Breaking: The Administration Caves on Cancelled Policies

Here’s how Douglas Holtz-Eakin explains it:

Late yesterday — that is, after the news cycle closed on the Thursday before the de facto Friday off before the holiday weekend, which is certainly just a coincidence coming from an administration that has dumped more important policy announcements in this fashion than they’ve had the spine to announce — HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius…in a letter to Senator Mark Warner announced that the administration was 1) waiving the individual mandate for those with cancelled policies, and 2) Waiving the age limitations on catastrophic plans so those with cancelled policies can purchase a catastrophic plan.

This is a big deal. Substantively, it opens the door to deferring the mandate entirely and by acknowledging that catastrophic plans would be suitable coverage it makes a lie of all the rhetoric about how existing insurance (“underinsurance”) is “subpar” and “poor”. It will be fine for 2014. And it represents another round of changing the rules of the game for citizens and insurers. It is ridiculously unfair to the latter, who the president just asked to cover bills even if they had not been paid, or even if it was not clear the person had a policy.

…Nobody — not the president, not Sebelius, not even a press flack — took responsibility and faced the American people. Instead, it was done via a letter and leaked blog post. And it is a mere 4 days before people were supposed to be obligated to be insured. Shameful. Period.

My theory: Barack Obama never has been in charge. He takes vacations, plays golf and delivers compelling speeches. But nothing more than that.

Comments (16)

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  1. Tommy says:

    This kind of uncertainty is what clouds the hiring horizon for businesses, especially small- to mid-sized ones.

    • Wayne says:

      Instead of hiring, they adjust hours and make cuts. But in the long run, if companies begin switching to mechanics or outsourcing, those jobs won’t be coming back.

    • Bradley says:

      Across the board, uncertainty about healthcare and energy policy are the biggest reasons for hesitation I’ve heard from business owners.

  2. Perry says:

    Looks like the administration is just making this up as they go, much like the PPACA law itself was patched together.

  3. Martha says:

    This kind of behavior seems rather cowardly.

  4. Wayne says:

    I agree completely but can’t help laughing at how much things have changed; to give some context, Hoover once thought about hosting a press release to address the stagnating recovery from the Great Depression but was advised to not show weakness. The modern openness with which we’re accustomed is so new and already so engrained within the fabric of American media.

  5. Wayne says:

    “This is a big deal.” -Joe Biden (minus expletives)

  6. Stewart says:

    Placing people under catastrophic coverage simply is not the most efficient way to provide insurance on any account. For the patient, this noticeably means higher premiums.

  7. Rich Berger says:

    “My theory: Barack Obama never has been in charge. He takes vacations, plays golf and delivers compelling speeches. But nothing more than that.”

    I agree, except for the compelling speeches. I find his speechifying tedious. There’s nothing in his resume or his presidency that gives evidence of any real talent other than getting elected (with the help of deception and an insanely supportive press). But the real question is who is in charge? Valerie Jarrett? David Axelrod?

  8. Bob Hertz says:

    This latest move was a cynical but understandable calculation by CMS (not Obama).

    When January shows that the cancelled group are still uninsured in great numbers, the political furor is not going to wait until the 2014 elections. I mean we could see more initiatives to impeach Obama, and I am not a right winger when I say that.

    So the admin. will do anything to mollify this group. In a military sense, it is better to give ground than to get slaughtered.

    • John Fembup says:

      Bob, it appears this no longer a battle, or even a war. It looks like the war is over, and it’s lost.

      What we see now is like Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow.

      Obama’s Grand Armee is not giving ground for any strategic reason – it’s giving ground because there’s nothing else it can do.

      And, as it was for Napoleon’s army, there will be few survivors.

  9. John Fembup says:

    “My theory: Barack Obama never has been in charge.”

    I understand. I have thought since 2005 that Obama was only considered by the Democrat Party leadership as a candidate of convenience – someone who could win. This is the deal they offered him: “Barack, you’re a nice guy and we want you to run for President in 2008; you give the speeches and we’ll see that you get elected. Then you do what we tell you. You can act the part of President – just don’t ever THINK of crossing us. After that, we’ll find something attractive for you to do. Thank you. You are excused from the meeting.”

    fwiw, I’m a registered Democrat, always have been.

  10. Bob Hertz says:

    Well put, John.

    The cheerleaders for the ACA have been saying enrollments will pick up by March.

    They have not said whether policies can actually be issued and paid for each month!

  11. Chris says:

    Obama has always wanted the title more than the job.