Friday, February 4, 2011

More Missed Deadlines; They Said WHAT on Constitutionality?

In case you hadn’t seen it, Politico reported this morning that the Administration has missed another two deadlines on health care in the past month:

HHS MISSES TWO MONTH-OLD DEADLINES – Two provisions related to health care quality have gone unaddressed, despite the deadlines passing just over a month ago. The two issues: an Interagency Working Group on Health Care Quality report that was supposed to be issued Dec. 31 and a Healthcare Quality website that the law had going live on Jan. 1.

–HHS responded by highlighting the many deadlines the agency has hit on related issues. “The Affordable Care Act is already working to improve the quality and delivery of health care through innovative new approaches to coordinate care, share information and knowledge, and manage chronic conditions to help prevent more serious health issue,” spokeswoman Jessica Santillo told us. “HHS has met and beaten deadlines required by the Affordable Care Act and plans to have additional announcements on innovative efforts to improve quality in the weeks ahead.”

These new delays, on top of the other deadlines the Administration has already missed, do not speak well to the ability of HHS to roll out the law’s full implementation in January 2014.

In other news, in an ABC News interview yesterday, Sen. Bill Nelson publicly claimed the health care law has a severability clause – even though the measure contains no such prohibition.  Here’s his quote on whether or not the Supreme Court will strike the law down:

I think that’s a possibility, but it’s not a probability.  We were very careful when we crafted this law.  It is going to pass constitutional muster. There might be parts of it that might be struck down.  But there is at the end of it what is called a severability clause, that says if parts are stuck down, that doesn’t strike down the whole law.

However, Sen. Nelson is incorrect – the law includes NO such provision, which is why Judge Vinson was forced to strike down the entire measure earlier this week.  The exchange raised echoes of Speaker Pelosi, who famously said we had to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.  Perhaps however Sen. Nelson, who serves on the Finance Committee, was merely following the lead of that committee’s Chairman, Max Baucus, who in August told his constituents “I don’t think you want me to waste my time to read every single word in that health care bill….It takes a real…real…expert to know what the heck it is.  We hire experts.”

On a related note, a debate in the North Carolina legislature about a state bill designed to prevent the federal government from requiring individuals to buy health insurance prompted a response from the House Minority Leader, Democrat Joe Hackney.  Hackney’s argument: “Don’t tell me you’re not going to have any medical costs.  This is not hardware, this is not furniture, this is not a house.  This is medical care and you are going to purchase it whether you want to or not.”  Not exactly persuasive reasoning for why an individual mandate is not coercive…