Delay of Obamacare Mandate to Cost $10 Billion

Wednesday, 10 Jul 2013 03:32 PM

By Tom Topousis

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Delaying Obamacare’s employer mandate by a year will cost the federal government $10 billion, Time reported.

The delay means companies with at least 50 employees now have until 2015 to provide their workers with health insurance. But it also means the government won’t reap the penalties from companies failing to meet that requirement by the original 2014 deadline.

Since more people will be without employer-sponsored insurance, the government is expected to spend more on subsidies for them to buy individual coverage.

However, the Obamacare requirement for all Americans to have health insurance by 2014 remains in effect, prompting Republicans to accuse the Obama administration of siding with big business over individuals.

The delay in the employer mandate, announced July 2, may have scored the administration points with business leaders who had been critical of the measure. It also took the contentious issue off the table until after next year’s midterm elections.

Political opponents, though, have called for an investigation into the delay, according to Time.

Republican lawmakers are demanding to know how much Obamacare will cost to implement now that the employer mandate has been delayed, The Hill reported.

Seven Republican committee leaders on Tuesday asked the Congressional Budget Office for a new estimate of the budget impact caused by the delay, according to The Hill.

"There are many unanswered questions about how the delay will affect insurance options available to individuals, the subsidies provided to those who purchase health insurance on the . . . exchanges, the impact on employer sponsored coverage, and Medicaid spending," the lawmakers wrote.

Their letter to the Congressional Budget Office was signed by the chairmen of four House committees: Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Budget; Dave Camp of Michigan, Ways and Means; Fred Upton of Michigan, Energy and Commerce; and John Kline of Minnesota, Education and the Workforce. Ranking members of three Senate committees also signed: Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Budget; Orrin Hatch of Utah, Finance; and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Paul Van de Water, a federal-budget expert at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told Time the employer-mandate delay "was more of a way of indicating flexibility and responsiveness to employers' concerns.”

"It was obviously generating a lot of vocal complaining, and there were some technical issues the administration wanted more time to work on anyway," he said.

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