- - Sunday, September 29, 2013


What a debacle.

On March 30, 2010, President Obama signed the non-ironically named Affordable Care Act. That was 915 days ago.

From the moment the last of the 22 pens he used to sign the bill into law left the parchment, the federal government has been gearing up — and, of course, collecting cash — for Day One, non-ironically set 915 days in the future, Oct. 1, 2013.

In the meantime, though, the community organizer from Chicagoland exempted everyone in his administration from the new law (as well as lawmakers and staffers in Congress). Lots of campaign donors and business buddies in blue states got waivers, too. But everyone else has to fall in line and get set for the federal government to gain an unfathomable degree of control over their lives.

Well, not everyone. Months ago, the government that could hardly administer a Cash for Clunkers program had to bail on the “employer mandate,” pushing the start date back to Oct. 1, 2015. That means businesses with more than 50 full-time employees are exempt from Obamacare.

But small businesses, the backbone of the American economy, are still forced to comply with the regressive law. The Wal-Marts and Best Buys and Olive Gardens escaped the government maw, but not the most vulnerable, entrepreneurial companies (which don’t have million-dollar lobbyists eating stuffed shrimp with fat-cat lawmakers every night). Oh, and you have to enroll, too. No ifs, ands or buts.

So, your federal government has been in overdrive for 915 days, with millions of workers readying your new health care. How, you ask, is it going, with just days until kickoff?

It’s a disaster. This week, the Obama administration announced that small businesses won’t be able to enroll online until November. They’ll still have to sign up, of course; they just can’t do it online. The Health and Human Services Department offered this helpful guidance: Sign up by fax. Yes, fax — like it’s 1999. Or, HHS said, just drop us a letter. Don’t worry, the broke and befuddled post office is sure to deliver your most private information to us.

The delay followed another change that dramatically affects small businesses. The administration announced that in 2014 businesses that use the exchanges will have only one available plan to cover employees — not a single alternative. So much for the president’s vow of choice and competition. What’s more, some “exchanges” won’t be able to calculate the costs of insurance plans or tax subsidies until at least November.

Then, with just days to go, the administration leaked out some truth. Stories emerged that Obamacare will bring high out-of-pocket costs, some running as high as $6,350. The New York Times, last to vet the new program, suddenly reported that — shock! — “Lower Health Insurance Premiums to Come at Cost of Fewer Choices.”

Still, the disastrous news didn’t stop the president from upselling his down-plunging program to confused Americans.

“They’re going to be able to go to a computer, tap on the Web page and they’re going to be able to shop just like you shopped for an airline ticket or a flat-screen TV, and see what’s the best price for you, what’s the plan that’s best suited for you, and go ahead and sign up right there and then,” he said.

As long as you have a fax machine.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times and is now editor of the Drudge Report. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.

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