Obamacare’s endless exemptions

By Mitch McConnell
December 20, 2013

Thursday night, the White House announced yet another exemption from the pain Obamacare is causing so many Americans. This latest “fix” would allow some Americans who’ve lost plans to exempt themselves from Obamacare requirements by claiming the law imposes a “hardship” because it’s “unaffordable.”

“Hardship”…“unaffordable”…these are the Obama administration’s own terms. About its own law.

These are the very things Republicans and health experts warned about for years.

Yet, this is the same Obama administration that steadfastly refused to make meaningful changes to the law before its launch. It’s settled law, they said. We won’t accept common-sense reforms or delays, they insisted.

So they rolled out a law that was nowhere near ready for prime time. When it turned into a public relations disaster, they just issued exemption after exemption, attempted fix after attempted fix. They’ve seemingly changed the law on the fly almost weekly to suit the needs of the White House.

They seem to think that Obamacare is just a PR crisis they need to weather — rather than an actual disaster for consumers they need to solve.

Lost in the administration’s spinning are the millions of Americans — including 280,000 in Kentucky alone — who’ve had their insurance policies cancelled due to this law. Even after President Barack Obama and Democrats in Washington promised they could keep it. No matter what. “Period.”

Lost are the college graduates and middle-class families who simply cannot afford Obamacare’s skyrocketing premiums and deductibles.

I’m sure the administration wants to look like it’s doing something for those who are getting hurt by its own law. But it needs to start actually doing something.

All the delays, waivers and exemptions in the world aren’t going to solve a problem like this. They only create more confusion for a public that’s looking for results, not spin. And many of the administration’s exemptions could force premiums even higher.

Moreover, the White House’s stunts ignore what is fundamentally wrong with Obamacare: The “we know best” attitude that led to it in the first place.

It’s an attitude that says government officials should tell Americans that they must purchase insurance, what kind of insurance it must be and how much it should cost. Anything else they deride as “junk” — though millions of Americans had plans they liked.

It’s also an attitude that refuses to acknowledge when government actually doesn’t know best, even in the face of all the evidence.

Even when millions of Americans lose their insurance. Even when costs skyrocket. Even when we learn that the government cannot build and manage a website, much less run one-sixth of the U.S. economy.

Americans are right to be angry. This isn’t a public relations disaster. It’s a disaster.

The administration might think it’s being clever by issuing another exemption. But what it’s really doing is proving the point that Obamacare cannot work.

For the administration is now admitting that some Obamacare policies are “unaffordable,” and can impose a “hardship.”

But this latest exemption only applies to one subset of the American people. Why should only some people be forced to purchase unaffordable coverage, and not others?

It’s time to extend that exemption to all of the people.

That’s why the real answer is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with reforms that lower costs and that Americans support.

It’s time the White House dropped the PR gimmicks and worked with Republicans in Congress to implement the kind of health reform people actually want.


PHOTO: President Barack Obama holds his year-end news conference in the White House briefing room in Washington, December 20, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst


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McConnell, your story might be accepted if you and the capitalist boys had ever cared about the middle class.

Up until Obamacare, insurance companies were allowed to deny coverage. I realize you have no concept of what that actually means, given the gold-plated insurance coverage and pension you receive from the Senate.

That means we paid full retail price for medical procedures. This means we either had to forgo medical care or attempt to negotiate the price. Doctors almost never negotiated, especially Republicans ones who believe they are God’s gift to the medical profession. Outpatient hospitals sometimes did negotiate, but never down to the level of insurance prices. Labs never negotiated.

That means we paid full retail price for prescriptions — and it is not uncommon for retail price to be ten times the negotiated, insurance price.

Obamacare is not perfect. Obama is far, far from perfect. But the situation starting in January beats anything you and the boys passed.

Posted by baroque-quest | Report as abusive

Mr McConnell, our healthcare system has been devolving for years. Skyrocketing prices, fewer companies providing less benefits and more and more uninsured Americans.

As a lifelong Republican who happens to believe healthcare is not optional, I’m begging you sir, stop obstructing and start working with the Democrats to make the ACA work.

Posted by ltcrunch | Report as abusive

With the exemptions, delays, waivers and special deals, this “law” is unrecognizable.

Posted by AZreb | Report as abusive

The PPACA is a God send to our family.

It has personally saved me over $2000 this year.

The health group that performed a colonoscopy found two polyps, and wanted to change the screening to a diagnostic. The PPACA helped me contest this.

I then shopped for a walk in X-ray, when it is difficult to get prices from hospitals. A month after the X-ray and payment at time, I received another bill for almost $1500 that I also contested under PPACA because the hospital is now obligated to describe procedures and the price legibly and clearly.

