Guest Editorial


Obamacare creates hardship for 16.4 million Americans who now qualify for waivers

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robert romanoTurns out Republican governors and legislatures that blocked Medicaid expansion in their states may have done both their constituents and taxpayers a big favor.

One of the so-called hardship exemptions under Obamacare is "You were determined ineligible for Medicaid because your state didn't expand eligibility for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act," according to the new Healthcare Marketplace form, "Application for Exemption from the Shared Responsibility Payment for Individuals who Experience Hardships."

One of the parts of the Supreme Court ruling by Chief Justice John Roberts that upheld Obamacare in 2012 also made Medicaid expansion by states optional. As result, 25 states have not as of yet opted in.

This affects at least 11.7 million people who would have otherwise qualified for the expansion, based on figures compiled by Kaiser Family Foundation. 12.6 million if you count Ohio, where Republican Governor John Kasich expanded the program under incredibly dubious legal grounds without legislative approval — a move that may yet be overturned in court.

Either way, 11.7 or 12.6 million, these are individuals with income below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or making $15,521 or less, and who are not children, a pregnant woman, elderly, or an individual with a disability.

Those affected need only apply for Medicaid, be denied, and fill out the above form. This will negate the need of paying the individual mandate tax, which this year would have totaled either $95 or 1 percent of household income over the filing threshold, whichever is greater.

For 2015, the tax would rise to the greater of $325 per uninsured person or 2 percent of household income over the filing threshold, and for 2016 and beyond, the greater of $695 per uninsured person or 2.5 percent of household income over the filing threshold.

Alternately, those might attempt to purchase health insurance on, but just making $15,521 or less a year, they probably can't afford it — even with the subsidies.

With that in mind these 25 states would do well to tell everyone how to get their Obamacare waivers. Just print up the above form and mail it to them with instructions on what they need to check off.

After all, why should anyone be taxed for not being able to afford something, especially when it's the government's fault that it's become so unaffordable? It's the mother of all Obamacare waivers.

In fact, unaffordable health plans on the exchange might in itself qualify as an exemption on the form.

Another potential exemption is "You received a notice saying that your current health insurance plan is being cancelled, and you consider the other plans available unaffordable."

There's another 4.7 million people, whose plans were dropped as a result of Obamacare.

All told, that means at least 16.4 million could qualify for hardship exemptions.

Another item you can check off is "You experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance."

In this case perhaps all one needs to do is take a screenshot of the unaffordable plans on the exchange, and alert the government to the fact that they are too expensive to be purchased. You know, with money. Even with the subsidies.

Hey, wait a minute.

Maybe Obamacare itself is the hardship that was created. That's probably true. But, those seeking a waiver under the law might want to leave that part off of their application.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.