In yet another speech attempting to lift public support for his struggling health care law, President Obama declared July 18 that, "despite all the evidence that the law is working the way it was supposed to for middle-class Americans, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted — for nearly the 40th time — to dismantle it."
What actually happened was that 35 Democrats defied leadership and Obama's veto threat to join with House Republicans to codify a one-year delay in the law's employer mandate — a delay that Obama himself put in place by regulatory fiat, even though it's questionable whether he had the legal authority to do so. And 22 Democrats also joined with Republicans to delay the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance or pay a penalty tax. But this was the less misleading aspect of Obama's statement.
The bigger problem with his statement is that he claimed the law is working as intended, despite mounting evidence that Obamacare won't be functioning properly when its new health insurance exchanges are slated to start enrolling beneficiaries on Oct. 1, a little more than two months from now. Last month, the Government Accountability Office reported that efforts to set up the state exchanges were running behind schedule and that it was unclear whether they would be implemented in a "timely and smooth" manner.
On July 17, a representative from the Treasury Department's inspector general's office told Congress that the Obama administration may not be able to complete testing of Obamacare's enrollment system before it is set to go live. "The lack of adequate testing could result in significant delays and errors in accepting and processing ... applications for health insurance coverage," Alan Duncan, an assistant inspector general with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration's office, testified. To help administer the exchanges, the Obama administration awarded a $1.2 billion contract to the firm Serco, which is under investigation for fraud in Britain.
The biggest indication that Obamacare is not working as intended, however, comes from the administration itself. The reason cited for delaying the implementation of the employer mandate earlier this month was that officials just couldn't figure out how to administer it on time. The official reason for delaying verification procedures for federal health insurance subsidy applicants was the system was "not feasible" next year. This decision could open the floodgates to fraud, because without the verification procedures, the government essentially will dole out hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to all comers.
These developments didn't just start, either. A long-term care program within Obamacare known as the CLASS Act was abandoned by the Department of Health and Human Services after finding it unworkable. More than 1,200 companies received waivers from the law's annual benefit caps. A burdensome 1099 tax reporting provision had to be repealed. And last month, HHS announced it was partially delaying small business health insurance exchanges. If this is evidence that Obamacare is working, reasonable people recoil at the thought of what its inevitable failure will look like.