Friday, December 20, 2013

If You Like Your Plan, You Can Have Something

Perhaps my mind is easily boggled, but it boggles the mind. The Department of Health and Human Services has once again, this time by Bulletin, reinvented the Affordable Care Act (ACA, PPACA, ObamaCare). This time, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius disclosed through a letter to six senators that HHS had issued a Bulletin modifying enforcement.

According to the Bulletin and letter, "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."

Call me a cynic. You wouldn't be the first person to do so. But, here is the way I view the last three-plus years in the evolution of the ACA. First, the bill was getting very close to having enough support to pass. Then, Scott Brown (R-MA) was elected to fill the senate seat vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy (D-MA). This gave the Republicans 41 seats, enough to stop the Democrats from invoking cloture. The Democrats outmaneuvered the Republicans in working around the rules of the Senate and the bill was passed and signed into law. It was trumpeted as we all know quite famously that it would expand coverage, reduce the cost of coverage for most, and if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan, PERIOD. Then came a website rollout so atrocious that even many of the most ardent supporters of the Obama Administration criticized it. Enrollment deadlines were delayed and insurers were told to reinstate policies for which they had already provided cancellation notices.

Somebody never worked in the insurance industry. Reinstatement is not that easy. And, there is also state insurance law to deal with here. So, many who wanted insurance were left without it. Yes, some number of previously uninsured had found their way to "get covered" as the Administration likes to say, but many who had been covered were left out in the cold.

Now, according to the HHS Bulletin, these same people can go on to the exchange and buy catastrophic coverage. This is the type of coverage that has been labeled as a substandard policy by some in the Administration.

Yes, my mind is boggled.

I was not one of those people who had said that health care did not need reforming. I always thought that it did and I still do. But, this is a perfect example of what happens when debate is cut off and 535 people who between them have little cumulative expertise on a subject (yes, I know there are some physicians in the Senate and the House) and who don't read the bill go ahead and vote on it anyway. Agencies are then left the unenviable task of regulating it and it always seems that, at the very least, a sizable minority of the people don't like the regulations.

So, enforcement apparently will be done as the HHS Secretary, presumably speaking for the President (this is entirely my guess), sees fit.

Silly me, I thought it was a law.

No comments:

Post a Comment