13 Mar 2014

(Jim Geraghty:) “The Individual Mandate Is Just Resting. It’s Pining for the Fjords!”

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Dick Morris gloatingly notes that HHS has quietly essentially repealed the individual mandate, Obamacare’s single most controversial feature.

In a policy retreat that is little-known and virtually uncovered in media circles (except for the Wall Street Journal), the Obama administration has effectively postponed, for three years, any requirement that those whose health care policies were canceled or will be canceled from having to buy health insurance.

This regulatory decision, coupled with the delays granted to employers large and small in the mandate that they cover their workers, so truncates Obamacare as to amount to its a virtual repeal.

Specifically, by delaying the individual mandate for three years, Obama has given the GOP everything it sought in its abortive government shutdown in October 2013.

Now, those whose health care policies were canceled can opt out of the individual mandate — and not pay the fine for being uncovered — simply by checking a box on the form.

Under the new rules, according to the Wall Street Journal, “all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was canceled and that you ‘believe that the plan options available in the [Obamacare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your canceled health insurance policy’ or ‘you consider other available policies unaffordable.’

You can even opt out of the requirement to buy new insurance if “you experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance.” Documentation? The regulation only requires that you provide it “if possible.”

Effectively, this means that anyone who wants an exemption from Obamacare who previously had a policy that was canceled can get one simply by asking for it. No proof. No documentation.

The policy retreat is the latest in a series of administration attempts to backpedal on the law and its requirements as their reality dawns on voters in swing states and on Democratic senators trying to entice them to back their re-election.

The previous step back was an announcement last week that the one-year moratorium on cancellations would be extended to three years, effectively pushing it out past the 2016 elections. …

Altogether, the retreat of this president from the enforcement of his signature program is breathtaking and can only be summed up as a repeal, or postponement of the bulk of the Obamacare law’s provisions.

Can Obama repeal and postpone his way to keeping a Senate majority in the fall? We’ll see.

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