The continuation of the health reform package known as the Affordable Care Act has been partially delayed by the US Treasury due to concerns from the business sector over the mandate to provide full-time employees with medical coverage or face a fine of up to $3,000 per individual. This delay is another symptom of the conflict that exists between supporters and opponents of this landmark health reform bill. It was only three years ago that the United States engaged in an extremely contentious debate over what form alterations to the healthcare system should take. Ultimately, the product of this debate was the ACA, considered by most to be an imperfect and uneasy compromise that nevertheless has the potential to improve access and drive down healthcare cost growth for all Americans over the long term.
Employer Mandated Coverage Delay May Not Impact Many Businesses
While the vast majority of the Affordable Care Act implementation will be unaffected by the Treasury decision, there are several specific components that will be pushed back until at least 2015. The central issue is the mandate for employers with over 50 full-time staff members to provide insurance coverage to all their employees. While this was very well-publicized and critics within the business community were prominently featured on news networks in the days following the announcement, it may actually have little impact on a broad scale. This is due to the fact that over 90% of employers of this size already provide insurance coverage to full-time employees. A study cited by NBC News projected that less than 6% of businesses in the United States over the employment threshold would have potentially faced a government fine.
Support for Delay Likely Driven by Political Considerations
It appears likely that the concerns voiced by opponents of the business mandate specifically, and healthcare reform in general, are being used to position the objectors politically for the upcoming mid-term elections in 2014. For instance House Speaker John Boehner was quoted as saying that “If businesses can get relief from Obamacare, the rest of America ought to be able to get relief as well,” and following that up with a commitment to a House vote on delaying the individual mandate for coverage.
This sentiment was echoed by House majority leader Eric Cantor who stated “I never thought I’d see the day when the White House and the president came down on the side of big business but left the American people out in the cold.” Clearly Republicans in Congress view the delay as a major opportunity to push for further weakening of healthcare reform. This could significantly damage public confidence in the ACA and provide an anti-reform platform for conservative Congressional candidates in 2014.
The absence of the employer mandate for a year also reduces the amount of revenue that was to be expected through fines and increases need for individual subsidies. A primary funding source for the Affordable Care Act is through penalties and fees, without which the cost to taxpayers could rise substantially. As the national deficit is a constant area of concern for the American public and government spending is a popular topic around election season, a more expensive ACA presents an easy target for politicians hoping to gain some leverage.
This article was written together with Robert Tritter, an aspiring lawyer who looks forward to making a positive impact in the world. He writes this on behalf of Insurance4Dallas, your number one choice when looking for insurance in Dallas. Check out their website today and see what they can do for you and get you the right insurance plan!