There’s a very good reason that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act came to be known as Obamacare: The law is all about him.
What’s covered by your health insurance? Whatever Mr. Obama requires — even if it’s more than you want, and you’re left paying the difference. How can insurers spend the money they receive in premium payments? Only according to presidential diktat, with at least 80 percent having to be paid out in the form of health claims. Want to save money by signing up for a plan that keeps premiums low by placing annual or lifetime limits on coverage? The president won’t let you.
Thus, we’re less than surprised that the “fix” that President Obama announced Thursday for his signature initiative has a lot less to do with helping consumers than it does with rehabilitating his flagging political fortunes and those of his vulnerable allies in Congress.
Because the Affordable Care Act requires minimum coverage levels for all health insurance policies — levels that go well beyond those in many existing plans — the past month has been dominated by stories of consumers having their policies canceled and given no alternative but to sign up for newer, more-expensive plans. In California alone, more than 1 million policies have already been terminated, according to state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
The public backlash to these cancellations — especially in light of Mr. Obama’s repeated pledges that people who like their health insurance could keep it under Obamacare — has been swift and furious. That’s bad for a president whose credibility is on the line. It’s even worse for red state Democrats who will likely be facing restive electorates come next November.
In response to the public tumult, Mr. Obama announced Thursday that his administration will grant a one-year extension for consumers to keep their existing policies that fail to comply with the law’s stringent requirements. Count us as unimpressed.
What’s immediately noticeable about this audible is its time horizon: a one-year extension means the pain of cancellations will simply emerge again at this time next year — right after the midterm elections. That’s not a decision about providing insurance for Americans facing health issues; it’s a decision about providing insurance for vulnerable Democrats against an electoral backlash.
Even worse than the naked political calculation, is the cavalier disregard for the rule of law. Time and again, on everything from recess appointments to executive orders, this administration has substituted its judgment for the constitutionally required consent of Congress. The law must be binding at all times, not just when it’s politically convenient for the executive branch. If the president wants to adjust policy, he must do so through the legislative process, not executive fiat.
If these insurance policies are good enough to remain active for the coming year, we see no reason why they’re not good enough to remain active in perpetuity. The coverage mandates in Obamacare deserve outright repeal, as does the law in its entirety.
— From the Orange County Register