February 11 2014
Patrice J. Lee
Yesterday, the White House announced that it would delay the un-Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate yet again. In addition, it relaxed some restrictions on small businesses. This means certain employers will get extra time before they must offer health insurance to their full-time staff.
This is a big, but not surprising move following last week’s news from the Congressional Budget Office that ObamaCare would cost an additional two million jobs over the next few years as it would incentivize Americans to leave the workforce. The White House has spent the past week unsuccessfully explaining away the projected job losses and the damage to worker ethic across the country. No matter how they spin it, job losses are unacceptable to Americans and there is no way to mitigate the damage it will inflict on the job market.
The Washington Post reports:
Under new rules announced Monday by Treasury Department officials, employers with 50 to 99 workers will be given until 2016 — two years longer than originally envisioned under the Affordable Care Act — before they risk a federal penalty for not complying.
Companies with 100 workers or more are getting a different kind of one-year grace period. Instead of being required in 2015 to offer coverage to 95 percent of full-time workers, these bigger employers can avoid a fine by offering insurance to 70 percent of them next year.
How the administration would define employer requirements has been one of the biggest remaining questions about the way the 2010 health-care law will work in practice — and has sparked considerable lobbying. By providing the dual phase-ins for employers of different sizes, administration officials have sought to lighten the burden on the small share of affected employers that have not offered insurance in the past.
As a reminder ObamaCare defines anyone who works 30 hours or more as a full-time employee and compels many employers to offer affordable insurance to those workers and their dependents or face a fine of up to $2,000 for each employee not covered. Employers with fewer than 50 workers do not have to offer insurance.
The new rules are meant to mitigate unintended consequences of employers cutting worker hours, eliminating jobs or avoiding hiring new workers all together to avoid paying more healthcare costs. While business groups welcome the delay, it’s still just postponing a painful inevitability.
Astute students of politics will recognize that the timing of the delay serves an ulterior motive. The Administration is making these decisions with the 2014 and 2016 elections in mind. What was going to be a huge liberal asset has become a liability for ObamaCare’s congressional advocates – especially those up for re-election.
Pundits like Charles Krauthammer suggest that in the long run ObamaCare’s employer mandate will be cancelled because there is no way to avoid the job losses that it will cause –and not just those who the CBO notes will leave the job market.
So what about individuals? Where is the relief for Americans and their families?
For all of the ObamaCare delays, individuals have yet to see a delay in the requirement that all Americans secure healthcare coverage (whether through employers or independently) or face a penalty (of $95 or 1 percent of income).
In the end, what this reveals is what we and many other opponents of ObamaCare have said. The law is bad policy rife with unintended consequences that harm Americans and American workers, drive up healthcare costs, disrupt the healthcare system for the worse, and erode our personal freedoms.