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November 08, 2013

Sebelius' Huge New Announcement Is Something Something Mental Health Parity or Something

More regulations controlling the health care system! Wow!!!

Sebelius said the administration will post regulations Friday requiring mental health parity. The new regulations will apply to both outpatient and residential treatment for mental health and addiction, which means patients would have the same deductible and co-payments applied to physical illnesses.

All these new regulations, and they're still not rewriting the ones that cancelled millions of people's policies.

While Sebelius is adding new regulations to the law, the White House says it doesn't know if it has the authority to "reinterpret" the old regulations.

Of course it has the authority. It just doesn't want to exercise it. Those regulations were written in contradiction of the law's (and Obama's oft-repeated) promise that if you like your insurance you can keep it. Those regulations defied the spirit of the language, and the promise. So of course those regulations could be rewritten to conform with the promise.

But Obama doesn't want to -- because cancelling those policies was always his goal.

It is unclear if the Health and Human Services Department has the legal authority to re-interpret the law’s definition of insurance plans that are “grandfathered” and could continue to exist, perhaps temporarily, under certain circumstances, even if those plans don’t meet the law’s basic benefits standards. The president has resisted suggestions on both sides of the aisle in Congress to extend the law’s open enrollment period beyond March 31.

Another problem for Obama: Those "basic benefits standards" represent only a fraction of the new policies' cost. The bigger driver of premium increases is the mandate to charge the sick and the healthy the same costs.

Now, if Obama honors his promise, but keeps that part of the law intact, that means people's premiums would fall, but not by much. Their premiums would still be higher than they had been, and their networks of doctors would still be restricted (in a cost saving move designed to disguise how much this costs healthy policy holders).

But Obama would no longer be able to claim the price increases were due to "better benefits," because now the policies would be offering the exact same benefits. They would simply be much more expensive.

This is why he doesn't want to do this-- this would unmask, to the extent it is still masked, how huge and fundamental his lie was all along. The only fig leaf he has remaining is that these are "better" policies, and so should cost more; if he permits insurers to offer the same policies, but at much higher costs due to the law's hidden tax on the healthy and forced subsidy to the sick, he wouldn't even have that little bit of cover.

What I imagine Obama will do, ultimately, is propose subsidies for higher income people so that their costs can be mitigated as well.

But where does the money to subsidize higher income people come from? Well, from taxes on higher income people. And as no one will agree to that scam ("We're going to tax you more and then give you back 70% of the larger taxes you're paying in the form of subsidy; aren't you lucky?"), what he'll actually do is just propose putting these huge new costs on the National Credit Card.


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posted by Ace at 01:13 PM

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