Report: Mistake-ridden Obamacare regulations required 254 corrections

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If the Obamacare roll-out seems riddled with mistakes, that’s because it has been — at least 254 of them, according to a report from the American Action Forum (AAF).

The think tank run by former Congressional Budget chief Doug Holtz-Eakin found that for 104 final rules the administration issued in order to implement Obamacare, federal officials then needed to go back and issue 254 corrections.

The Obama administration has already attracted heat for its swath of missed deadlines — a Congressional Research Memo revealed in August that 41 out of 82 deadlines were missed — but even with federal officials taking more time than they were allowed, the final product was still filled with errors.

In several cases, even after they made the first fix federal officials had to go back in and make some more. In three cases, AAF reported, the administration published corrections to previous corrections.

In one of the worst cases, a full 37 corrections had to be made to just one rule the White House rushed out in five days.

Unsurprisingly, the administration’s regulations on the federal exchange were a hub for mistakes. The final rule on the exchanges required 16 corrections, but many might argue that the exchanges could still use a few more.

“The enormous regulatory costs of the ACA, higher health care premiums, and the broken website are not surprising in light of the numerous errors the administration made with its own regulations,” the report’s author, AAF Director of Regulatory Policy Sam Batkins, concluded.

The damage wasn’t limited to little-used regulatory language that needed to be fixed of careless mistakes. The medical loss ratio requirement has been hotly debated as a tool to limit insurance companies’ profitability. Billed by The Washington Post as the “provision that terrifies insurers,” the policy forces insurance companies to spend a mandated percentage of patient premiums on patient care in order to keep premiums artificially low.

Twenty-four corrections were issued to the Medical Loss Ratio rule alone. Some parts of the regulations were “technically inaccurate and [conflicted] with language elsewhere,” according to Batkins. Some corrections had to be corrected again later on.

The report pointed to the real-world effects of mistakes in the dense regulations, specifically federal officials’ assumption that it would take 28 minutes to complete an online application via the federal exchange, which turned out to be drastically wrong.

Obamacare’s public troubles are evidence of shoddy lawmaking, Batkins concluded. “A failing website is merely the public display of these past regulatory failures.”

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Sarah Hurtubise