Competence: WH Has Missed More Than Half of Own Obamacare Deadlines

Posted: Apr 24, 2014 10:31 AM

They bungled the roll-out, botched the website, and have leaned on a string of unilateral delays and alterations to keep this mess afloat. Undeterred, liberals would still love to see this very same federal government completely envelop and administer the entire American healthcare system. The follies of blind ideology. Yes, let's hand these people even more power -- they've done such a spectacular job thus far:

The administration has failed to meet 44 statutory deadlines required under Obamacare, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The report, released on Monday, documents every provision with a specific deadline within the health care law and the administration’s actions taken as of April 15, 2014. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has missed more than half of the 83 deadlines mandated since March 2011. The missed deadlines range from several days to years.

The truth of the matter is that few Americans would care at all about these unmet deadlines if the law's core promises -- zero impact on satisfied consumers, lower costs for all, etc. -- had been realized. Instead, millions are grappling with Obamacare's shattered pledges. Logistical snafus are a symptom, not the disease. The New York Times profiles some of those who took a pass on Obamacare, many of whom decided they couldn't afford the "Affordable" Care Act:

For every individual who did sign up, there were others...people who have decided to stay uninsured for now, despite the law’s requirement that most Americans get coverage this year or pay an income tax penalty of $95 or more. A common thread running through stories of the unenrolled is cost. Many people either do not qualify for federal subsidies or believe that the assistance is not enough to make insurance affordable, interviews with consumers and experts suggested. According to enrollment counselors in several states, people who have gone without health insurance or major illness for years can be especially resistant to investing in coverage. To be sure, some of those who chose not to sign up were motivated by ideological opposition to Mr. Obama, to the law’s mandate that they buy insurance, or to both....But a New York Times/CBS News poll of uninsured people in December found that of those who did not plan to get coverage, half said that cost was the main reason. Nearly three in 10 said they objected to the government’s requiring it, while about one in 10 said they felt they did not need it.

Click through to meet some of the ordinary people behind those statistics. As we've noted in the past, America's uninsured population has been particularly hostile to Obamacare in public polling. Coverage, in many cases, is too expensive -- and unless these unhappy campers claim a hardship waiver, they'll be forced to pay a tax for the privilege of not being able to afford Obamacare. Businesses have received delays on the mandate that impacts them; individuals and families have not. Meanwhile, in Florida, "sign ups" have exceeded expectations, but rates are on the rise due to demographics:

Most of the consumers who bought a private health plan from Florida Blue through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges between October and April were previously uninsured — one of many factors potentially leading to higher premium rates in 2015, according to a senior executive. Jason Altmire, a former Pennsylvania congressman and now senior vice president of public policy for Florida Blue, cited familiar reasons for a likely rise in rates next year, including the requirement that insurers no longer exclude those with pre-existing conditions, charge equal rates regardless of gender and charge older members no more than three times the amount paid by younger ones. Other reasons consumers may see higher premiums in 2015, he said, include the Obama administration’s decision to allow Americans to keep their health insurance plans for an additional year even if the plans did not meet the coverage requirements of the health law. Altmire said that most consumers signed up through the exchange were previously uninsured Americans who may have delayed seeking medical care, making them potentially more costly to insure. “A lot of them aren’t in the best of health,” he said, noting that consumers who signed up at the outset of open enrollment were likely the ones who needed it most. “We expect it to cost more to insure them because of deferred health needs.” Altmire said...the insurer did not enroll as many of the so-called “young invincibles” as it had hoped, to help spread the risk across a wide pool — another factor potentially affecting premiums next year. “It did not get to where we hoped it would be,” Altmire said of enrollment among young adults, though he declined to specify Florida Blue’s target.

That report confirms one trend we've been following (not enough "young invicibles" in the risk pool to defray premium hikes), but contradicts another. Independent studies have indicated that a hefty majority of "new" Obamacare enrollments came from people who previously had coverage. This story suggests that "most" of Florida's sign-ups came from the ranks of the uninsured. If accurate (details are scant), the Sunshine State's experience would represent an improvement in terms of meeting the law's stated goal -- but as described in the above excerpt, it comes with substantial actuarial downsides. Another mystery is the percentage of "enrollees" who've paid their first premium, thus activating their coverage. Estimates peg the national delinquency rate at 20 percent, but some of the state-level data trickling in looks much uglier. In Georgia, for instance, less than half of the sign-ups have sealed the deal by ponying up the requisite cash. I'll leave you with an embarrassing mistake impacting consumers in the Covered California exchange, which is often brandished by supporters as an Obamacare success story:

If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Unless you can't, that is -- perhaps because your state exchange inaccurately listed her as covered through your plan.