Krauthammer: Hardship Exemption Essentially Cancels Mandate
You’ve probably heard about this one by now: Team Obama has changed the hardship exemption rules
(WSJ) But amid the post-rollout political backlash, last week the agency created a new category: Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was cancelled and that you “believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy” or “you consider other available policies unaffordable.”
This lax standard–no formula or hard test beyond a person’s belief–at least ostensibly requires proof such as an insurer termination notice. But people can also qualify for hardships for the unspecified nonreason that “you experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance,” which only requires “documentation if possible.” And yet another waiver is available to those who say they are merely unable to afford coverage, regardless of their prior insurance. In a word, these shifting legal benchmarks offer an exemption to everyone who conceivably wants one.
What does all that mean? (video at the link)
(Daily Caller) “[HHS Secretary] Sebelius is implying it was in the plan all the time, in the bill,” Krauthammer replied. “Yes, it was. But it was very narrowly defined. It meant if you lost your house, you lost your job, if you are living in the back of a VW, then you are a hardship case and you are exempt from the individual mandate.”
“It’s now been redefined,” he continued, “so that all you have to do is to claim that going into the exchange would create a hardship. I mean, it’s ironic. It makes Obamacare itself the hardship – which is slightly ironic, but I think she is beyond the reach of irony so she didn’t quite see it.”
“All you have to do is say, ‘You know, this is hard on me,”’ Krauthammer explained. “You sign a paper, you don’t have to provide any other documentation. It’s essentially a cancellation of the mandate.”
As Ezra Klein noted in December, “Obamacare itself is the hardship”.
George Will saw more irony in the rule change. “They told the Supreme Court, ‘It’s absolutely crucial that we have the individual mandate,’” he said. “Turns out nothing is crucial. Therefore, nothing is almost left of Obamacare.”
Meanwhile, HHS head Kathleen Sebelius was in front of the House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday, and, as usual, had no answers to direct questions. She had no idea how many people had paid their premiums. No idea as to the age makeup for those obtaining insurance. No idea how many signups had previously lost their health insurance due to the requirements. Yet, she and Obama can yammer on about millions signing up? Oh, and she told the panel that people can expect their premiums to go up next year.