We'll try to dial up video of the President's ObamaCare "fix" press conference but following it live via Twitter we can't help but feel it had to be a surreal scene. Amid tanking approval numbers, a failed website and hugely disappointing ObamaCare sign-up numbers, the President offered up a fix by which the millions of people that were kicked out of their healthcare plans in the individual markets could get them back given the acceptability of the plan as determined by state insurance commissions. There's huge problems with that which we'll get to later but first the news.
From the Washington Times:
President Obama said Thursday that what's good for illegal immigrants is also good for people who are losing their health insurance because of Obamacare, saying he'll use prosecutorial discretion to let companies continue to offer health plans that violate his law.
It's the latest example of the White House trying to work around Congress and instead take action on its own, and in this case it comes as Mr. Obama seeks to stop a wholesale abandonment of his health law by Democrats who have watched the rocky rollout.
"We put a grandfather clause into the law, but it was insufficient," the president said at the White House as he announced the new loophole he has created.
Under the new loophole, Mr. Obama will leave it up to state health insurance commissioners to decide which sub-standard plans can still be offered by insurance companies, and he has pledged that his administration won't penalize them for still offering those plans even though they violate the Affordable Care Act. The extension will last only one year.
This is unreal. It is not known what, if any, guidance will be given to the insurance commissioners in determining which unlawful health care plan will be deemed defacto lawful. And it is duly noted that just a couple of weeks ago the water-carriers in the state-controlled media were telling all us rubes that we ought to have been thankful that such a far-sighted and benevolent law was saving us from our "sub-standard" plan. Two weeks on, the President walks back his broken promise and essentially says you might be lucky enough to get that sub-standard plan back if state insurance commissioners deem it not too "sub-standard".
Back to the article:
Republicans were skeptical the administration had the authority to grant exceptions to the law, and they argue the only solution is to change the law through legislation. House Republicans have a bill set for floor action Friday that would do that.
"I am highly skeptical that they can do this administratively. I just don't see within the law their ability to do that," House Speaker John A. Boehner said.
But briefing reporters ahead of time, an administration official said they believe they do have authority to suspend enforcement for a year.
"HHS will be using its enforcement discretion to allow for this transition," the official said. "Enforcement discretion can be used generally in transitions, as well as a bridge towards legislation. This is something that has been used, for example, with the deferred action for childhood arrivals policy, pending immigration reform."
We think the reason why "enforcement discretion" is not in the Constitution is that it prevents chief executives of the government from further bunging up already horrible legislation. Borne of sort of a "get the damn thing right the first time" mentality. Oh, and also because "enforcement discretion" is a hallmark of a dictatorial regime. So there's that also.
You say "enforcement discretion", "consults with businesses", "waivers", "exemptions", "delays". I say "banana republic." #ACA— Dean R. Riehm (@deanriehm) November 14, 2013
One more time to the article:
"It is true that the chief executive has some room to decide how strongly to enforce a law, and the timing of enforcement. But here, Obama is apparently suspending the enforcement of a law for a year - simply to head off actual legislation not to his liking," said Eugene Kontorovich, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, in a blog post at Volokh Conspiracy.
"The 'fix' amounts to new legislation - but enacted without Congress," Mr. Kontorovich argued. "The president has no constitutional authority to rewrite statutes, especially in ways that impose new obligations on people, and that is what the fix seems to entail."
This is really no different when, by executive fiat, he delayed the employer mandate for one year and delayed by one year also the income verification (subsidy qualification) portion of ObamaCare.
But going back to the you-might-get-back-that-old-health-care-plan-you-like "fix". It fixes nothing rather creates more uncertainty and thus more havoc at the state level. It makes ObamaCare even more financially unsustainable because those new "better" plans people were being forced into were also more expensive because people were going to be paying premiums for coverage they neither wanted nor needed. The whole house of cards absolutely depends upon people paying for stuff they won't use to subsidize the sick and/or elderly who will use it.
So, to offset this, the sick and elderly and those with pre-existing conditions will be paying more in premiums and deductibles… the very people ObamaCare was supposed to help will more quickly be getting the shaft by this “fix”.
The healthcare market becomes even more muddled as many healthcare insurance companies have left the individual marketplace. Aetna and United Health here in California have done so. Then what?
It appears that some states aren’t waiting for the answer and are already refusing to grant this fix wish. We swear that within minutes of the President concluding his press conference, state insurance commissions were lining up to say they weren’t going to play ball with further hosing up their respective state's individual healthcare market.
What a freaking mess. Some more tweetage to wrap up things:
So, this thing is now pretty much unrecognizable from what was signed into law, huh? #ACA— Dean R. Riehm (@deanriehm) November 14, 2013
How many of those who want 2 go back 2 old plan won't be able 2 b/c former insurer left individual market? #ACA Asking for my friend, Barack— Dean R. Riehm (@deanriehm) November 14, 2013
You all thought that presser was fun? Just wait for the one next year when the employer mandate kicks in. #ACA— Dean R. Riehm (@deanriehm) November 14, 2013
To our liberal friends: turn that frown upsdide-down. You didn't know it but because of today and the incompetence of this administration, you are one step closer to your dream:
Cheer up, progs, only an epically massive clusterfark like #ObamaCare was going to get you guys within spitting distance of single-payer.— Dean R. Riehm (@deanriehm) November 14, 2013