Remember when President Obama famously promised that if you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan? It was a brilliantly crafted political sound bite. Turns out, the statement is untrue.
Aside from that small detail, the slightly larger problem is that the Obama administration doesn’t have a health-care plan. Yes, the White House has a law with thousands of pages, but the closer we get to Oct. 1, the day government-mandated health-insurance exchanges are supposed to open, the more we see that the administration doesn’t have a legitimate plan to successfully implement the law.
Unworkable. That word best describes ObamaCare. Government agencies in states across the country, whether red or blue, have spent countless hours and incalculable dollars trying to keep the ObamaCare train on its track, but the wreck is coming. And it is the American people who are going to pay the price.
Fifty-five working days before the launch of the ObamaCare health-insurance exchanges on Oct. 1, the administration published a 600-page final rule that employers, individuals and states are expected to follow in determining eligibility for millions of Americans. Rather than lending clarity to a troubled project, the guidelines only further complicated it.
If the experience of those working with the ObamaCare implementation at the state level had been taken into account, progress might have been possible, but the administration has treated states with mistrust. Perhaps that’s because we can see that the federal government is repeating mistakes of the past and we know that outcomes rarely reflect what Washington has promised.
Adding to this mounting problem, the guidance that President Obama has offered to date has been inconsistent, arbitrary and frustrating—contributing further to the grave uncertainty that surrounds this law. But not everything about it is uncertain: In February, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that seven million Americans will lose their employer-based health insurance as a result of ObamaCare.
On July 12, three of the country’s largest unions sent a letter to Democratic leaders in Congress stating that ObamaCare would shatter not only hard-earned health benefits, but also destroy the 40-hour workweek that is the backbone of the American middle class. ObamaCare defines full-time employment as 30 hours per week. No wonder these unions are alarmed: They are widely credited with helping to get the votes to pass this unworkable law.
The administration, recognizing that ObamaCare is a ticking bomb, earlier this month announced that it would delay until 2015 the requirement that businesses offer health-care insurance to their employees or pay a fine. Yet the administration didn’t also grant relief to individuals.
Think about that for a moment: The Obama team, for now, has spared employers but not employees. The day of reckoning for businesses is put off, but not for everyday citizens. Many Americans may wonder: On what authority does the administration arbitrarily decide which aspects of a law not to enforce and which ones to keep?
As governors, we have been expressing concern about the unworkability of ObamaCare since its passage in 2010. We have seen the trouble the law poses for our own state economies. The most recent evidence: The government now says that it will not verify the eligibility of individuals who apply for subsidized insurance on the health-care exchanges.
Governors have firsthand experience with implementing public-assistance programs. We know how important it is to care for our most vulnerable citizens and to ensure that people are healthy and able to work. We also know that a one-size-fits-all approach like ObamaCare simply doesn’t work. It only creates new problems and inequalities. That’s why if you look at all 50 states, you’ll see 50 unique ways of handling Medicaid.
Health-care premiums are going up. Many businesses have stopped hiring, to avoid reaching the limit of 50 full-time employees where they are required to offer health benefits. Those businesses that are hiring often take on part-time workers to stay under the full-time cap. Older individuals seeking work are finding that companies are reluctant to take a chance on their potential health-care costs.
These are just a few of the problems resulting from a program that wasn’t thought through before it was rushed into law. No wonder we hear that the Obama attack machine is gearing up to blame everyone but the law itself for the chaos that lies ahead.
This law was a bad idea from the start, and the American public never supported it. The Obama team, taking advantage of an unusual two-year window when Democrats controlled all branches of government, foisted upon the country a liberal hodgepodge of unworkable notions that will wreak havoc on American health care. Delaying implementation of ObamaCare, not just the employer mandate, is a reasonable idea. But an even better one would be a complete repeal.
Mr. Jindal is the governor of Louisiana. Mr. Walker is the governor of Wisconsin.