Delay Of Employer Mandate: 'Astonishing Decision;' 'No Bearing' On Much Of Health Law

Commentators both for and against the health overhaul offered assessments of the administration's move, and the politics that surround it.

The New York Times: Obama's Insurance Delay Won't Affect Many
On Tuesday, the White House announced that it would delay for another year one provision of the 2010 health care reform act. Larger employers will now have until 2015 before they will have to provide insurance or face penalties. The administration's explanation is that it is listening to businesses' concerns about getting their coverage ready in time, and trying to be flexible. But what people are really concerned about is whether this will make a difference in health care coverage and the progress of reform. The short answer is no (Ezekiel J. Emanuel, 7/3).

Politico: The Obamacare Mess
Washington is riven by conflict and deep-seated division. It is rare indeed that both sides can agree on anything consequential. Therefore it is incredibly heartening that there is now bipartisan agreement that the implementation of Obamacare is a mess. Republicans have long maintained this of the Affordable Care Act. But now the Obama administration has lent its implicit assent with its astonishing decision to delay by a year the law's employer mandate (Rich Lowry, 7/3).

The New York Times: Letting Employers Off the Hook, For Now
The Obama administration made a reasonable decision this week to give employers another year before they will be required to make available affordable insurance to their workers or pay a fine. Republicans are portraying the decision as evidence that the whole health care reform is headed for a train wreck, but it actually affects only a narrow slice of companies and workers. It should have no bearing on whether the core provisions of the Affordable Care Act — notably the opening of health care exchanges and subsidized coverage for people on modest incomes — take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, as scheduled (7/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Employer Mandate? Never Mind
These columns fought the Affordable Care Act from start to passage, and we'd now like to apologize to our readers. It turns out we weren't nearly critical enough. The law's implementation is turning into a fiasco for the ages, and this week's version is the lawless White House decision to delay the law's insurance mandate for businesses, though not for individuals (7/3).

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare's 'Liar' Subsidies
On the heels of last week's one-year suspension of the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate to offer insurance to workers, the Administration is now waiving a new batch of its own ObamaCare prescriptions. These disclosures arrived inside a 606-page catch-all final rule that the Health and Human Services Department published on July 5—a classic Friday news dump, with extra credit for the holiday weekend. HHS now says it will no longer attempt to verify individual eligibility for insurance subsidies and instead will rely on self-reporting, with minimal efforts to verify if the information consumers provide is accurate (7/7).

The Washington Post: The Real Hurdles In Obamacare
Whatever the reason, reports of the impending death of Obamacare have been greatly exaggerated. Indeed, reports that postponing the mandate demonstrate that the law is too unwieldy to work have been greatly exaggerated. Put another way, if you are a fan of the Affordable Care Act and worry about its implementation, or an enemy salivating at the prospect of its implosion, you should focus on other potential problem areas (Ruth Marcus, 7/4).

USA Today: ObamaCare Delay Hints At Deeper Troubles
This might just be what the White House says it is – a smart and needed pause to allow officials and businesses to refine complicated rules that govern how the mandate will work. And in at least one way it might be smart politics for Democrats. It buys temporary peace with businesses that deeply dislike the mandate and have threatened to slash workers or reduce them to part-time status to avoid the insurance requirement. The disruptive change will now kick in after next year's congressional elections. In another way, though, the delay is an indicator of deeper troubles that lie just ahead (7/3). 

Philly.com: Obamacare's Latest Delay May Not Mean Much
A key part of Obamacare will be delayed until 2015, putting it a year behind schedule. That is the provision penalizing large employers that don't offer health coverage to their workers. (Click here to read the administration's announcement.) The law's drafters included that provision to keep our current employer-based insurance system intact. They feared that companies might drop health benefits once health reform takes effect because the law enables their workers to find alternative coverage in the new insurance exchanges. They also wanted to encourage firms that offer no or limited policies, like some large retailers, to accept responsibility for their employees' health care (Robert Field, 7/8).

CNN: Obamacare Penalty Delay No Big Deal
Few laws can drive political discourse and posturing like the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. The individual mandate was one of its most contentious aspects. Today, though, it's another mandate -- the employer penalty -- that is garnering headlines. The Obama administration announced it would delay the implementation of the employer penalty for a year, until 2015. This move is sure to please businesses that employ a large number of lower-wage employees who don't receive comprehensive health insurance. But it's also been met with other cries of dismay (Aaron Carroll, 7/7).

CNN: Obamacare Delay: Business Wins, The Rest Of Us Lose
As a rehabilitation physician, I've supported many of the ideas behind the Affordable Care Act since before Barack Obama's presidency began. During the hot summer of town hall debates surrounding the legislation in 2009, I wrote an essay called "Standing up for Obama's health plan," and I have continued highlighting the fundamental advances that all of us, most especially disabled Americans, stand to share under the ACA. But when the Obama administration decided last week to pull out a major pillar of the ACA, they lost my faith in their political wisdom (Ford Vox, 7/7).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Delay Of Employer Mandate Need Not Delay Obamacare
In the face of enormous opposition from business groups, the president blinked last week: Barack Obama's administration delayed for a year a key provision of his signature health care effort — the rule requiring larger employers to provide coverage or pay a penalty. It was the right thing to do. Neither the government nor businesses appeared to be ready for implementation, so there is little harm in providing more time to get this right. Republicans see the decision as evidence that Obamacare is unworkable, but there isn't much to their partisan claims. The insurance exchanges where those without affordable insurance can buy policies are expected to open on time on Jan. 1; enrollment is expected to begin Oct. 1. The administration should make sure those deadlines are met (7/6).

The Hill: Hillary And Healthcare
As the chaos continues surrounding implementation of the new healthcare law, the 2014 election campaign begins and jockeying for the 2016 presidential campaign is underway, the two most intriguing political questions surrounding the healthcare law are these: First, how will Democrats running for the House and Senate in 2014 discuss healthcare during the campaign? (Brent Budowsky, 7/5).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.