- - Monday, March 31, 2014


March 31 was supposed to be the climax of the Obama administration’s ultimatum — the deadline by which every single person in America was to comply with the onerous White House mandate to buy health insurance or get slapped with a steep federal tax penalty.

Like so many of Obamacare’s provisions, though, administration officials have now pushed back that “key deadline,” providing yet another tacit admission of the law’s unworkability.

Late last Tuesday night, the administration succumbed again — this time on the all-important enrollment deadline itself. They announced that simply by checking a box indicating that a person tried to enroll, literally anyone could receive an extension until mid-April. As The Washington Post reported, “This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine if the person is telling the truth.”

That’s somewhat fitting, given the administration’s own difficulties with telling the truth when it comes to President Obama’s signature health care law.

A seemingly unending train of blunders has turned America against Obamacare. Despite the administration touting successful enrollment numbers, in reality, the law is an abject failure.

Hampered initially by a horrendous opening act from the Healthcare.gov website, the administration and its allies faced an uphill battle in getting Americans enrolled. Aside from the obvious functional barrier, people were rightly wary of putting their health care under control of a government that could not build a working website after investing three years and more than $600 million.

Shortly thereafter began the tidal wave of Obamacare’s broken promises.

The president and others in his party told America that if they liked their plan and their doctor, they could keep them — a commitment the president walked back during an interview with WebMD. Mr. Obama said he would lower premiums by $2,500 for the average family — an assertion his own secretary of health and human services has all but conceded is not true.

He has repeatedly made the laughable claim that Obamacare would not add one dime to the deficit. Each new equivocation and exposed lie has given Americans another reason to doubt Mr. Obama and his health care law.

With the national consensus trending against the law and against the president in general, the White House and its allies launched a massive promotional effort, mostly geared toward young people. Through a combination of awkward and cringeworthy advertising campaigns, Mr. Obama and his allies have put on a full-court press to hit their elusive enrollment targets and coax young people into the unpopular scheme.

However, no promotional effort has been sufficient to overcome deep-seated public skepticism, make the president’s “lie of the year” true, or paper over Obamacare’s numerous negative consequences. Instead, the White House has been forced into an embarrassing saga of exemptions, do-overs and delays.

Finally, since the individual mandate itself was not enough to frighten people onto Obamacare, proponents drummed up scare tactics of their own. The administration’s latest push, for example, involves trying to convince young people that they are destined to do dumb things and get hurt.

In the liberal bastion of Rhode Island, the exchange announced it would help moms find their kids on Facebook, Twitter and other social media through a “Nag Toolkit” — giving mothers the means to nag their kids incessantly until they comply with Obamacare.

None of these efforts — no matter how tasteless or condescending — have duped enough people into looking past Obamacare’s painful truths, as enrollment continues to sputter.

Six million enrollments, which in actuality merely counts people who have placed plans in the online “shopping cart,” is still below the original 7 million sign-up goal. Only about a quarter of people who have signed up were previously uninsured, and we still have no hard data on how many of these people have actually paid for their plans.

It’s also important to remember that the number of people who have had their plans canceled courtesy of the president’s health care law is still larger than the number of those who have signed up and paid for an Obamacare exchange plan. Indeed, many of the 6 million people who have signed up for a plan are people who lost their plans to begin with as a result of Obamacare.

Given that we are in the midst of March Madness, the White House should consider former UCLA great John Wooden’s famous warning before they start patting themselves on the back: “Never mistake activity for accomplishment.”

At the bill’s signing, Mr. Obama told America “it would take four years to implement fully.” The law recently marked its fourth birthday, and that claim, like so many others from this White House, appears to have missed its deadline.

Akash Chougule is a policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity.

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