Remember, Obamacare is
land. And there’s absolutely no messing with it. Unless you are
the Obama administration, and it’s an election year.
In The Hill, Elise Viebeck
reports on the latest delay anticipated for the health
The Obama administration is set to announce another major delay
in implementing the Affordable Care Act, easing election pressure
As early as this week, according to two sources, the White House
will announce a new directive allowing insurers to continue
offering health plans that do not meet ObamaCare’s minimum coverage
The explanation for the delay is purely political. There’s not
even a pretense of a policy justification:
Prolonging the “keep your plan” fix will avoid another wave of
health policy cancellations otherwise expected this fall.
The cancellations would have created a firestorm for Democratic
candidates in the last, crucial weeks before Election Day.
The White House is intent on protecting its allies in the
Senate, where Democrats face a battle to keep control of the
Is there a sound legal basis for such a delay? If so, we’ve yet
to hear about it.
This is the second tweak to the health law in less than a week.
Last Friday, presumably after noticing that many of the state-run
health insurance portals created under the law
aren’t working so well, the administration announced that in
states with clunky exchanges, individuals who enroll in health
coverage outside those exchanges would still be eligible for the
law’s tax credits.
That fix is also fairly clearly aimed at helping Democratic
allies in governor’s offices. From an AP
Although the new policy fix is available to any state,
Republican governors basically defaulted to federal control of
online sign-ups in their states. Those who stand to benefit the
most are Democratic governors who plunged ahead and ran into
problems. Some are facing sharp criticism at home, from both sides
of the political aisle.
This tweak is also of dubious legality — by which I mean,
the plain text of the law flatly prohibits it. Section 1401 of the
text of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says that
the law’s subsidies shall be available “through an Exchange
established by the State under Section 1311” of the law. The
already reinterpreted this section once, changing it to mean an
exchange established by a state or the federal government. It is
now intent on ignoring the requirement that the subsidies be
offered through an exchange altogether.
Both of these administrative edits follow the further delay of
the law’s employer mandate requirements that the administration
announced in February. (For the record,
it was also illegal.)
None of this was supposed to happen! At the end of December, as
Obamacare’s coverage provisions were about to kick in, Kathleen
Sebelius said that despite the rocky launch, things were working
smoothly with the law, and she did not any anticipate
any additional delays. As is always the case with Obamacare,
everything’s working fine, until it isn’t.