Waivers

The Washington Times Daily - - Opin­ion -

you’re a small busi­ness that missed the chance to ap­ply for a waiver? Too bad. Rather than face count­less sto­ries about how Oba­macare was so ex­pen­sive that waiver af­ter waiver was needed, CCIIO sim­ply ex­tended the waivers un­til 2014 and shut down the pro­gram.

Demon­strat­ing the kind of gov­ern­ment ef­fi­ciency one can ex­pect in the fu­ture from Oba­macare, CCIIO spent nearly the en­tire $5 bil­lion bud­get for the Early Re­tiree Rein­sur­ance Pro­gram in 20 months. The pro­gram was sup­posed to last un­til 2014.

Where did tax­pay­ers’ $5 bil­lion go? Back to the pres­i­dent’s union bud­dies, of course. What is most hor­ri­fy­ing about the pro­gram is not that the big­gest re­cip­i­ent of your tax dol­lars was the United Auto Work­ers, but that the pro­gram gave money to mas­sively prof­itable cor­po­ra­tions. In fact, our com­mit­tee un­cov­ered that this Oba­macare pro­gram gave money to 12 com­pa­nies in the top 20 of the Forbes 500.

We cer­tainly have not seen ev­i­dence that the law is low­er­ing pre­mi­ums or costs. When we ask what hap­pened to then-can­di­date Barack Obama’s prom­ise to re­duce pre­mi­ums by $2,500 per fam­ily, we are told just to be pa­tient and that those sav­ings will ma­te­ri­al­ize in the fu­ture once the health in­surance ex­changes start. I cer­tainly don’t feel bet­ter when I hear this vari­a­tion of “trust me” from the bu­reau­crats and elected of­fi­cials that got us into this mess in the first place.

CCIIO doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to ac­tu­ally es­tab­lish the health in­surance ex­changes. De­spite count­less in­quiries from my sub­com­mit­tee and others, we still don’t know when we’ll find out what the ad­min­is­tra­tion has de­ter­mined is an “es­sen­tial health ben­e­fit” that must be of­fered in the ex­changes. This lack of cer­tainty has made plan­ning for the fu­ture quite dif­fi­cult.

So let’s re­view. The law is so ex­pen­sive that mil­lions needed a waiver so they wouldn’t face un­bear­able pre­mium in­creases or lose their cov­er­age. We are told pre­mium re­duc­tions are com­ing as soon as the ex­changes start, but CCIIO won’t tell any­one what those ex­changes must cover. Mean­while, the ad­min­is­tra­tion that loves to pick win­ners and losers has been show­er­ing waivers and tax­payer money on its union and cor­po­rate al­lies. All this — and the law has yet even to be fully im­ple­mented.

Full im­ple­men­ta­tion of the law will only add to the mess. As the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice (CBO) re­ported this month, the 10year gross cost of the law is now $1.79 tril­lion. That is not a change; it’s sim­ply an hon­est ac­count­ing of the law be­cause the bud­get tricks and gim­micks the Democrats used to ad­ver­tise the cost as be­low $1 tril­lion fi­nally are run­ning out. When the law is fully im­ple­mented, the cost surely will soar to well over $2 tril­lion. Then, ac­cord­ing to the CBO, as many as 20 mil­lion Amer­i­cans could pos­si­bly lose their cur­rent cov­er­age. Re­mem­ber how many times the pres­i­dent said some vari­a­tion of “if you like your cur­rent health care plan, you can keep it”? There’s a rea­son he doesn’t say that any­more.

This is Oba­macare. Happy birth­day.

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