Obama Introduces “Administrative Fix” That May Create More Problems Than It Solves

A contrite President Obama offered a "fix" for one of the biggest problems that the PPACA has created.

Obama Sad Presser

As expected, President Obama appeared in the White House Press Briefing Room today and, in addition to answering questions, set forth what is being called an “administrative fix” to the Affordable Care Act that is supposed to address the problem of people who have seen their individual insurance policies being canceled due to failure to comply with the Affordable Care Act:

WASHINGTON — President Obama bowed to mounting political pressure from across the country and on Capitol Hill on Thursday and announced new rules that will let insurance companies keep people on health care plans that would not have been allowed under the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Obama, seeking to address an outcry that has shaken public confidence in the new health law, told reporters at the White House that the changes should allow most people to retain their health care plans for a year despite having received letters saying they could no longer keep their insurance.

“I completely get how upsetting this can be for a lot of Americans, particularly after assurances they heard from me that if they had a plan that they liked they could keep it,” said Mr. Obama, who repeatedly took personal responsibility for the health care rollout, which has thrown Democrats on the defensive. “And to those Americans, I hear you loud and clear. I said that I would do everything we can to fix this problem. And today I’m offering an idea that will help do it.”

The president’s plan would apply only to people who have had their existing policies canceled. Those currently without insurance would not be able to buy the old plans.

Despite the president’s reversal, Speaker John A. Boehner said that he intended to push ahead with a House vote Friday on a measure that would allow consumers to keep their canceled plans without penalty and allow others to sign up for them. Mr. Boehner said that he was skeptical of the president’s plan, and that the new law needed to be overturned.

“The only way to fully protect the American people is to scrap this law once and for all,” Mr. Boehner told reporters.

Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, said her members were clamoring for a fix on top of what the president was offering. Many of them, she said, were those who fought hard for the law’s passage and want to see it saved. Other Democrats said they wanted a more permanent resolution of the cancellation issue, suggesting that Mr. Obama’s plan would not quiet the clamor.

The president’s announcement also drew a cool reaction from insurers.

“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,” said Karen M. Ignagni, the president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group. “Premiums have already been set for next year based on an assumption about when consumers will be transitioning to the new marketplace. If now fewer younger and healthier people choose to purchase coverage in the exchange, premiums will increase, and there will be fewer choices for consumers.”

A White House official confirmed that “we don’t have a commitment from state insurance commissioners” to go along with the president’s new policy. State insurance regulators also said they had not discussed it with the administration.

As I noted this morning, it’s rather obvious that this proposal is primarily meant to undercut growing support among House and Senate Democrats for proposals that are intended to achieve similar goals that have been put forward by Senator Mary Landrieu in the Senate and Congressman Fred Upton in the House. Obama’s plan isn’t entirely identical to either plan, though, as Ezra Klein notes in his comparison of the three proposals over at Wonkblog. Given that, it’s not at all clear what impact this plan will have on either of those proposals, or on the momentum that has been building among both parties for some kind of a legislative fix that addresses the canceled plan issue. However, if the initial reaction from both sides of the aisle is any indication, this is unlikely to stem the tide. On the House side, Speaker Boehner’s immediate reaction questions both the effectiveness and the legality of what the President is proposing. And even some Democrats are, so far at least, less than impressed:

President Obama’s announcement that he will allow a one-year delay of cancellation notices for current health insurance policies, even if they don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act, triggered relief among some congressional Democrats, but others are concerned it doesn’t go far enough.

Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, who has proposed legislation that would extend current policies indefinitely, said she was “encouraged” by the president’s solution but will continue to push her legislation. “I remain willing to work with anyone who wants to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and keep the significant promise that it holds for our country,” she said.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, who has endorsed Landrieu’s bill, said that while the White House proposal is “a step in the right direction,” it doesn’t go far enough. “The concept was … you could chose between the individual plan you have and the plans that were on the exchange and without any limitation on the length that you could keep the plan that you had,” he explained.

As far as Boehner’s comments go, there does appear to be at least some question about the legality of this move. For example, The Volokh Conspiracy’s Eugene Kontorvich makes this excellent point:

It is true that the Chief Executive has some room to decide how strongly to enforce a law, and the timing of enforcement. But here, Obama is apparently suspending the enforcement of a law for a year – simply to head off actual legislation not to his liking. Congress is working on legislation quite similar to the president’s fix, but with differences he considers objectionable. This further demonstrates the primarily legislative nature of the fix.

Indeed, the fix goes far beyond “non-enforcement” because it requires insurers to certain new action to enjoy the delay. This is thus not simply a delay, but a new law.

The “fix” amounts to new legislation – but enacted without Congress. The President has no constitutional authority to rewrite statutes, especially in ways that impose new obligations on people, and that is what the fix seems to entail. And of course, this is not the first such extra-statutory suspension of key ObamaCare provisions.

