Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Obamacare’s employer mandate shouldn’t be delayed. It should be repealed.

I was surprised to see Ezra Klein write Obamacare’s employer mandate shouldn’t be delayed. It should be repealed. He's not talking about the individual mandate, but the employer one.

"The Affordable Care Act includes a provision penalizing employers with more than 50 full-time workers who either don’t offer health insurance or whose employees who can’t afford insurance without taxpayer help. Those penalties begin in 2014."

"By tying the penalties to how many full-time workers an employer has, and how many of them qualify for subsidies, the mandate gives employers a reason to have fewer full-time workers, and fewer low-income workers. There are other kinds of mandates that don’t fall afoul of the same problems. “The employer mandate in the House bill was much better constructed from a policy point of view,” says Topher Spiro, director of health-care policy at the Center for American Progress. ”It was based on the percentage of payroll you spent on health care rather than on how many workers you had, so there’s not this weird disincentive related to part-time workers. But it didn’t have the political support to pass.”"

He does include these useful stats. There are 5.7 million businesses in the US, only 210,000 have more than 50 employees, that's 3.7% and 95% of them offer health insurance already. So about 10,000 businesses and at least half a million employees are affected by the mandate.

To address some of the problems (including complex reporting) Obama directed the IRS to delay implementing the penalty one year (to 2015). The law still says 2014, but the IRS just won't enforce it, which is weird.

"Be that as it may, the regulatory solution reflects the fact that the legislative process around the health-care law is completely broken. Republicans won’t pass any legislation that makes the law work better. Improving the law, they fear, will weaken the arguments for repeal. But Democrats, of course, won’t permit repeal. So Congress is at a standstill, with no viable process for reforming or repairing the Affordable Care Act as problems arise. And so the White House is acting on its own."

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