But Senator Baucus, Did the “Experts” Read the Bill?

I doubt that it surprises anyone that Senator Max Baucus did not read the ObamaCare bill that he navigated through the Senate, but we should all be surprised that he has no shame in admitting it in a town hall meeting that he hosted last week with the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius. Indeed, he appears proud of the fact that he did not “waste” time reading the bill, but delegated it to “experts.”

Many of the bill’s supporters have been walking away from it recently. An August 19 report on “A Communications Perspective” for ObamaCare, prepared for the pro-ObamaCare lobbying group Families USA (and leaked to Politico.com), significantly reframes the mission of ObamaCare’s supporters:

  • Instead of selling reform, the new goal is to build “resistance to repeal”;
  • The public is “disappointed, anxious, and depressed,” making the environment for ObamaCare “challenging”;
  • Claims have to be “small” to be “credible”;
  • Convince citizens that only “the rich” will pay for ObamaCare;
  • Finally, do not claim that ObamaCare will ‘reduce costs and deficit.”                  

This is all understandable — but does it explain why Sen. Baucus and Sec. Sebelius are preparing to throw their own “expert” staff under the bus?

ObamaCare’s problems go well beyond “communications.” It is increasingly clear that the “experts” upon whom the politicians relied to write the bill didn’t read or understand it either. A perfect example is the rule that health plans must offer coverage on a guaranteed issue basis, without excluding any pre-existing conditions, to dependents up to 19 years old, regardless of whether they have had continuous coverage before joining a new group.

This strikes fear into every health plan and employer, because it means that parents do not have to sign up for coverage for their dependents until after their kids have fallen ill. Most kids between the ages of two and 19 are very healthy. Then, when a kid gets diagnosed with leukemia or taken to the ER after a motorcycle crash, his parents’ health plan must issue coverage without taking the illness or accident into account.

The provision takes effect on September 23, and is likely the biggest cause of the looming premium hikes that we are going to experience in next year’s renewal. You can find it in Section 10103 (e)(2) of the ObamaCare bill. Under this condition, the only way for a health plan to mitigate the selection risk at all is to limit the opportunity to enroll to an open enrollment period, say one month per year. While the legislation suggested this was possible, it was not clarified by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) when it published regulations governing this situation in the Federal Register on June 28.  Finally, HHS published an unofficial “factsheet” on July 27, which asserted that health plans can impose an open-enrollment period on dependents after September 23.

Needless to say, health plans’ lawyers take little comfort from this “factsheet,” so their actuarial estimates are leaning towards assuming the worst, and are pricing plans accordingly.

When ObamaCare’s own godfather in the Senate disowns it, and attempts to shift responsibility to his “experts,” we can expect that the rest of the bill is stuffed with many more such landmines.

Comments (6)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Tom H. says:

    I sort of warms my heart seeing these guys squirm. They ignored their constituents, they ignored the voters, they ignored common sense. Now they have to live with what they did.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    As more information leaks out about behind-the-scenes efforts to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the more if becomes obvious supports were more concerned with passing something “big” than whether the bill would actually solve problems. It was more about political posturing than reform. It’s sad to see how politics have sunk this low. I’m beginning to think the only people who actually liked the health care bill are the advocates with little knowledge of economics nor markets for risk.

  3. Linda Gorman says:

    I think that the authors of ObamaCare knew full well what they were doing. They were intent on destroying private medical care and have been working on the project for two decades.

    They practiced in Kentucky (KentuckyKare), Tennessee (TennCare), and Massachusetts. Their destructive health insurance legislation was tested in New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts in the 1990s.

    ObamaCare was never about solving problems. The landmines are working exactly as intended. Which doesn’t excuse elected officials. They may not write the bills, but they are supposed to read and evaluate the bills that they pass.

  4. Ken says:

    Let’s see. Families USA is telling everyone how to lie about ObamaCare? What else is new. They’ve been lying about it from day one.

  5. Larry C. says:

    Only the rich will pay for Obama Care? That’s a real whopper.

  6. R.G. says:

    Most individual insurance companies have stopped enrollments of children only plans because of 9/23/2010.

    All parents have to do is enroll 1 parent with the child and the sick or injured child is covered. No need to wait until some silly open enrollment for children on dangerous group insurance plans.

    None of these Democrats running this fall will be able to defend Ugly ObamaCare. It makes no difference if they read the bill or not. They cannot understand the ramifications.