Uh-oh. This latest is not from Republicans eager to see Obamacare fail, but from Sarah Kliff, a serious healthcare wonk who wants to see it succeed. Apparently UnitedHealth may withdraw from the exchanges next year, saying they are not profitable. In most states, it is not that big a deal, but in New York and Nevada, UnitedHealth is a major player and its withdrawal would be disastrous.
But the issue is bigger than UnitedHealth. The question is whether it is simply the first of many to withdraw from the exchanges. Certainly I know that in my own state of New Mexico, Blue Cross Blue Shield is withdrawing from the exchanges when the regulators would not allow it to make the large rate increases it wanted. This is not a good sign. It may herald the "death spiral" that Democrats fear and Republicans eagerly hope for.
Of course, if the exchanges do start to fail, that will pose a problem for Republicans as well. If the exchanges begin to seriously malfunction, the pressure will be on to do something about them. Responding to serious problems on the exchanges where many people buy their health insurance by shutting them down altogether and replacing them with nothing will not be a popular action.
The rubber may hit the road for repeal and replace.