Obamacare Employer Health Insurance Mandate Delayed Yet Again

The Obamacare employer mandate has been postponed again.

The mandate has been post-dated.

Employers with 50 to 99 full-time workers won’t have to provide health insurance until 2016, a two-year grace period that was not contained in the Affordable Care Act.

The employer mandate for big business was already postponed one year until 2015, after which those employers with 100 or more workers will have to offer health coverage or face fines of up to $2,000 per worker. The rules have changed somewhat for those larger employers too. “Under the new Treasury Department rules, businesses with 100 employees or more must offer coverage to at least 70% of full-time workers in 2015 and 95% in 2016, or face a penalty.”

Some employers have been known to act in an arbitrary or underhanded manner so in the long run it’s probably better that health insurance becomes untethered to a job, provided that insurance is truly affordable. That being said, as the employer mandate neared, many employers justified or not have been trying to find ways to stay under the 50-employee threshold and/or businesses of all sizes have dropped workplaced-based health insurance entirely for some staff such as part-timers. That’s hardly a desirable outcome in a struggling economy hampered by joblessness.

Apparently under the new rule, employers also risk getting in trouble with the IRS once 2016 rolls around if they don’t have a good reason for reducing their headcount to less than 50 workers.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “The move came after employers pressured the Obama administration to peel back the law’s insurance requirements. Some firms had trimmed workers’ hours to below 30 hours a week to avoid paying a penalty if they didn’t offer insurance. A senior administration official said the shift was a response to businesses’ concerns, though the official said no one reason was behind the change.”

Many political observers maintain that the 2014 Congressional election — particularly keeping the US Senate under the control of the Democrats — is what’s really behind the various Obamacare waivers, delays, and postponements put forth by the Obama administration.

It’s also ironic that when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), and others tried to delay or defund Obamacare, they were bitterly denounced and ridiculed on both sides of the political aisle, as well as in the media, because Obamacare was “the law of the land” and shouldn’t be messed with.

A number of prominent legal scholars have argued that selective enforcement or non-enforcement of a federal law like Obamacare is unconstitutional unless Congress has approved the appropriate amendments.

Some industry groups like the National Restaurant Association were pleased with the sudden Obamacare postponement for mid-size businesses because it gives those businesses more time to comply. But the law — assuming it’s ever fully implemented — also serves as a disincentive for small employers with growing business to hire more people and exceed the 50-worker threshold in the runup to 2016. As a practical matter, regardless of whether employers are operating in good or bad faith, that’s bad news for job seekers.

Employers which voluntarily provide insurance and their employees — as well as those consumers who buy their insurance on the individual market — still face much higher premiums, co-pays, and deductibles under the one-size-fits-all Obamacare-compliant insurance policies. There has also been talk about grandfathering those canceled, non-compliant plans for several more years; many of those plans no longer exist, however, or have been renewed at much higher rates under the new Obamacare standards that mandate expensive coverage that is often completely inappropriate for the consumer’s age or gender or the needs of his/her family.

The Obama administration has shown no inclination to postpone or suspend the individual mandate or perhaps more importantly lift the forced benefits that are making health coverage so much more expensive for everyone except those who may qualify for a taxpayer-funded subsidy. House Speaker John Boehner said today that “Once again, the president is giving a break to corporations while individuals and families are still stuck under the mandates of his health care law. And, once again, the president is rewriting law on a whim. If the administration doesn’t believe employers can manage the burden of the law, how can struggling families be expected to?”

The Washington Examiner took a dim view of this latest Obamacare delay: “If Obama believes the employer mandate is a bad idea that needs to be repealed or severely changed, he should propose permanent changes rather than erratic piecemeal fixes. But for Obama, it isn’t acceptable for opponents of the health care law to seek changes through the constitutional legislative process. That’s sabotage. The only way to make changes to Obamacare is for him to do so unilaterally, no matter what the text of the law actually says.”

In touring Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, with French President Hollande today, President Obama joked that “That’s the good thing as a President, I can do whatever I want.”

In a separate editorial, The Wall Street Journal wondered about the latest Obamacare rewrite: “Either ObamaCare is ushering in a worker’s paradise, in which case by the White House’s own logic exempting businesses from its ministrations is harming employees. Or else the mandate really is leading business to cut back on hiring, hours and shifting workers to part-time as the evidence in the real economy suggests.”