Mark Caserta: Obamacare delay prompted by shaky plan
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. Three years later, his administration still hasn't figured out how to make it work.
Recently, the Obama administration announced it's delaying implementing a key component of Obamacare for a year following complaints from the private sector about reporting requirements. The "employer mandate," which penalizes employers with more than 50 employees if they fail to provide health insurance, was scheduled to begin in 2014, but has now been "postponed" until 2015.
Mark Mazur, assistant Treasury secretary for Tax Policy, cited two goals for the delay.
"First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law. Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees."
The Obama administration imposed the Affordable Care Act knowing it would be a nightmare for employers -- and didn't care.
Additionally, the president's delay of the employer mandate does nothing for individuals. The central provision of Obamacare, or the "individual mandate," will still require most Americans to carry health insurance or face a fine in the form of an IRS tax penalty.
So while this "unexploded ordnance" is postponed for employers, it's still a "dud" for the college graduate struggling to pay student loans, or the retail employee working in a scaled-down business who will be required to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.
Understand Barack Obama's goal was to "boldly go where no president has gone before" and successfully implement universal health care coverage, with the ultimate goal of leading the nation into a single-payer system -- and deal with the details later.
For those who haven't followed the details of health care reform, a single payer health care system would mean the government pays hospitals and doctors directly for every person's health care. And even though the government doesn't own the hospitals and the doctors aren't government employees, it's still socialized healthcare because government controls the costs.
There's clearly an ulterior motive for this "temporary reprieve" of the employer mandate.
Currently, employers have to decide which health care choice is financially prudent for them. They basically have three options.
The first is to conduct business as normal, provide employee health coverage if they meet the requirements, and pass along the costs to consumers.
The second option is to reduce their work force below 50 employees and offer less value or services to the consumer.
Third, they can pay the penalty, and pass those additional costs to the consumer.
The consumer pays for Obamacare -- period.
The government, knowing that many businesses will circumvent the employer mandate, is realizing insurance exchanges are about to be flooded with clients.
Yet, many states have declined to set up their own health exchange systems and the Obama administration is facing major logistical and financial challenges in creating exchanges for these states.
Delaying the employer mandate has nothing to do with accommodating businesses.
The Obama administration simply had a shaky plan.
Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.
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