Hospitals to Obama administration: Hey, throw us a bone here

posted at 4:21 pm on July 3, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

There are already too many questions to count swirling around the Obama administration’s sudden decision to delay the law’s clutch employer mandate until 2015; Mary Katharine and Allahpundit covered a fair few last night, among them: Uhm… can the Obama administration even do that?

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) characterized the move as the administration’s latest attempt to skirt Congress.

“This action raises a lot of questions about whether the Obama administration can simply ignore the law when it’s convenient for them,” said Roe, chairman of the Education and Workforce Health subcommittee, in a statement.

Roe said he will launch an investigation into the White House’s legal justification for the delay. He also asked Congress’s research arm to probe the decision.

“I don’t think any president has the authority to pick and choose what parts of law to follow,” Roe said.

And here’s another: As Philip Klein wonders at the Washington Examiner, how is this going to effect the subsidies provided to the individually insured via ObamaCare? Recipients would supposedly be required to show that their employer does not offer health insurance plans that meet the law’s standards before the the subsidies are handed down, but…?

Yet in its Tuesday announcement, the Treasury Department said it was not only delaying the implementation of the employer mandate, but also the employer insurance reporting requirements. If the Obama administration won’t be making judgments on whether employers are meeting the requirements of Obamacare, how can it assess individuals’ eligibility to receive subsidies to purchase insurance on the exchanges?

…perhaps administration officials believe there’s a way to tweak the reporting requirements without affecting the process for determining exchange eligibility. But it isn’t yet clear how they plan on resolving this issue.

And one more big one, for good measure: Now the hospital lobby is immediately piping up about the possibility of delaying an intwined provision of the law that will reduce their payments for uncompensated care by $56 billion over ten years (which is why they’ve been lobbying hard for Medicaid expansion throughout the states). President Obama already recommended in his budget that that provision be delayed until 2015, but sans the employer mandate, they’d like it very much if the Obama administration could push the date back until 2016. If the Obama administration can just decide to push back the employer mandate, then hey, why not this rule, too? Via The Hill:

The American Hospital Association (AHA) called on federal officials to put off looming cuts to hospitals that deal with mostly uninsured patients.

AHA President Rich Umbdenstock said hospitals could not be expected to operate with smaller reimbursements if employers are not going to expand coverage for another year.

“The goal of the [Affordable Care Act] was to extend coverage to the uninsured, which required a shared responsibility from all stakeholders,” Umbdenstock said in a statement. …

Umbdenstock emphasized that without a strong expansion of coverage, hospitals that serve the underprivileged do not deserve cuts under Medicare and Medicaid next year.

And a little exit question of my own: If ObamaCare is supposed to be President Obama’s “crowning legislative achievement,” and he leaves office with ObamaCare’s implementation still in shambles and/or the system imploding under its own weight, then… Well, you know.


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