Side Effects: Laws No Longer Mean What They Say
Posted By Kathryn Nix On April 1, 2010 @ 4:00 pm In Health Care | 20 Comments
Major flaws in the gargantuan Obamacare bill started to emerge almost immediately after it was signed into law. One of the most embarrassing: failure to ensure immediate coverage for kids with pre-existing conditions—something Obamacare supporters had constantly promised was part of the bill.
Looking to provide cover for those who wrote the bill, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius fired off a warning letter  to insurers. “Health insurance is designed to prevent any child from being denied coverage because he or she has a pre-existing condition,” she scolded. As though it was their mistake!
The pols got in the act too. According to the Associated Press , “House leaders later issued a statement saying their intent in writing the legislation was to provide full protection.” Well all right, then!
Luckily, in this case, the insurance industry is declining to take advantage of politicians’ sloppiness. The AP reports  that Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, wrote back to Sebelius, saying the industry will “fully comply” with the HHS regulations on this matter, once they are written.
But is this anyway to run a country? To have lawmakers and regulators coerce the private sector into doing what they simply declare to be their “intent,” rather than what is actually written in the law? Legislation is supposed to be scrubbed of shortcomings such as this before it’s brought to the floor for a vote.
Expect more episodes like this in the months to come. Washington loves flexing new-found muscle—in this case, the heavy hand of lawmakers and regulators browbeating others for failure to do what they want ‘em to do, but failed to put into law.
Episodes like this reveal the merits of taking a considered, incremental approach to health care reform. To learn more about the right way to successful health care reform, click here .