Heartland Institute Experts React to Delay of Obamacare Employer Mandate

July 03, 2013

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Obama administration announced it was delaying until 2015 the mandate that employers provide insurance under Obamacare. Under the mandate, employers with more than 50 workers would be fined as much as $3,000 per employee if they didn’t offer “affordable” insurance starting in 2014.

The following statements from health care policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“If President Obama truly plans to delay the employer mandate, in a tactical attempt to prevent the implementation of his signature domestic policy until after the midterms, it is nothing more than a craven admission that he knows how unworkable his health policy overhaul is – he just doesn’t want to suffer the political consequences for it while in office.

“Congress passed the employer mandate into law, and the executive branch is now refusing to enforce it. This is nothing more than rule by regulators attempting to slow the train wreck until they’re out of power and don’t have to answer for their bureaucratic mismanagement.”

Benjamin Domenech
Research Fellow, The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Health Care News

“In the midst of a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign touting the supposed benefits of this law, it is interesting that the administration wants to delay it. It was rammed through Congress as if it were an emergency. Three years later, the emergency is its destructive impact on business and employment. Delay will not fix its impossible complexity – or the uncertainty businesses face about the cost of hiring more workers. The administration is violating the clear provisions of the law that state it shall go into effect in the months following December 2013. What the White House should do is get out of the way and let Congress implement the will of the American people to repeal the monster.”

Jane M. Orient, M.D.
Executive Director
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons

“With the delay of the Obamacare employer mandate, the Obama administration itself is admitting that Obamacare is unworkable despite years of preparing for implementation. But where is the legal authority for the delay? President Obama does not have the authority to rewrite the legislation on his own. His only choice is to implement the proposal as written, or scrap it – if he even has the authority to scrap it. (The president’s oath, and duty under the Constitution is ‘to take care that the law is faithfully executed.’) If they don’t implement Obamacare in 2014 as provided in law, how and where do they have the authority to implement it in 2015? The legislation says 2014.”

Peter Ferrara
Senior Fellow for Entitlement and Budget Policy
The Heartland Institute
Mr. Ferrara is the author of The Obamacare Disaster (2009)

The Obama administration’s announcement that it will delay until 2015 Obamacare’s employer mandate to provide ‘affordable’ insurance or be fined as much as $3,000 per employee wins a political Triple Crown: politically cynical, Machiavellianly brilliant, and constitutionally suspect.

“It is cynical, first, because it implicitly acknowledges that Nancy Pelosi was lying when she said recently that ‘the implementation of this is fabulous’ and that Democratic Sen. Max Baucus was correct in calling it a ‘train wreck.’ Yet this news comes on the eve of the Independence Day holiday when most observers will pay it little attention.

“It is brilliant because it postpones the pain and the cost of the impending train wreck until after the 2014 midterm elections, for which the administration and its allies have transparently gone all-in to ensure a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives.

“And it is suspect because once again the former lecturer in constitutional law who currently occupies the White House refuses to execute what the legislature has passed, however suspect both the ends and the means of enacting that legislation.

“In short, it’s a very sad way to celebrate Independence Day.”

David L. Applegate
Policy Advisor, Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute

“The political implications of this decision are evident: Obama and his advisors foresee the Democrats getting killed in next year’s elections. They are taking this extraordinary step in hopes of limiting the disaster, but my guess is that few people will be fooled by such an obvious political maneuver.”

S.T. Karnick
Director of Research
The Heartland Institute

“The announcement that the employer mandate will be delayed until 2015 is just the latest example of the failure of Congress and the Obama administration to understand what they were passing and what implementation would entail. This comes on the heels of several other setbacks for the Affordable Care Act, including the cancelling of the long-term care program, the striking down of mandated state Medicaid expansion, the delay in fully opening the small-business exchanges, the doubling or tripling of premiums for many young and healthy persons, a growing realization the tax on medical devices is a job- and innovation-killer, and revelations that many moderate-income Americans who were expecting subsidies won’t get any subsidies to purchase coverage.

“The administration had three years to write the regulations needed to enforce this mandate and still could not get it done. This does not bode well for the opening of the exchanges in October, now less than 90 days away and still facing significant implementation challenges according to the Government Accountability Office.

“While the mandate was never likely to reduce the number of uninsured Americans, this long string of failures strongly suggests that more problems and shortcomings remain lurking in the details of a bill we were told needed to be passed so we could find out what is in it.”

Sean Parnell
Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute

“The decision by the administration to delay implementation of the misnamed Affordable Care Act coincides with the reality that the health care overhaul is a slow motion train wreck that will eat up the economy and create another leftist administrative-state slush fund in which to park political operatives between elections.

“Delaying the consequences of the ACA is a bow to what is left of government strategies to deceive the electorate, a move to cut the short-term losses and negative public reactions to loss of coverage and sticker shock. The administration is hoping to win the midterms before bringing the hammer down – and the delay is a chance to squeeze out a better result before the ignorant voters look up from their iPhones. The delay is a time out on a policy disaster and will give the media some time and room to talk up some distraction or a concoct an economic ‘recovery.’

“Sen. Max Baucus, author of ACA, is retiring and admitted his health care bill is a ‘train wreck,’ and putting a nice dress and lipstick on the ACA pig won’t change the employment and inflation/deficit/debt problems. Medicare and Medicaid, as well as Social Security, are now approaching unfunded liability ranges that are measured in hundreds of trillions of dollars. There will be a reckoning, but the left wants another election to go for complete control.”

John Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D.
Policy Advisor, Health Care
The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 29-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.