I don’t know where to begin. Wait, yes I do. What they’re recommending is illegal:
As long as these substantial technology glitches persist, we are losing valuable time to educate and enroll people in insurance plans. Our constituents are frustrated, and we fear that the longer the website is not functional, opportunities for people to log on, learn about their insurance choices, and enroll will be lost.
Given the existing problems with healthcare.gov and other state-run marketplace websites that depend on the federally-administered website, we urge you to consider extending open enrollment beyond the current end date of March 31, 2014. Extending this period will give consumers critical time in which to become familiar with the website and choose a plan that is best for them. Individuals should not be penalized for lack of coverage if they are unable to purchase health insurance due to technical problems.
They’re not offering to pass a bill to extend the enrollment deadline. They’re asking Sebelius to do it herself. But under the statute, it’s too late for that; the Secretary of HHS was required to set the date by July 1, 2012. Sebelius chose March 31, 2014. If she tries to change that now, she’s guilty of the same flagrant illegality as Obama when he decided unilaterally to delay the employer mandate, which is also required by the statute. But that won’t stop her. After all, if her boss can to defy separation of powers on grounds that doin’ good for the people permits him to ignore statutes he’s tasked with enforcing (a statute which, in this case, he himself signed into law), why can’t she?
But never mind that. After he ignored the War Powers Act to attack Qaddafi and trashed the employer mandate this summer, the principle that Obama can disregard the law when it’s politically convenient for him is now well established. What I want to know is why you have 10 Democrats in the Senate endorsing a delay plan that’ll almost certainly make ObamaCare’s problems worse, not better. Revisit this post if you don’t know why. Extending the enrollment period will only increase the risk of driving up premiums by easing the pressure on healthy people to enroll soon and by giving those who fall ill or have an accident next year extra time to sign up and force insurers to cover them. It’s an amazing testament to how unserious red-state Democrats are about their big domestic “achievement” that they’re willing to endorse a proposal that risks cocking up the program further just because the politics of it (“you can’t penalize people if the website doesn’t work!”) happen to be good right now.
Note the number, too. Ten Democrats pushes McConnell and the Senate GOP within striking distance of beating a filibuster to pass an extension of the enrollment deadline if they can figure out a way to bring it to the floor. CNN reported recently that they expect all 16 Dems who are up for reelection next year to support something like that if it’s proposed, which, if true, would mean that there are indeed 60 votes to do this. The big question now: Should Republicans back it, knowing that it’ll only deepen the insurance crisis caused by O-Care, or should they push for a delay of the entire law, which would ease the crisis but which dopey Democrats won’t accept for political reasons? Writing at Red State, Erick Erickson says it’s time to let the law take effect, i.e. to let it burn:
The only way Obamacare would ever work is if people behaved irrationally. It is a system that requires the young to go out and by their own insurance, but allows them to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are well into their twenties. The law operates only if people do not behave like people.
Republicans should be opposed to any and all fixes of Obamacare. The GOP should not lift even half a finger to accommodate Democrat demands for changes. The Democrats planned and implemented Obamacare without a single Republican vote. They made clear they did not need the votes. They used a budgetary procedure in the Senate to get around a filibuster after the people of Massachusetts sent a Republican in Ted Kennedy’s steed to try to stop it.
So the Democrats can own it. They can own every deleted application, every delayed entry into the website, every denial of insurance, every decline in full time work, and every denial of care that comes from this horrible law.
How does that calculus apply to extending the enrollment deadline, though? It’s intended as a “fix” but in practice it’ll likely increase the damage from the law. A “let it burn” supporter should, as such, join with the Democrats in backing it then, right? If you’re in the “let it burn” camp, though, then arguably you’re what Ted Cruz would call a “Bad Samaritan,” standing aside while the law takes effect and wreaks havoc on an unsuspecting public. Interestingly, because of the death-spiral potential from an enrollment extension, the GOP could honestly oppose it on grounds that they’re being Good Samaritans by refusing to let the law do even more damage than it would if the Democrats’ “fix” is approved. But that would be a tough sell; given the depth of public ignorance about the law, explaining that you’re actually helping them by refusing to give them extra time to sign up for insurance would be deeply confusing. So what’s the play? I’m interested to see how Cruz, who rejected the “let it burn” approach a few days ago, thinks the party should proceed. Maybe hold out for a delay of the entire law instead of just the mandate or the enrollment period? A month from now, if Healthcare.gov is still a wreck, Obama might have no choice but to consider that.
Via the Corner, here’s George Will on “adverse selection.”