Employer Mandate Delay Raises Concern Over Individual Mandate

Debate recently surfaced following controversial news that the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be delayed. However, welcome relief for employers has had little effect on individuals, who must still abide to the ACA's individual mandate or face tax penalties.

Debate recently surfaced following controversial news that the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be delayed. The mandate, which requires companies to supply their employees with health insurance, will be pushed until 2015. By then, White House officials anticipate simplifying reporting requirements, and hope that employers will have had sufficient time to consider adaptation of health coverage and reporting systems into their organizations.

“This one-year delay will provide employers and businesses [with] more time to update their healthcare coverage without threat of arbitrary punishment,” Neil Trautwein, Vice President and Employee Benefits Policy Counsel at the National Retail Federation said in a recent statement. “We appreciate the administration's recognition of employer concerns and hope it will allow for greater flexibility in the future.”

However, welcome relief for employers has had little effect on individuals, who must still abide to the ACA’s individual mandate or face tax penalties. Original mandates required both employers and individuals to have health insurance by January 2014. Accordingly, this alleged inequality has pushed the House of Representatives to pass a bill requesting a delay for the individual mandate until 2015, even in spite of the threat of a presidential veto.

Representative Pete Olsen, Republican of Texas, described the delay as unfair, stating, “Under the president’s policy, million-dollar corporations with access to the White House can be excused from Obamacare, but the struggling family gets left out.”

Conversely, Democratic Representative of New York, Louise Slaughter, said the delay of the individual mandate could hurt states like New York, especially following the announcement of their healthcare exchange marketplace rates. “New York does not want to be relieved of the burden of the Affordable Care Act,” Ms. Slaughter said. “Delaying the individual mandate would undermine the very foundation of the law and cause health care premiums to skyrocket.”

Jay Carney, White House spokesman, also added comment, saying the debate and bill hurts the true nature of the ACA—to lower costs for millions of Americans and to better incentivize providers to deliver value-based care. “[Republicans] will be voting, through their measure to delay implementation of the individual mandate, to keep those rates at $1000 for the individual in New York rather than $308,” Carney said.

While the Obama administration says the delayed employer mandate only affects a small group of companies, the delay of the individual mandate could be far more detrimental. “Delaying the employer [mandate] has almost no effect on the implementation of the ACA,” one group of economists wrote. “In contrast, delaying the individual mandate would cut at the core of the vision of private market-based insurance market reform."

Around the Web

NRF Applauds Administration’s Decision to Delay Provisions of the Affordable Care Act [NRF]

House Passes Delay of Major Provisions in Health-Care Law [Bloomberg]

House Votes to Delay Two Requirements of the Health Care Overhaul [NY Times]

NY Health Insurance Exchanges Will Halve Costs for Indviduals - See more at: http://www.ajmc.com/focus-of-the-week/0713/NY-Health-Insurance-Exchanges-Will-Halve-Costs-for-Indviduals#sthash.zyq9cQRf.dpuf

NY Health Insurance Exchanges Will Halve Costs for Indviduals [AJMC]

Votes to Delay ObamaCare Mandates Put House Democrats in Tight Spot [The Hill]

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