My brother receives medication that may take him over his cap.

We received these rights through this Republican health plan that Democrats supported.

The PPACA is actually President Nixons’ health plan that Republican Governor Romney, with the Heritage Foundation at his side, signed into law in Massachusetts.

McConnell and republicans are clueless to a plan that makes all Americans responsible for their health care so that I and others are not paying for those who show up at emergency rooms in both our increasingly large health insurance premiums and hospital bills.

They also do not have a plan that prevents caps and/or denials.

The only plan they had was Nixons’ plan, and the Democrats ran with it.

So now when they wave that piece of paper saying we have a plan, it is a blank page.

When I ask those why they do not like the PPACA they say because it is a government program.

Not true!

It is a private marketplace.

If republicans truly feel they had something positive to contribute to the law, they have the opportunity.

The fact is republicans are weak on anything to do with consumer protections, and would do nothing.

Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have all had the same start up issues. In fact many agencies in government have had computer problems that were never an issue to republicans before now.

The hatred and negativity that consumes republicans is that they were unable to carry the ball on this, and this will be another feather in the cap of Democrats like the forty hour work week.

Posted by Flash1022 | Report as abusive

The old people are dying Mr. McConnell. You’ll continue to get your payoff, but you message will receed into oblivion as the gullible leave this earth. Maybe you should pray to God to reincarnate the morons so that the reign of evil can continue.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

nothing…nothing….points to how “influenced” ( I’m being kind here)the government has become when common sense is set aside, along with the common good, for “influence” inside the Beltway…that leads to this incredible fiasco in manipulating the health and care of sick people into GDP for stock markets.

Posted by rikfre | Report as abusive

Mr. Senator,

I find it troubling that the last time you chose to utilize this forum you were deriding a certain piece of legislation claiming was too long to read, and therefore improper and impractical. Now that it has gone into effect you return to this forum as a certified expert in the manner of it’s implementation ex post facto.

Does this new insight indicate that you did in fact finally finished reading the bill? If so; what took you so long… these insights delivered in a timely manner could have ay least partly averted the negative consequences for your constituents.


Posted by Fearnloath82 | Report as abusive

Senator, if you are so against government run healthcare, then you should give up your life-long medical coverage paid by US taxpayers. Perhaps if you had to pay market rates for insuring yourself and your family, you would understand how middle income Americans (not your typical funder to your campaign war chest) are becoming impoverished due to health care costs.

In 2008 alone, over 75% of personal bankruptcies were due to unpaid healthcare bills that depleted life savings for middle class Americans. You and your Senate buddies will never know this perpetual fear that Americans live under: get sick and die penniless.

You profess to be a devout Christian yet you show absolutely no compassion to the poor and middle class. I guess you would have also rejected a traveling couple expecting a child if you were running an inn in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago…..

Posted by Acetracy | Report as abusive

Mr. McConnell you just don’t realize how badly the current system in the U.S. needs reforming.

Healthcare spending in 2011 was supposedly 17.6% of GDP.

That’s insane. No other country spends anything like that proportion; plenty of countries – the UK, Sweden, AUS, Japan – manage to spend less than 10% of GDP on healthcare.

I believe in the free-market. But you and others in your position have a responsibility to recognize when the market is failing. I don’t feel I should have to define market failure here.

There are far too many people in America, medical professionals no less, who are making excessive amounts of money at others expense under the current system. It is disgusting and embarrassing.

Posted by igreatplan | Report as abusive

Mr. McConnell, Thank you for your honorable stand.

What these other commenters don’t understand is that healthcare is expensive for a reason. They give statistics about healthcare cost relative to the economy. For their knowledge cost is high because of a shorter supply of doctors and an overweight and obese population. Our medical professionals make excessive amounts of money (275,000, per doctor) because they need an incentive. They spend almost a decade getting their degrees incurring hundreds of thousands in student debt.

Here is an example. My grandfather was a brilliant surgeon who made lots of money in his time. Yet despite his success he always told his kids and us grandkids NOT become doctors because he was afraid that they would make very little because the government would control their pay. He saw the movement towards government control. Obamacare is a step towards single-payer. Many bright young minds will look at Obamacare and see the transition, they will then learn something else (e.g. Engineer, Finance) and not become doctors. In the long run their will be a even greater shortage of doctors, pushing healthcare costs even higher.

Furthermore, the individual mandate is breach of freedom. If you do not pay into the system you will be jailed. This is a dangerous expansion of government.

Mr. McConnell, I do not agree with all your policies but in this you are correct. Thank you for your perseverence

Posted by truthteller14 | Report as abusive