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The Hefty Price Tag on the Obamacare Delay


Obamacare just got $12 billion more expensive. When the decision to delay enforcement of the Obamacare employer mandate was announced, we noted that the delay would likely increase the cost of the law by shifting more people onto the taxpayer-subsidized exchanges. (This was arguably the Obama administration’s intention from the beginning.) Though the main driver of the cost increase comes from another factor, it appears we were right. WaPo:

The vast majority of that increase ($10 billion) reflects a reduction in the penalties that the government would have collected from employers who did not comply with the requirement to provide health insurance.The Congressional Budget Office, which released the new estimate Tuesday, also expects more Americans to access federal subsidies purchasing coverage on the new marketplaces.

This story shows that the ad hoc and haphazard way officials are implementing the ACA is changing the law itself—and at great cost to us. It’s not fully clear yet what the endgame is, or if there even is an endgame. We don’t know where the President is taking the ACA as he changes it, or what goal he’s pushing for, if any. But one thing is clear: America will probably be a lot poorer by the time we get there.

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  • Corlyss

    “(This was arguably the Obama administration’s intention from the beginning.)”
    Giving people subsidies that couldn’t be revoked, that was the plan from the beginning. Once the subsidies go out, there’ll no stopping them in order to re-orient or repeal the law.

    • Thirdsyphon

      I’m not so sure this whole sequence of events wasn’t part of the original plan. Get the insurance companies on your side by promising them a new stream of involuntary members. . . counting on their greed to blind them to the fact that, once the bill becomes law, the individual and business mandades can be deferred and the subsidies paid out of general revenues, making the insurance companies ripe to be made the villains in a new narrative. Let’s call it the “Why are we letting these private-sector middlemen suck up *our* tax dollars when we could get the same level of care for x% less by just expanding Medicare?” story.
      Obama’s opponents underestimate his political effectiveness at their peril. It’s been a long time since anyone’s made any money betting against him. I think he might have a *very* clear idea of where this is going.

      • Corlyss

        I wouldn’t be surprised if it were exactly as you portray.

  • Boritz

    If a genie granted you three wishes what would be your first wish? For the politically astute this is a no-brainer: Your first wish would be for an unlimited number of wishes.

    If it is your legislation that you are dealing with then your first wish is to make it anything you want it to be through the way it is implemented and administered. ACA and much future legislation will bear only some resemblance to what is on the thousands of pages describing it. Instead it will morph into whatever the traffic will bear. This is truly transformative legislation, and not just for healthcare. The precedent set by this approach to governing will be with us from now on.

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