It’s hard to keep track, given the Obama administration’s rampant transparency and all, but this appears to be the 31st unilateral change that the Obama administration has made to Obamacare. The Wall Street Journal noticed the latest quiet earthquake.
This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn’t think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don’t comply withObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates. Our sources only noticed the change this week.
That seven-page technical bulletin includes a paragraph and footnote that casually mention that a rule in a separate December 2013 bulletin would be extended for two more years, until 2016. Lo and behold, it turns out this second rule, which was supposed to last for only a year, allows Americans whose coverage was cancelled to opt out of the mandate altogether.
In 2013, HHS decided that ObamaCare’s wave of policy terminations qualified as a “hardship” that entitled people to a special type of coverage designed for people under age 30 or a mandate exemption. HHS originally defined and reserved hardship exemptions for the truly down and out such as battered women, the evicted and bankrupts.
The new “hardship” may include having your healthplan canceled because of Obamacare’s mandates, and finding out that the Obamacare-approved plan that you have to buy costs more than the plan that got whacked. You don’t even have to have any documentation to get the hardship. And you don’t even have to have had healthcare prior to the Age of Obamacare. You just have to say so. All this means that the individual mandate, which the Democrats were so stridently insistent must remain in place even if the government had to be shut down last fall, has now been pushed back a couple of years, to 2016. That year being a presidential election year, bank on the outgoing Obama administration to do Hillary Clinton a solid and delay the mandate to 2017, some time around the point at which the Democrats officially choose their nominee. Just in case.
This is a rather large admission that Obamacare simply does not work and is hurting an awful lot of people, some of them being Democrats running for re-election this fall. Obama is looking out for those people if not the rest of us, and if he has to lawlessly extend the mandate to help them, so be it. It’s an admission that the centerpiece of Obamacare is now an existential threat to the party that passed it.
Which is a sort of justice, really.