Some people insist ObamaCare is here to stay.
President Obama is dismantling it himself, lawlessly hacking off provisions as they become unpopular in order to minimize Democratic losses in the fall election.
Health reform be damned.
Gone is the Washington definition of “essential benefits” that plans must include.
Gone is the employer mandate on mid-size companies.
Gone are the prohibitions on annual and lifetime caps and discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. Health plans the president called “substandard" because they didn’t meet these minimum requirements are OK for another two years.
Gone are over half the deadlines in the law.
Most amazing, gone is the “shared responsibility” tax on people who fail to get covered, which Obama lawyers told the Supreme Court in 2010 was the law’s linchpin.
The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to get covered by March 31, 2014 or pay a “shared responsibility” tax.
It’s not a mere $95, as widely thought. A household with $75,000 in income and 3 kids could be socked with a $1,750 tax for 2014.
Yet only 10% of uninsured Americans who qualify for ObamaCare exchange plans are signing up, according to McKinsey & Company. Even with subsidies to soften sticker shock, 90% of the people these plans were intended to help are saying “no thanks.”
Last week, the House of Representatives voted 250 to 160 to postpone the “shared responsibility” tax for a year. Twenty-seven Democrats supported the measure. But President Obama vowed to veto it, so it will go nowhere.
Instead, Obama is making changes his way -- illegally – by fiat. That is his M.O. He calls it “transition relief.”
Some transition! These changes extend for a full two years.
He also announced last week that people whose plans were cancelled because they didn’t conform to ObamaCare may renew those plans through October, 2016.
Few people will, because state insurance commissioners and insurance companies have the final say, and most are saying "no." But the president was trying to shift the blame.
At the same time, the administration came out with a new set of loose rules exempting anyone with cancelled plans from having to get coverage at all.
This exemption will inevitably be available to the uninsured as well. After all, exempting the once insured while slapping a hefty tax on the uninsured would have a political shelf life of about fifteen minutes. The end result of all this is: good bye mandate.
The core of the Affordable Care Act – the requirement for minimal essential coverage backed up by the “shared responsibility” tax -- is now gone, even as the president doubles down on defending his law and pretending it will work some day.
Last November, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz boasted that Democrats would be running on ObamaCare. Now many are running away from it.
The break in party ranks suggests some Democrats might soon be ready to support a congressional fix to stop the news reports of workers’ hours being cut, patients losing their doctors, and money dumped into nonfunctioning websites.
The president’s budget calls for $600 million to improve ObamaCare’s website technology -- throwing good money after bad.
The outlines of a two-year compromise to carry the nation through the presidential election are obvious:
- Keep popular provisions like allowing children on parents’ plans until age 26.
- Keep the Medicaid expansion to help the needy.
- Suspend the dysfunctional exchanges.
- Repeal the employer mandate to save the 40 hour work week.
- And repeal the tax on the uninsured.
That’s more sensible than watching President Obama lawlessly run ObamaCare into the ground.
Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D. is chairman of Reduce Infection Deaths and a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. A former Lt. Governor of New York, she is author of Beating Obamacare; For more visit www.BetsyMcCaughey.com.