No one can safely plan in this environment. Jay Carney’s declarations have a shelf life of hours, not weeks, but the more lasting damage inheres in the idea that the law can be dictated by the White House. The changes are not matters of implementation but structural elements going to the heart of the law. The administration feels free to issue such changes — though doing so violates (at the very least) the Administrative Procedure Act and arguably the Constitution — because President Barack Obama has successfully flouted the law since 2009.
After a string of denials, HHS announced that employers would not be required to offer health insurance until 2015 instead of 2014 as the law provides. Next, Obama decreed that small businesses would not have to enroll in online exchanges next year. HHS high-handedly ruled that next year’s enrollment deadline for individuals would be Nov. 15, not Oct. 15 (I can’t imagine why). After the outcry over canceled policies, the president unilaterally allowed that insurers could go ahead and offer last year’s policies. Accelerating retractions and corrections come daily now — most without legal foundation. Individuals can take an extra week to sign up for plans; those who’ve had their policies canceled can sign up for “catastrophic” policies. It all depends upon Obama’s whim.