In keeping with its position that the Affordable Care Act means whatever it decrees, the Obama administration has once again ordered changes in the law. The effect of the changes is to relax, further, the requirement that businesses offer Obamacare-compliant health insurance to their employees. The changes are summarized at the Washington Post’s risibly-named Wonkblog:
1. Employers with between 50 to 99 employees get another year of transition. The Obama administration will give medium-sized businesses another year’s pass on providing insurance coverage to workers. … For these companies, the employer mandate does not take effect until 2016.
Just one more extension, and Obama will have put it off until after the 2016 election. As one wag put it on Twitter, “We keep delaying this law because we don’t want to overwhelm people with how great it is. – Obama Admin.”
2. Employers with 100 or more workers aren’t required to cover everyone. Previous regulations had required large employers to offer coverage to 95 percent of full-time employees to be considered in compliance with the employer mandate. Today, Treasury is ratcheting that requirement back: Large companies that offer coverage to 70 percent of their employees will be counted as fulfilling the employer mandate. This is a transitional measure and, by 2016, large employers will need to hit the original, 95 percent target.
At this point, they are just making it up. Any pretense that they are implementing an actual law, as enacted by Congress, is pretty much gone.
It is entertaining to watch the Democratic Party’s “wonks” try to minimize the debacle that is unfolding before their eyes:
In general though, the employer mandate is not an especially important policy lever in the Affordable Care Act.
That is a ludicrous claim.
The vast majority of large employers – somewhere around 95 percent – already offer health insurance.
But the vast majority do not require employees to pay extra for insurance that complies with Obamacare’s mandates, by, for example, covering men for maternity costs or couples without children for pediatric expenses. Employees do pay for their employer-sponsored insurance, you know; only with pre-tax dollars. And what about smaller employers?
Delays to the employer mandate can matter politically. But as for what they mean for who Obamacare covers, this delay will likely amount to a relatively small, if non-existent, change.
Which raises the question why the Obama administration keeps ordering small, if [sic] non-existent changes in the law. I suppose it is obvious even to “wonks” that a delay in implementing the law may be significant even though it has little or nothing to do with “who Obamacare covers” because it is a … delay.
The Obama administration’s rewriting of legislation at will raises many possibilities for the future. Within five minutes I got tweets containing the following suggestions:
* President Rick Perry, in order to continue the explosive economic growth of his first term, suspends EPA enforcement of electricity plants.
* “In order to extend compliance-time and allow businesses to adjust, la la la, we’re suspending corporation taxes until the next election.”
* Or use EO/prosecutorial discretion to cap all taxes at 10%. IRS simply won’t collect or enforce an amount over that.
When you start ignoring the Constitution, you open up all kinds of possibilities.