By: John Hayward
3/4/2014 09:05 AM
The latest nakedly political and illegal ObamaCare delay has King Barack I bowing to pressure from terrified Democrats looking a midterm bloodbath and waiving the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandates for another year. The Hill names the game right in its headline: “New ObamaCare delay to help Democrats in midterm elections.”
The Obama administration is set to announce another major delay in implementing the Affordable Care Act, easing election pressure on Democrats.
As early as this week, according to two sources, the White House will announce a new directive allowing insurers to continue offering health plans that do not meet ObamaCare’s minimum coverage requirements.
Prolonging the “keep your plan” fix will avoid another wave of health policy cancellations otherwise expected this fall.
The cancellations would have created a firestorm for Democratic candidates in the last, crucial weeks before Election Day.
The White House is intent on protecting its allies in the Senate, where Democrats face a battle to keep control of the chamber.
“I don’t see how they could have a bunch of these announcements going out in September,” one consultant in the health insurance industry said. “Not when they’re trying to defend the Senate and keep their losses at a minimum in the House. This is not something to have out there right before the election.”
Which paragraph in the thousands of pages of Affordable Care Act gobbledygook gives the President authority to waive mandates because his party is having big political trouble? Let’s finish the job of beating the dopey Democrat “settled law of the land” talking point into the ground: It’s not a law. It’s an enabling act, a grant of virtually unlimited power to the executive, who can alter the ACA on a whim, for the most nakedly political reasons.
In this case, the geniuses who claim the intelligence and skill to micro-manage every aspect of the insurance industry forgot how their own stupid law worked, belatedly realizing that Obama’s “just ignore the law” proposal from his panicked “I was out of the loop” mea culpa press conference in November wouldn’t actually save them from the wrath of voters:
A one-year moratorium pushed the deadline beyond the midterm election, but insurers must send out cancellation notices 90 days in advance. That would mean notices in the mail by Oct. 1, five weeks before voters go to the polls.
The administration’s decision to pursue another extension was confirmed by insurance sources who predicted a public announcement would be “imminent.” It is unclear how long the extension will be, though one source believed it could last to the end of Obama’s second term, and perhaps beyond.
This issue is sure to be discussed during the 2016 presidential race, in which Hillary Clinton is expected to run.
This is going to be tough for Obama’s loyal defenders to spin. For one thing, they spent months parroting their beloved leader’s early ObamaCare-meltdown spin, in which he said “okay, maybe that ‘like your plan, keep your plan’ promise is no longer operative, but you’re better off without those terrible bad-apple insurance plans I’m killing. I’m doing you a favor by wiping out your old plans, America!”
Now he’s going to waive the mandates so those bad-apple plans can keep right on dropping from insurance company trees? And maybe go right on nullifying the mandates until he’s safely out of office, and Hillary Clinton has been installed? Maybe those mandates weren’t such a hot idea after all.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health plans are required to offer 10 medical benefits that the Obama administration deems essential.
Some of the services are popular, such as prescription drug coverage, but others, such as maternity and pediatric care, have been criticized as expensive as well as being unnecessary for many policyholders, such as older people.
Nonetheless, the White House has consistently argued its requirements improve health insurance standards and shield consumers from unexpected costs associated with bare-bones policies.
“There are a number of Americans, fewer than 5 percent of Americans, who’ve got cut-rate plans that don’t offer real financial protection in the event of a serious illness or an accident,” Obama said in Boston in October.
“Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad-apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received, or use minor preexisting conditions to jack up your premiums or bill you into bankruptcy. So a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good.”
But now those bad apple plans are freaking awesome, and of course you’ll be able to go on buying them, at least until the Democrat Party drags itself through the next couple of elections.
Uncertainty in the insurance market created by all this imperial whimsy has already put the industry on shaky ground with credit analysts, not to mention confusing the heck out of the American citizens expected to serve as pawns in a vast political game.
One company executive complained that the White House’s tendency to shift deadlines makes it hard to price health policies accurately.
“These continual delays, these stops and starts, make it very difficult because we set rates based on predictive modeling,” the executive said.
“When you change the rules, it has a detrimental impact on your ability to calculate your risk pool and your prices.”
No matter how blinkered and inept President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius might be, they surely understand this very basic insurance industry concept. They also know how bad yet another mandate wave-off makes them look. They probably wouldn’t do this unless the internal Democrat polls for 2014 were absolutely horrifying. It also doesn’t speak well for the Administration’s inside predictions of ObamaCare’s effects between 2014 and 2016, because they’re making the program’s defenders look foolish.
For example, ObamaCare architect Ezekiel Emanuel just published a book joyously heralding the end of insurance companies as we have known them, a sucker punch thrown at the dupes who believed all of Obama’s phony promises in 2009. Sorry Zeke, but your glorious surprise transformation of the insurance industry just got broomed for at least a year, maybe two or three, because the American people are evidently a bit peeved that the agenda wasn’t honestly discussed with them first.