So you thought Obamacare was through mucking around with your personal life, did you? Well my friends you ain’t seen nothing yet.
The law itself is essentially incomprehensible but now come the implementing regulations and you will have no place to hide. We’ve all been had and I’m sure the income level for lawyers will rise to new heights as the scramble for understanding gets underway.
In my opinion this law and its spreading tentacles through regulatory measures will continue the escalation toward a socialistic state for this nation. Following is a synopsis of many pages of proposed implementing regulations which have appeared in recent issuances of the Federal Register. Responses from the public and interested others are due in the next several weeks. This gives you an idea of what is now underway.
On Nov. 26, 2012, 77 FR 70644 was published which deals with “Essential Health Benefits”. The Obamacare Law lists 10 broad categories of health benefits as essential health benefits (EHB) which were to be defined in detail by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). However, the Secretary of HHS passed the buck to the states and requires them to choose a benchmark plan to serve as the framework for EHB in that state. If a state refuses then they will be assigned a plan. What we have here is a prescription for chaos. This administration has finagled the passage of a national law and is now varying the requirements state by state. A company with employees in multiple states with each having its own plan will be required to keep abreast of each EHB plan in every state in which it has employees.
Another part of 77 FR 70644 is the “Minimum Value” or the pay or play mandate requiring employers having 50 or more full time employees (30 or more hours per week) to offer certain coverage to those employees and their dependents. The IRS has established a notice which mandates a review to assure that employers do not cut employee hours to avoid compliance. This is such a convoluted mess that it can’t be covered in this space.
In yet another recently (November 26, 2012) issuance which covers “Wellness Programs”, which are additions to health plans, we find that BMI (body mass index) and cholesterol levels are set and rewards may be attained if levels are met. I’ve read the provisions and have to admit I still do not understand what they achieve and especially how they will be administered.
In 77 FR 72721(issued December 6, 2012) and 77 FR 73118 (issued December 7, 2012) something called Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and Transitional Reinsurance Fees are presented. For the former a $1.00 per covered person fee (goes to $2.00 in 2014) is applied to the insurance company or employer (undoubtedly to be passed on to the employee ultimately) which is to: “Through research, the Institute will assist patients, clinicians, purchasers, and policy-makers in making informed health decisions by advancing the quality and relevance of evidence based medicine through the synthesis and dissemination of comparative clinical effectiveness research findings”. Is that governmental gobble-d- gook or not? The Transitional reinsurance fee is set to start at $63.00 per year per covered person and decrease a few dollars the second and third year and then ending (sure a tax once begun will end ho-ho-ho). This fee (tax) is intended to go to insurance carriers as an offset to the requirement for them to accept all takers without preexisting condition exclusions.
Was the issuance of these new regulations about Obamacare embargoed until after the recent election? Look at the dates — I’d put money on that being the case. It is tough to win the game when you are playing against marked cards.VERITAS
Bayne’s column appears every Sunday. He is an author and historian. He lives in Culpeper. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org