ObamaCare Delay – Good Thing or Bad? Depends on Who You Ask…

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This week the White House announced a delay for the Affordable Healthcare Act provision requiring businesses with at least 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance by the start of the new year.  Republicans screamed, “See! I told you there were problems!” so loudly, they drowned out the explanations of the White House, altogether.  Which were two-fold.  

The first, they say, allows them to “cut red tape and simplify the reporting process.” The second, “gives businesses more time to comply.”  

While we’re buying that explanation the Republicans aren’t.  They continue to be the party of obstructionists, blocking funding and maintaining their Fire-Aim-Ready mentality at every turn.  Never a benefit of the doubt – always quick to criticize for the sake of political posturing.  

We felt this USA Today article made a strong case for our argument.  What do you think?   

From the USA Today Editorial Board

ObamaCare Delay Hints at Deeper Troubles: USA Today’s View

President Obama signed his ambitious health reform plan into law more than three years ago. Let’s say that again: more than three years ago.

When Obama signed the law on March 23, 2010, everyone knew that all but the smallest businesses would be required to offer their employees health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014. But now, not unlike a college student who hasn’t used his time wisely, the White House says it needs an extension.

On Tuesday, the administration put off for a year the provision that requires any business with at least 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance for workers or pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee. That wasn’t the first delay: Earlier this year, the White House put off another provision that would have affected the way employees could buy insurance on health exchanges.

This might just be what the White House says it is – a smart and needed pause to allow officials and businesses to refine complicated rules that govern how the mandate will work. And in at least one way it might be smart politics for Democrats. It buys temporary peace with businesses that deeply dislike the mandate and have threatened to slash workers or reduce them to part-time status to avoid the insurance requirement. The disruptive change will now kick in after next year’s congressional elections.

In another way, though, the delay is an indicator of deeper troubles that lie just ahead. “This is a clear acknowledgment that the law is unworkable,” declared House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. No it’s not – but indications have been mounting for months that implementation, beginning just three months from now — is going to be rocky and potentially unpopular.

Even ObamaCare supporters worry that the administration isn’t nearly ready to meet the deadline for getting health exchanges, where people will choose their insurance, up and running by Oct. 1 and the rest of the law in place on Jan. 1. And whenever the exchanges are ready, some people are likely to see huge rate increases, particularly if young people opt to pay a $95 penalty rather than participate. Insurers have been predicting that outcome for months.

Meanwhile, fervent Republican attempts to make the law fail are compounding the administration’s shortcomings. The Republicans have refused to set up exchanges in some states, blocked funding for implementation and tried to inhibit administration attempts to help people understand what’s coming.

Introducing a program this big was always going to be bumpy. Even the much-simpler introduction of Medicare drug coverage during he Bush administration got off to a very rough and unpopular start. But in the end, it proved both popular and necessary.

ObamaCare has the same characteristics. Perfecting it will take years, but it’s far better than the alternative, which is to see more and more people lose their insurance as costs rise to unaffordability.

The business mandate in particular makes perfect sense because the goal from the start was to preserve the American model – long supported by both parties — in which most people get their coverage from their employers. Adding a mandate that employers provide coverage disrupts a race to the bottom — in which businesses feel compelled to reduce or eliminate coverage as a cost-cutting measure to remain competitive.

In practical terms, though, this is not the most important part of the new law. Most small businesses have fewer than 50 employees and won’t be required to provide coverage. Studies show most companies larger than that already provide coverage: 98% of companies with more than 200 workers, and 94% of companies with 50 to 199 workers (though smaller companies don’t always offer coverage to every employee).

That said, in a nation where 50 million people are without insurance, businesses – including the restaurants and retailers who have led the resistance to the employer mandate — will play an important role in the push for full coverage. It was galling to hear their leaders cheer the delay, and it’s unclear whether they’ll change their tune even after their complaints about the process are resolved.

USA TODAY’s editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.

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