May I be the first to offer what will likely become a much-repeated paraphrasing of a famed Monty Python skit:
“Obamacare is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. It is stiff. Bereft of life. It rests in peace. Its metabolic processes are now history. It has kicked the bucket, it has shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. This is an ex-health reform law.”
That might just be the best requiem the Obama Administration can give to its health reform law, after it announced March 26th that it is extending the open enrollment deadline to sign up for health insurance through the middle of April. On the surface, this extension is being given to those whose attempts to enroll through the exchange websites were thwarted by technical glitches. However, seeing as how the federal government has included no mechanism to verify if people are telling the truth when they request an extension, as well as its amazing coinciding with when many taxpayers receive their tax refunds, it’s fair to guess that the extension is an attempt to bolster enrollment numbers. But this latest delay is relatively minor compared to the Administration’s announcement of several weeks ago of the delay in the individual mandate until 2016. In plain English, you won’t be fined if you can’t afford to buy health insurance in 2014 or 2015. Of course, this delay in the individual mandate is on top of the delay of the employer mandate until 2015.
But let’s put these three delays together into a short phrase that everyone can understand: Obamacare is dead. The individual and employer mandates were the blood infusions that were supposed to bring life to the health insurance exchanges. Forcing this beast to life was the law’s knocking 96 million people off of their employer and individual market plans, which would force most of them into the government-run system and kick start the health insurance exchanges. But no blood means no life.
The individual mandate and the employer mandate will never see the light of day again, and with their demise passes the Age of Obamacare. Don’t expect these mandates to return and revive the law: If insurance is too expensive for these mandates to have existed today, these mandates won’t work in two years when health insurance is even more expensive. Extending enrollment through mid-April is akin to keeping a body alive through CPR alone. Obamacare’s short life is the all-too-predictable result of passing a health reform law that never addressed the reasons as to why health insurance became so expensive in the first place.
Written by Matt Haarington, MPH
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