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Tuesday
Jul022013

Employer Mandate Delayed Until 2015? Must Be An Election In 2014

Today the Obama Administration announced that the ObamaCare employer mandate that was supposed to take effect in 2014 will be delayed until 2015.  

In case you don’t recall, beginning in 2014 employers with 50 or more full-time employees, “full-time” defined as 30 hours a week or more, must offer their employees insurance or pay a fine.  If they pay the fine, they have a choice to pay whichever is less: 1. (The number of employees - 30) multiplied by $2,000; or 2. The number of employees who qualify for insurance on an exchange multiplied by $3,000. 

You may also recall that a number of employers, such as Darden Restaurants, PapaJohn’s, Wendy’s and many others complained about the costs and got taken to the woodshed by outraged left-wingers for their trouble.  And if you don’t remember, here’s some blog posts about that.  We at NCPPR will be sure to hold our breaths waiting for the leftists to apologize to those companies now that the Obama Administration has said that it has “heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively.  We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so.”

The form that employers would have to fill out was too complicated, according to one news account: “Most U.S. businesses with more than 50 employees already offer insurance, but the smaller, often startup, companies that do not complained loudly about the 21-page application required.”  Accordingly, the Administration said that the delay

is designed to meet two goals.  First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law.  Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees.  Within the next week, we will publish formal guidance describing this transition.  Just like the Administration’s effort to turn the initial 21-page application for health insurance into a three-page application, we are working hard to adapt and to be flexible about reporting requirements as we implement the law.  

Here is the proper response to that:  HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAHA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!

Please.  The 21-page application form for buying insurance on the exchanges the Administration mentions was released in mid-March.  It took all of six weeks, until late April, to reduce it.  The employer mandate doesn’t go into effect for another six months, but the Administration needs well over a year to make the requirements less complicated?  That’s a good one!

The Administration also claims that it “has been engaging in a dialogue with businesses.”  Perhaps.  More likely, it has been engaging in a dialogue with Democratic members of Congress.  However, it has probably been a largely one-way dialogue, with the members of Congress doing most of the talking.  What they say undoubtedly goes something like this: “We face an election next year, and many employers in our districts/states are unhappy with the mandate.  And they and their employees vote!  DO SOMETHING!!!!!” Nothing focuses the mind of legislators on eliminating bad policy than voters giving them a much-deserved kick in the posterior region.

Alas, even the delay may not save worried lawmakers.  Here is Avik Roy:

Does Obama have the legal authority to delay the mandate?

The Affordable Care Act is quite clear as to the effective date of the employer mandate. “The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013,” concludes Section 1513.

The executive branch is charged with enforcing the law, and it can of course choose not to enforce the law if it wants. But people can sue the federal government, and a judge could theoretically force the administration to enforce the mandate.

So the question is: Would anyone sue the Obama administration over this? Employers, of course, will be thrilled to be spared the mandate for one more year. Democratic politicians, similarly, will be glad to have this not hanging over their heads for the 2014 mid-term election.

The wild-card is left-wing activists. Most, you’d think, would defer to the administration on questions of implementation. I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me that all it would take is for one judge to issue an injunction, for an activist to require the administration to enforce the mandate.

Most might defer, but not all.  Here’s betting that even as this is being written, some left-wing activists are already prepping their briefs.

Photos: iStockphoto

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