The Obama administration is expected to announce sometime this week that the "keep your plan" fix will be extended another year, preventing a wave of cancellations weeks before the midterm election, The Hill reports. Though the administration said it had no extensions to announce, sources within the White House said people would be able to keep their non-compliant plans possibly through the end of President Obama's term, or longer.
As the highest ranking Democrat in the country, this is a good political move for his party — there are several red state Democrats in hotly contested seats who are really, really happy. Current attack ads against Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and others constantly bring up the "If you like your plan, you can keep it" Lie of the Year — without this extension, a new wave of cancellations would have hit around early October, a little over a month before the elections. For the president, this also takes some of the negative attention away from him as he heads into the twilight of his presidency.
The problem with this, and a lot of the other delays and extensions, is that it undercuts the law. It's fair to wonder what's the point of the 10 essential benefits — both the popular ones like prescription drug coverage and the less popular ones like maternity and pediatric care older Americans don't need — when moves like this imply they're not necessary. This is a political move at the expense of a policy one. And while insurance companies aren't the most sympathetic, these spur of the moment changes give them something to blame higher premiums on. “These continual delays, these stops and starts, make it very difficult because we set rates based on predictive modeling,” one anonymous executive told The Hill. “When you change the rules, it has a detrimental impact on your ability to calculate your risk pool and your prices.”
The only people the Obama administration doesn't have to worry about are the people who never thought the law was legal in the first place. The Wire has gone over the legal justification the administration uses for the extensions, but detractors argue that these changes should be authorized by Congress. The dictator/imperial ruler (depending on the writer) narrative is still going strong. "America is descending into banana republic status, where El Supremo suspends laws with which he disagrees, or which might create political difficulties for his party," according to The American Thinker. From National Review:
As we are all utterly bored of being reminded every time that someone suggests changing it by the proper channels, that law was passed through Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court. If its opponents are expected to accept that Obamacare is the “law of the land” — and, too, that it can only be altered if they win an election and pass their coveted changes through the established order — shouldn’t its supporters be expected to accept that rule, too?
Opponents and supporters should expect that the government will do its best to ease the transition into any new law, regardless of how much opponents would like to repeal and replace it. And yet, going into the midterm election, that's an argument Democrats are going to have to counter.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.