The wrecking ball swung again toward the crumbling Obamacare edifice yesterday. Ironically, it continues to be the Obama administration that is operating the heavy machinery. …
But by conceding that the individual mandate can and should be delayed for one group, the administration has opened a major can of worms. For starters, this exemption is going to strike many Americans as blatantly unfair and arbitrary. It comes at the 11th hour, after millions of people, including those with canceled plans, have already made their choices based on the rules they thought would be in effect. The administration said for months that the mandate would not be waived for anyone, even those with canceled policies, and it vowed a veto of any delay legislation coming out of Congress. Now the rules have been changed, and some families who have committed to pay thousands of dollars in insurance premiums will feel very personally betrayed by an untrustworthy administration.
This exemption also further undermines the Obamacare exchanges, which are already teetering. The administration claims that there are only 500,000 people with canceled policies who haven’t signed up for new coverage yet. But this is an unverified number put out by the administration for damage control. Insurance industry insiders believe that, come January 1, most carriers will be looking at lower net enrollment in their plans compared to the previous year, meaning that cancellations will exceed new Obamacare enrollment in private plans. So the number of people with previous coverage who haven’t signed up with new coverage could easily be twice or three times the administration’s estimate.
In addition, what’s to stop those with canceled policies who fought their way through healthcare.gov from now changing their mind and dropping their plans in light of the administration’s announcement? These families would need only to file a form indicating that the premiums they were facing in the exchanges are unaffordable. As matters stand, the administration would have no basis for denying an exemption to such households. (Read More)
The writer of the article above thinks the latest move was done to quiet worried Democrats and prevent 2014 from turning into their worst electoral nightmare. But Megan McCardle thinks they might not be thinking that far ahead.
I’m not sure the administration is thinking that far ahead. The White House is focused on winning the news cycle, day by day, not the kind of detached technocratic policymaking that they, and the law’s other supporters, hoped this law would embody. Does your fix create problems later, cause costs to spiral or people to drop out of the insurance market, or lead to political pressure to expand the fixes in ways that critically undermine the law? Well, that’s preferable to sudden death right now.
However incoherent these fixes may seem, they send two messages, loud and clear. The first is that although liberal pundits may think that the law is a done deal, impossible to repeal, the administration does not believe that. The willingness to take large risks with the program’s stability indicates that the administration thinks it has a huge amount to lose — that the White House is in a battle for the program’s very existence, not a few marginal House and Senate seats. (Read More)
Whatever they’re thinking, the bad news keeps coming. The New York Times reported today on a middle class New Hampshire couple who lost their insurance and are now stuck with much higher premiums than they imagined. If they reduce their income by about $6,000 a year they’ll be eligible for subsidies that would cut their cost in half. But the subsidies won’t help when they have to start paying the deductibles. Maybe they’ll opt out, or go for a high deductible policy priced for people half their age.
Who knows, maybe this is all part of a plan to destroy the insurance industry and bring about single payer. I just can’t see the American people accepting single payer after witnessing the government’s complete incompetence when it came to implementing this rotten law.
He really has screwed the duck.