Other such Executive action, of course, includes the extension of the deadline for the Employer Mandate to 2015 as well as the various waivers that have been granted via the Department of Health and Human Services to various health care plans provided by large scale employers and labor unions. While the PPACA, like many other pieces of legislation, grants significant discretion to the Executive Branch when it comes to certain areas of the enforcement of the law and the drafting of regulations, it’s not at all clear that it grants the President the authority to essentially rewrite the law in the manner that he’s purporting to do with this “administrative fix.” In the end, though, this may turn out to be an academic argument since it’s hard to see how or when a case that would meet Federal Court rules for standing would actually come together. Nonetheless, the idea of a President rewriting law like this is one that ought to be of concern to everyone regardless of how they feel about the PPACA and regardless of party. As with past assertions of power by a President, once it has been used once, it is inevitable that it will be used again by future Presidents. Such is the nature of the seemingly endless growth of the Imperial Presidency.

Aside from the legality issues that President Obama’s action raises, though, there are some real practical problems with what the President’s plan, along with those proposed by Congressman Upton and Senator Landrieu, would do, as The Washington Post’s  Sarah Kliff explains:

Under the change that the administration is announcing this morning, the hypothetical Americans with a policy that ends in June 2014 would have the option to renew that same plan for one more year, if their insurance company decides to provide that option.

Keep in mind, this change is not ordering insurers to offer their products for another year; health plans regularly take their offerings on and off the market. Instead, it’s a very nice ask on the part of the administration, to insurance carriers and regulators, to play ball on this one.

Insurers who do take the White House up on this option would have to do two things: notify consumers of the various health law benefits missing from the plan, and let them know about the other options they would have on the health law’s marketplace.

“Under the old law, if I had bought a plan starting June 1, 2013, then the insurance company would have to no longer offer that plan,” one White House official told me. “Now, that can go for another year.”

The idea, senior White House officials say, is to create a smoother transition from the pre-Obamacare market to the post-Obamacare landscape. The fix proposed here is less sweeping than what House Republicans have proposed: It will only allow people who are already signed up for these pre-Obamacare plans to keep buying them. Under the Upton proposal, anyone who wanted to could enroll in one of these pre-Obamacare plans.

For insurance regulators and health insurance carriers, though, this supposed glide path is about to create a whole bunch of headaches. They have been expecting, for years now, that these insurance plans would be phased out of the market in 2014 — and have planned accordingly.

Here’s how Robert Laszewksi, an insurance consultant, put it in a note to clients earlier this morning:

This means that the insurance companies have 32 days to reprogram their computer systems for policies, rates, and eligibility, send notices to the policyholders via US Mail, send a very complex letter that describes just what the differences are between specific policies and Obamacare compliant plans, ask the consumer for their decision — and give them a reasonable time to make that decision — and then enter those decisions back into their systems without creating massive billing, claim payment, and provider eligibility list mistakes.

All by January 1.

The bigger concern is one that I’ve touched upon in other posts this week, and it’s own that could create widespread sticker shock for everyone who signs up for a policy via the Federal or state-based exchanges when it comes time to renew their policy just about a year from now. Essentially, the concern is that allowing people on pre-exchange plans to keep their plans for another year would lead to many of those people to do exactly that. Given that it’s widely believed that many of the people who are on these types of plans are precisely the younger, healthier people that both the Administration and insurers are hoping would sign up for an exchange-based plan because that would mean that the risk pool for those policies would be far broader than if they didn’t do so. If that group of potential insureds stays out of the market by holding on to old plans, then that just adds to the low enrollment problems that the PPACA is already having thanks to a defective website. An unbalanced risk pool in the first year of the exchange-based plans, though, would mean most importantly that premiums for the second year would be far higher than anyone would like them to be. That creates both a “sticker shock” problem for the people already insured through the exchanges and creates the possibility that people won’t sign up in huge numbers in the second year either once they do go online and see what 2015 premiums are going to be. That creates huge financial and political problems both for the PPACA and for the President and his political party. According to press reports, this seems to be exactly what is concerning the insurance industry, which has spent the last three years preparing to comply with the PPACA to only now be told that they don’t necessarily have to if they don’t want.

On a broader note, it’s hard to tell if today’s press conference, aside from announcing this “administrative fix” that may or may not work and may or may not make things worse actually accomplished anything good at all for the President. I wasn’t able to watch it myself, but following along with some of the instant reaction from reporters and pundits on Twitter, it’s clear that even those who are generally sympathetic to the Administration were not at all impressed. Some even made comparisons to the disastrous first Presidential Debate last September, which was a definite loser for the President on all counts. At the very least, it seems unlikely that the “fix” will stop the House from voting on the Upton proposal tomorrow as planned, and there still seems to be sufficient support among Senate Democrats for Landrieu’s proposal to allow debate on that matter to go forward, although it’s unclear if it would actually end up passing if it got to a final vote. Nonetheless, it’s clear that the President woke up this morning and knew that something had to be done to stop the bleeding. Whether this is the beginning of that remains to be seen. Indeed, we’re likely not to know for sure until we get to the end of the month and see if the Federal Exchange website is actually working. If it is, then perhaps the President will be able to put much of this behind him. If it isn’t then the headaches and political consequences are likely to only get worse.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Congress, Health Care, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    As far as Boehner’s comments go…

    Boehner has said repeatedly that we have the best Health Care System in the World.
    So clearly whatever it is that Boehner thinks is just not based on facts.

  2. David M says:

    There are no good options really, aside from getting the federal exchange working. Based on a quick reading of the plans, it appears Obama’s plan is least damaging to the ACA and Upton’s is the most damaging, with the others somewhere in between.

    I really don’t have any sympathy for the insurance industry complaining about being scapegoated on this issue. They are the ones who decided to end the plans rather than grandfather them, so they should be taking the heat here.

