Do The Affordable Care Act Delays Mean Anything?

In recent months the Obama Administration has announced the postponement of a number of provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

In April, full implementation of the Small Business Health Option Program was delayed.  On July 2, the Administration stated that the employer penalty provisions of the Act would not be applied until 2015.  And, only a few days ago, the Department of Health and Human Services gave notice that still other provisions — in this case, dealing with health insurance verification and income reporting requirements for state health insurance exchanges — will be delayed.  The latter delay means that, in 2014, state exchanges will be allowed to accept an “attestation” of projected household income to determine whether the individual seeking insurance is eligible for certain tax credits and cost sharing reductions.

Do these delays mean anything?  Are they simply what we should expect when any brand-new federal program takes effect?  Or, do they signify something deeper and more significant?

In announcing these postponements, the Administration cited considerations like “complexities” and “operational barriers.”  That may simply be CYA bureaucratic jargon devised by a regulator who dropped the ball.  Or, it may mean that the health care and health insurance markets in our country are a lot more complicated than proponents of the Affordable Care Act thought.

I’ve always been skeptical of the bold promises made by the President and congressional advocates of the Affordable Care Act, so take this with a grain of salt — but it seems to me if straightforward things like income verification and employer insurance verification haven’t been resolved in the years since the statute was enacted, much more complicated provisions of the Act might be in even greater jeopardy.  I know that the Administration and regulators are confidently telling us that the system will work fine once it takes effect . . . but then these same people assured us that the provisions that have now been delayed would be readily achievable.  Why do we think the “complexities” and “operational barriers” that are supposedly preventing some requirements from taking effect will be resolved in a year’s time?

As I mentioned, I was not an advocate of the Affordable Care Act, but it is the law of the land and therefore I hope it works.  With health care and health insurance being such huge elements of our economy, heaven help us if it doesn’t.

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Starting A New Summer (Book) Series

Summers are made for reading, and summer vacations especially so.

I like to use the summer reading season to discover and dig into books that have already become a series featuring the same characters.  When you make such a discovery you can read the books in sequence, letting the characters and their lives unfold before you and become more familiar and, sometimes, beloved.  There is a particular joy in the initial discovery, too, because you know that you’ve just filled lots of your leisure time — often extending well into the autumn months — with what is sure to be very enjoyable activity.

IMG_4203Over the years I’ve read lots of literary series, and it always seems to happen in the summer — and usually at the recommendation of a friend or family member whose judgment I trust.  It was during the summer that I first enjoyed J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books (at Richard’s recommendation), Patrick O’Brian’s terrific Jack Aubrey-Stephen Maturin Master and Commander novels about the British Navy during the Napoleonic era, James Lee Burke’s two-fisted Dave Robicheaux crime fiction (suggested by the Wrestling Fan), George R.R. Martin’s fabulous Game of Thrones books, and Stuart Kaminsky’s wonderful (and unfortunately too-soon-ended) Inspector Rostnikov and Abe Lieberman series.  I loved them all and hated reaching the end.

Recently the Philosopher King of the Fifth Floor recommended Michael Connelly’s books about Detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch.  I’ve begun with the first book, The Black Echo, and it’s excellent.  I can tell I’m going to like following the exploits of the (in the first book, at least) chain-smoking Harry as he struggles with his personal demons and deftly solves crimes along the way — even if it means skirting the edges of the law and breaking a few departmental rules to bring the wrongdoer to justice.  Having made the discovery, I’m especially pleased to learn that the series currently includes 19 books, which probably means number 20 will come out as I am happily working my way through Harry’s story.

Don’t expect much from me this summer:  I’ll be reading.