year highs under Biden and led to astronomically high costs of gas, groceries, and other basic necessities. Other issues plaguing the Democrats include the ongoing mass migration crisis at the southern border, and a tumultuous international scene following the collapse of Afghanistan and the Russia-Ukraine war. Biden’s approval ratings are now in the mid-30s, and his approval average is currently the lowest of any president in modern history.