The Wall Street Journal says that new rules quietly announced by the Obama administration last week amount to an extension of the individual mandate until 2016:
ObamaCare’s implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act—the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty.
This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn’t think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates. Our sources only noticed the change this week.
That seven-page technical bulletin includes a paragraph and footnote that casually mention that a rule in a separate December 2013 bulletin would be extended for two more years, until 2016. Lo and behold, it turns out this second rule, which was supposed to last for only a year, allows Americans whose coverage was cancelled to opt out of the mandate altogether.
In 2013, HHS decided that ObamaCare’s wave of policy terminations qualified as a “hardship” that entitled people to a special type of coverage designed for people under age 30 or a mandate exemption. HHS originally defined and reserved hardship exemptions for the truly down and out such as battered women, the evicted and bankrupts.
But amid the post-rollout political backlash, last week the agency created a new category: Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was cancelled and that you “believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy” or “you consider other available policies unaffordable.”
I’m glad that someone is finally putting some meat on this bone, although “zero” media notice is a slightly inaccurate rhetorical flourish. The truth is that it has been mentioned, but not with any of the fanfare or controversy that one would think would accompany such a sweeping change. It’s almost as if Obama wanted it kept quiet, and the media kept it quiet — but told you about it, in asides, just like he would want.
I noticed noise on Twitter last week about an extension of the individual mandate until 2016, and indeed I quoted this passage from a New York Times editorial:
The Obama administration announced a new policy on Wednesday that will allow many people to renew their existing insurance policies for two more years even though the policies don’t provide the comprehensive coverage and consumer protections required by the Affordable Care Act. The move is designed to provide political cover for Democratic senators facing tough re-election campaigns in Republican-leaning states where the president is especially unpopular.
I meant to muse on the meaning of that passage in my post, but failed in a hurry to get out the door. I kept an eye on media coverage, and I when I saw no major stories about it, I figured it couldn’t be that big a deal.
Because it’s not like Obama could essentially repeal the individual mandate on his own for two years and not have the media talk about it. Right?
Well, of course, it appears that’s exactly what happened. And now, what are Republicans going to do? Scream about it, when they have been calling for exactly that? Stand on constitutional principle, and say that any such change must happen with legislative approval, when that stand would be unpopular?
You already know the answer to that question.
And, understand: it’s not like Obama cares that individual citizens aren’t going to be paying for all these subsidies by contributing a penalty. It doesn’t matter to him if young people are buying unneeded policies to ease the burden on insurance companies saddled with pre-existing conditions.
Because ultimately, he thinks the government should be paying for all this. So the idea is: give out the goodies now, and delay (perhaps forever) the pain that pays for the goodies. What’s a few more billion dollars in deficits? And if anyone notices, you can always pretend that a tax hike on the rich would take care of everything.
And so, it’s not surprising none of this made the news. As power continues to become more centralized in Washington instead of the states, that power continues to be centralized in the hands of a single man, and the country continues apace on its headlong rush towards financial collapse.
In other words, business as usual. Why would any of that merit a front-page story?
P.S. You’re going to see me talking a lot more about secession on this blog: about saving the parts of the country that can be saved. It’s a little ironic, since I’m in a part that couldn’t be saved. But if we could get a groundswell going, I can see moving. But that’s another post — or several.