Is Delaying the Individual Mandate Obama’s Worst-Case Scenario?

by Jim Geraghty

Back in July:

The vote to delay the individual mandate passed 251-174. Twenty-two Democrats supported the effort in addition to 229 Republicans. Like the vote on the employer mandate, Griffith was the only Republican to vote in opposition to the measure, along with 173 Democrats.

The argument of Democrats was that delaying the individual mandate would increase the likelihood of the “death spiral.” If young people aren’t required to buy health insurance to avoid a 1 percent–of–income fine, they’ll put it off for another year — so insurers end up with a lot of old and sick signups and no young and healthy folks are paying in to keep the system running.

Now several Democrats, including Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Representative Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, and even DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, are saying they’re open to a delay in the individual mandate, or at least an extension of the open-enrollment period.

Many Republicans, like Senator Marco Rubio, are also calling for delaying the individual mandate. Others may wonder whether they should move to mitigate the pain and aggravation of Obamacare or let Americans experience this monstrosity in all its horrific, ill-designed glory.

There’s an argument that the Obama administration wouldn’t need Congress’s approval to make that change. Sebelius

could draft a new rule instructing nonfunctional exchanges — including the federally operated ones — to issue blanket certifications on behalf of all of the uninsured in their states. With those blanket certifications, the penalty would be waived — and all without congressional action.

Of course, this may be the worst-case scenario for the administration. They’ll end up enacting a policy they vehemently fought and opposed during the shutdown, as a result of their own incompetence, that they obliviously denied for months. . . . and enacting a change that sets up the “death spiral” anyway.