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Another Obamacare delay

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Yet another part of the unwieldy Obamacare leviathan is to be delayed, the New York Times tells us: “In another setback for President Obama’s health care initiative, the administration has delayed until 2015 a significant consumer protection in the law that limits how much people may have to spend on their own health care.”

The cost may be significant: “The limit on out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles and co-payments, was not supposed to exceed $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family. But under a little-noticed ruling, federal officials have granted a one-year grace period to some insurers, allowing them to set higher limits, or no limit at all on some costs, in 2014.”

This is especially pernicious since the individual mandate, unlike the employer mandate, has not be delayed. In other words, Americans must sign up for insurance that could have unlimited out-of-pocket costs. Uninsured Americans are being required to buy a proverbial pig in a poke. If a Republican president tried this, the Democrats would be up in arms.

The staff of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in a statement highlighting the latest Obamacare belly-flop, responded: “Once again, the mandates, regulations, and complexities of Obamacare that Democrats blithely dismissed concerns about have combined to prevent the law from working as they and the president promised.”

House Speaker John Boehner echoed that theme in his own statement: “This is the bottom line: if the president’s health care law is too complex and costly for big businesses and insurance companies to figure out, American families deserve a break from it as well.  The Senate should take up the House-passed delay of the individual mandate as soon as it returns to work. It’s only fair.”

A spokesman for House budget committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reacted this way in an e-mail to Right Turn: “This news is yet another sign that Obamacare was a mistake. The President is breaking his promises and missing his own deadlines. If the law is unworkable-as this decision shows-then we have all the more reason to delay and, ultimately, to repeal it.”

None of these House leaders embraces the suicidal step of shutting down the government. But Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who is a big proponent of the threatened shutdown stunt, put out a statement arguing: “Faced with the obvious and predictable consequences of the caps, the administration again faces another embarrassing delay of this unworkable and unfair law. . . . The best way to delay Obamacare is to defund it.  Once Congress returns from the August work period, the House should act quickly to pass a continuing resolution that funds the government, but not Obamacare.” That’s actually a non sequitur; it does not follow that because something is awful the GOP must engage in a useless and self-destructive stunt.

The argument that it is better to watch Obamacare blow up and for Democrats to call for mercy from their enraged constituents is improved each time another part of the law proves impossible to implement. The GOP would do well to make their case, highlight the extraordinary unfairness of the law and then hold Democrats accountable in 2014. That would give Republicans the high ground and maybe the Senate majority — but not if they follow the shutdown gang’s advice.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee sees a big, juicy target for 2014. She tells me, “ObamaCare is experiencing one train wreck after another and the administration’s latest delay further illustrates that. The law is more unpopular now than ever as the real-world implications of higher costs, lower quality of care, government bureaucracy and being forced to change doctors hits workers and families are nearing implementation.”

She focused on the most vulnerable of the Senate incumbents: “Democrats like Kay Hagan, Mark Begich and Mary Landrieu ignored the people in their home states and stood with President Obama in promising lower health care costs — a promise that has already been broken. Despite the multiple delays of Obamacare, those same Democrats still refuse to listen to the millions of women, workers and families who are calling for Obamacare to be permanently delayed and dismantled so that the rising cost of health care can finally be properly addressed.

Prepare to hear much more of this as the 2014 campaign heats up.