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Obamacare Is Falling Apart Before Our Eyes

Obamacare madness, Christmas edition.

4:31 PM, Dec 20, 2013 • By JAMES C. CAPRETTA
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And then there are the other Americans who remain subject to the mandate, including the uninsured.  As Ezra Klein notes, what could possibly justify waiving the mandate for those who could afford to pay premiums in 2013 (for policies that were forced to be canceled by Obamacare) while retaining it for the uninsured who couldn’t afford coverage at all in 2013?  As it becomes more evident that there will be tens of millions of uninsured in 2014 despite Obamacare, Democrats will come under intense pressure to exempt them from the individual mandate tax too.  NBC’s Chuck Todd spoke for many when he wondered aloud whether anyone would pay the uninsured tax in 2014, given what has transpired to date.  Who would bet otherwise at this point?

The administration also announced yesterday that those with canceled policies could elect to enroll in the catastrophic insurance options offered on the Obamacare exchanges.  These were supposed to be reserved for enrollees age 30 and younger, and were priced accordingly.  Now the administration has opened up these policies, at least theoretically, to some people over age 30, which means the products are undoubtedly underpriced (as of now, the exchange websites only allow shoppers 30 and younger to see the catastrophic coverage options, and it’s not clear how fast this feature could be changed).  Of course, in the first three years, when the insurers lose money on Obamacare coverage, it’s the taxpayers who pick up the tab in the form of “risk-sharing” provisions.  But the insurers should not be complacent.  As these “bailout” features of Obamacare become more widely understood, they will not sit well with taxpayers, and therefore are politically vulnerable too.

The Obama administration has decided on its own to delay the individual mandate for one group of Americans.  GOP House and Senate members can rightly take partial credit for making this happen because they were the ones who turned up the political heat on Senate Democrats.  There’s a lesson there.  The Obama administration has been systematically dismantling its own law over the last year because it has feared the political backlash that would ensue if it didn’t conduct a partial retreat. The GOP should therefore keep the pressure on and see what other provisions of Obamacare the administration will throw overboard in a likely futile attempt to protect Democrats in the next election.

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