Thursday, March 13, 2014

Technical bulletins: where horrible, no-good laws go to die

B-Daddy over at The Liberator Today did a fine job of covering that which we
are about to here, below.

Recall, back in September of last year at the height of shutdown fever, the
House passed a resolution that would've funded all government operations
while suspending the individual mandate for one year. At the time, we
thought that to be a very, very reasonable compromise. After all, there
was every indication that the rollout of the ObamaCare online exchange on
October 1st was not going to go smoothly so why not, legally, through the
legislative process, allow both the tragically flawed website and its
customers some more time to get up to speed?

Now, nearly six months after that, the individual mandate is about the only
aspect of the law that has not been delayed or waived or exempted by
executive fiat by the President himself. Yes, dear readers, it would
appear that it is not those House Republican "hostage-takers" and
"terrorists" rather President Barack Obama who is the biggest obstructionist
to his own signature piece of legislation.

But what now of the individual mandate? Since the individual mandate is
the lynchpin of the entire law (the mechanism by which to get young, healthy
people to pay for the healthcare needs of the old and infirm), there was no
way in hell anything was going to happen to it, right? Even if delaying the
individual mandate made the most practical sense for everyone involved,
there was no way that this administration was going to give in and thus give
tacit acknowledgement that the Republicans were right back last September.

Well, in the regulatory equivalent of a Friday evening news dump, the law
has once again been altered with dubious legality as an "out clause" of sorts
has been added to the regulations concerning the individual mandate.

From the Wall Street Journal... and we absolutely love the opening line:

ObamaCare's implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their
own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care
Act-the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly
excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance
or else pay a tax penalty.

This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the
Health and Human Services Department didn't think the details were worth
discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the
mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to
preserve some health plans that don't comply with ObamaCare benefit and
redistribution mandates. Our sources only noticed the change this week.

That seven-page technical bulletin includes a paragraph and footnote that
casually mention that a rule in a separate December 2013 bulletin would be
extended for two more years, until 2016. Lo and behold, it turns out this
second rule, which was supposed to last for only a year, allows Americans
whose coverage was cancelled to opt out of the mandate altogether.

You remember those cancellations, right? The
if-you-like-your-current-plan-you-can-keep-your-plan cancellations? But we
digress. Back in December, the administration, again by executive fiat,
allowed those with cancelled plans to go back to their old "bad apple" and
"sub-standard" plans from which they were to be saved by ObamaCare. Now,
with minimal administrative effort, those people with cancelled plans will
be exempted from the individual mandate.

Back to the article:

But amid the post-rollout political backlash, last week the agency created a
new category: Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your
plan was cancelled and that you "believe that the plan options available in
the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your
cancelled health insurance policy" or "you consider other available policies

This lax standard-no formula or hard test beyond a person's belief-at least
ostensibly requires proof such as an insurer termination notice. But people
can also qualify for hardships for the unspecified nonreason that "you
experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance," which only
requires "documentation if possible." And yet another waiver is available to
those who say they are merely unable to afford coverage, regardless of their
prior insurance. In a word, these shifting legal benchmarks offer an
exemption to everyone who conceivably wants one.

"documentation if possible" tells you all you need to know about how it is,
or more precisely, how this isn't going to be enforced. How fitting,
how perfect that this administration which treats with such pique and
disdain the purposely difficult parameters for governing a constitutional
republic would create something within their signature law that could aptly
be called the "it's, like, too haaaard", exemption.

To quote B-Daddy, “So, this is what victory over ObamaCare looks like”.

So, what now? The administration has effectively gutted the requirements for the individual mandate so how is it that the rest of the law is supposed to remain financially stable?

What else to do to save this wretched law than to bail it out with massive tax-payer lump sums and subsidies for the health insurance lobby? It’s what they do best, in fact, it’s pretty much all they do.

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