Obamacare at risk?
It has not been a good week for the Affordable Care Act and supporters of this legislation, also known as Obamacare.
We still believe the Republican efforts in Congress to defund or repeal the 2010 health care law are more political than practical, and, while significant portions of the law need to be reworked, the overall framework will remain in place. However, continued stumbling by the Obama administration and news articles revealing the extent of the law’s problems are giving more ammo to GOP opponents of the law.
Here are some examples:
✔ An article Monday in The New York Times told how the Obama administration has approved yet another delay for a significant part of Obamacare. The provision in question is designed to set limits on the total amount of out-of-pocket expense consumers pay for health care each year and thus help hold down costs to individuals. But the administration postponed the provision until 2015 because insurance companies said they need more time to comply.
Critics of Obamacare cited this as more evidence that the administration is uprepared to fully implement the complex law. Even a supporter of Obamacare who defended the delay — Johnathan Cohn of The New Republic — called the change “frustrating.”
✔ On Wednesday, NBC News reported that employers around the country, “from fast-food restaurants to colleges,” plan on cutting employee hours to avoid having to comply with Obamacare provisions that require most employers to either provide health care to their workers or pay a fine for not doing so.
The Obama administration immediately denied this was occurring on any broad scale. However, a group of labor unions that have supported the president and Obamacare sent a letter to Democratic leaders in Congress warning that the health care law as presently written could “destroy the 40-hour week that is the backbone of the middle class.”
✔ Also on Wednesday, Reuters news agency reported that many public schools around the country are looking to use more substitute teachers and cut hours for support staff to avoid additional costs from Obamacare.
✔ All this comes on the heels of a column in The Wall Street Journal recently by Andrew Puzder, CEO of a company that owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants around the country and employs 21,000 people. He expressed concern that young, healthy people will opt out of Obamacare, thereby driving costs for everyone else higher.
The controversial individual mandate, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, was supposed to fix this issue by requiring everyone, healthy or not, to obtain insurance or pay a fine.
But Puzder argued the fines are so low that it’s cheaper for those who are healthy to pay them rather than purchase insurance. They will then do what too many people already do: Visit emergency rooms, the most expensive forums for addressing health issues.
Obamacare is far from being down and out. But the Obama administration should be working with amenable Congress members to find ways to mend it, even if some House conservatives will continue to hyperventilate about the need to repeal it.