Is their any reason to trust HHS Obamacare regulations?
For sheer political farce, not much can compete with ObamaCare's passage, which included slipping the bill through the Senate before dawn three Christmas eves ago. But the madcap dash to get ready for the entitlement's October 2013 start-up date is a pretty close second.
The size and complexity of the Affordable Care Act meant that its implementation was never going to easy. But behind the scenes, even states that support or might support the Affordable Care Act are frustrated about the Health and Human Services Department's special combination of rigidity and ineptitude.
To take one example, for the better part of a year states and groups like the bipartisan National Governors Association and the National Association of Medicaid Directors have been begging HHS merely for information about how they're required to make ObamaCare work in practice. There was radio silence from Washington, with time running out. Louisiana and other states even took to filing Freedom of Information Act requests, which are still pending.
Now post-election, new regulations are pouring out from HHS—more than 13,000 pages so far and yet nuts-and-bolts questions are still unanswered. Most of what we know so far comes from a 17-page question-and-answer document that HHS divulged this week, though none of the answers have the force of law and HHS says they're subject to change at any moment.There is much more.
HHS is generally issuing rules with only 30 days for public comment when the standard is 60 days and for complex regulations 90 days and more. But the larger problem is that HHS's Federal Register filings reveal many of the rules were approved in-house and ready to go as early as May. Why the delay?
Clearly the delay was to avoid political embarrassment to the President by reminding people of this unpopular health care law. That may have helped to buy Obama an election, but with the already poor support for the program, the administration needs to get it right quickly or it will find itself with even more political losses in 2014.