The Affordable Care Act means what it says and says what it means.
Until it doesn’t.
The arbiter is President Obama and a phalanx of health care advisers and political strategists.
Together, they try to implement what even Obama’s heartiest loyalists concede is an onerous and complicated law. They do this amid myriad Democratic midterm anxieties. And frothy Republican objections.
But it’s time to concede that no one has been more adept or aggressive about delaying and defanging Obamacare than Obama himself. Systematically and with an eye toward his party’s immediate political troubles, Obama has reshaped, photo-shopped, reimagined, and reengineered Obamacare. It all sounds techy and cool and flexible—at least to the administration. To those who must live with and live under the law, the arbitrary is the norm. The only pattern is chaos. Obamacare’s worst enemy is Obama.
The New York Times has compiled a helpful list of recent changes to the Affordable Care Act—13 in just over a year. That comes out to more than one substantive change to policy or legislated deadlines per month. This, in a landmark law nearing its fourth birthday.
The latest switcheroo deals with the employer mandate, which the administration has delayed for another year for medium-sized businesses and softened for big employers. Companies with 50 to 99 employees will not have to provide health insurance under fear of fines (between $2,000 and $3,000 per full-time employee) until January 2016. Until Monday, the deadline was January 2015. Also, companies with more than 100 employees can provide insurance coverage to just 70 percent of their workforce in 2015 instead of the original 95 percent requirement.
The employer mandate is a significant component of the law that was subject to strenuous theoretical debate in the 2008 presidential campaign and lengthy legislative tussling during the drafting of Obamacare. This is a not an Affordable Care asterisk, although health care economists argue it has little impact on increasing insurance coverage.
That may be true, but it drove medium-sized businesses to distraction, and they lobbied the White House for a reprieve—and won the midterm political lottery.
Obama described the change soothingly in his joint press conference with French President François Hollande. “This was an example of, administratively, us making sure that we’re smoothing out this transition, giving people the opportunities to get right with the law, but recognizing that there are going to be circumstances in which people are trying to do the right thing and it may take a little bit of time,” Obama said.
It may take a little bit of time.
Eleven of the 13 alterations to the Affordable Care Act in the past 12 months have given individuals or businesses more time. The burden of compliance is palpable. And so the White House has had to again and again smooth out the transition, in a law it crafted exclusively with Democrats.
“Our goal here is not to punish folks,” Obama said, unwittingly admitting that compliance with his own law amounts to economic and administrative sanction. “Our goal is to make sure that we’ve got people who can count on the financial security that health insurance provides.”
Of course, those employees who work for companies that just happen to have 50 to 99 employees and were hoping, possibly expecting, to receive health coverage next year— well, they cannot count on Obamacare. Or Obama, who helpfully explained why:
“Where we’ve got companies that want to do the right thing and are trying to work with us, we want to make sure that we’re working with them as well.” Translation: If you want to provide coverage but not right now and in compliance with the law as written, and you complain loud enough and weaken the political footing of Senate Democrats, you don’t have to eat your Obamacare spinach— or cover your employees.
In the same breath, Obama made clear that this process of photo-shopping, rewriting, and reimagining will continue apace, depending on the hassle that is Obamacare compliance and the political terrain.
Republicans have repeatedly claimed that Obamacare will result in 5 million people losing their insurance. As this article that appeared in the Washington Post on December 30, 2013 pointed out, there’s a critical difference between losing a particular insurance plan and losing coverage. A recent study concluded that the number of people who will actually lose coverage as a result of Obamacare is around 10,000—only two-tenths of one percent of the number claimed by republicans. Compare that number with the millions of formerly uninsured Americans who now have health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act.
Here’s a link to the study in question: Debunking Republican Claims about Coverage Losses under the Affordable Care Act
If republicans are going to eliminate Obamacare–the Big Promise that they’re apparently making central to their 2014 and 2016 election campaigns—they will have to deal with the real numbers, not with imaginary numbers they’ve pulled out of a hat for propaganda purposes. They’ll have to come up with a genuine, detailed alternative that actually works better—not simply claim that they have one.
Unless, of course, voters are ready to buy another pig in a poke.
Interesting that Garret completely neglects to mention in his article that, the office of the President has no Constitutional authority to rewrite the ACA or any other law.
I was watching C-SPAN the other day when one witness was asked about all the new ObamaMandates that keep changing ObamaCare.
He said, I’d love to think outside the box for solutions to our workers’ coverage but first I need to know where the box is. We can never find the box.
