Obamacare implementation hits a snag.

Obamacare implementation hits a snag.

WHEN IT came down to it, the Obama administration ran smack into corporations hovering around 50+ employees who were threatening to cut workers or their hours in order to get past the Obamacare mandate. Call it what you want, but the Obama administration didn’t just blink, they’re acquiescing to real business beefs.

From Ezra Klein, who thinks the business mandate should not just be delayed, but should be repealed.

The Affordable Care Act includes a provision penalizing employers with more than 50 full-time workers who either don’t offer health insurance or whose employees who can’t afford insurance without taxpayer help. Those penalties begin in 2014. At least, that’s what the law says.

It’s a bad bit of policy. In fact, when it first emerged during the Senate’s negotiations, I called it “one of the worst ideas in recent memory.”

What Klein wrote later in that piece is disturbing: This is a regulatory end-run of the legislative process.

The reality is that it doesn’t affect that many people or employers. Most companies already provide health insurance top their employees. Former White House health policy adviser Ezekiel Emanuel estimates that number at around 94%.

The politics and PR of it, however, provide a target rich environment for Republicans, who are taking full advantage of this moment. They’re doing so by making sure they don’t offer facts, but instead rev up their voters in preparation for 2014, which is one of the reasons the Obama administration decided to wait until after the midterms.

Valerie Jarrett explains the Obama administration’s rationale in a blog post (emphasis original).

Second, we are giving businesses more time to comply. As we make these changes, we believe we need to give employers more time to comply with the new rules. Since employer responsibility payments can only be assessed based on this new reporting, payments won’t be collected for 2014. This allows employers the time to test the new reporting systems and make any necessary adaptations to their health benefits while staying the course toward making health coverage more affordable and accessible for their workers.

Just like our effort to turn the 21 page application for health insurance into a 3 page application, we are working hard to adapt and to be flexible in employer and insurer reporting as we implement the law.

Meanwhile, here is a quick review of what small and big businesses need to know about the health law and how it will work:

  • If you are a small business with less than 50 workers, the law’s employer shared responsibility policies does not apply to you. Instead, you will gain access to the Small Business Health Options Program that gives you the purchasing power of large businesses. In fact, you may be eligible for a tax credit that covers up to half the cost of insurance if you offer quality coverage to your employees
  • If you own a business with more than 50 workers that already offers full-time workers affordable, quality coverage, you are fine ““ we’ll work with you to keep that coverage affordable.
  • And if you are a company with more than 50 employees but choose not to offer quality affordable coverage, we have provided as much flexibility and transition time as possible for you to move to providing affordable, quality coverage to your workers.