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The Obama Administration has finally admitted what we have been saying all along: Obamacare doesn't work. Unfortunately their remedy is not good enough -- delaying the individual mandate for some, but not for all.
In what Republicans are calling a slow game of Jenga, the Obama Administration is being forced by reality to abandon its byzantine law piece by unworkable piece.
Following the delays of Medicare cuts, the employer mandate, the verification of exchange eligibility, the SHOP exchanges, and various other deadlines, the administration is now delaying the individual mandate itself, at least for people who had their insurance canceled due to Obamacare.
How the administration can oppose a full delay of the individual mandate is unclear at this point. They have declared Obamacare itself to be a hardship, and it's one that affects everyone. Well, everyone except Harry Reid's staff.
In response to six Senate Democrats begging for election-year relief from the unpopular law, Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius wrote in reply,
I very much appreciate your asking for a clarification on whether this exemption applies to those with canceled plans who might be having difficulty paying for an existing bronze, silver, or gold plan. I agree with you that these consumers should qualify for this temporary hardship exemption, and I can assure you that the exemption will be available to them. As a result, in addition to their existing options these individuals will also be able to buy a catastrophic plan to smooth their transition to coverage through the Marketplace.
Along with the Sebelius letter, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS, who administer Obamacare) released a memo announcing the availability of hardship exemptions for those who had their insurance cancelled as a result of Obamcare's bloated requirements:
The Affordable Care Act provides many new consumer protections. In some instances, health insurance issuers in the individual and small group markets are cancelling policies that do not include the new protections for policy or plan years beginning in 2014. Because some consumers were finding other coverage options to be more expensive than their cancelled plans or policies, President Obama announced a transition period allowing for the renewal of cancelled plans and policies between January 1 and October 1, 2014, under certain circumstances. Some states have adopted the transitional policy, enabling health insurance issuers to renew their existing plans and policies. Some health insurance issuers are not renewing cancelled plans or policies.
Note in the bolded portion the phrase "other coverage options," a strained way of saying "Obamacare Exchange-based health insurance."
The memo then graciously informs the Crown's subjects whose non-conforming policies have been cancelled that they have options, including:
The memo then delivers the punch line, telling people who were perfectly happy with the insurance they had outside the Obamcare exchange they can ... look for insurance outside the Obamacare exchange, but they aren't subject to the individual mandate.
If you have been notified that your individual market policy will not be renewed, you will be eligible for a hardship exemption and will be able to enroll in catastrophic coverage. If you believe that the plan options available in the Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy, you will be eligible for catastrophic coverage if it is available in your area.
It's ironic that people who had insurance before Obamacare will get a hardship exemption and won't have to buy it after Obamacare, but the people who didn't want to buy insurance now will be forced to carry it.
The administration is scrambling, trying desperately to avoid the bad news that is certainly coming. People who were covered by insurance they liked just fine have had their policies cancelled because of Obamcare. When some of those people -- who had insurance because they thought they might get sick -- start to have medical problems and don't have insurance, the administration doesn't want the blame.
The blame does fall on the Obama Administration, but it also falls on Senators Landrieu (D-LA), King (I-ME), Kaine (D-VA), Warner (D-VA), Shaheen (D-NH), Heitkamp (D-ND), who despite their feeble election-year protestations about the law, voted for the passage of Obamacare.