Obamacare Regulations … A Regulatory Mess

Rep. Joe Pitts
Chester Daily Local

Scientists are discovering new planets in other solar systems at an amazing pace. Some of these planets are even the same size as Earth and may be in a similar orbit. Perhaps we’ll even find a planet orbiting our nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri. If we could build a spacecraft just a little faster than current technology, it would take around 14,000 years to get there.

The Office of Management and Budget has estimated that the combined time to comply with all the new regulations under Obamacare is 127,602,371 hours… or around 14,000 years. Of course, that burden isn’t just on a single person, but it’s a potent illustration of just how much time American families, businesses and health care providers will be spending to follow all the new rules.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is working together with two other committees to track the burden of these regulations as they are announced. By the time the regulators are through there might enough hours to get back from Proxima Centauri.

The health care law runs more than 2,000 pages. While that might seem like some heavy reading, the legislative language only loosely describes how Obamacare is supposed to work. Most of the details about how the programs, boards and bureaucracies are supposed to do their job is done through the regulatory process.

So far this process has been anything but smooth. The law sets deadlines for the implementation of programs, new taxes and reporting requirements. Just a few months after the law was signed, deadlines were already being missed.

This is bad news for those who have to prepare to comply with the law. One of the biggest deadlines is for opening of health care exchanges. The federal government was hoping that states would shoulder much of the burden of opening up and operating these exchanges.

The keystone regulation of the health care exchanges is the rules for the essential minimum benefits—the items every health insurance plan needs to cover in order to continue operating. The political problem the White House faced with this rule is that it would make it clear just how much more health insurance would cost under Obamacare. Heading into the election, the president didn’t want bad news about how much more Americans would be paying because of his policies.

Now with these regulations starting to role out, state governments and health insurers have little time prepare for the opening of exchanges in October of this year. Some state governments have wisely decided that they shouldn’t commit to operating what is essentially a federal government program. Even those states that have committed to running an exchange are finding it difficult to get answers out of the federal government.

When the regulatory process is finally complete, states and insurers will have to work their way through a mountain of paperwork. This means hiring more employees and spending more money on new technology. In California alone, the government may need to hire more than 21,000 employees to help people navigate the new exchanges.

Business owners and health providers will also face a new mountain of paperwork to comply with Obamacare. For businesses, they must file additional tax forms either proving that their current insurance meets standards, or paying the new fine for going without insurance.

Hospitals and doctors will now have additional reporting requirements. This means more time away from patients for physicians. It also means hiring more employees who have nothing to do with providing care.

Obamacare’s solution to our health care problems is Washington-centric. Tens of thousands of new government employees will be needed to make sure all the new rules are being followed and all the new taxes are being paid.

Bureaucracy doesn’t cure the sick. Instead, more paperwork requirements create government jobs, when what we need are quality private sector jobs that create economic growth. The president said his plan would reduce costs and make it easier to purchase insurance. So far, all we’ve seen are rising costs and increasing government burdens.

(U.S. Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (16th District) resides in East Marlborough)

Read more: http://www.dailylocal.com/article/20130211/OPINION03/130219979/obamacare-regulations—a-regulatory-mess-