Thursday, January 5, 2012

Obamacare’s Mandates and Pre-Existing Conditions

Tomorrow is the deadline for the first round of briefs in the Supreme Court arguments over Obamacare; various briefs will continue to be filed between now and oral arguments in March.  But we got a preview of the tortured logic we’re likely to see from Democrats over Obamacare’s individual mandate when the liberal AARP filed an early amicus brief just before Christmas.  AARP claimed that Obamacare’s mandate is justified because for individuals with chronic conditions, “even when they can get a policy, it frequently contains an exclusion for the pre-existing or chronic condition, leaving many without adequate insurance for the very health problems they are most likely to encounter.”

This assertion is particularly ironic, given that 1) AARP itself discriminates against people with pre-existing conditions, slapping waiting periods on sick individuals who apply for its lucrative Medigap policies, and 2) AARP admits in its brief that it did NOT act to end this discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions in Obamacare, as none of the organization’s “six key priorities” for health “reform” involved accepting all Medigap applicants, regardless of health status.  (It’s also noteworthy that AARP’s “Statement of Interest” in the amicus brief didn’t mention that the organization could receive over $1 billion in new profits thanks to Obamacare.)

All this is to point out that Democrats’ hands are FAR from clean when it comes to pre-existing conditions and insurance regulations, for several reasons.  First, Obamacare did NOT extend all these “essential” insurance reforms to the Medigap marketplace, as noted above.  Second, as we pointed out in October, the Administration proposed all types of discriminatory actions against people with pre-existing conditions when it came to the CLASS Act, because they do not have the political wherewithal to advocate mandatory participation in the program.

Former Obama Budget Director Peter Orszag has endorsed a federally-imposed mandate to participate in long-term care insurance, as have other liberal bloggers.  The Justice Department likewise conceded in a Pennsylvania courtroom that mandatory long-term care insurance would be constitutional.  But Democrats in Congress dare not publicly advocate that “solution.”  Even as some Democrat Members argue that the Administration’s failure to find a way forward to make the voluntary program solvent “is proof that individual insurance mandates…all work,” they refuse to endorse the policy themselves.

So as the briefs get filed in coming weeks, be ready for some side-stepping by the Administration on how CLASS discriminated against people with pre-existing conditions, or whether mandatory participation in the program might be a “solution” to its fiscal woes.  Call that a not-so-subtle hint that if the Supreme Court ever rules Obamacare’s health insurance mandate constitutional, more federal mandates – to participate in CLASS, or engage in other activities – will likely follow in short order.