One of the more disconcerting aspects of following the Affordable Care Act, beyond the numerous delays and waivers announced weekly, has been the cavalier approach by which the government announces these changes. To say nothing of the merits of these significant changes, it is often difficult to find out why and how the government has justified these decisions. More often than not, the explanation will come in a blog post on the Department of Health and Human Services blog (often on a Friday afternoon). Or, perhaps if we are lucky, there will be a handy PDF explaining the changes in more detail.
After the blog posts, HHS hosts private conference calls (to which I am not a party to) in order to explain the new law. Why and how the government, subject to myriad open meeting laws, can host private phone calls, I cannot begin to explain. But don’t even think about quoting these secret government meetings. Invariably, several media outlets will cite an anonymous source in the government, who (for reasons I can’t even begin to understand) demands anonymity when explaining how a rule (it is hardly law) they just made up impacts millions of people.
And then, maybe a few days later, we will receive a massive hundred-page document, explaining a whole host of new rules promulgated by the government–that of course were not subject to notice and comment. It has become a painful pastime of ferreting through these document dumps, and attempting to find the actual basis for the rule previously announced in the blog post. And invariably, the policy, as stated in the blog post, doesn’t quite match up what is in the rule. And, low and behold, another anonymous government official will explain what the law really is. Plus, some industry expert, also anonymous, will provide further clarification.
If you are getting mad reading this, try following the evolution of this chimerical law over the last few years.
This is no longer a government of law, or even a government of men. This is government by blog post.
Cross-Posted at JoshBlackman.com