The Obama administration announced a welter of delays last week for the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Chief among them is a one-year delay of the employer mandate, a key feature of the law that would have imposed huge costs on all companies with more than 50 full-time employees. Citing inadequate information systems development, the ruling delays employers’ requirement to prove they have offered affordable health insurance to employees. Because state exchange administrators had planned to use employer reports to verify employees’ eligibility for tax subsidies, Tuesday’s ruling created even more uncertainties for the law’s implementation.
Three days later, the administration announced it will solve this problem by assuming that those seeking subsidies to purchase insurance through state exchanges have not been offered affordable insurance from their employer. What’s more, the government will not make any attempt to confirm applicants’ statements about their household income. In other words, the billions of dollars in federal subsidies dispensed through the ObamaCare exchanges will operate on the honor system.
Yuval Levin suggests that the Obama administration’s decisions are motivated by a desire to get as many people as possible onto the exchanges and receiving subsidies in 2014. To do this, the feds exempted employers from penalties if they drop coverage and dump their workers onto the exchanges, and then ruled that those applying for exchange subsidies do not have to prove that they qualify for them.
These rulings demonstrate the administration’s willingness to arbitrarily enforce a law passed by Congress. So far, government officials in Washington have been implementing health care reform inconsistently and with dangerously little regard for the law. Based on the ruling last week, we should expect more of this in the months to come.