In the 37th significant change to the Affordable Care Act since its passage nearly four years ago, the Obama administration announced yesterday that insurers can wait until 2016 to cancel plans that do not meet Obamacare’s insurance requirements.
According to The Hill, which first reported the potential delay, the move will protect vulnerable Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections. It builds off an earlier political move President Obama made when the Obama administration and Obamacare supporters faced widespread backlash as millions of Americans lost their health coverage because of Obamacare.
Obama—who repeatedly promised Americans who liked their health plans could keep them under Obamacare—gave insurers and states a one-year exemption to continue offering health plans that he and others have dubbed “sub-standard,” “junk plans,” or “very bad insurance.”
With the grace period set to expire at the end of the year, up to 1.5 million health plans could have been at risk for cancellation notices that would have gone out mere days before the mid-term elections.
In a conference call, unnamed senior health officials said the delay will not substantially change Obamacare’s implementation, writes The Hill. “Given how complex the law is and how many different circumstances people face, we want to show that we don’t have a one-size-fits-all-approach,” one official said.
Ed Haislmaier of The Heritage Foundation agrees that the delay likely won’t have much of an impact. While some states had delayed the plan cancellation the first go-around, many others had not, and instead moved ahead with full Obamacare implementation. Additionally, insurers had the option to continue or discontinue plans, regardless of the state ruling.
Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in Heritage’s Center for Health Policy Studies, argues Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all-approach to the delivery and financing of health care is precisely the reason this delay was needed for a second time. “Obamacare was premised on the notion that greater standardization and regulatory micromanagement of the health care system would somehow increase coverage and lower costs,” he said.
“What the Obama administration has belatedly discovered is that one size does not, in fact, fit all and that those losing out become a powerful political force,” Haislmaier said, adding that the administration has made numerous exemptions and rule changes to stem “political damage that was already baked into the law.”
This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.