Patterico's Pontifications


WSJ: Obama Administration Quietly Extends Individual Mandate for Two Years

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:29 am

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.

48 Responses to “WSJ: Obama Administration Quietly Extends Individual Mandate for Two Years”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. I suppose since he has no ability, he can’t be held to the oath of office.

    htom (412a17)

  3. Who needs health insurance anyway?

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  4. *peep* is what the pervert Roberts court will NOT say

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  5. baraaaaccccckkkkk obama
    he’s King are you mocking him?
    He. Will. Not. Be. Mockt.

    Colonel Haiku (228503)

  6. Painted Jaguar:
    As I just said elsewhere, the Dems and the Conservative Repubs (who knows about the establishment Repubs) agree that ObamaCare is so bad it should not be enforced. The difference is that the Repubs want people to wake up and smell (the Peruvian mountain) coffee to make it official, while the Dems want to keep pretending it is a good thing so they can finally inflict it upon you folks up north.
    Sorry for not being more creative along with verbose, but I’m helping MD with something and he’s growing impatient.

    Painted Jaguar (a sockpuppet) (f9371b)

  7. Patterico: 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.

    It’s more like he wants this restricted to a need-to-know basis.

    Who needs to know?

    Anyone who is at the point where they might be affected by the penalty/tax.

    Obama does not want any general announcement because:

    1) That would discourage people from buying an insurance policy, and he needs as many relatively healthy people as possible to buy one for the math to work.

    So, like phone companies or cable TV companies, or credit card companies or car companies that only tell you about the discount or the recall if you ask, or threaten to cancel, people are to be told about this only if they call and complain, or complain to their Congressman.

    For legal reasons, they had to publish this, but they didn’t want to call attention to this.

    2) It is a confession of failure.

    In a change from the December rule, you don’t need to have had your insurance policy cancelled to take advantage of this.

    Originally, says the WSJ, the hardship exemption was intended for people who had been evicted, or were bankrupt, or battered women who fled their homes and situations like that.

    Sammy Finkelman (4eebb9)

  8. Unlike the Executive, constrained by law and the Constitution the Federal Reserve could have done whatever it liked and helped:

    Financiers borrow billions at near-zero interest from the Fed and then use the free money to buy bonds in other countries where the return is (say) 5%. The financiers are skimming 4.75% or more for doing nothing other than having access to the Fed’s free money.

    If the bonds rise in value (because interest rates decline in the nation issuing the bonds), the financiers skim additional profit. If the trade can be leveraged via derivatives, then the annual return can be bumped up from 5% to 10%.

    Let’s imagine the Fed invested its $3.2 Trillion printed in this carry trade.

    That works out to an annual profit of $160 billion (5% of $3.2 trillion). Now let’s say the Fed divvied the profit up among everyone who paid Social Security taxes the previous year. That’s around 140 million wage earners. Every person who paid Social Security taxes would receive $1,100 from the Fed’s carry trade profits.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  9. OTOH, what’s it to you, if the Fed finances 10% of GDP stumping for a third of the Deficit and that benefits the truly deserving?

    STFU racist.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  10. On the show “Between Two Ferns”, excerted on the CBS Evening News last night, without contradiction, Barack Obama was back to saying that an insurance policy would cost about as much as a cell phone plan.

    This is pathetic.

    Sammy Finkelman (4eebb9)

  11. So the current account balance of 404Care is headlined by:

    4 Million previously uninsured added to Medicaid rolls.

    6 Million previously self-insured on their own a la carte self-recognizance.

    Tens of thousands of physicians retired.

    Hundreds of hospitals escape the government network.


    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  12. The coming deficits aren’t caused by Obamacare, they are caused by Bush and the Tea Party extremists. And the Koch brothers.

    Or at lest that’s what the HY Times will say.

    Kevin M (dbcba4)

  13. The spin is as thick as mosquitoes on an MN evening in July but here’s some data on FL District 13.

    Turnout was half that of 2008.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  14. The people have made clear: these branches of government are confusing. They want an emperor who can make the evil rich people give them stuff.

    Kevin M (dbcba4)

  15. Sebelius denies:

    The Obama administration will not delay ObamaCare’s individual mandate or the March 31 deadline for enrolling in the new healthcare law, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday.

    Sebelius offered the assurance during testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, where Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) noted the administration has made dozens of other changes or delays to the law.

    Given problems caused by ObamaCare’s faulty website last year, Brady asked Sebelius directly if delays to the individual mandate or enrollment deadline were next.

    “No sir,” Sebelius responded on both counts.

    Kevin M (dbcba4)

  16. Dear America,

    It’s not me, it’s you.



    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  17. Dear America,

    I gave you this awesome health care law, and all you have done is complain about it. If you would simply wash your hands more often and eat more arugula, you probably wouldn’t need to see a doctor.
    Anyhow, I’m going to go play some more golf. If Vlad needs to chat about the Yukon, Yugoslavia Uganda Ukraine he can leave me a voicemail message.



    P.S. Have you ever seen these wicked little machines that some retailers have where you can sign your name like an Etch-a-Sketch, right after you slide your credit card !?
    I wonder how many jobs they have eliminated. I bet unemployment would be like 2.3% if those machines didn’t exist.

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  18. 19. Is it just me or does this cat like golf way more than plausible?

    The observable effects of blow wear off in a couple of hours. Less time than a butcher takes to hack up a golf course.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  19. “On the show “Between Two Ferns”, excerted excreted on the CBS Evening News last night, without contradiction, Barack Obama was back to saying that an insurance policy would cost about as much as a cell phone plan.”

    FIFY, Sammy

    Colonel Haiku (cb438a)

  20. Gary,

    If we must have a Golfer-in-Chief, I would prefer Phil Mickelson.

