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Administration’s latest change could be Obamacare’s death warrant

Barack Obama
Photo by Pool/Getty Images

Obamacare, we hardly knew ye. No one did. And now it looks as though no one might.

From Fox News:

In what might be the death knell for ObamaCare's most controversial component — the individual mandate to buy insurance — the administration has added a mega-exemption that critics say would allow virtually anybody to skirt the rule.

"The door's wide open," economist Doug Holtz-Eakin told Fox News. "[The] mandate which they said was absolutely crucial to ObamaCare is falling apart day by day."

House Speaker John Boehner said the latest change, made ahead of the March 31 enrollment deadline, applies to "essentially everyone."

The change, which was made last week, adds a "hardship exemption" to an extant list of specific hardships, proof of which would waive the non-compliance penalty (the fine assessed on anyone who fails to buy insurance) for qualifying individuals. Among the previous 13 hardships on the list were homelessness, having been a recent victim of domestic violence, having experienced the death of a close family member, and having filed for bankruptcy. Most, though not all, of the exemptions required some form of proof — for example, a copy of your eviction or foreclosure notice in the event you were losing your home.

The newest exemption is having “experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance.” The language is pretty broad and also pretty nebulous. As for proof, you are asked to “submit documentation if possible.” [Emphasis added]

In essence, the administration is admitting that enrollment in Obamacare, which was supposedly created to eliminate hardship, has become a hardship.

This latest development essentially provides an out-clause for anyone who wants one. The question then becomes how the law remains standing if everyone chooses to bail on it.

Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office under the George W. Bush administration, said that for someone to qualify for the latest waiver, they could simply say they couldn't get through on or plans were too expensive or a special condition they have didn't appear to be covered.

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