Thursday, August 9, 2012

Get Ready for the NEXT Obamacare Mandate

Politico Pro reports this afternoon (subscription required) that the Administration and outside groups have begun a series of backroom discussions regarding long-term care and the CLASS Act.  Among the topics being discussed – how to enact something similar to a participation mandate.  One participant said “there have been discussions about incentivizing enrollment in ways that would ‘come close enough to mimicking a mandate.’”  One way could involve taxing all Americans who do not participate in CLASS – a policy the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional not two months ago.

This movement towards a de facto CLASS mandate is entirely predictable – in fact, was predicted – once HHS admitted the program could not be made solvent without a mandate.  After all, Peter Orszag, the former Obama Administration budget director, first referenced the idea of mandatory participation in CLASS last summer; other liberal bloggers have agreed.  The Justice Department likewise conceded in a Pennsylvania courtroom that mandatory long-term care insurance would be constitutional.  And now, mere months after the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare’s individual mandate as a tax – forcing all Americans to purchase a product for the first time ever – the Obama Administration is already wondering how close it can come to enacting yet another purchase mandate on the American people.

It’s also worth noting the “closely guarded” nature of these secret negotiations, and the fact that most participants won’t even say who’s in the (back)room:

Participants wouldn’t discuss which federal officials have attended the meetings.  HHS did not respond to a request for comment by deadline….[One participant] declined to say whether federal officials have joined in the discussions.  Other group members POLITICO spoke with also declined to say who’s participating, citing directions…

Negotiations on C-SPAN, it ain’t, that’s for sure.  But one thing is fairly certain: If HHS is conducting secret backroom discussions, and not telling Republicans, let alone the public, about them, you can practically bet the policy the Administration will try to ram down Congress’ throats – or implement unilaterally – will be government-centered, and far from bipartisan.