Yuval Levin breaks down what the Obama administration is now attempting, in order to save Obamacare.
As usual, it’s hard to tell just what’s going on inside the administration regardingObamacare, but I don’t think we can really take the steps announced by HHSyesterday as anything but a bright, red, flashing warning light about the internal expectations regarding January.
Some of what they announced is frankly bizarre and slightly crazy. Beside extending the high-risk pool program (which isn’t nuts, just a strong indication that they’re not ready for January at this very late stage), they are asking insurers to pay claims for consumers who haven’t paid their premiums, to treat out-of-network doctors and hospitals as though they were in-network, and to pay for prescription drugs not actually covered by the plans they offer.
Obamacare, the law that Barack Obama signed after Democrats sent it to him, allows for none of this. These powers are not in the original law and they’re not in the regulations.
The “strong suggestions” are an attempt to put the blame on insurance companies for anything that goes wrong in healthcare, going forward. “We tried,” Obama will say, “but the insurance companies put their own profits above your health.” So he’s covered if they decline to comply. His base has already bought that lie, and will back him, and that’s all he really cares about. He has lost credibility with the majority. He may cost the Democrats the Senate next year. But he already has plans in place for losing the Senate but expanding his own power by rendering Congress irrelevant.
If the insurance companies go along with HHS’ “strong suggestions,” they stand the risk of bankrupting themselves, as the “strong suggestions” would have them pay out for services and drugs for which they may never be compensated, and for which they may never collect premiums. That’s not a bug, but a feature of where Obama wants to take healthcare in America.
Obama has therefore set himself up to use failure to claim that the only solution is government-run, single-payer healthcare. Which has been his goal all along.