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WILL OBAMA DELAY INDIVIDUAL OBAMACARE FINES?
As the President Obama’s health law delays pile up, the biggest potential rewrite of the troubled legislation is looming at the end of the month. Americans who do not voluntarily comply with the law and enroll by March 31 are supposed to be fined an amount equal to 1 percent of their income. Not cool. When House Republicans voted to delay that penalty on Wednesday, 27 Democrats joined in. The mandate was never popular with Democrats, and as the president claims the power to unilaterally change the legislation for the benefit of big business and the insurance industry, is he prepared to let ordinary folks pay the price? Given the crash landing of the program last fall, it seems particularly cruel to penalize people for not enrolling in a program that has been offline so often. But delaying the individual mandate would come with a high price. From National Journal: “Roughly 1 million more people would forgo health insurance this year if Obamacare’s individual-mandate penalty were delayed, according to projections from the Congressional Budget Office….”
[Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein says: “It’s hard to see how this two-tiered health care system can sustain itself. Obama is saying that some individuals get to keep their old, cheaper and better health insurance plans. But other individuals are forced into an increasingly expensive insurance market.”]
What will that cost you? - Delaying regulations that intentionally banned policies hurt ObamaCare enrollment, but not on this magnitude. Democrats facing angry voters, though, may demand that the president use his pen again. But these rewrites are getting very expensive. Health insurance giant Humana has already forecast that it could soak up as much as $450 million in bailout provisions this year under the law. The president’s initial estimate for the bailouts is $5.5 billion overall, but that’s likely a lowball figure to start with. Delaying the much-hated individual mandate that provides so many customers to Obama’s insurance-industry backers could add many billions more to the cost.