  3. PD Shaw says:

    In the end, though, this may turn out to be an academic argument since it’s hard to see how or when a case that would meet Federal Court rules for standing would actually come together.

    Probably true, particularly in the short run. But the larger problem is that the Administration admits the states are not necessarily on board, so what is the extent of the exposure of the insurance companies to state and private party litigation for violating the ERISA statute?

  4. David M says:

    Upton’s bill is definitely a non-starter as it’s worse than doing nothing. Every time Obamacare has a problem, the GOP somehow magically finds a way to remind everyone that the other option is even more of a disaster.

  5. PD Shaw says:

    @David M: What is your thinking about which one is worse? The President’s looks very similar to Upton’s to me in the sense they are not compulsory on the insurance companies. It was the Democratic Senators, mandating the insurance companies provide renewal, that stands out to me.

  6. David M says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Upton’s bill allows insurance companies to sell new policies that don’t meet the ACA requirements, not just continue policies already in existence.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    @David M:
    Upton’s niece on the other hand…

  8. JKB says:

    All we know for sure is that Congressional Democrats won’t be holding Town Halls this election season. They might not even hold public events. Tough questions, rough treatment is in their future.

    Nancy Pelosi put a black mamba in their suitcase of money…

  9. Stonetools says:

    I expect insurance companies to continue with the cancellations but to stop upselling consumers into much more expensive policies as they have been doing. If the exchange is fixed. as the administration has promised the small number of middle class whites who have squawking about losing their substandard policies will move on to find better ones and these panicked, stupid attempts to turn back the clock will cease.

  10. David M says:

    How many of the current problems could have been avoided if the GOP was interested in making the law work as best it could rather than repealing it?

    * The federal exchange would be smaller and almost certainly more functional
    * Most people would be using a functional state-based exchange
    * The Medicaid expansion would be larger
    * The insurance prices in GOP controlled states would be lower
    * Better / more outreach to let potential exchange customers know their benefits

    Assuming that all had happened, then the cancelled policies would be much less of a problem, and much easier to solve. This situation is a direct result of the GOP sabotage, and the pain will likely continue as long as the GOP wants. Causing Americans pain and blaming the other party is all the GOP has to offer on health care at this point

  11. PD Shaw says:

    @David M: Thanks, I wasn’t aware of that angle.

  12. crysalis says:

    Quick reality check here… the president doesn’t have the authority to “administratively” nullify parts of the ACA.

    Remember your rallying cry of a few scant weeks ago, liberals. “It’s the Law!!!

    Funny how the fact that it is written law doesn’t really seem to matter at all if changing the law extra-legally benefits the democratic party’s chances in the upcoming mid-term elections.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @crysalis:
    I think you are right…why don’t you contact your attorney and file suit.
    Let me know how it turns out.

  14. C. Clavin says:
  15. David M says:

    @crysalis:

    The GOP has decreed that the choices to fix normal, routine problems with Obamacare are either no change or this type of an administrative fix. Your complaint should probably be directed towards the ones that are blocking any minor changes though normal legislative processes.

  16. wr says:

    I’m just wondering, Doug, is there any way the ACA could be adjusted that you would not find disastrous?

  17. David M says:

    Interestingly enough, Washington State is already on record as being unwilling to allow insurers to extend their policies. I wonder if this won’t end up being more of a fix for the GOP states only, if it happens at all?

  18. JKB says:

    “What we want to do is to be able to say to these folks, you know what, the Affordable Care Act is not going to be the reason why insurers have to cancel your plan. Now, what folks may find is the insurance companies may still come back and say, we want to charge you 20 percent more than we did last year, or we’re not going to cover prescription drugs now.”

    Barack Obama, November 14, 2013

    It’s not Democrats, it’s those insurance companies that foolishly complied with the “law of the land”

    Man, Nixon is starting to look like a paragon of virtue. Nice legacy, Obama

  19. David M says:

    @JKB:

    Please try again in English rather than a Sarah Palin style word salad.

  20. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Single-payer, pls.

  21. Stonetools says:

    Notice how ten seconds after Obama agreed that those who wanted their health insurance could keep it, every conservative on the internet unanimously decided that obama’s proposal was unworkable? The right wing hive mind is a fearsome thing.

  22. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    Heard CNN’s anchor repeatedly refer to non-compliant policies as “illegal”.

    Is this accurate? Or could I have a non-compliant policy and accept the penalty?

    Or is it illegal to sell a non-compliant policy?

    Anyone know?

  23. David M says:

    @Bob @ Youngstown:

    The (non-grandfathered) policies the insurance company sells must meet the new ACA standards.

  24. superdestroyer says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:

    That is what all of the screw ups are suppose to lead to. However, do you really think a government that cannot create linked databases to support enrollment will be able to create a separate identifier for all people in the U.S. that will be used for billing purposes and will not be directly connected to one’s social security number.

    I suspect that all of the people screaming for single payer now will deny it when the future arrives.

  25. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Seriously.
    I got two down votes for that?

  26. John425 says:

    Dear former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi:

    RE: Affordable Health Care Act

    I didn’t read it before OR after you passed it. It looks like a f***ing disaster. What do I do now?

    Sincerely,

    Barack H. Obama
    President of the United States.