With that level of uncertainty is it any wonder Obama is more likely to ”fix” a political problem for Dems than he is to try to deal with the functional issues of ObamaCare for their real-world impact?
No business which intends to stay in business can proceed without a plan. How do you plan when your expenses are subject to the whim of the Chief Executive? Normal investment procedure is to look at a five-year plan and make decisions as to whether to buy the stock of the company or provide that company with a loan.
This regime is not oriented towards business, except for the deep-pocket contributors.
The bundlers can count on specific exemptions, written into law by Sen Reid. The rest can go to ***.
As for the middle class, forget about them. The goal is to produce only two classes, lower class and elites. The lower class will all vote Democratic, as they are all on the dole. The elites will live off of money borrowed from China.
This is a preposterous and unsustainable plan.
As of today, another million signed up. Game over, teabaggers.
@This one: Why is it that liberals can only call others names? Is it because liberals generally do not have any evidence to back up their potty mouth? -and the ironic part about tea bagging; isn’t it that most gays are liberals and that tea bagging is one their favorite activities?
“The White House has been dealt a stunning new blow on Obamacare sign-up numbers with reports showing that only about half of the people “enrolled” at healthcare exchanges in various states have actually paid their premiums.”
Obamacare Will Make You Poor!
Greg @ number 1 can say anything he wants, or show any kind of no it ain’t so statistics he wants. Obama care WAS NOT DESIGNED and SHOVED DOWN OUR THROATS by a ‘benevolent’ Government ‘caring’ about peoples health….hell not ONE DEMOCRATIC POLITICIAN READ THE DAM THING!
They are EXACTLY the same as the SHEEP they are leading to the slaughter….stupid. Period.
And IF they HAD, wouldn’t all this scum that keeps coming to the top have been ‘noted’ well before this??
No, it is, and always HAS BEEN more SINISTER than what the low infos and brain dead were lead to believe… under the guise of ‘free’ that is…
If only a handful of people (30 Million) were without health “insurance” why drag 300 million people into it?????? Does not make a bit of sense.
And, these are the same people who claim the Right is ‘extreme-ists’ now THAT’s A LAUGH…
Yet, once again I say – The Tea Party was RIGHT!
@FAITH7: Faith, Sarah Palin IS RIGHT. I’d say the 2 useful fools posting have to do the usual and make up facts to suit their misguided love of ObismalCare’s Less.
@This one: Got a link for that claim, or lack of O2 costing you brain cells?
So, nearly 3 million have put a plan in a shopping cart.
80% of all shopping carts are abandoned on the web.
No wonder Obama doesn’t tell how many have paid a premium.
Add to that, three-quarters of those who have signed up so far are getting subsidies to help pay for their coverage.
That means they are sponges, not payers.
ObamaCare will fall of its own weight at this rate.
The new fact-based risk pool and payment pool is so bad that ObamaCare is going to force the cost of coverage out of reach of everyone but the rich – who can already afford to pay a penalty and be taken care of outside its system!
The libs are grasping so hard on this it’s sad and funny at the same time. By saying the Repubs must show or come up with a better plan to replace it is an admission the ACA is an over promised and under delivered piece of bureaucracy at best and a rolling disaster at worst.
Just a reminder when the negotiations were taking place to craft this law Repubs were shut out of them. The door was slammed in their faces. There was no talk of reaching across the aisle or bipartisanship. It was hit the road we don’t need you. We know what’s best for the country. Of course the Progs and Dems loved this. They were not demanding bipartisanship. They hate, yes hate, anyone who isn’t on their side.
Now that it’s a mess they cry where’s the Repub’s plan. If it were me I’d say sorry no plan from me, we must now fully implement your plan without delay, the country can’t wait any longer for it. And those who support it should be livid the president is delaying it.
It’s so obvious his delays are for politics and power retention.
If obamacare was really working like the propagandists keep insisting, then why does Obama keep having to illegally delay implementation of the law?
And again, having health INSURANCE does not equate to being able to actually get medical care. Unless you leftists are going to show your true totalitarian colors by enslaving physicians, how long can obamacare survive if physicians refuse to accept it as insurance, as is happening all over the country?
@Greg: Greg, the ACA has NOT been fully implemented so how can you say or prove how many Americans will be left without Health Insurance?? Secondly, 0-blama told America if you like your health insurance and/or doctor you could keep them. This has been proven to be a lie and even O-blama has admitted this fact!!