Tuesday, July 9, 2013

ObamaCare's Breathtaking Belly-Flop



ObamaCare’s Breathtaking Belly-Flop

Seth Mandel@SethAMandel07.09.2013 - 5:10 PM

Since the legislative monstrosity known as ObamaCare was both complex and poorly constructed, its current disastrous rollout should not be too surprising. But it turns out the bill’s critics (most of the country) weren’t the only doubters who foresaw this mess: National Journal points outthat the Obama administration also knew exactly what was coming.

The National Journal story includes a chart illustrating how the insurance exchanges work in order to underscore what those who hoped for a seamless debut were up against. But the exchanges are far from the only setback. As Jonathan wrote last week, the administration announced it would postpone by one year the mandate that businesses with more than 50 employees offer them insurance. The mandate is an unbearable financial burden on businesses, so it was delayed until after the midterm elections to give Democrats some breathing space before the economic damage they have done fully sets in.

But there are a couple problems with that. First, the administration’s action is of dubious legality. Second, delaying the employer mandate could drive up the cost of the new law by driving more people seeking insurance into the exchanges. But that’s not how the Congressional Budget Office scored the bill, a point Paul Ryan is making when he asks the CBO to re-score the bill without the first year of the employer mandate–to score the actual law as we have it now, in other words, instead of letting the administration bypass Congress and game the system to fool the CBO.

Of course, we have no idea what the administration is going to do with the employer mandate (or any other part of the law) going forward now that it has bestowed upon itself the power to unilaterally “suspend” parts of laws when it makes electoral sense to do so. In that respect, it’s not so easy for the CBO to comply with Ryan’s request–there’s really no telling at this point what the administration is going to pretend the law says.

But that’s not the only reason Ryan wants the CBO to re-score the bill. He also wants them to consider yet another piece of news about the ObamaCare rollout: the administration’s announcement that rather than verify that those seeking ObamaCare subsidies meet the eligibility requirements, it will be content with the honor system. At that Hot Air post you’ll find a link to Avik Roy’s explanation for why the two are connected: without the employer mandate, which was key to proving eligibility, the administration has basically given up on verification.

Believe it or not, there’s more. The administration isn’t only running into trouble when trying to suspend parts of the law. It’s also realizing that the law was written in a way as to make certain regulations contradictory or incompatible. As Katherine Connell explains:

Insurers are prohibited from charging older customers more than three times what they charge their youngest customers, since the law depends on making young, healthy people subsidize the cost of care for their elders. But the law also allows smokers to be charged a penalty up to 50 percent of their premiums. The problem is that when you put the two together, it doesn’t always add up.

One solution is that both young and old could end up being charged the maximum penalty. You know, so it’s fair.

And in case that wasn’t enough, ObamaCare’s already problematic expansion of insurance through Medicaid–an expensive and ineffective program–just became even more so, as Bloomberg reports that “Colonoscopies, diabetes screenings and other preventative services mandated by the U.S. health law may be offered only to new Medicaid program enrollees next year, leaving existing patients with second-tier care, a study found.” It will create a “two-tiered” health system for the poor. Of course, fewer doctors are acceptingMedicaid patients anyway, so those with the newer, fuller Medicaid coverage may not be able to find a doctor to actually perform those procedures.

Government gets bigger, more intrusive, more expensive, less efficient, and less effective. As expected. The silver lining is that ObamaCare remains unpopular, proving the American public possesses more common sense than the technocrats running the federal government. Also as expected.


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