Rumors swarmed in the media yesterday that President Obama might have the gall to delay the March 31 deadline for Obamacare enrollment. Then the AP reported the following:
Officials said the grace period will be available to people on the honor system, meaning applicants will have to attest that special circumstances or complex cases prevented them from finishing by March 31.
Oh, the honor system? You know, a president who doesn’t even adhere to blatant, on-the-books law does not quite strike me as one who will abide by a mystical “honor system” which he invented. How can we be certain the people who come after March 31 had “special circumstances”? Who decides what constitutes as a “complex case”? The White House, of course.
White House officials explained their reasoning is two-fold. First, they want to avoid a repeat of the October website disaster. Second they want to allow “people in line” (a la waiting to vote after the polls are closed) to get their chance at insurance.
Of course this sounds sensible – let the people who procrastinated get their chance so they don’t get penalized with a fine. However, the AP added that, “It’s unclear how long the extension will last.” Thus far it's a two-week-long extension for all those stragglers. The suggested date is April 15, to give Americans a chance to use tax refunds to pay their premiums.
But if two extra weeks of “grace” are needed to make this system work, has anybody considered that the whole program might be broken?
Brian Haile, senior vice president for health policy at the Jackson Hewitt tax preparation firm, welcomed the move.
"The disbursement of tax refunds appears to be making a substantial difference in the willingness and ability of uninsured Americans to sign up for ... coverage," Haile said.
If the entire point of The Affordable Care Act was to make insurance affordable, why are uninsured Americans waiting for their tax refunds in order to have the money to sign up for health insurance? Perhaps because the insurance is not actually affordable. Maybe because insurance isn’t a priority for these people. Regardless, just because their refund covers their first premium does not mean they will have money to cover costs in the future.
Despite Obama’s desperate attempts to make this law a universal good, reality won’t let go. Eventually, the Democrats will have to come to terms with Obamacare’s failures—and that might mean losing the midterms because of their apparent stubbornness, and letting the Republicans come in and solve the problem.
Oh yes, and here’s a friendly recap of some of Obamacare’s biggest delays, courtesy of Politico.