March 10, 2014 - 11:01 pm
Delays in Obamacare’s most destructive requirements are so common — and so obviously motivated by political considerations — they aren’t even newsworthy anymore. It surprised no one last week when the unilateralist Obama administration announced insurance companies could, for two more years, continue selling policies that don’t provide all of the “essential benefits” required by the Affordable Care Act.
Those mandates caused the cancellation of millions of health plans last year because the policies, geared toward unexpected costs, didn’t cover preventive care, prescriptions, mental health services or pediatric or maternity care. The cancellations — and accompanying notices that consumers’ premiums would double or even triple if they wanted to continue coverage — triggered national outrage because President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders had promised that Americans who liked their existing plans could keep them.
The president’s approval rating tanked in response, so the administration ordered a one-year stay of execution for those policies. But the reprieve came too late for about half the states (Nevada among them) to lawfully allow the renewal of noncompliant policies. And in the states that allowed the renewal of noncompliant policies, cancellations were pushed back to the fall of 2014 — just before midterm elections, when several already-vulnerable Democratic U.S. senators are up for re-election.
And so, on Wednesday, the Obama administration announced Americans could keep the noncompliant insurance they like until 2016, assuring that more cancellations won’t precede November’s election. Uncertainty and chaos will rule the insurance marketplace for the rest of Mr. Obama’s presidency.
The political problem for the president and Democrats: Americans know what happens when the clock runs out, no matter how many times this mandate, Obamacare’s employer mandate or any other requirement is delayed. Obamacare was supposed to reduce costs and give consumers more choices. Instead, it has resulted in higher costs and less choice.
Delays won’t fix Obamacare and spare taxpayers from its burdens. Only one thing will: repeal.