Topics: Obamacare

Philip Klein: Obamacare critics right, again

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In Dec. 2009, as President Obama's health care legislation moved toward congressional passage, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., defended the bill's creation of a new long-term care program known as the CLASS Act.

In the face of Republican objections that the CLASS Act's design was financially unsound, Reid insisted that the program was "fully paid for," even "in the far future." He added for emphasis, "decades and decades into the future, [it's] paid for."

The Democrat-controlled Senate muscled through the CLASS Act, along with the rest of Obamacare, later that month, and it was signed into law the following March. Yet by October 2011, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the Obama administration would have to scrap the program.

"For 19 months, experts inside and outside of government have examined how HHS might implement a financially sustainable, voluntary and self-financed long-term care insurance program under the law" Sebelius wrote to Congress. "Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time."

The journey of the CLASS Act has become part of a growing pattern. From the time that the health care law was first making its way through Congress, Democrats have consistently dismissed reasonable criticisms of the law, only to see critics later vindicated by events. Time and again, the administration has had to acknowledge that many provisions of the law - minor and major — are unworkable.

This April, the Obama administration announced it was delaying a provision of the law aimed at expanding health insurance to small businesses, citing "operational challenges," according to the New York Times. In May, it announced it was scrambling to tweak a program meant to provide temporary health insurance coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, because the program was way over-budget, even though it was only covering a third of the people it initially intended to.

At the time the legislation was being written, critics repeatedly pointed out that its requirement that larger employers provide government-approved health insurance to their workers or pay penalties would provide an incentive for businesses to slash their workforce (or cut worker hours).

Announcements by business executives over the past several years, as well as jobs reports reflecting a shift in the U.S. labor force toward part-time work, provided evidence to support this view. But critics were mocked as blowing things out of proportion. Then, the administration announced on July 2 that it was delaying the mandate for a year, citing the complexity of the new rules and complaints from businesses.

Obamacare skeptics have also spent the past several years predicting that there was no way the administration would meet the technological challenges posed by setting up new health insurance exchanges by the Oct. 1 deadline. Sure enough, the administration has delayed requirements that all applicants needed to have their income and insurance status verified before receiving federal health insurance subsidies — a change that will open the floodgates to fraud.

"[T]he service described in the proposed rule is not feasible for implementation for the first year of operations," HHS wrote in a new regulation issued the Friday of the July 4th holiday weekend. "This service would involve a large amount of systems development on both the state and federal side, which cannot occur in time for October 1, 2013."

On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported on yet another "glitch," revealing, "the administration has quietly notified insurers that a computer system problem will limit penalties that the law says the companies may charge smokers."

The administration and its allies have spent years attacking opponents of Obamacare as uninformed bumpkins for suggesting that the law was unworkable. They should have been listening instead.

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