Obama's Obamacare Whims

The administration keeps finding issues with its health care law.

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Confronted with major problems and flaws in the Affordable Care Act, the president seems to be constantly changing his mind on parts of the bill and continues to make unilateral decisions from the Oval Office without paying heed to the Constitution. It seems as if his decisions are focused more on how he is feeling on a particular day.

For instance, this week President Obama and his administration may be feeling gratified as enrollment numbers may have increased during the month of January (although still falling short of the overall goal). Behind these numbers, though, is a stubborn problem: Insurance industry officials are questioning the administration on whether these numbers are inflated. Out of the 3.3 million individuals who have enrolled in health exchanges, an estimated 10 to 25 percent have yet to pay their premiums.  The White House decided not to release the number of individuals who have paid their premiums, because … well … they don't feel like it.

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Last week, the president felt it was a good idea to delay the employer mandate for medium-sized businesses. This executive fiat is the latest in more than 27 changes to the bill. Why not make that decision earlier, when his administration decided to delay the employer mandate for small businesses? I guess he just felt like it.

With all the recent delays that the president has made, you would think that he would finally agree to give everyone a delay. He clearly should bite the bullet and delay the individual mandate. A recent poll by Bankrate showed that less than half of the respondents were aware of the March deadline that would require individuals to carry health insurance or face a penalty under Obamacare. Also, 62 percent of the respondents believe that deadline will be pushed back. Can they be blamed for this cynical conclusion?

The administration is facing a difficult time convincing individuals that they are serious about forcing individuals without health insurance to pay the penalties, which will cause even greater confusion during the tax-filing season. It will take more than an advertising blitz to persuade individuals to enroll. Maybe the administration should try some scare tactics. Its new Obamacare slogan for spring 2014 can be “enroll or else ... pay the price.”

Continuing to add to the Obamacare saga, small businesses are facing uncertainty and fear about the impact of the law. According to a recent survey by Merchant Cash and Capital, nearly 40 percent of small business owners are unsure about how Obamacare will affect their businesses. One in four respondents said “they would halt any growth initiatives in the near future as a result of the Act.” And one in five said “they would put new hiring on hold as they deal with increasing operational expenses.”

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With a lagging economy and weak unemployment numbers, greater uncertainty and fear among business owners will impact the future economic outlook and confidence in the United States. MCC CEO Stephen Sheinbaum stated, “Continued fear and doubt surrounding the rollout of Obamacare could potentially temper the economy’s positive momentum.”

President Obama will continue to have a difficult time figuring out a way to dispel the fears of business owners and the majority of Americans who disapprove of Obamacare. His willingness to make sporadic and last minute changes is indicative of a greater problem, which is causing anxiety among businesses and individuals. And we have yet to feel the long-term negative effects of Obamacare, including more individuals dependent on subsidies, discouraged workers who may decide to leave their jobs because of Obamacare and higher premiums for the middle class.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, 2.5 million Americans will leave the workforce as a result of Obamacare, because they can work less and still have affordable health care. In other words more Americans become dependent on the government and take a seat in the wagon, while there are fewer Americans helping to pull the wagon.

President Obama will need to check on his feelings to see how he plans to address and fix those problems. He may want to seek advice from Republicans. Or maybe the president will wake up one day soon and decide that everyone should get a delay on this health care fiasco. I guess we will have to wait and just see how he feels.