Some families could get priced out of health insurance due to what’s being called a glitch in President Barack Obama’s overhaul law. IRS regulations issued Wednesday failed to fix the problem as liberal backers of the president’s plan had hoped.
As a result, some families that can’t afford the employer coverage that they are offered on the job will not be able to get financial assistance from the government to buy private health insurance on their own. How many people will be affected is unclear.
The Obama administration says its hands were tied by the way Congress wrote the law[*].
Essentially, it breaks down like this: the government is forcing everybody to buy health insurance. The government is also mandating the existence of health care exchanges. If somebody theoretically can’t afford the exchanges, then they theoretically can get subsidies. The rule of thumb for ‘affordability’ was capped at a level designed to keep people from simply dropping their employer coverage. But the rule of thumb was also capped assuming average costs for individual coverage, not average costs for familycoverage. As a result, some families will be left in a bad situation: they don’t get family coverage from their employers, they aren’t able to afford the new exchange policies on their own, and they can’t get subsidized because they’re over a badly-designed arbitrary affordability level. And, of course, this is all disproportionally targeting lower-income families.
Well, as Nancy Pelosi (in her increasingly doddering way) said, they had to pass the law in order to find out what was in it.
PS: The AP helpfully noted that House Republicans want to simply dump this law wholesale, instead of trying to ‘fix’ it. This is a true thing: the Republican party is against Obamacare, root and branch. We’re also against drinking rat poison, sticking forks into electrical outlets, and going up to bears and kicking them in the testicles. Normally I would assume that the Democratic party is against all of those things, too – but given their recent voting history, I can’t help but conclude that if any of those things were in the original Obamacare bill too then next week’s Meet The Press would feature Sen. Dick Durbin being dutifully mauled by a rightfully-confused grizzly bear.
*Full points for chutzpah here, by the way. As one of my colleagues noted privately, it’s flat-out unbelievable that the administration is throwing Congress under the bus on this; but then, Obama isn’t up for re-election, ever again.