Obamacare amended – quietly
For more than four years, the cries from Republicans have been a monotone of “Repeal” when it comes to Obamacare. That changed recently, and very quietly. Will this portend more compromise in order to make Obamacare work better or is it an aberration?
The case, outlined here in the Boston Globe on April 7, 2014, is a story of hushed-up legislation passed recently. The change, driven by business groups, eliminated the caps on deductibles for small group policies sold by health insurance exchanges from a $2000 per individual/$4000 family limit, thus allowing higher options that are often popular with smaller employers. Republicans supported the change because it gives more choice to employers. President Obama signed it into law without comment, either.
The amendment to Obamacare was not debated and was possibly unknown to many legislators according to this report. Tucked into the annual “Doctor fix” legislation, it was passed on a voice vote, a tactic often used when legislators don’t want to leave their fingerprints on a bill. Any individual Republican, challenged by a Tea Party or other ultra conservative voice can claim that they voted against it, maintaining the anti-Obamacare discipline required for re-election in the minds of most members of Congress.
Of course, several Republicans took a practical approach to the matter and said that it was a just a temporary change until Obamacare can be repealed.
If history gives us any lesson, however, it is that large programs of federal benefits like Obamacare are never rescinded. As they gain beneficiaries (under 26 year-olds, low-income), any threat to the law becomes impossible.
Even Republicans understand the odds of ending Obamacare are not great. So, it looks like politics will now start to play out and an at first, stealthy debate has begun about how to make Obamacare “better”. Stay tuned for more changes.
About the Author
Phil Edmundson is the Chairman and CEO of William Gallagher Associates, insurance brokers and consultants for businesses with over 30 years in the insurance industry. He manages strategy, talent acquisition and development, and management / acquisitions at WGA.