President Obama has made it no secret that he considers there to be few political problems he can’t remedy with his pen and phone. The imperial president has, especially in his second term, become quite comfortable with enacting policies and changing laws with the stroke of a pen. With Obamacare looming large for Democrats, the president who once promised hope and change now operates as a king to avoid the political fallout of his signature “achievement.”
President Obama quietly and unilaterally delayed the dreaded individual mandate once again. In a move telling of their duplicity, the Obama Administrations Health and Human Services purposefully did not release to the press the mandate change but, instead, buried the change in an obscure rule that dealt with Obamacare insurance requirements.
The Wall Street Journal, who stumbled upon the rule change, reported:
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.
In 2013, HHS decided that ObamaCare’s wave of policy terminations qualified as a “hardship” that entitled people to a special type of coverage designed for people under age 30 or a mandate exemption. HHS originally defined and reserved hardship exemptions for the truly down and out such as battered women, the evicted and bankrupts.
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 unaffordable.”
That’s right; in order to qualify for the individual mandate exemption, one must claim a “hardship” that renders one unable to procure insurance.
The true and tragic irony of this is that Obamacare was pushed upon an American public that did not want it with the promise that the Affordable Care Ac would make insurance… well… affordable.
This “hardship” exemption applies to people who merely claim it without any proof or standard. Though, in theory, one should show proof of a hardship such as an insurer termination notice (something Obama promised repeatedly would not happen as a result of Obamacare’s passage), one can also simply claim that they’ve experienced “another hardship in obtaining health insurance.”
Another waiver allows someone to be exempted, even without prior insurance, if they claim they simply cannot afford it. So, conceivably, everybody can be exempted.
The WSJ also reports:
Keep in mind that the White House argued at the Supreme Court that the individual mandate to buy insurance was indispensable to the law’s success, and President Obama continues to say he’d veto the bipartisan bills that would delay or repeal it. So why areObamaCare liberals silently gutting their own creation now?
The answers are the implementation fiasco and politics. HHS revealed Tuesday that only 940,000 people signed up for an ObamaCare plan in February, bringing the total to about 4.2 million, well below the original 5.7 million projection. The predicted “surge” of young beneficiaries isn’t materializing even as the end-of-March deadline approaches, and enrollment decelerated in February.
Meanwhile, a McKinsey & Company survey reports that a mere 27% of people joining the exchanges were previously uninsured through February. The survey also found that about half of people who shopped for a plan but did not enroll said premiums were too expensive, even though 80% of this group qualify for subsidies. Some substantial share of the people ObamaCare is supposed to help say it is a bad financial value. You might even call it a hardship.
Most important to Democrats, however, is the likely political fallout. As the 2014 midterm elections shape up, Democrats are startled to discover the tremendous dearth of support from mainstream America. The 2015 tax penalty for being uninsured would add insult to injury at a time when Democrats will be trying to revive their brand and the 2016 elections might very well be a disaster for Democrats unless they abandon ship right now.
While the duplicity of the Obama Administration in trying to obscure this new waiver is troubling, the ease with which President Obama so readily changes laws is outright terrifying.
Obama and his fellow Democrats have maintained that the individual mandate is key for the law. As it stands right now, the once proud accomplishment of the left remains in tatters and serves as a definite “I told you so” for Republicans and conservatives who have maintained a fierce opposition all along.