  27. John425 says:

    @David M: FYI–WA state is soooo left wing Democrat that it is often referred to as Soviet Washington. An out-and-out socialist is likely to be elected to the Seattle City Council and a few of us in the ‘burbs of Seattle are considering moving away. Far away.

  28. John425 says:

    @David M: FYI- Republicans didn’t lay a glove on the ACA. It passed without a single Republican vote. Remember? Therefore- the GOP didn’t sabotage it. Democrats screwed this one all by themselves.

  29. rodney dill says:

    @John425:

    What do I do now?

    Obviously claim to have a fix to mitigate the blame.

  30. David M says:

    @John425:

    The implementation mattered. The law will work if X, Y and Z are done, but the GOP consistently has worked to stop X, they did not implement Y at all and only did part of Z. All it shows is why the GOP should not have any power at all, not that there’s a problem with Obamacare.

  31. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @David M:

    The (non-grandfathered) policies the insurance company sells must meet the new ACA standards.

    I assume that this is federal legislation rather than federal regulation. If so how is it conceivable that the legislation can be “fixed” administratively?

    Either the administration is being monumentally stupid, or there is some other factor that is not accounted for.

  32. David M says:

    @Bob @ Youngstown:

    It’s a change in how they define grandfathered plans. I’m fairly sure the current definition is part legislation and part regulation.

  33. Tillman says:

    @John425: It’s not like the government shutdown that occurred during the first month of the ACA’s implementation may have stalled efforts to fix it.

    I mean, sure, the Democrats bungled it out of the gate. Then again, the Republican party pretty much has spent all its legislative time the past two years trying to repeal the law instead of fix issues with it.

  34. Tyrell says:

    @Stonetools: I am not sure that I would say that millions losing their plan or having their rates doubled/tripled is a “small” number.Obama was told in 2010 that this could happen to over 50 million people (Forbes). I am certainly concerned and have been for years about these rising costs and premiums going up 20-40 % a year. Some of this is due to people going to doctors and emergency rooms for anything and everything. People want pills for everything. Doctors order test upon redundant, repetitive tests. Hospitals are charging crazy prices, like $80 for drinking straws. Now we have an administration that is trying to force the healthy, working people to foot the bill for those who have health problems and not working. That isn’t right. And it is not right to use back door schemes to force people to enroll in the AHA. A lot of people have good health insurance plans that they chose based on their situations. To force them into a plan that that costs more and is either no better or even worse is unconscionable.

  35. Tillman says:

    Nonetheless, the idea of a President rewriting law like this is one that ought to be of concern to everyone regardless of how they feel about the PPACA and regardless of party. As with past assertions of power by a President, once it has been used once, it is inevitable that it will be used again by future Presidents. Such is the nature of the seemingly endless growth of the Imperial Presidency.

    Obama is no paragon of virtue, and frankly we shouldn’t expect such of any politician. He is an administrator attempting to maneuver through intense Congressional dysfunction. Congress likes its high incumbent reelection rate, and they only retain it by doing nothing to endanger it. Aside from that basic problem, you have a minority party dedicating its full powers (which, given our system is designed against any possible tyranny, are many) to discrediting and sabotaging the healthcare reform.

    I’m not saying I condone imperial presidential decree. Libya was atrocious in that respect. But Congress, as a watchman on the presidency, has a responsibility to curb it when it can, and it chooses over and over to abdicate that responsibility. So I can’t condemn the man for acting within the bounds established by those who should be setting them.

    I love how you’re resigned to the inevitability of increasing presidential power. You’ve internalized the inaction of Congress when you should be raging against it.

  36. David M says:

    @Tyrell:

    I am not sure that I would say that millions losing their plan or having their rates doubled/tripled is a “small” number.Obama was told in 2010 that this could happen to over 50 million people

    Rate shock is probably going to affect 1 or 2 million people in the individual market. That may sound like a lot, but it’s nowhere near 50 million, and no where near the number of people who will benefit from Obamacare. And most of those those affected won’t being seeing their rates double or triple either.

    Seems odd to focus on this small number of people rather than the 5 million who are eligible for Medicaid but are being completely fv*ked over by the GOP.

  37. beth says:

    @David M: Or we could go back to the pre-Obamacare days when you were guaranteed to never lose your insurance or have the rates go up or be denied coverage……

  38. David M says:

    @beth:

    Good luck getting them to admit there were any problems with health care or insurance before Obama ruined everything. It’s a lot easier to rant about the problems with Obamacare than actually do the work and propose real solutions to the issue. (The problems with health care and insurance that everyone prior to January 2009 agreed existed and should be fixed.)

  39. Dean says:

    This “fix” is not going to work and the White House knows it. There is no way the insurance companies can re-implement, the now temporarily legal policies. More importantly, for the law’s math to work, it needs this pool of new, more expensive policies in order to defray the costs of the newly insured who are getting subsidies.

    While the fix won’t work, for the president, it will allow the blame for the cancelled policies to move from the White House to the insurance companies. So, I guess they can call that a win.

  40. rodney dill says:

    @Dean: Bingo

  41. An Interested Party says:

    I’m just wondering, Doug, is there any way the ACA could be adjusted that you would not find disastrous?

    But of course there is…repeal…

  42. dazedandconfused says:

    Concern troll much?

