At every turn, he is confronted by the irrationalities and inconveniences of his own health-care law. Not since Cary Grant was chased by the crop duster in North by Northwest has there been such an affecting scene of a man constantly on the run. The president’s tools of evasion are waivers, deadline extensions, reinterpretations, and last-minute demands on insurance companies. Really, any means necessary.
Coordination with the insurance companies is dispensed with, and public notice is spotty. Announcements are sometimes made at night, when everyone eagerly awaits the latest news on how American health insurance will work. It was around 9 p.m. that the administration let it be known that it was partially suspending the individual mandate in 2014 by exempting people who have had their insurance policies canceled. It didn’t even publicly announce its one-day extension of the deadline to get insurance by January 1. This is not just government by diktat, but government by embarrassed diktat.
Understandably, since the administration has a lot to be embarrassed about, it long ago stopped caring about coherence. After the latest big change, the individual mandate applies to you, except if it doesn’t. It is absolutely essential to the functioning of the law, except when it isn’t. The law is a Great Leap Forward for the cause of social justice. But it is also a hardship.
That was the justification for this new dispensation from on high. It had to be issued to accommodate the unfortunate event described by the administration as “your current health-insurance policy is being canceled and you consider other available policies unaffordable” — in other words, the inherent logic of the law. The president had previously announced that the administration would decline to enforce its own rules causing those cancellations. When that proved ineffectual, it went further. The smart betting is that this partial suspension of the individual mandate next year will eventually be followed by a full suspension.