"If you’d like the government to change something about Obamacare, give the White House a ring. They’re in a flexible mood.
Message Posted: Mar 7, 2014 1:36:34 PM
President Obama this week approved yet another delay to provisions in the Affordable Care Act, giving insurers until 2016 to sell a type of insurance policy that’s supposed to be banned under the health-reform law. The ban, which was supposed to begin this year, would prevent insurers from selling bare-bones plans that might be affordable but don’t abide by 10 “essential service rules” required under the new law.
When insurers began canceling such coverage last year, however, several million Americans were forced off plans they had chosen, with most alternatives being more expensive. That undermined Obama’s frequent claim that “if you like your health insurance, you can keep it,” and turned into one of the most controversial elements of a law that hardly lacks detractors.
In November, Obama announced a one-year delay in the ban on “substandard” plans, as he used to call them. Now, extending the delay to 2016 will “provide consumers with choices so they can decide what is best,” the government says. Yet these limbo plans — temporarily allowed but bound to vanish at some point — defy the whole intent of Obamacare, as if the president is losing faith in his own plan. “This is a political move to minimize the impact of this as an argument against Democratic candidates,” says Sean Nicholson, a management professor at Cornell University.
Obama and his fellow Democrats certainly need some political cover as the November midterm elections approach. Support for the ACA has never risen above 45% and it actually weakened as the law went into effect. A recent Gallup poll shows 23% of Americans say they’ve been hurt by the law, while only 10% say they’ve been helped. That may overstate the ACA’s actual impact — since 16% of people said the ACA harmed them a year before it even went into effect — yet the negative impression alone is a big problem for Democrats who voted for the law and now must defend it as they run for reelection."
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