Ho hum — another week, another unilateral change to the ObamaCare law. Without fanfare, HHS changed the way tax credits can be claimed by people who would normally be eligible for subsidies. The Affordable Care Act requires that subsidies only get assigned through ObamaCare exchanges, and there’s even some question as to whether the federal exchange qualifies. That’s to prevent fraud and abuse, but the failures of the state exchanges leaves a lot of Democratic governors who made the mistake of going all-in on ObamaCare in a tough spot. Their state exchanges are largely non compos mentis, which would mean that their voters would miss out on those tax credits.
HHS has waved its magic waiver wand once again:
HHS said state residents who were unable to sign up because of technical problems may still get federal tax credits if they bought private insurance outside of the new online insurance exchanges.
The federal policy change is significant because until now the administration has stressed that the only place to get taxpayer-subsidized insurance under President Barack Obama’s health law is through the new online markets, called exchanges. Previously, people who bought outside the marketplace were not eligible for subsidies, although they benefit from consumer protections in the law.
The White House has come to their rescue, and they’re pretty darned stoked about it, too:
“Today’s news means that many more Oregonians will be able to access better coverage at a more affordable cost,” said Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, whose state is near the bottom on enrollments.
Why is Oregon near the bottom? It’s because Kitzhaber’s administration spent hundreds of millions of dollars to produce a virtual brick in cyberspace, that’s why. Kithzaber keeps trying to claim that he knew nothing of the failure, but that’s getting more and more difficult to sustain. Oh, and let’s not forget that Oregon took a boatload of money from the federal government under arguably fraudulent circumstances.
Remember this when ObamaCare supporters claim that the problem with the program is Republican obstructionism in the states, and that the Democrats who built state exchanges show how well the system can work. If that was the case, HHS wouldn’t be bailing out Democratic governors today by making a tax-credit change. And by the way, what jurisdiction does HHS have to make a change to tax-credit statutes, anyway?