In what could be interpreted as one of the most cynical pieces of political maneuvering to come out of a White House known for cynical political maneuvering, the employer insurance mandate, a key component of Obamacare, has been delayed until after the 2014 midterm elections; quite possibly, in a move aimed at protecting the Democratic Party’s Senate majority.
Whilst much has been made of the so-called ‘individual mandate’, which requires Americans to buy health insurance or face financial penalties, one of most damaging provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the obligation, placed on businesses that have more than 50 full-time employees, to provide those employees with healthcare coverage that meets certain standards, laid out in the legislation. There can be absolutely no doubt that such a provision is going to result in massive layoffs across the country. In addition, many workers will find themselves forced to work fewer hours, so that companies can officially reduce the number of full-time employees. With the act, commonly known as ‘Obamacare’, originally scheduled to be fully implemented in 2014, the Democratic Party would have found itself going into a mi-term election – in which it will be defending 21 Senate seats – with spiraling unemployment and underemployment.
Word is that the delay in implementation gives the administration time to simplify reporting requirements and give businesses more time bring themselves into compliance with the law’s requirements, according to officials who discussed the delay on condition that they not be identified. according to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek.
The majority of larger companies already provide their employees with healthcare coverage that meets the standards of the new legislation. Thousands of small businesses, however, face enormous costs and red tape, as they attempt to comply with the new requirements.
The administration also says that the delay is consistent with their efforts to accommodate the needs of small businesses, which have complained about the difficulties in navigating the complex reporting procedures and associated expenses.
In a White House blog, Obama senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, said “In our ongoing discussions with businesses we have heard that you need the time to get this right. We are listening.”
Social networks are already on fire, following the announcement. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Majority Whip in the House of Representatives, tweeted “Even the White House is beginning to realize that ObamaCare is not ready for prime time”. Numerous comments specifically allude to the idea that the Obamacare employer insurance mandate was delayed in order to protect the vulnerable Democratic Senate majority. With his approval rate plummeting, President Obama would spend his last two years in office as a truly ‘lame duck’ President, should the Democrats lose control of the Senate and fail to establish a majority in the House of Representatives. Far more damaging, for a President who must be hoping that the Affordable Care Act is the main thing he remembered for, is the prospect of a Republican-controlled Congress voting to defund the main components the act, which is the only remaining path to preventing its implementation.
Graham J Noble