    The bills are just for showing the Yokel’s back home . Some Dems in the Senate want to go on record as insisting they made him “keep his promise” and some R’s in the House want a vote so they can say they “did something”, but everybody with a functioning brain stem knows there will be no successful reconciliation. Defeats the whole purpose!

    I’m sure some cynical, or perhaps demented (-might have repeated myself there), libertarian or some such legal beagle will make some kinda case for a hefty fee…or not.. (takes all kinds) out of this, but we know Congress is the only outfit that could affect a change that would force the President to strip those poor, poor, suffering people away from the insurance policy they have come to love and cherish within an un-moot time frame….and that ain’t gonna happen… right??

  43. David M says:

    @Dean:

    While the fix won’t work, for the president, it will allow the blame for the cancelled policies to move from the White House to the insurance companies. So, I guess they can call that a win.

    Given that it’s actually the insurance companies that decided to cancel the policies and try rip off their customers, it seems like they deserve the blame.

  44. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy: Good point. In all of the bloviation about this issue, no one seems to be paying any attention to the possibility that the biggest problem for affordable care in here is that we are relying on institutions (insurance companies) that neither have ability nor the incentive to control price increases to any great degree. I’m not blaming the companies, mind you. Their business mandate is to pay the bills that the policy holders ask them to pay for the services offered and then to figure out how to make a profit while doing so. This is not a formula for reform.

  45. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @John425: As a former Seattle resident, I say don’t let the door hit you on the way out. But what I expect will happen is the same as the threats of Rush Limbaugh to move to Costa Rica and Alex Baldwin to move to Canada. I’m not holding my breath waiting for any of you to act.

  46. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tillman: They have to work on repealing the law. If they had any actual plans that would fix it, we would have seen them by now.

  47. David M says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker:

    That’s one reason to make sure Obamacare survives, even with the current problems, so something like a state or federal public option can be added when the insurance company prices get too high.

  48. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Wow… Obama says that he can unilaterally rewrite the law and postpone a key provision without Congressional approval, and he’ll veto any attempt to write his executive fiat into the law. And at last count, three state Insurance Commissioners have declared that no, ObamaCare is THE LAW OF THE LAND and Obama can’t just rewrite it on the fly and the dead plans will stay dead.

    Seems to me that if Obama is saying that only he can change the law, then 1) he’s tossed the Constitution out the window and 2) he now owns ObamaCare lock, stock, and barrel. Every single failure is on his hands.

  49. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Seems to me

    Who in the f*ck cares…

  50. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: That’s about 300% more substance from you than we’ve come to expect. Keep going, Cliffy! Some day you’ll move up to complete sentences!

  51. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: And you’ve made it abundantly clear that whatever Obama does is fine with you. Come January 20, 2017, those same actions will go back to High Treason and Crimes Against Humanity, but until then, you’ll just let it coast.

  52. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Jenos…you spent weeks whining like a little child about people losing their policies…now you whining about fixing that.
    You’re a phony little douche-bag.
    Deal with it.

  53. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Actually you have responded to several of my comments where I explicitly stated that the roll- out was f ‘ed and needed to be fixed …so you are lying … Again.
    The difference between us on this issue is that you want to return to a system that wasn’t working.
    Every man for themselves.
    And you are a phony liar.

  54. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: You know how you fix a bad law, Cliffy? You change the law. Obama says he’ll veto that, and only he has the authority to rewrite a law.

    You know you you fix stupid, Cliffy? You’re living proof that Ron White was right — you can’t fix stupid.

  55. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: I explicitly stated that the roll- out was f ‘ed and needed to be fixed

    Wow, reality actually intruded into your delusional world once. How the hell did that happen?

  56. JKB says:

    So, for instance, what happens when there’s a legal dispute under one of these policies? Say, for instance, an insurance company denies payment for something that is not covered under the policy but that would have been covered under the PPACA and the insured sues? Would an insurance company really want to have to defend this decision in court? After all, this would place the insurance company in the position of seeking judicial enforcement of an illegal insurance policy. If there’s an answer to this, I haven’t seen it. It’s almost as if the Administration has not thought this through.

  57. JohnMcC says:

    Some interesting data (pardon me for introducing data to this fun mud-throwing event):

    Patterns of Individual Health Insurance Coverage 1996-2000

    length (of coverage under the policy – ed)

    less than 6 months — 48.2%
    6-12 months — 16.3%
    13-18 months — 13.7%
    19-24 months — 4.8%
    more than 24 months — 17.0%

    median spell length — 8.0 months

    (HealthAffairs-dot-org and h/t to WaPo factchecker)

    And I see from Wikipedia that approx 10% of Americans with health insurance have bought on the individual market.

    These are fairly old numbers, of course, and have no doubt been altered somewhat by the Great Recession. But the fact is that not very many people stay on the individual market for very long when alternatives (employer-based or other group plans) come along for them. Which conforms with my personal experience — the individual market was expensive, the policy less comprehensive and using it for non-catastrophic sickness/injury was scarey because we knew it would get more expensive to renew it if we actually used it carelessly, making out-of-pocket expenses much higher than employer-based plans.

    Seems strange to me that the individual market has so many defenders. I’ve been in that market and I bet the vast majority of people buying coverage in it would be happy to have alternatives.

