implementation

Obamacare, in one photo

Given this week’s news of yet another delay to yet another Obamacare regulation that just five short years ago was going to literally keep people from dying in the streets, I thought an illustration would be useful. So here it is:

flaming train

Yep. That’s it. That’s Obamacare in a nutshell.

I first saw this image linked to Obamacare by Twitter user @cuffymeh (#FF) a couple years ago during the 2012 presidential campaign when the first delays and waivers started popping up. I laughed for a good 10 minutes. It perfectly portrays everything about Obamacare in one neat, catastrophic package.

The absurdly huge amount of flame represents the massive size of the failure so far. From waivers, to delays, to implementation, to website failures, to coverage gaps, to state rebukes, to ever-sinking poll numbers. It is uniquely appropriate that there are more flames and smoke than train in the photo.

While it is, of course, a still photo, the train does have a sense of motion, but it seems like a very sluggish, hampered speed. Obamacare has moved just as slowly and ungracefully. Some of the parts that would eventually become the law started being proposed in 2007 even before the 2008 presidential campaign heated up (pun fully intended).

House Republican proposes spending bill that would delay ObamaCare

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks’ endorsements of Graves’ plan.

Amid growing concerns that House Republicans will be unable to find the votes to pass a Continuing Resolution to before the end of the month, Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) has proposed a measure that would keep the government open while also delaying implementation of ObamaCare until 2015.

House Republicans leaders tried some legislative trickery by proposing a Continuing Resolution that wouldn’t defund ObamaCare. Division in the party’s ranks caused the leaders to delay a vote on the measure and threaten the cancelation of the September recess.

“After weeks of working with and listening to members on how to approach the government funding deadline, it’s clear that House Republicans are united around two goals: keeping the government open and protecting our constituents from the harmful effects of Obamacare,” said Graves, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Today, my 42 cosponsors and I are putting forward a plan that achieves both goals.”

Graves says the plan is “straightforward.” The measure funds the government a post-sequester levels, with the exception of defense and national security, while keeping true to House Republicans’ desire to delay and defund ObamaCare.

Senate Republicans ask White House to “permanently delay” ObamaCare

A little more than a week after the Treasury Department announced that it would delay the employer mandate and reports of further problems with implemention, Senate Republicans sent a letter to the White House yesterday asking that President Obama “permanently delay” ObamaCare for all Americans.

“We write to express concern that in your recent decision to delay implementation of the employer mandate, you have unilaterally acted and failed to work with Congress on such a significant decision,” said Senate Republicans in letter signed by all 45 members party’s caucus. “Further, while your action finally acknowledges some of the many burdens this law will place on job creators, we believe the rest of this law should be permanently delayed for everyone in order to avoid significant economic harm to American families.”

“In response to questions about the administration’s decision, your senior advisor Valerie Jarrett said, ‘We are listening,’ while referring to the concerns of the business community over the onerous employer mandate that will result in fewer jobs and employees working fewer hours,” they continued. “We have been listening as well, and as more employers have attempted to understand your burdensome requirements in the Affordable Care Act, the louder their outrage has become.”

ObamaCare Employer Mandate Penalties Delayed Until 2015

Barack Obama and Jack Lew

In April, the soon-to-be-retired and chief ObamaCare author Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) warned that the looming 2014 full implementation of ObamaCare was on track to be a train wreck.  The Administration finally conceded as much on Tuesday when it announced that it will be delaying enforcement of ObamaCare’s employer mandate until 2015.

The Treasury Department confirmed the delay in a blog post ironically titled “Continuing to Implement the ACA in a Careful, Thoughtful Manner.”

Over the past several months, the Administration has been engaging in a dialogue with businesses - many of which already provide health coverage for their workers - about the new employer and insurer reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively.  We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so.  We have listened to your feedback.  And we are taking action.
[…]
Accordingly, we are extending this transition relief to the employer shared responsibility payments.  These payments will not apply for 2014.  Any employer shared responsibility payments will not apply until 2015.

It’s time to separate health coverage from employment

The Obama administration’s latest employer mandate delay is causing some to question their support of the law, or at the very least, express frustration with the way in which President Obama’s signature domestic achievement has been implemented.

Among those expressing frustration is Ron Fournier, the senior political columnist at the National Journal.

In a column yesterday, Fournier explained that he is “getting sick of defending Obamacare,” pointing the White House’s politicization of the law, the thoughtless manner in which it was implemented, and changes and delays of various regulations. The journalist also made some of the same comments on Fox News on Monday evening.

“Advocates for a strong executive branch, including me, have given the White House a pass on its rule-making authority, because implementing such a complicated law requires flexibility,” Fournier wrote. “But the law may be getting stretched to the point of breaking. Think of the [Affordable Care Act] as a game of Jenga: Adjust one piece and the rest are affected; adjust too many and it falls.”

“If not illegal,” he continued, “the changes are fueling suspicion among Obama-loathing conservatives, and confusion among the rest of us. Even the law’s most fervent supporters are frustrated,” latter adding that he falls in the “frustrated category.”

