Kevin D. Williamson @ NRO:
The District of Columbia’s Obamacare czars — the board that sets rules for the phony insurance marketplace, or “exchange,” that the law creates — have decided that henceforth insurers shall be forbidden by law to charge smokers higher rates than non-smokers. Smoking, as it turns out, “is a preexisting medical condition,” according to Dr. Mohammad Akhter, the chairman of the D.C. Health Exchange Board. Two liberal states, California and Connecticut, have decided likewise, while Colorado and Alaska have rejected the idea.
As expected, the definition of “preexisting condition” is proving infinitely malleable, with behaviors born again as conditions. If smoking is a condition, then drug addiction is a condition, self-mutilation is a condition, a penchant for BASE jumping is a condition, juggling ampules of penicillin-resistant syphilis — practically anything qualifies as a condition under such a plastic understanding.
There are many ways to implement a bad idea. For instance, Congress might have passed a law requiring that all U.S. insurance companies no longer charge smokers more for their coverage. The state of Connecticut might have passed a similar law. New York City might have passed that law. But in each case, voters who saw that stupidity for what it is would have somebody to vote against. Obamacare eliminates the option for democratic response. Instead, it creates a body of political appointees immune from being held accountable at the ballot box. And who are those appointees? In the case of D.C., you will find few surprises: The SEIU has a man on the board, along with a lot of time-serving political types, a fellow from the Brookings Institution, a lobbyist, etc. Don’t like their boneheaded decisions? Too bad.
There will be thousands and thousands of decisions like this in the coming years, and voters will have very little recourse against them. That is part of the genius of bundling the welfare state with the regulatory state: Whether you are a Democrat who basically likes Obamacare and wants to revisit a few of its flaws or a Republican committed to tearing it up root and branch, you have basically the same hurdle to clear. It might be easier to sell the idea of revision to the general public, but the structural legislative barrier is the same as if you were repealing the law wholesale. The question of ending “discrimination” against smokers is so many levels removed from democratic accountability that even those who are strongly opposed to the idea will probably have no effect. To get to the board, you basically have to fire the mayor, which is no small thing in a corrupt and backward place like our nation’s capital.
Obamacare was sold as a way to help poor people and sick people get health insurance, but, as the D.C. decision shows, the actual intent of the law is the abolition of health insurance.
Obama speaks with forked tongue.
On The ONE Hand, smoking is a ”pre-existing condition,” that medical insurers may not charge more to cover.
But, On The OTHER Hand, Obama wants ANOTHER new $.96 cents per pack tax on cigs to come into federal coffers.
So, starve the private insurers but glut the gov’t!
Of course, Obama’s ”budget” is DOA as neither Reps nor Dems like it at all.