  58. David M says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Yes, the current policy cancellations aren’t really a bad thing for most people in the individual market, which was completely dysfunctional prior to Obamacare. The actual options now are far better for almost everyone in the individual insurance market, regardless of their current health status or age. And even the healthier people who may be paying more initially, actually have insurance they could use if they were to get older and sicker. Whether we like it or not, people getting older and less healthy is pretty much a guarantee for everyone.

  59. JKB says:

    Question: How is Obama and the White House, who clam to have no influence, going to get the IRS to not follow the settled law and collect the Obamacare tax on the non-compliant plans?

    Is he going to call up and say, I know it’s the law but I want you to give special consideration to these people.

  60. David M says:

    @JKB:

    They are going to treat grandfathered plans the same way they were going to treat grandfathered plans before this. That didn’t change, just which plans qualify as grandfathered.

  61. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Here’s your problem: there are several “theys” involved here. There’s Obama, there’s the IRS, and there are officials in each state.

    As noted, at least three states’ insurance commissioners have said that no, they won’t allow insurers to continue plans that don’t meet the standards. And as JKB noted, should an insuree choose to sue over their plan, the insurer is in a very, very bad position.

    As I tried to spell out to Cliffy, the two biggest problems with Obama’s solution are 1) it won’t work and 2) it’s illegal. But I made the mistake of using words of more than one syllable to Cliffy, so he doubled down on stupid.

  62. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The IRS isn’t an issue. They were already set up to alow grandfathered plans, if the definition of the plans changes slightly, no big deal.

    The state insurance commissioners aren’t an issue either. If they don’t want to allow the grandfathered plans to continue, then they don’t allow them to continue. End of story.

    And could an insurer be sued? Sure, but I won’t lose any sleep worrying about it. It’s a pretty safe assumption they have legal departments.

  63. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: The state insurance commissioners aren’t an issue either. If they don’t want to allow the grandfathered plans to continue, then they don’t allow them to continue. End of story.

    Um… you’re missing my point. Obama is saying that you can keep your plan for another year, if you want to — but is NOT willing to sign a law saying so and has NO authority to overrule state insurance commissioners. Especially when those commissioners can argue — rightly — that they are following the LAW OF THE LAND as it stands.

    Espeically since Obama is asserting that he, unilaterally, can rewrite the law on the fly, and will take actions to keep Congress from doing the same.

  64. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Not sure what your point is, other than Obama is giving the insurance commissioners the option to grandfather more plans (keep your plan). The states already had very different rules for grandfathered plans, this is no different.

  65. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Obama does not have the authority to make these extensions at all, let alone impose them on state officials. So his offer here is totally empty. Its only point is to give Obama some scapegoats for his broken promise.

  66. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Obama does not have the authority to make these extensions at all

    Not everyone agrees on this.

    let alone impose them on state officials.

    Impose? That’s an idiotic way of characterizing it.

  67. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “Um… you’re missing my point.”

    Um… no. We got your point. It’s the same point you’ve been making for years. It’s:

    “Ni@@er! Ni@@er! Ni@@er!”

    You’ve been very clear on that. To everyone else, even if not to your pathetic little self.

  68. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Impose? That’s an idiotic way of characterizing it.

    Fine, I’ll use longer words, then. Obama does not have the authority to compel state insurance commissioners to honor his pledge to extend the “grandfathering” of existing plans, and those commissioners would be on very solid legal ground to refuse to do so.

  69. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @wr: Cliffy has his own tell when he knows he’s lying — he gets more profane and strident. Yours is even clearer — you know you’re lying and losing when you try to stuff the n-word in other people’s mouths.

  70. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Compel. That’s another idiotic way of characterizing it. You clearly are confused about what’s going on here.

  71. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: What I’m trying to say here is, Obama is making yet another promise that he has no power to keep. He’s setting up scapegoats — “I told the insurance companies and the commissioners to let those policies continue, but they refused, so it’s their fault, not mine.”

    I’m trying to stay civil with you, but you’re making it challenging.

  72. bandit says:

    Poor lunatic lefty hatazs – of course ‘they’re better off’ because the gov’t is telling them how to spend their money because they’re too stupid to know what’s best for them. After all this plan was made up for the smartest man on earth who’s responsible for the complete clusterf**k which is just like everything else he’s done. Unfortunately the only ones left who want to listen to his lies are the ones who already have his balls in their mouths.

  73. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The insurance companies are the ones who ended the plans instead of keeping them, while pretending it was because of Obamacare rather than a normal business decision. He’s now removing their excuse, making it obvious it was a voluntary decision on their part.

    As before, the insurance companies are under no obligation to continue the plans, as it’s ever been.

  74. beth says:

    @David M: Even worse, non-compliant policies were grandfathered in. Many of the plans being cancelled now were non-compliant plans sold after the ACA was passed which the insurance companies knew they couldn’t keep offering. But it’s all Obama’s fault.

  75. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: The insurance companies are the ones who ended the plans instead of keeping them, while pretending it was because of Obamacare rather than a normal business decision. He’s now removing their excuse, making it obvious it was a voluntary decision on their part.

    The plans in question — at least a lot of them — were NOT compliant with Obamacare standards. Yes, technically, they could have been continued, but the customer would have had to sign up for a second, compliant plan in addition or simply pay the fine. Further complicating things is that California’s exchange program, Covered California, made it a condition of their contracts with insurance companies that they will cancel non-compliant policies at the end of this year. So in California, Obama’s (illegal) extension is meaningless.

