Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Obamacare is so great ...

...that we won't see it in operation until Obama is out of office.

//Two months ago Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the designers of ObamaCare, predicted that one long-term effect of the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would be the near-abolition of employer-provided health insurance. On balance, he argued, the law's incentives would induce employers to drop their plans and instead increase cash compensation so that employees could buy plans on the ObamaCare exchanges.

This column was skeptical. Our argument was that the horrors of the exchanges would give workers newfound appreciation for their employer plans, increasing the pressure on both companies and politicians to preserve the existing system. To judge by this story in the New York Times, we were right:

Many employers had thought they could shift health costs to the government by sending their employees to a health insurance exchange with a tax-free contribution of cash to help pay premiums, but the Obama administration has squelched the idea in a new ruling. Such arrangements do not satisfy the health care law, the administration said, and employers may be subject to a tax penalty of $100 a day--or $36,500 a year--for each employee who goes into the individual marketplace.
The ruling this month, by the Internal Revenue Service, blocks any wholesale move by employers to dump employees into the exchanges.
The key word here is tax-free: Employers can give raises in lieu of medical insurance, but the former, unlike the latter, are taxable income. "The I.R.S. is going out of its way to keep employers in the group insurance market and to reduce the incentives for them to drop coverage," Richard Lindquist, president of a benefits software company, tells the Times.

The word that got our attention, though, is dump. It appears in the headline, too: "I.R.S. Bars Employers From Dumping Workers Into Health Exchanges." If the New York Times were our only source of news, we'd be very confused right now. (Well, OK, we'd be very confused almost always.) For months the Times has been touting the quality of ObamaCare policies, scoffing at those who liked their previous plans and were victimized by President Obama's fraudulent promise that they could keep them.

Now all of a sudden the exchanges are a garbage dump? Or is it that the exchanges are a pristine wilderness into which workers are the garbage being dumped?

The Times quotes Obama at a February press conference: "I don't think that an employer-based system is going to be, or should be, replaced anytime soon," he said when a reporter asked "whether over the long term you see a future where health insurance is less tied to the workplace."

You can see why the president would take that position. If employers start dropping medical benefits, the number of people directly victimized by the you-can-keep-your-plan fraud would multiply, and with it Obama and the Democrats' political problems. Thus the administration is in the ironic position of writing regulations to make sure its "comprehensive reform" isn't too comprehensive.

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