The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s website is still in sickly shape. The galling incompetence behind that website debacle is drawing harsh criticism, and not just from conservatives.
And while the unions played a powerful political role in getting the law passed in 2010 without a single Republican vote (and with 34 House Democrats voting against it), they are increasingly expressing bitterness about its side-effects.
Big Labor thought it had finally obtained some relief, during last week’s negotiations on a continuing budget resolution to end the shutdown, from Obamacare’s application to most union health care plans.
But that deal on “reinsurance” regulations, which appeared on the brink of being part of the Senate bill that was quickly approved by the House last Wednesday night, fell through.
Back in July, though, the Obama administration, by executive fiat, postponed the law’s mandate that employers with 50 or more workers must provide insurance coverage for them. As with some other delays, exemptions and waivers granted by the White House, that deferred some of the law’s expensive consequences after next year’s congressional elections.
Congress even got a sweet deal when the administration provided federal subsidies to members and staffers to help them meet the law’s demand that they participate in those Obamacare exchanges.
But unions aren’t getting any Obamacare breaks — at least not yet.
And neither are the individuals who must purchase insurance with government-standard coverage (whether they think they need it or not) or pay additional federal taxes.
Meanwhile, many employers have already reduced workers’ hours to avoid having to provide insurance for them when the business mandate finally takes effect. And that will raise the ranks of individuals required to pay health insurance or pay a penalty.
As for the disastrous rollout, since Oct. 1, of the law’s health care exchanges, it has included non-functional computer services, long backlogs and sticker shock at the unexpected costs of the new health insurance.
President Barack Obama conceded Monday that “there’s no excuse for the problems” with the website.
Yet he also said: “We are confident that we will get all the problems fixed.”
At this revealing point, though, it’s likely that many Americans don’t share that confidence. After all, this is the same president who told them that if they liked the insurance plan they already had, it could stay the same despite this law’s passage.
And if those website problems persist through the end of the year, wouldn’t that justify giving regular folks the same delay that Big Business is getting?