    I suppose, also, the insurance companies did have a choice — they could have chosen to ignore the law and face the penalties. But I think we all know how that would work out.

    To sum up: Obama’s move now is 1) illegal, as the president has no authority to unilaterally rewrite a law; 2) impractical, as it’s too late for the insurance companies to undo plans they’ve spent years implementing; and 3) meaningless, as it is contingent on the actions of other officials over whom he has no control. The sole thing it does is give Obama more scapegoats for his failure — the insurance companies and the insurance commissioners.

  76. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “Obama does not have the authority to compel state insurance commissioners to honor his pledge”

    Please cite the law you are claiming controls this. Hint: “I just pulled it out of my ass/read it on Redstate” doesn’t count.

  77. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Wow. So much crap spewing out of one mouth. I hope you have a big store of toothpaste on hand.

    One small hint: California set its own standards. (You’re in favor of states’ rights, remember?) So you can’t actually blame the president for what this state has done.

  78. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The sole thing it does is give Obama more scapegoats for his failure — the insurance companies and the insurance commissioners.

    For some reason you see a problem with the people actual responsible for ending the policies getting the blame. Very strange.

  79. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: For some reason you see a problem with the guy whose law banned those policies from getting the blame. Even stranger.

  80. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The insurance companies always had the choice, grandfather the plans or end them. The policies being cancelled include ones that the insurance companies created after the PPACA was passed, that were always going to be cancelled at the end of 2013 as well.

    In both of those cases, they made the decisions to end the plans, when they could have made decisions that would have allowed the plans to continue.

  81. Tillman says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker: I disagree. They couldn’t implement a workable fix legislatively without somehow giving Obama credit. They couldn’t spin fixing a healthcare law they opposed vehemently into something that would win them elections. Even if they had a plan that would work, they wouldn’t deploy it.

  82. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Their “choice” was to keep the plans going until the end of this year, or pull the plug on them sooner. Extending them past the end of this year was not an option — until last Thursday, when Obama announced it.

    And then on Friday, he called them in to tell them about his munificence. The idea that he might want to talk to them first, and see what was actually possible, didn’t occur to President Supergenius.

  83. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: So, what Obama meant to say was, “If I like your plan, you can keep your plan?” He just misspoke?

    Don’t buy it. He’s too damned super-intelligent to misspeak to such a degree.

  84. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Their “choice” was to keep the plans going until the end of this year, or pull the plug on them sooner.

    That’s flatly untrue. Their choice was to do nothing, continue offering them unchanged and take advantage of their grandfather status or end them. They chose to end them.

  85. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Excuse me, but what world are you living in? In the real world, Obamacare said that any non-compliant plans had to end as of December 31, 2013. There was no “grandfathering” past that point.

    That was part of Obamacare from day one, and the insurance companies spent all that time preparing to comply with that law.

    You act as if you still believe Obama’s lie about how “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan — period.”

  86. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    As always, you are wrong. There will still be grandfathered policies in existence in 2020. Why are you commenting if you don’t even have a basic understanding of the issue?

  87. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: OK, now you’re making up your own definition of “grandfathered.” Apparently you mean “policies that existed before Obamacare.” However, in this context, it means “policies that existed before Obamacare and did not mean the minimum standards of Obamacare.”

    Again, you don’t get to make up your own definitions. Well, you do, but you don’t get to impose them on others.

  88. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Those were the grandfathered policies. You probably should have acquainted yourself with the basic facts before spouting off nonsense through multiple threads.

  89. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: OK, David, I really did try to be civil, and I’ll give it one last try.

    Obamacare set certain minimum standards that health insurance policies had to meet, and set December 31, 2013 as the deadline. No policies could be issued after that date that did not meet those standards. That is THE LAW OF THE LAND.

    A lot of people had policies that did not meet those standards, and a lot of them were content with those policies. However, under ObamaCare, those polices could not be continued. There were some very narrow exceptions, but for all practical purposes they were no longer legal to be issued.

    This was known by most people when the law was passed, and pointed out by a lot of people — who generally noted that it put the lie to Obama’s oft-repeated statement “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan — period.” But these protests were largely ignored.

    In the past few months, though, it suddenly became real when the people who had those plans were sent cancellation notices, which spelled out how those plans could no longer be issued because they didn’t meet the minimum standards. The idea that some could have been “grandfathered” — allowed to conitinue — was essentially meaningless, as 1) there were so many restrictions as to make it almost impossible, and 2) several states, including California, simply chose to not allow that to happen.

    The insurance companies had spent years preparing to comply with the law once it came into effect. They crafted new policies that complied with the law, and sent out legally-required cancel notices to those policy holders who would be affected. And once they started getting those letters, that’s when people suddenly woke up and realized that those of us who had been predicting just this for the last couple of years were right, and that Obama had been lying.

    I will grant you one point. The insurance companies acted as if THE LAW WAS THE LAW, and didn’t take into account Obama’s predilection for simply deciding that the law was whatever he decided it was today. Had they done that, they would have kept those old policies on the back burner in anticipation that he would unilaterally rewrite this law, too.

    Please feel free to explain how things happened in your world now. I’m sure I’ll find it most entertaining.

