August 20 2013
If you needed any more evidence—and likely you didn’t—that ObamaCare was rammed through Congress with little attention paid to practicality, a heretofore unpublished memo from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service is just about as damning as it gets.
The memo was uncovered and published Avik Roy, one of our favorite health reform writers, in Forbes magazine. According to the memo, the Obama administration already has missed fully half the legally-mandated deadlines for ObamaCare implementation.
As of May 31, 2013, when the CRS analysis was completed, the White House had yet to meet 9 of 12 deadlines from the first year after the Affordable Care Act was enacted. It failed to meet 22 of 53 deadlines in the second year; another 8 became moot after Congress did not appropriate funds to complete the assigned tasks. In year three, the administration missed 10 out of 17 deadlines. That’s a total of 41 out of 82 deadlines missed.
If you exclude the 9 deadlines that became moot because Congress never appropriated the funds to meet them, the Obama administration missed 41 out of 73 deadlines, or 56 percent.
In analyzing the CRS report, I erred on the side of generosity. If the administration missed a particular statutory deadline by a week or less, I counted it in their favor as a “met” deadline. In any case where there was ambiguity in the CRS report, I assumed that the administration had met the deadline. So these 50-56 percent missed deadline figures should be seen as slightly conservative.
While some of these delays are important, many aren’t for “mission-critical features of the law” but instead are “bureaucratic busywork.”
Roy comments that the document “reads like a kind of caricature of bureaucratic busywork.”
The administration, not surprisingly, has tried, “almost comically,” to blame delays on the Republicans, but Roy notes that most of the complaints about implementation come from blue states that have already embraced ObamaCare.
If you believe, as I do, that ObamaCare is a disaster, you’re likely to take heart from these delays. Not so fast. Roy concludes:
We should make one thing clear. The law isn’t going to “collapse unto itself” or any such thing that conservatives appear to pine for. For every missed deadline or White House waiver, there are nine aspects of Obamacare that are being implemented as we speak.
Obamacare may fail at reducing insurance premiums, or at wisely using taxpayer funds. But the law is scheduled to spend $1.9 trillion over the next ten years. At that, it is unlikely to fail.
A significant amount of that money may not go to the people for whom it’s intended. It may not have the benefits on health outcomes that the law’s most zealous supporters insist it will. But barring substantial Congressional action, that $1.9 trillion will still get spent, along with trillions more thereafter. Only new laws, not wishful thinking, will change that.
The GOP will have quite an issue for the midterms—if Congress doesn’t behave foolishly and snatch a good issue from the jaws of possible victory.
Republicans should not be afraid to say, “We told you so.”