Obamacare is falling apart before our eyes. The long-term care insurance program known as the CLASS ACT was deemed financially unworkable and shut down by the administration's own actuaries. Taxpayer-funded health care cooperatives never got off the ground and were shut down in the fiscal cliff deal. Last month the federal Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan stopped accepting enrollment applications. This week 79 U.S. senators, including 34 Democrats, voted to repeal the law's medical device tax. Premiums in the individual and small group markets could spike as much as 116 percent next year. The wheels are already wobbling and the worst is yet to come.
The exchanges at the heart of the new Obamacare entitlement are slated to be up and running for open enrollment beginning October 1. Millions of Americans will be dumped into these exchanges by employers dropping coverage and millions more will be forced to enter the exchanges by the individual mandate. But will there actually be functioning exchanges for them to go to? Maybe not.
The Obamacare law was written to incentivize states to do the heavy lifting of setting up and running the exchanges, which are administratively and technologically complex. But more than half the states said no thanks, looking at the proposed regulations and long-term operating costs and choosing to let the feds try to administer their own mess. And the states that did choose to play ball weren't able to make much progress because the Obama administration stalled key regulations until after the election.
Now the feds are rushing to get the exchanges ready.
"We are under 200 days from open enrollment, and I'm pretty nervous,'' confessed Henry Chao, the deputy chief information officer on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - which is setting up the federal exchanges. "The time for debating about the size of text on the screen or the color or is it a world-class user experience, that's what we used to talk about two years ago," Chao said. "Let's just make sure it's not a third-world experience."
So don't be surprised if open enrollment doesn't start October 1 as planned. And when the exchanges are up and running, what plans will be available to purchase through them? One effect of stalling the regulations past the election is that the choices offered in most states will be meager simply because there isn't much time to develop plans and make sure they are compliant.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.