Health care is a life-and-death matter. It’s also a huge part of our economy (one-sixth, to be exact).
With so much at stake, it makes sense to “go slow,” when it comes to reforming the system. But rather than take the time to get it right, the liberal leaders of Congress rammed through a wholesale restructuring of the system without giving their rank and file enough time to read—much less comprehend—what they were up to.
The rush to “reform” didn’t stop there, either. The Obamacare bill imposed a host of short-term implementation deadlines on the Department of Health and Human Services. Turns out that HHS can’t make ‘em.
It doesn’t help that HHS seems unsure of its own authorities. We know this, because the “Transparency in government” section of the bill required HHS to list, by April 22, all the Secretary’s new authorities granted under Obamacare. They couldn’t do it. Instead, they simply reprinted the table of contents for the entire bill.
Then there are the task forces that should have been stood up last month. May 7 was the deadline for the Secretary to establish a task force to improve access to health care in Alaska. The not so aptly named EARLY Act called for an up-and-running breast cancer task force by May 23. But both panels are still stuck in the planning stages.
No one will die because of these missed deadlines, but the trend is worrisome. If HHS can’t get its act together for the simple, preliminary stuff, how will it do when it has to address complicated and weighty manners under deadline? As Jonathan Strong notes in The Daily Caller
The issue is important because vast industry sectors are trying to plan their own implementations of the health-care law and most of the details remain in bureaucrats’ hands, leaving a vacuum of uncertainty about the final burdens the law will impose.
Part of the problem could be that HHS is so busy trying to patch over some of the more unpopular features of Obamacare that it doesn’t have the time to actually implement it. The department has spent a lot of time browbeating insurers to extend desired mandatory coverages ahead of schedule, for example. And it certainly spared no effort or expense to send millions of seniors a propagandistic brochure from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proclaiming the benefits of Obamacare—even though the claims fly in the face of economic realities identified by the Centers’ own Actuary.
The real issue here is the hasty, careless way with which lawmakers threw together this legislation. For example, it couldn’t have been intentional that some Obamacare deadlines are legally impossible to meet. A new advisory committee was required by the law to submit a progress report on the development of methodology for designating underserved populations and health professional shortage areas by April 1. But HHS was also supposed to allow 30 days for public comment regarding the members appointed to the committee, before which the committee could not exist.
Plain and simple, Obamacare is a mess, as its implementation conundrums prove. Repeal is the solution. And when Congress next attempts to reform the health care system, they must take the time to get it right.