This week, another ad hoc postponement in in implementation of health care reform. This time, the Obama Administration has delayed a provision that would have put caps on out-of-pocket costs and banned lifetime limits in health insurance policies.
The Administration asserts that the reason for the delay is computer problems, but the pattern of postponements indicates that the Administration is delaying nearly every provision of the health care reform act widely known as “ObamaCare” because it is becoming obvious that all the President’s promises about reduced health care costs and broader individual choices were just false. As the economic realities of forcing employers and health insurance companies to offer much wider and deeper coverage become clear, the Administration has been forced into damage control, trying to delay actual implementation the bill until after the next election.
It’s flatly dishonest policymaking. The Administration pushed hard for passage of health care reform, asserting that everyone who disagreed with any provision of the law was a liar for pointing out flaws. Now, nearly every critic has been proven right. Premiums are higher when the government mandates that insurance policies cannot limit their downside risk. Duh. Employers are less likely to offer coverage when they are required to pay higher costs for more coverage. Duh. Employers are likely to drop coverage when the government is offering a subsidy to individuals, but not employers, and when the penalty for dropping coverage is much lower than the cost of continuing it. Duh. Employers are going to cut employee hours to avoid triggering the threshold at which they are required to absorb tens of thousands of per-employee health care costs. Duh.
The bottom line is that the wheels are coming off of health care reform. It was forced through without an honest debate because, as then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously dictated, no one was allowed to read it until after it was passed. As a result, the final policy was badly written. More importantly, however, is that many of the claims made by proponents were never seriously examined because they were buried under a blizzard of personal attacks.
Now reality bites. Hard. And the President and his allies are scrambling to keep it hidden long enough to avoid accountability.