As I explained back in April, I’m cautiously optimistic that Obamacare will fall apart for the simple reason that it’s impossible to have a workable government-run healthcare system without the type of brutal rationing and sub-standard care found in places like the United Kingdom.
So part of me is happy that the White House has bumped into reality and now admits that it hasn’t been able to come up with a workable plan for the employer mandate.
But another part of me is unhappy.
One of the defining characteristics of a civilized government is adherence to the rule of law. Clearly written laws, applied equally and enforced fairly, are a big reason why nations such as Denmark can endure a big welfare state while countries like Argentina suffer from long-term relative decline even though it appears they have a smaller burden of government.
With this in mind, I’m rather troubled that the Obama Administration thinks it has carte blanche to arbitrarily disregard a legal requirement to implement the employer mandate beginning January 1, 2014. Even though it’s a bad law that should be completely repealed!
(This quandary reminds me of the old joke that the definition of mixed emotions is when your mother-in-law drives off a cliff…in your new car.)
My Cato colleague Michael Tanner is an expert on Obamacare, and here’s some of his analysis from The Daily Caller.
The dominoes are falling. The administration’s decision to postpone implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate until after the 2014 midterm elections is just the first to fall. More will be falling soon thanks to the administration’s belated recognition that the health care law will be a job-killing burden on business. In fact, this is actually the second major part of Obamacare to be postponed in the past few months. This spring, the administration announced that the ACA Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) would be postponed until at least 2015. …Or perhaps we should call this the third major part of the law to fall apart. In 2011, the administration was forced to permanently postpone implementation of the CLASS Act, Obamacare’s long-term care program.
So far, so good. Obamacare is imploding, just as many of us predicted.
Oh, it’s worth noting that there’s another shoe ready to drop.
The administration is also struggling to implement Obamacare’s federally run insurance exchanges. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has insisted that the federal government will be able to set up and run exchanges in some 33 states where state governments have chosen not to, but Sebelius has been unable to provide Congress or the public with a credible plan for doing so. A new report from the Government Accountability Office questions whether the exchanges will really be operational by their October 1 deadline.
Gee, I’m totally shocked to learn that government is incompetent. Knock me over with a feather!
But let’s focus on the part of the law that the White House just decided to ignore. Mike explains the meaning of the delayed employer mandate.
…the administration’s decision to postpone the employer mandate may make a bad situation worse, at least for workers. The postponement affects only the mandate that employers (with 50 or more workers) provide insurance. The individual mandate remains in place, requiring nearly all Americans to have insurance or pay a fine. Individuals who would otherwise have gotten insurance through their employers may now be forced to purchase their own insurance. It increasingly looks as though that insurance will be very expensive, especially for the young and healthy. In fact, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported, some consumers “could see insurance rates double or even triple when they look for individual coverage under the federal health law later this year.”
However, the White House has concocted a “solution” for the problem of providing subsidies to individuals in the absence of information from employers.
They’re going to offer people big piles of free money and rely on the honor system.
I’m not joking. Here’s how the editors at the Wall Street Journal describe the new system.
HHS now says it will no longer attempt to verify individual eligibility for insurance subsidies and instead will rely on self-reporting, with minimal efforts to verify if the information consumers provide is accurate. …People are supposed to receive subsidies only if their employer does not provide federally approved health benefits. Since HHS now won’t require business to report those benefits or enforce the standards until 2015, it says it can’t ask ObamaCare’s “exchange” bureaucracies to certify who qualifies either. …In other words, anyone can receive subsidies tied to income without judging the income they declare against the income data the Internal Revenue Service collects.
Needless to say, this will mean far higher costs for taxpayers, just as many of us warned even before the law was approved.
…that is the system Democrats installed when they passed the law, which is not supposed to be optional due to administrative incompetence. HHS promises to develop “a more robust verification process,” some day, but the result starting in October may be millions of people getting subsidies who don’t legally qualify. This would mean huge increases in ObamaCare spending. Some of these folks could be fraudsters, much as 21% to 25% of Earned Income Tax Credits flow to people who aren’t eligible, according to the Treasury inspector general. The same error rate for ObamaCare would amount to as much as $250 billion in improper payments in its first decade.
Here’s the bottom line.
HHS’s logistical challenges are real. But our bet is that the Administration is also using them as a pretense in a deliberate bid to make it much easier to join the exchanges. That’s because the health planners are terrified that enough healthy, low-cost people won’t sign up and therefore the Affordable Care Act’s strict regulations on underwriting and risk-pooling will blow up insurance markets. As more and more of ObamaCare tumbles, the Administration is resorting to anything that can salvage the goal of permanently expanding the U.S. entitlement state.
In other words, the White House is willing to sacrifice the rule of law (not to mention quality health care) in order to achieve a political goal of expanded dependency.
Let’s close on a humorous note with some great cartoons, starting with this gem from Gary Varvel.
If you like the “train wreck” theme, you can see a great Steven Kelley cartoon by clicking here.
Next we have a Nate Beeler cartoon that makes the very obvious connection between the latest White House decision and the 2014 midterm elections.
The Democrats lost 25 House seats in 2010 because of Obamacare according to one academic study, so maybe Obama is being clever by postponing part of the law.
Here’s a Lisa Benson cartoon that captures the haphazard and sloppy way the law was put together.
I guess Nancy Pelosi was right when she said that the law had to pass before we discovered what was in it (though as Gary Varvel illustrates here, all the surprises are bad).
Let’s conclude with two cartoons that take a big-picture look at Obamacare, beginning with one from Chip Bok that was very appropriate on July 4.
Last but not least, we have a great cartoon from Rick McKee.