The Obama administration announcement July 2 that it was going to delay implementation of the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) until 2015 has thrown into a tailspin expectations of the Act’s requirements and revised expectations for other provisions of the Act.
Conservative politicians pounced.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) stated that “the Administration’s sudden turnabout is a clear admission that its signature law is bad for business and bad for jobs. This law will never be ready for prime time and sadly, the administration’s acknowledgement that it still needs yet another year clearly disrupts everyone’s ability to determine what is best for them and their business.”
Regulators seemed a bit worried but were quick to come up with solutions–if they had one.
The California Department of Insurance pointed people toward the state-operated health insurance exchange, expected to go into operation Jan. 1, 2014.
“Employees whose employers do not provide health insurance will be able to purchase health insurance in California’s new health benefit exchange.” stated Commissioner Dave Jones. He noted that many will be eligible for a premium subsidy if they make less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which in California is about $94,000 for a family of four.
Jones also urged the Administration to “make sure that this provision can be implemented in 2015.”
Brokers say this delay will have tremendous consequences for the private marketplace.
“No doubt this is a huge capitulation by the Administration, consistent with getting ahead of the potential politics of a messy implementation,” stated Joel Wood of the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.
“Our members have mixed emotions about this. They’ve invested an astonishing amount of resources in running the pay-or-play scenarios for their clients and preparing for January. Those who haven’t prepared their clients will revel in the news, and conservatives will sense blood in the water. On the other hand, the mandate drives up the cost of labor; perhaps this is a modest mitigation,” Wood stated.
Health insurance representatives shook their collective heads, and wondered if another shoe would drop in the ACA implementation.
On June 19, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report entitled “Status of CMS Efforts to Establish Federally Facilitated Health Insurance Exchanges.