Kill your darlings

By Denis Storey

I’m starting to think this administration just loves getting on the evening news. (We do still have that, right?)

Either that, or they’re riffing on the fly like a beatnik on open mic night — and sounding just as high. (Wait, did that just rhyme?)

Anyway, so now the president’s taking back all those cancellations? Can he do that?

“This fix won’t solve every problem for every person, but it’s going to help a lot of people,” the president said during his White House press room announcement.

He then went on to admit “fumbling” the rollout of this law, while swearing he’d “just keep on chipping away at this until the job is done.”

(The mixed metaphor here tells me the speechwriter didn’t have much time, either.)

Either way, it doesn’t really work that way. You can’t change the rules of the game being played next year in mid-November. Just ask the carriers who actually write the policies. Remember them?

“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,” America’s Health Insurance Plans’ President and CEO Karen Ignagni said in statement following the president’s announcement this morning.

“Premiums have already been set for next year based on an assumption of when consumers will be transitioning to the new marketplace. If due to these changes fewer younger and healthier people choose to purchase coverage in the exchange, premiums will increase in the marketplace and there will be fewer choices for consumers. Additional steps must be taken to stabilize the marketplace and mitigate the adverse impact on consumers.”

Logistics aside, I just ask: Can he do this? Call me clueless, but is it even legal for the executive branch to take law passed by Congress and just kinda spend the next couple of years rewriting the thing? And if it’s not explicitly illegal, it certainly flies in the face of the whole idea of checks and balances.

And, again, I have to ask why no one in the administration initiated this conversation months, if not years, ago? We’re always bashing the GOP for quashing dissent among its ranks, but I’m beginning to suspect the Obama administration is at least as insular as a Ted Cruz happy hour.

But there is one other takeaway from all of this — and it’s actually a piece of encouraging news, so, of course, it’s lost in the shuffle of shame and blame. The Medicaid expansion, by all accounts, is going pretty well. And the state-run exchanges are doing OK, too. Which is actually somewhat disappointing so many of them are blue states, since it’s the best argument I’ve seen for letting the states run this thing.

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