Last Friday, I wrote about the fragility of complex systems and how they can collapse. Currently, the most complex and fragile of our American systems is Obamacare. And it’s collapsing before it can even be implemented.
I’m frequently asked if Obamacare can be repealed. I like to respond by saying that Obamacare is destroying itself. It’s so complex and byzantine that the government is struggling to implement the law.
The next big challenge on the calendar is the deadline to have health insurance exchanges operational by October 1, 2013. The full implementation of Obamacare is supposed to happen January 1, 2014. But how are the 45 million uninsured Americans supposed to sign up if there isn’t a place to sign up?
This week, we heard from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO). Their report on the exchanges was ugly. The health insurance exchanges being created by the federal government for more than 30 states will likely miss the October 1 deadline.
Houston, We Have a Problem
These health insurance exchanges are projected to provide health coverage for seven million people in 2014 and 22 million by 2016. But it’s becoming obvious that Obama’s crown jewel policy achievement is shattered and in ruins.
According to the GAO, vital parts of the computer systems running the exchanges remain unfinished. This means the government has no way to know who’s even eligible for the federal subsidies. They have no system to monitor insurance plans for compliance with the mountains of new regulations.
Health insurance rates are doubling, tripling, and even quadrupling. Any affordability in the Affordable Care Act was a mirage. In some cases, insurance companies are even suspending the sale of individual policies. Aetna has announced that it’s pulling the plug on California.
Worse yet, the existing healthcare system is also unraveling. The question is: Will Obamacare opponents be able to use this vulnerability to finally kill the beast?
A Lack of Courage
This much is obvious: Opponents of Obamacare don’t have much courage. If they did, Obamacare would already be gone. In order to push Obama hard enough to induce full repeal, they’ll have to go to the mat and shut down the government, much like Newt Gingrich did to Bill Clinton. Unfortunately, John Boehner is no Newt Gingrich. So I foresee a series of half-measures taking shape instead.
The House of Representatives may vote to repeal the individual mandate. The mandate is what makes the law unpopular with voters. But the House should also pass a bill proposed by Georgia Rep. Tom Price to cut off funding to enlarge the Internal Revenue Service. No IRS expansion, no enforcement of Obamacare. Americans never have liked the IRS. They like it even less under Obama’s aggressive tax collection policies.
Obama will never agree to a full repeal; but as the problems continue to mount, he could choose to come to the table and repeal the most onerous provisions of the law. Total repeal will have to wait until he’s out of office. He would veto any plan to fully repeal it.
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