The Washington Post broke the story:
A day after he questioned President Obama’s decision to unwind a major tenet of the health-care law and said the nation’s capital might not go along, D.C. insurance commissioner William P. White was fired.
White was called into a meeting Friday afternoon with one of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s (D) top deputies and told that the mayor “wants to go in a different direction,” White told The Washington Post on Saturday.
White said the mayoral deputy never said that he was being asked to leave because of his Thursday statement on health care. But he said the timing was hard to ignore. Roughly 24 hours later, White said, he was “basically being told, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ ”
One interpretation of this action is that White is a “true believer” in the Affordable Care Act. Some of his words give plausibility to that interpretation:
In a statement issued Thursday, White hinted strongly that he opposed the idea.
“The action today undercuts the purpose of the exchanges, including the District’s DC Health Link, by creating exceptions that make it more difficult for them to operate,” the statement said.
He also pointed to a statement issued by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners that said the Obama order “threatens to undermine the new market, and may lead to higher premiums and market disruptions in 2014 and beyond.”
“We concur with that assessment,” White said Thursday.
But, in this case, I think we need to give White’s considerations more weight. Whether or not he believes in the Affordable Care Act, the bottom line is that the law imposes a “new market.” If President Obama’s suggestion and permission undermines that market, then the insurance companies will be hurt or even bankrupted—in which case they won’t be insuring anyone for anything.
In other words, his concerns involve the real-world economic processes of trying to reverse engineer the changes that Obama is permitting.
Anyone should be able to see that.
The fact that he was fired within twenty-four hours of making his statements is a truly frightening. It means that Mayor Vincent Gray (and whoever gave him orders?) has no conception of, or at least no consideration for economic reality and economic consequences. All he, and people like him, care about are the immediate political embarrassments.
But this is very stupid. If the entire insurance economy implodes because of Obama’s actions, then such face-saving attempts will only make the situation work.
And they won’t save face.