Noonan on latest ObamaCare delay: Is there even an ObamaCare law anymore?
posted at 5:01 pm on March 9, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
Last week, the Obama administration implicitly announced that they have lately been visited with the dawning realization that their initial extralegal fix to the “if you like your plan, you can keep it” debacle that Democrats created for themselves… actually created another debacle for themselves (funny how that happens, isn’t it?). In November, President Obama decided from on high that he would allow all of those millions of canceled health insurance plans in the individual insurance market that didn’t meet ObamaCare’s magnanimous specifications to be un-cancelled for a year — which, inconveniently, would mean that a whole slew of cancellations would start coming due right around the hottest point of the midterm campaign season. That would mean a lot of awkward town-hall conversations about how forcing people off of inexpensive, minimal plans is a feature and not a bug of the president’s crowning legislative achievement, and Democrats are going to have enough trouble as it is defending their involvement in getting this national disaster passed.
Ergo, in steps the Obama administration with the oh-so-ingenious and legally dubious idea of allowing these un-cancelled plans to remain un-cancelled for an additional couple of years through 2016 — and so what if that leads to the further deterioration of the already-struggling insurance risk pools that look like they’ll be perilously short on the requisite number of young invincibles to keep them functioning? Democrats will worry about that later, ya’ll, ’cause in the meantime, they’ve got elections to win.
Insurers, however — those poor dears — are just a mite more worried about the latest change. Health insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski explained last week:
The fundamental problem here is that the administration is just not signing up enough people to make anyone confident this program is sustainable.
Yes, the law’s $20 billion “3Rs” health insurance company reinsurance program will prop up the program through 2016––and even be enhanced because of these changes. But then the “training wheels” come off and the program has to stand on its own. As I have said on this blog before, I don’t expect the insurance industry to be patient past 2015 before it has to begin charging the real cost of the program to consumers. …
Even if the administration gets 20%, or 25%, or 30% of the eligible group signed-up by March 31, that is nowhere near enough to create a sustainable pool. The long-time underwriting rule calls for at least 70% of an eligible group to participate in order to get enough healthy people to pay for the sick who will always show up first for coverage.
Ah, well. The Obama administration has more delays, changes, and “fixes” where this one came from. The entire ABC This Week panel this morning was basically in agreement that this latest executive amendment was nothing short of a blatantly political bone the administration is throwing to anxious Democrats, and as Peggy Noonan mused, “Is there still an ObamaCare law?”