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  21. If you like your cell phone, you can shouldn’t keep it. You should just cancel it, so you can afford to pay for health insurance.

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  22. Phil is too hi-brow for me. Give me Bubba Watson.

    Check out his band Golf Boys on youtube:

    felipe (6100bc)

  23. Comment by Elephant Stone (6a6f37) — 3/12/2014 @ 11:49 am

    Rush said that the one said exactly that the other day. Well, not exactly that, as it was a Spanish show, but when someone said they couldn’t afford $300/mo for a plan on $36,000/yr, the one said he needed to reexamine his priorities and dump the cable or something.

    I think the fellow said that if Obama cut back a little bit on golf then he could share the unspent caddy fees.
    But then the ATF came…

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  24. gary @17, the pivot to jobs is of course just as fraudulent as the pivot to Asia. The administration is finally admitting what has been obvious since early in the first Obama administration.|head

    The pivot, part of a larger plan to focus deployments and military ties to the Asia-Pacific region to combat the rising threat of China, has been a central tenet of Pentagon strategy as the agency looks to wind down the war in Afghanistan.

    But Katrina McFarland, assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, said the agency is now reconsidering the strategy in light of the budget pressures it faces.

    “Right now, the pivot is being looked at again, because candidly it can’t happen,” she told Aviation Week’s Defense Technologies and Requirements conference in Arlington, Va.

    Of course the article was later updated to include a WH “clarification.” Which is an obvious lie; they’re going to stick with the “pivot” story even though it’s obvious to everyone that you can’t pivot to a maritime theater like the Pacific and cut the Air Force and Navy at the same time. Those are mutually contradictory. But then this administration is nothing if not cognitively dissonant.

    Here’s another example of their cognitive dissonance, which is more on topic.

    This is a few days old, but it’s amusing nonetheless. Barack Obama appeared in a town hall for Spanish-language media on March 6th to discuss ObamaCare and promote enrollments, and got challenged by a viewer on the economics of it for low-income Americans who are now forced to buy comprehensive health insurance. On a $36,000 annual income, the requirement to buy the broad policy rather than something a little more economical — say, hospitalization coverage combined with an HSA, a strategy which is now all but illegal — makes it impossible to comply. Pshaw, Obama replied. Why, all those low-income folks need to do is stop spending money on luxuries like cable television and cell phones!

    No, really:…

    Due to the miracle of Obamacare, people will be forced to choose what else they’ll have to go without if they want to buy it. Cable TV, cell phones, and no doubt heating and cooling their homes, and foregoing the skyrocketing cost of hamburger and eating bologna instead.

    The way President Mean Girl tosses around the word “affordable,” you can tell he doesn’t know what the word means.

    But he/she/it wants you to quit whining about this wonderful new downwardly mobile lifestyle he’s bestowed upon you and start thanking him instead.

    Steve57 (927d18)

  25. Why do I think that I am not alone in having deleted the PPACA individual mandate from my “things to do” list?

    askeptic (2bb434)

  26. The only thing they will not pivot to is sanity.

    Kevin M (dbcba4)

  27. Recall he did this program with Zach, at the height of the Ukraine crisis,

    narciso (3fec35)

  28. Recall, narciso, that this is the site from which Obama chose to announce that Putin’s Crimean invastion “uncontested arrival” wasn’t a sign of strength.

    I’m sure that President Justin Beiber is scaring the ex-KGB spymaster witless right about now.

    Steve57 (927d18)

  29. Yet part of a long line of stupid moves.

    narciso (3fec35)

  30. This is pathetic.
    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (4eebb9) — 3/12/2014 @ 10:10 am

    someone is obviously spoofing Sam the Sham, because there’s no way he’d criticize Ear Leader

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  31. You may be right “red”, this is the signature line on a SF post on DiFi “Sammy Finkelman (032a0d)”.

    askeptic (2bb434)

  32. OT: The Engine of Deflation Cataclysm is launched.

    Baltic Dry Index has fallen 8% overnight.

    The problem with deflation, bane of Central Bankers, is that debts grow faster as income ebbs.

    Europe, you are now free to panic.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  33. Dems in full retreat
    this “signature achievement”
    is sh*t on shingle

    Colonel Haiku (cb438a)

  34. Dreamers in the streets
    my love and I drifting by
    Panic in the World

    Colonel Haiku (cb438a)

  35. Oh, my. The euro is up over $1.39 per today.

    DESTIN!(for you cowboys that’s doom in Fwench).

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  36. merde!

    Colonel Haiku (cb438a)

  37. ooh la la

    elissa (5beb7b)

  38. sacre blew!!!

    Colonel Haiku (cb438a)

  39. thank heaveen for leetle gurlz

    Colonel Haiku (cb438a)

  40. I fart in their general direction!

    Colonel Haiku (cb438a)

  41. 32. Comment by redc1c4 (abd49e) — 3/12/2014 @ 2:21 pm

    someone is obviously spoofing Sam the Sham, because there’s no way he’d criticize Ear Leader

    Where do you get that idea?

    I just am against, and don’t make myself, off the mark criticisms of him.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  42. Mark criticizes everybody, Sammy… Especially teh gheys…

    Colonel Haiku (cb438a)

  43. 21. The word I actually wanted was “excerpted”

    It was at the end of the comedy sketch/interview.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  44. I just am against, and don’t make myself, off the mark criticisms of him.
    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (d22d64) — 3/12/2014 @ 3:02 pm

    Sir, I’ll have you know that I try to make sure that every one of my criticisms of President Obama is on the mark.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  45. 46. Yeah, me too!

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  46. People have a lot to say about the pros and cons of Obamacare, but my personal opinion is that in the long-term, it will be really beneficial for the health of the economy.

    abby (3bb15d)

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