by Katherine Restrepo
Director of Health Care Policy, John Locke Foundation
…until the Obama Administration will most likely break its own law again. In less than 82 days, the open enrollment for the individual health insurance exchange will most likely be delayed.
The new buzzword this week after the announcement of the employer mandate delay: “flexible.”
CNS News reports on White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s response to the employer mandate delay:
A reporter asked Monday, “What do you say to all those people who have to follow the law, when they see the administration making some of these changes and they say, why do we have to follow the law and you guys can change it?”
Carney challenged the premise of the question.
“Well everyone has to follow the law, but we made determinations that were in the interest of successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” Carney said. “We are flexible, because that’s the right thing to do and to be.
Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to president Barack Obama, commented via Politico Pro:
[W]e are working hard to adapt and to be flexible in employer and insurer reporting as we implement the law.”
Mark Mazur, Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the Treasury Department, comments via blog post (also the initial announcement of the employer mandate delay):
Just like the Administration’s effort to turn the initial 21-page application for health insurance into a three-page application, we are working hard to adapt and to be flexible about reporting requirements as we implement the law.
So, for now, the IRS can gather data (employee household income and employer health insurance information) voluntarily in 2014 to determine whether employees are eligible for federal subsidies to offset premium costs for their health insurance. In addition, employees can now self-report their eligibility for subsidies without IRS verification.
Avik Roy, contributor to Forbes, writes:
According to the law, you aren’t eligible for Obamacare’s subsidies if your employer has offered you what the government considers “affordable” coverage. But if employers are no longer going to report whether or not they’ve offered “affordable” coverage, how can the government verify whether or not workers are eligible for subsidies?