I am having a hard time understanding what’s going on with Obamacare.
I mean, the Affordable Care Act is a law, isn’t it? It has tons of provisions. Those provisions are part of the law. So how does the administration just get to say “never mind” to a bunch of those provisions?
First, the administration delayed the Medicare cuts associated with Obamacare until after the 2014 election. I know why they did that. The law is already unpopular and those cuts would have been even more unsettling to health care consumers.
The administration didn’t want to alienate a bunch of potential Democrat voters during an election year. But, hey, wasn’t that the law?
Then there was the delay of the employer mandate. Of course, the individual mandate still stood. That’s because lots of firms with 50 or more employees “needed more time” to comply with the law, the administration told us.
The administration knew that, faced with the employer mandate, lots of companies would have found it more economically feasible to simply get out of the health care business and send employees to the exchanges for insurance.
So much for the, “If you like your health care plan you can keep it” nonsense. That, too, had the potential to alienate a lot of voters.
But again, wasn’t that the law?
Next came an announcement that the administration would delay enforcement of lots of integral eligibility requirements for the law’s health insurance subsidies. The administration is, essentially, putting the government on the honor system with regard to those subsidies.
Anybody want to venture a guess on how that’s going to work out?
Law? Law, anyone?
Most recently, just this past week in fact, comes word from the administration that another costly part of the “law” will be delayed for a year.
That’s the provision that places caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs.
Here’s an excerpt from an analysis on Forbes.com by Avik Roy:
Obamacare contains a blizzard of mandates and regulations that will make health insurance more costly.
One of the most significant is its caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs, such as co-pays and deductibles.
Section 2707(b) of the Public Health Service Act, as added by Obamacare, requires that “a group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage may not establish lifetime limits on the dollar value of benefits for the any participant or beneficiary.”
Annual limits on cost-sharing are specified by Section 1302(c) of the Affordable Care Act; in addition, starting in 2014, deductibles are limited to $2,000 per year for individual plans, and $4,000 per year for family plans.
Back in 2009, Obama said the out-of-pocket limit was a big deal, an integral part of the “law,” “We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick.”
Never mind.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled – whether it’s legal or not – to see Obama break  laws created by his own signature legislative accomplishment.
You don’t have to be an actuary or a health policy expert to figure out what the net effect of these provisions will be.
Think about it.
If you cap out-of-pocket costs, ban lifetime limits and mandate lower deductibles, what do you suppose will happen to premiums?
They will go up – without question.
The fact that this costly provision has been delayed is a small consolation because it eventually will be implemented. It is the law, after all. And when it finally is implemented, hang onto your wallet.
The aforementioned delays of the law’s provisions are only the tip of the iceberg with regard to the administration’s compliance with its own “law.”
The Congressional Research Service reports the Obama administration has missed as many as a third of the deadlines, specified by law, under the Affordable Care Act.
Earlier this week, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had this to say: “This is no longer a political debate; this is what we call the law. It was passed and signed three years ago. It was upheld by the Supreme Court a year ago. The president was re-elected. This is the law of the land.”
Yeah. It’s the law of the land, alright, except when Obama chooses to ignore it.
Article II of the U.S. Constitution talks about executive power. In Section 3 it says the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” To be sure, the Constitution allows the president wide discretion with regard to how the laws are faithfully executed. But I don’t read anywhere in there he can just rewrite those laws at his whim.
Obama isn’t upholding his own “law of the land.” He’s trampling it.
And sadly, this is the first time I can remember being glad a president is shirking his Constitutional duty.