Health Reform: The White House announced late Tuesday that it was postponing the employer mandate for a year to give businesses more time to get ready. When will it admit that the rest of the law is just as flawed?
In a blog post on the Treasury Department website, an assistant secretary for tax policy said the delay was the result of business concerns about "the complexity of the (reporting) requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively."
The reason the administration delayed the Obama-Care employer mandate was because it was turning into a monumental catastrophe. Among the problems:
• Businesses that were supposed to benefit the most from it were instead cutting workers, trimming employees' hours and doing whatever else they could to minimize the mandate's costs. The administration made this problem worse by decreeing that 30 hours constituted full-time work.
• Insurance companies started to announce their ObamaCare premiums for small businesses, and many were coming in with big double-digit increases.
• In June, Obama announced the delay of a key feature of the small business insurance exchanges — called SHOP — that promised choice and competition. Instead of letting workers pick their own plans, as originally promised, owners would have to choose a single plan for their entire workforce.
• Some of the biggest insurers were avoiding the SHOP exchanges altogether. In several states, only one planned to offer a policy, and in Mississippi, none signed up.
• Democrats were starting to rebel against the mandate. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said the administration's inability to get the SHOP exchanges fully operational would end up "crippling 29 million small businesses." Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., was pushing a bill to define "full time" as 40 hours a week, saying that without it ObamaCare would "be a negative for our families."
But while the delay might look like a political bonus to Democrats running in 2014, it will likely cause as many political problems as it solves.
Most of the concerns facing businesses will still be there next summer — right before the mid-term elections — when owners will again confront the costly mandate. In fact, the problems will likely be worse, since ObamaCare will have had a full year to wreak havoc on the health care system.
Plus, since the employer mandate was meant to keep businesses from dumping workers into the Obama-Care exchanges, delaying it could encourage them to do just that, which won't endear workers to the law.
And by delaying a key piece of his signature law, Obama has given Republicans ammunition to argue ObamaCare is a fatally flawed, economically ruinous "reform" even Democrats are finding hard to support.
What's more, the individual mandate — which is still set to go into effect as scheduled — is just as disastrous as the employer mandate.
A review of the ObamaCare insurance plans that have so far been announced finds that even the cheapest ones will cost more than what many individuals can buy today, despite the fact that the ObamaCare policies have higher deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance, according to HealthPocket Inc.
The administration and the states are also behind schedule on the ObamaCare exchanges for individuals, threatening nationwide chaos come Oct. 1. The ObamaCare Data Hub poses massive privacy problems, which the public will learn first-hand. And half the states have already rejected Medicaid expansion.
Obama keeps gamely touting the law's alleged benefits — its ban on insurance denials based on preexisting conditions, premium subsidies and expanded benefits.
But that ban will benefit only the relative handful who've been denied coverage because of an existing illness; most people get coverage at work, where such denials are already illegal. The ObamaCare subsidies quickly phase out, which means that many going into the exchanges for coverage — or forced to do so because their employers dropped health benefits — will have to pay the full cost of the ObamaCare plans.
And while mandated benefits sound great, they do little good to families trying to balance health costs with other needs, for whom skimpier and cheaper insurance makes the most sense.
Meanwhile, the public continues to sour on Obama-Care. The latest IBD/TIPP poll finds that just 40% support the law, while 47% oppose it. The only age group that seems to like ObamaCare much are the low-information 18-24 year olds, 49% of whom approve of it.
More interesting is the IBD/TIPP finding that fully 50% of independent voters say they oppose the law, while just 38% support it. And independents who say they strongly oppose ObamaCare outweigh those who strongly support it by more than two to one.
Independents are also highly skeptical that ObamaCare will improve health care quality. Just 22% think it will, while 47% believe it will make the system worse. As a result, the impending launch of ObamaCare provides a unique opportunity to expose the hazards of big government to these independent voters.
Which is why Democrats — who until recently had been touting ObamaCare as the best thing to happen to the country since its founding — are now starting to panic about its impact on their political prospects.
But the answer isn't delaying it piecemeal. Repealing it fully and replacing it with real, market-based reforms is.