Obamacare faced another significant setback yesterday when the administration announced it would delay the implementation of the employer penalties by a year until 2015. The Obama team bowed to complaints from business groups about the impact the law would have on their companies and their ability to hire new employees.
Mark J. Mazur, the Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, published the news yesterday on the treasury site. The post, Continuing to Implement the ACA in a Careful, Thoughtful Manner, attempts to paint this as a deliberate move to ease the reporting burden on employers as the initial forms were overly complex.
While this postponement does not change other parts of the law, analysts have noted that this delay may be a harbinger of more bad news for Obamacare to come. Especially considering that the federal government has not completed the work necessary to setup exchanges in the 30 states who will not be setting up their own exchanges. This is a herculean task that many experts believe cannot be accomplished in the remaining four months prior to open enrollment.
The Washington Post noted that this is a significant event for the administration, diminishing Obama’s credibility and threatening his legacy as the employer mandate is now in jeopardy of being permanently removed from the act. Which would undermine the entire law as the revenue the mandate will generate significantly contributes to the cost of this new entitlement program.
Another article you should read is a thoughtful piece in Forbes where they go into the potential impact of this policy change on employer coverage and they also note that it may not be legal to delay the implementation without an actual change in the law. Essentially, the administration can choose to not enforce the law, but its still the law.
The coming months are going to be exceptionally interesting as we all count down to implementation of one of the largest government run programs in the history of the country.