Obamacare employer mandate delayed
The section of Obamacare that forces businesses to insure their employees with government approved plans or pay penalties has been delayed for a year.
Delaying the requirement until 2015 is an enormous victory for businesses that had lobbied against the healthcare law.
It also means that one of healthcare reform's central requirements will be implemented after the 2014 midterm elections, when the GOP is likely to use the Affordable Care Act as a vehicle to attack vulnerable Democrats.
In a White House blog post, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett wrote that the administration believed it needed to give employers "more time to comply with the new rules."
I call bull crap. If the mandate had taken effect, not only would the paperwork burden have been arduous, but also millions of employees would have lost their job-related insurance and been thrown on to the tender mercies of the state insurance exchanges where premiums are beginning to take off.
"This allows employers the time to test the new reporting systems and make any necessary adaptations to their health benefits while staying the course toward making health coverage more affordable and accessible for their workers," Jarrett wrote Tuesday evening.
Jarrett also wrote that the delay would help in "cutting red tape and simplifying the reporting process."
"We have heard the concern that the reporting called for under the law about each worker's access to and enrollment in health insurance requires new data collection systems and coordination," Jarrett said. "So we plan to re-vamp and simplify the reporting process."
The Treasury Department's announcement does not affect the individual mandate, which requires most taxpayers to either purchase insurance or pay a penalty, and administration officials said on Tuesday that other aspects of the law wouldn't be delayed.
The law's critics quickly framed that as a double standard, accusing the administration of acknowledging the law's complexity for businesses without offering a similar break to the individual workers who still have to buy insurance. The employer mandate affected businesses with more than 50 workers.
"That the Obama administration is putting off this job-killing requirement on employers, but not individuals and families, shows how deeply flawed the president's signature domestic policy achievement is," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.
"While a delay of this mandate is welcome news since it shows the challenges the employers are facing complying with it, a delay -- conveniently past the 2014 election -- only adds to the uncertainty these job creators face because of ObamaCare," Hatch said.
It's difficult to tell if panicky Democrats had much to do with this decision. The closer we get to the rollout of Obamacare, the more the public realizes the chaos, confusion, and extra expense getting insurance is going to be. It's more than possible that terrified Democratic candidates begged the administration to put off at least some of Obamacare until after the 2014 mid terms.
Could this be the first Obamacare shoe to drop? Might the individual mandate be delayed when it becomes apparent that the state exchanges all won't be ready for business on October 1 when people are supposed to be able to buy insurance through them?
I think it's more than possible - it's likely.
The most transparent administration in history just ordered the most transparent political ploy imaginable. They put off an unpopular part of a law until after the elections so it wouldn't hurt candidates from the president's party.
It is doubtful they can make the reporting requirements for employers any less onerous in the meantime simply due to enforcement. They need a lot of information from businesses in order to determine if they are obeying their masters in Washington. It's hard to see how much you can "simplify" that.
It's an open question whether Democrats will start turning against the law they voted for and support repeal. This is still a long shot. But if things get bad enough, anything is possible.