Obamacare. Did administration officials blink — or did they wink?
The administration took much of the nation by surprise last week in announcing a year’s delay in implementing a key penalty-backed requirement of the new health care law. That provision would have forced medium and large companies (those with 50 or more employees) to provide health insurance for their workers. And if they didn’t, a series of tax penalties would have come into play.
The requirement was supposed to go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2014. That scheduled start date is pushed back a year, according to an announcement by Mark Mazur, Treasury assistant secretary.
“We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively. We have listened to your feedback, and we are taking action,” he said. So maybe they blinked.
Business groups applauded the decision.
Some analysts suggested the requirement was delayed in order to pull the rug out from under Republican attacks planned for next year’s congressional elections, giving Democratic candidates a bit of space. If that’s the case, the administration simply winked.
Not delayed is the requirement for all individuals to carry health insurance or face fines, starting next year, another major thrust of the health care law, which was intended to expand coverage for uninsured Americans.
If responding to concerns is indeed the reason that the administration delayed the one requirement, it’s gratifying that criticism of the new law is being considered and acted upon.
Certainly there are issues with the delivery of health care in the United States, and valid criticisms of how health care costs are administered and spread, but the way the Affordable Care Act was pushed through Congress — with key leaders acknowledging they had not read it — produced almost universal contention that flaws in the legislation needed to be addressed. It’s to be hoped that this action delaying the mandate that businesses provide coverage is the first of the needed tweaks and revisions that will be made.
It may not be necessary to throw this baby out with the bath water, if officials and lawmakers, perhaps buoyed by some Independence Day spirit of patriotism and sense of duty to country, come to their senses and compromise.