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Obamacare exemptions prove law’s folly

Obamacare-exemptionsIn his first inaugural address in 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant declared, “Laws are to govern all alike — those opposed as well as those who favor them. I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution.”

Apparently, President Barack Obama agrees with the second sentence of that quote, if not the first. Which is why he continues to unilaterally prevent strict enforcement of the bad law that is his signature achievement: Obamacare.

The latest change came when the administration announced that the employer mandate, already delayed for one year, would be delayed another year for many companies. Now, businesses employing 50 to 99 full-time workers won’t be required to provide insurance until 2016, while companies employing 100 or more will be required to cover only 70 percent of employees in 2015.

When Obamacare was being debated, Democrats claimed the law was necessary to help more Americans get health insurance coverage. That was then; this is now. The new exemption will definitely exclude about 28 percent of workers, and up to 30 percent of another 74 million individuals at firms with 100 or more employees, from one alleged benefit of the law. Yet those workers will remain subject to the punitive individual penalty.

For Democrats, delaying the employer mandate (again) may conveniently prevent the law’s impact on employment from being felt in late 2014, when voters might express displeasure at the polls. Yet the postponed mandate only delays the inevitable. Countless signs indicate that the law is collapsing.

An estimated 4.5 million people have lost pre-existing coverage due to Obamacare mandates, a figure that may well exceed the number of previously uninsured people who have gained coverage under the law. And a recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office projects Obamacare will reduce the total number of hours Americans work by an amount equivalent to 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021.

Obamacare exchange plans have involved higher costs and more limited provider networks than many citizens envisioned. The situation may get worse. Humana and Aetna, two major insurers, expect to lose money on their Obamacare exchange plans because the demographics of enrollees have skewed toward the old and sick, not the young and healthy. This means that those insurers eventually must increase prices or leave the exchanges altogether, further limiting consumer choice for citizens facing Obamacare’s individual mandate.

At the same time, the 14 states that opted to run their own exchanges (Oklahoma isn’t among them) may struggle to pay associated operational costs once those exchanges are required to be financially self-sufficient in 2015. In Washington state, officials are considering an increased tax on insurance companies to fund the state exchange, a cost that will be passed on to consumers. This assumes, of course, that Obama doesn’t delay that mandate as he has so many others.

And the list goes on.

For someone who claimed his “Affordable Care Act” would generate mass benefit to the lives of countless Americans, Obama now appears desperate to keep many citizens from experiencing the law’s full impact by constantly declaring new exemptions to it. Perhaps Obama recalls Grant’s prediction about the outcome of strict enforcement of a bad law. Maybe the nation’s 18th president knew what he was talking about.

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This article was written by the editorial board of  The Oklahoman.