Is it? I feel weird asking the question because O-Care already entered a, shall we say, “post-legal phase” after Obama decided he had the power to unilaterally delay the employer mandate based on nothin’ more than his own good, ass-covering intentions. If King Barack wants to issue a proclamation declaring that insurers can bring back canceled plans, well, there you go. He’s certainly got a better case for executive authority here than he did in suspending the employer mandate: One of the damning facts about the millions of cancellations is that they were compelled by regulations written by Obama’s own HHS, not passed as part of the statute by Congress when the law was enacted in 2010. HHS wrote the regs narrowly because it wanted mass cancellations — that was a key way to force middle-class healthy people with cheap coverage into the more expensive exchanges. If the president wants to relax those rules, even though it’s a total clusterfark for the insurance industry, hey. That’s what they get for trying to do business with this harebrained chump.
Here’s what they’re looking at now, thanks to Obama’s and his party’s cowardly refusal to stand by the new insurance regime they’ve created. Bob Laszewski:
This means that the insurance companies have 32 days to reprogram their computer systems for policies, rates, and eligibility, send notices to the policyholders via US Mail, send a very complex letter that describes just what the differences are between specific policies and Obamacare compliant plans, ask the consumer for their decision–and give them a reasonable time to make that decision–and then enter those decisions back into their systems without creating massive billing, claim payment, and provider eligibility list mistakes.
All by January 1.
And if they don’t get it done, Democrats will run to the podium to claim that they did everything they to bring back canceled plans but the bloodsuckers in the industry who helped make their dream of a giant insurance boondoggle come true failed America at the last minute. The more I think about it, though, the more I think Philip Klein’s right: It’s really too late to pass the buck on this, isn’t it? Even if people buy this bogus attempt to scapegoat insurers, there’s no getting around the fact that the new regime is a Democratic production from stem to stern and that it’s a giant cock-up, even if some segment of the cancellations are undone. That’s the political significance of the website: If that was running smoothly there’d still be agita over the cancellations, but it’d be much easier to claim that insurers are the weak link in the ObamaCare chain. If people were enrolling en masse, O might even feel sufficiently emboldened to tell those with cancellations that he feels their pain but that the robust, healthy risk pool on the new exchanges means that premiums might very well drop next year. He can’t do any of that now; the stink of incompetence from Healthcare.gov is too foul for him to play this off as some insurance-industry conspiracy. And in fairness to him, he didn’t press too hard on it at today’s trainwreck press conference. “That’s on me,” he said of the cancellations. There you go, RNC ad team.
Update: Via the Standard, skepticism over O’s legal authority for the fix is now bipartisan.