by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A core competency of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is issuing false assurances that all is well with Obamacare. An administration about-face has left the Cabinet official looking like the Baghdad Bob of American health insurance. When Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) asked her at a hearing two weeks ago whether the administration would extend the Obamacare enrollment period beyond March 31, she responded with a crisp and direct: “No, sir.”
To the uninitiated, that sounded like an unmistakable denial of any intention to delay the enrollment period. The uninitiated were sadly misled.
The secretary subsequently referred in her testimony to a delayed enrollment period for people who were unable to enroll “through no fault of their own.” It turns out that the administration’s definition of these frustrated would-be enrollees includes … well, everyone.
The Washington Post reports that the administration will rely on the “honor system” to determine if people enrolling past the deadline are hardship cases, with no attempt to check if they started the enrollment process before the deadline or if they are telling the truth.
My alma mater, the University of Virginia, relies on the honor system. The penalty for a violation is expulsion. The penalty for violating the Obamacare honor system is nonexistent.
A few weeks ago, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which runs HealthCare.gov, emphatically told reporters there were “no plans to extend the open enrollment period.” She underlined the absurdity of the very notion with a slam-dunk legal argument: “In fact, we don’t actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014.”
As if that would be an obstacle.