What to do with Obamacare on January 21, 2017?

December 21st, 2015

In the Wall Street Journal, former-Senator Phil Gramm and Michael Solon offer a gameplan for what the next President–a Republican–should do on the first day in office. In short, repeal many of the President’s executive orders,(with a majority in the Senate) appoint new cabinet secretaries who can rescind all of President Obama’s policy memoranda, and declare an economic emergency to halt to all pending rule-making and initiate new ones.

In particular, they offer these steps of what can be done with respect to the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act also grants substantial flexibility in its implementation, a feature Mr. Obama has repeatedly exploited. The new president could suspend penalties for individuals and employers, enforce income-verification requirements, ease the premium shock on young enrollees by adjusting the community rating system, allow different pricing structures inside the exchanges and alter provider compensation. These actions could begin dismantling the most pernicious parts of ObamaCare and prevent its roots from deepening as Congress debates its repeal and replacement.

One of the most perverse aspects of President Obama’s repeated delays and waivers of the Affordable Care Act–ostensibly designed to save the law–is that the exact same actions can be used by another President for the exact opposite effect–to kill it. All of the defenders of the President’s actions will be left in a very awkward position. In my interviews for Unraveled, I spoke with a number of people who advised the Romney Campaign, and this was something they looked into extensively–how the ACA’s harshest mandates could be softened. But of course, this was all before the Fall of 2013 when the President began his policy of “regulation by blog post.”

My suggestion–not that anyone will listen–is to enforce the entire law.  The quickest way to get rid of Obamacare is to get rid of all of the illegal waivers, extensions, and transitional relief.The President on day one could sign an executive order announcing that every aspect of the Affordable Care Act will be enforced, without any waivers starting January 1, 2018, unless a bill is passed to repeal and replace the law before then. The Democrats and the insurance companies would rush to the table, and the law would be scuttled in a manner of months. A President would require a lot of fortitude to make this move, but it would be decisive. This will likely be the theme of the final chapter of Unraveled.