  90. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Short version. You don’t know what you are talking about or are intentionally lying, no way of telling.

  91. David M says:

    Plans that were in existence before the PPACA was passed were allowed grandfather status and people that had those plans are allowed to continue in them for as long as the plan has grandfather status. With grandfather status, the plans are exempt from most but not all of the PPACA reforms.

    The following are the main ways an individual plan would lose grandfather status:

    1. Raising coinsurance charges.
    2. Significantly raising fixed cost-sharing (i.e., deductibles and out-of-pocket limits) by more than medical inflation (as measured from March 23, 2010) plus 15 percentage points.
    3. Significantly raising copayment charges by more than the greater of: (i) medical inflation (as measured from March 23, 2010) plus 15 percentage points or (ii) $5 (adjusted for medical inflation).
    4. Adding or tightening an annual limit

    The following would not cause the plans to lose grandfather status:

    1. Changing premiums.
    2. Changes to comply with state or federal law, including voluntary changes to implement ACA

    Plans that did not exist before the PPACA could not be grandfathered and if you needed to be enrolled in the plan prior to the PPACA to keep it past 2013. The insurance companies used this to move people off grandfathered plans, without making it clear that changing plans meant it would not continue past 2013.

    Insurers created plans after 2010 that did not meet all the requirements of the PPACA, and those plans cannot be issued after 2013. The insurance companies issued quite a few of these plans, with the intention of ending them when the exchange started. I repeat, these plans were specifically designed by the insurance companies to end after 2013. Obamacare isn’t ending these, their intended lifespan is over.

    If you had a plan you liked in 2010, and you still have it, you can keep it as long as the insurance company continues it. Nothing in Obama’s statement comes close to mandating that insurance companies keep offering plans indefinitely, against their will.

  92. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Paraphrased David: I can’t be bothered to explain things, so I’ll just call the other guy a liar and hope no one notices I don’t offer any links, details, explanations, or anything.

    Do you have a degree in talking out of your ass, David, or are you just naturally talented?

  93. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    “Obamacare said that any non-compliant plans had to end as of December 31, 2013. There was no “grandfathering” past that point.”

    “[plans lose their grandfather status if] the premiums change”

    “[plans lose their grandfather status if] the deductibles or copays change at all”

    Those statements of yours are flat out wrong. Care to admit you don’t know what you’re talking about yet?

  94. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Here’s a hint, David: simply saying “you’re wrong” over and over and over again doesn’t mean jack squat. It makes you sound like John Cleese in The Argument Clinic.

    Let me try arguing your way: No, you’re wrong. You’re wrong, and you’re wrong. Not only that, but you’re wrong and you’re lying. Why can’t you just admit it?

    God, my head hurts just imitating you.

  95. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Which parts of your lies do you still think are true?

  96. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: All of ’em are true. That you keep calling them “lies” without a single detail or link tells me that you know you’re full of shit.

  97. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Oh, look. Here’s a link that shows that Republicans were talking about this over four years ago.

    Funny how so many were caught by surprise anyway…

  98. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    It was such basic knowledge that I thought anyone who’d spent days posting about the issue would have at least a passing understanding of the issue. Apparently I was wrong.

    http://www.bcbsm.com/content/microsites/health-care-reform/en/reform-alerts/what-grandfathered-means-and-how-it-impacts-customers.html

    https://www.aetna.com/health-reform-connection/questions-answers/grandfathering.html

  99. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Good lord, you actually cited sources. I am flabbergasted.

    But not quite dumbstruck. Because I apparently read your links more closely than you did.

    First, both are from 2010, right after Obamacare passed.

    Next, here’s a key paragraph from your first link:

    How many plans are expected to lose grandfathered status over the next few years?

    HHS estimates that:

    40 percent to 67 percent of individual policies will lose grandfathered status by 2011
    34 percent to 64 percent of large employer group plans (100 or more employees) will lose their grandfathered status by 2013
    49 percent to 80 percent of small employer group plans (3 to 99 employees) will lose their grandfathered status by 2013

    And the second link:

    In fact, the government estimates that up to 80 percent of small employer plans could lose grandfathered status by 2013. Up to 64 percent of large group plans could lose grandfathered status by then as well.

    If those numbers look similar, it’s because they used the same source — Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services, led then (as now) by Kathleen Sebelius.

    So, thanks for the link that backs up my point. Feel free to refute and denounce yourselff; I don’t get off on clubbing kittens.

  100. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    LOL. The stupid, it burns. You’re still a liar, as you conveniently forgot to address these claims you made:

    “Obamacare said that any non-compliant plans had to end as of December 31, 2013. There was no “grandfathering” past that point.”

    “[plans lose their grandfather status if] the premiums change”

    “[plans lose their grandfather status if] the deductibles or copays change at all”

    None of those are true. There’s a reason people shouldn’t respect you or your opinions, as you aren’t remotely honest.

    And on that topic, your habit of lying about easily verifiable facts is just sad.

  101. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: And what’s your take on “if you like your plan, you can keep it — period?”

    Oh, yeah, that was an Obama lie, used to get him elected re-elected, told in the interest of The Greater Good, so we should be grateful he said it. Right?

  102. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Given how little you understand about Obamacare or the grandfathering clause, I’m not sure you’re qualified to evaluate that statement.