Just about every aspect of Obamacare — the CLASS Act, the medical device tax, the health-care exchanges, the phony accounting, the Independent Payment Advisory Board — that has been investigated has shown to be deeply flawed. The latest Obamacare flaw to be uncovered, this time by a General Accounting Office (GAO) report , is the Small Employer Health Insurance Tax Credit. It turns out to be useless: “The Small Employer Health Insurance Tax Credit was established to help eligible small employers — businesses or tax-exempt entities — provide health insurance for employees. The base of the credit is premiums paid or the average premium for an employer’s state if premiums paid were higher.”
According to the GAO, only “170,300 small employers claimed [the credit while] estimates of the eligible pool by government agencies and small business advocacy groups ranged from 1.4 million to 4 million.”
Small employers, we learn, can’t afford to provide health-care insurance (“the small employers do not likely view the credit as a big enough incentive to begin offering health insurance and to make a credit claim”), and the tax credit requirements and data collection requirements are so complicated that small businesses don’t want to undertake the hassle involved in claiming the credit. To fix this mess, the GAO says “substantive design changes” may be needed. But then, “Changing the credit to expand eligibility or make it more generous would increase the revenue loss to the federal government.”
Welcome to Obamacare — ineffective, nightmarish in its bureaucracy and utterly unsuccessful in expanding coverage or reducing costs.
That’s put the Obama administration in the awkward position of asking Congress to help fix the problems by allowing more businesses to qualify and making it simpler to apply. But Republicans who run the House say they want to repeal what they deride as “Obamacare,” not fix its flaws.
“They completely missed the target on this thing,” Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., said of the tax credit. “I don’t think expanding it is going to make any difference whatsoever.” Graves chairs the House Small Business Committee.
It doesn’t help the administration’s plea that the biggest small-business lobbying group is a lead plaintiff asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act. The National Federation of Independent Business isn’t likely to spend much time tinkering with the tax credit or promoting it to members.
If lawmakers are lucky, the Supreme Court will strike down the whole thing and spare them the necessity of trying to fix dozens of significant problems in what must be one of the worst-designed major pieces of legislation in recent years. (Compare it to the popular Medicare Part D plan that has come in under budget.) Republicans will have a field day bringing up one flawed provision after another, forcing Democrats to defend the president’s handiwork.
This is what comes from ramming through massive legislation that few lawmakers understood. Perhaps there really is no good way to have the government oversee health care involving hundreds of millions of patients, millions of businesses and goodness-knows-how-many doctor-patient interactions. The entire exercise was misguided from the get-go, and if it is struck down, the reaction of voters and many lawmakers is very likely to be, “Good riddance.”