Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, wrote in POLITICO about the state of affairs for ACA implementation: “Washington is riven by conflict and deep-seated division. It is rare indeed that both sides can agree on anything consequential. Therefore it is incredibly heartening that there is now bipartisan agreement that the implementation of Obamacare is a mess.”
Last week the Obama Administration announced it would delay enforcement of the employer mandate for large businesses for one year. These employers now have until 2015 before they will face a penalty for failing to provide healthcare insurance. Bloomberg reported that under the employer mandate companies with 50 or more employees must provide affordable healthcare insurance or pay a fine, which is as much $3,000 per employee.
The administration argued the decision to delay the employer mandate was a result of listening to the business community’s concerns about getting coverage ready in time. Opponents of the law argued this is another sign of major problems with the law, and that the ACA will not be successful. Senior Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett wrote in a blog post that the decision to delay was made so the administration could simplify the reporting process and give the business community more time to comply with the law.
The delay has also given Republicans an opening for pushing for other postponements in implementation. On Tuesday House Republican leaders demanded the same delay on the individual mandate. The strategy will likely involve multiple votes to both put the employer mandate delay into law, and then to attempt to delay the individual mandate. It’s yet to be seen how effective this tactic will be.
Delaying the mandate was a big political risk for the Obama Administration. Former OMB Director Peter Orszag wrote in Bloomberg last week that the delay will ensure the employer mandate is effectively implemented, but that there must be a renewed focus on ensuring the viability of the state Exchanges. Orszag concludes, “That would also help the administration avoid the real risk that the delay is perceived as the beginning of all the steps needed to carry out the law.”