Former Obama official: Employer mandate won't happen
Former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs doesn't think Obamacare's employer mandate will survive.
Speaking before a benefits industry trade association, Gibbs surprised the audience by predicting that the mandate, which forces businesses with more than 50 employees to offer insurance or pay a fine, would be one of the first things to go if Obamacare is tweaked.
Gibbs argued that most employers with more than 100 workers already offer health insurance, and that only a relatively small number of companies have between 50 and 99 employees.
The former Obama aide also recommended other “common sense” improvements to the law, including offering “an additional layer of coverage cheaper than the plans already offered.”
Right now, catastrophic plans are available for certain young consumers, or those who qualify for hardship exemptions. It’s possible that Gibbs favors expanding those plans, although they offer fewer benefits to consumers.
“We need to have an honest discussion about improving and tweaking the law,” he said.
Despite his call for ObamaCare reforms, Gibbs said health reform “had to be done” and that the law “has real potential to work.”
“Change hasn’t been easy and it won’t be easy,” Gibbs said. “It will be a long time before we know how this will play out.”
What Gibbs doesn't mention is how many employers would drop insurance coverage for employees if the fine was cheaper than insuring them. The CBO estimates that millions of employees would be forced to purchase insurance through the Obamacare exchanges if the employer mandate takes effect.
But Obama pushed the deadline back to January, 2015 for companies with more than 100 employees and to 2016 for those with between 50-99 employees. With no threat of fine, will more employers cancel their employee insurance plans? Given what we know about the cost of Obamacare policies, this is not improbable.
Would the president simply issue another executive order cancelling the mandate? If he can delay it, he may think he can cancel it. And if he does, what can Congress do about it?
About as much as they've done with the dozens of other executive orders that have altered Obamacare.