Oregon Democrat blames “big business” for his state’s Obamacare woes

Jeff Merkley

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has found a new punching bag for his state’s Obamacare exchange website woes. Politico notes that the Oregon Democrat is blaming “big business” for the problems with the state’s health insurance exchange website, CoverOregon.com.

The problems with this particular state exchange are, arguably, even worse than those that occurred on the federal exchange. As of mid-November, Cover Oregon had not enrolled anyone into a private health plan through the exchange. Numbers provided by the Obama Administration found that just 44 people had selected health plans in the first two months of the open enrollment period.

Though enrollment numbers have improved in recent weeks, Oregon officials are still seeing enrollments below even the lowest-level projections. The state’s exchange website, by the way, still isn’t fully functional, despite getting $59 million from the federal government to assist with implementation.

Merkley, who is up for re-election this year, blames Oracle, the California-based company contracted to build the website, for this sordid mess — and it’s a talking point that’s being repeated by Democrats around the country:

Poll: 67% want Obamacare delayed, majority of Democrats agree

The bad news continues for President Barack Obama with yet another new poll showing still stagnant approval ratings and widespread rejection of his health insurance reform law after a disastrous rollout.

The poll, released yesterday by Fox News, found that 41% of voters approve of President Obama’s job performance, while 53% disapprove. Those numbers are virtually unchanged from October (41/53) and November (40/55).

Voters were divisive in their rejection of Obamacare. Just 38% said that they’re glad the law passed, while 54% wish it had never passed. Fifty-three percent (53%) of voters want Obamacare repealed.

A stunning 67% want a one-year delay of the law, including 54% of Democrats and 68% of independents. That was a proposal for which House and Senate Republican lobbied leading up to and during the government shutdown. The White House and Senate Democrats refused to concede any ground on the law, refusing even a delay for the individual mandate.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters believe that the Obama Administration knew that President Obama’s infamous health plan promise, recently named as PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year,” wasn’t true. Forty percent (40%) believe Obamacare will be repealed or defunded, up from 27% in October, while 54% believe it will remain the law, a 10-point drop since the question was last asked.

Georgia legislators seek to ban state agencies from implementing Obamacare

Nullify Obamacare

The Georgia General Assembly is gearing up for another legislative session and some members are already pre-filing bills that could be considered next year. Among those pieces of legislation is a measure — The Georgia Health Care Freedom and ACA Noncompliance Act — introduced by state Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) that would ban state agencies from providing any support to implement Obamacare:

A group of five Republican Georgia state legislators opened up a new line of attack against the Affordable Care Act Monday, following their counterparts in South Carolina in a movement that could soon involve other conservative states.

“Our (proposed legislation) simply says the state of Georgia and any political entity, any agency, any public university or college will simply not be able to implement Obamacare at all,” said lead sponsor Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) in a news conference on the State Capitol steps.

“We’re telling the Obama administration: ‘If you want the ACA in Georgia, you’re going to pay for it and you’re going to implement it. And don’t expect aid from Georgia in doing so,” said co-sponsor state Rep. Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock).

Administration in a panic, urging insurers to cover customers who haven’t paid

In the latest signs of desperation over Obamacare, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced late last week that it is taking steps to extend a federal high-risk pool program by one month and is “urging” insurers to cover customers who selected plans on January 1, even if they haven’t made a premium payment.

The Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a high-risk pool for those considered uninsurable, was set to end at the end of December, but the one-month extension of the program is notable because these customers were set to enter the Obamacare exchanges. But the extension of the program is an obvious move to lessen the impact of expected premiums hikes for 2015, a sign that HHS has a gloomy outlook on enrollment numbers.

“By delaying this population’s entry into the pool for just one month, the administration’s decision will mean insurers have one less month of real claims data to use in setting premiums for 2015, no small matter when only three or four months’ worth of data will be used, potentially shaving a point or two, or even more, off of the insurer’s claims experience,” wrote Sean Parnell last week at The Federalist.

MI Senate: Republican candidate competitive in Democratic-leaning state

Terri Lynn Land

Could a Republican win the open Senate seat in Michigan? Weeks ago, most political observers would have said this is unlikely, and some may still say that Republicans face an unlikely path to winning what is a Democratic-leaning state.

But new survey by Public Policy Polling shows that, at the very least, Republicans will be competitive. The likely Republican nominee, Terri Lynn Land, holds a small, 2-point lead (42/40) over her likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI).

In June, Public Policy Polling found that Peters had a 5-point lead, 41/36, over Land.

The reason for the swing is (surprise!) Obamacare. The poll found that 63% voters in the state don’t believe the implementation of the law has been successful. Just 6% describe implementation as “very successful” and 24% say it has been “somewhat successful.”

Overall, 48% of Michigan voters disapprove of Obamacare, while 34% approve of the controversial law, which has caused an estimated 225,000 policy cancellations in the state, as of the end of November.

Land, who served as Michigan Secretary of State from 2003 to 2011, is viewed favorably by 34% of voters, just 23% view her unfavorably. Just 22% have a favorable view of Peters, 21% have an unfavorable view of the Democratic candidate.

Michigan voters aren’t too thrilled with President Barack Obama, who won the state by 9 points last year. His job approval in among voters is underwater, at 47/51.


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