Obamacare Rhetoric Off The Mark
There's an interesting spin on Obamacare that has been going on in recent days as a result of several announcements out of Washington. First, the Treasury Department announced last week that it will delay enforcing the large-employer mandate for one year. Later, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will simplify the income reporting requirement for individuals purchasing insurance from the Marketplace in 2014.
Both announcements allow for easier implementation of what is an admittedly complex law while reducing the burden to adhere to the law for both businesses and individuals for 2014. However, rather than applauding these decisions as you might expect, opponents of the law are deriding them as evidence that the ACA should be repealed.
Ironically, part of the reason that these delays have occurred is that opponents have tried to stymie implementation of the law at nearly every corner. The House of Representatives has voted to deny funding to HHS to roll out parts of the law while some state legislatures and governors have refused to create state-managed exchanges in their own states. In the ultimate contradiction, by railing against health reform and refusing to create state-run exchanges, these efforts have actually given more power to the federal government. Essentially, these state leaders who had the opportunity to tailor health reform in their home state have given up their say in how it should be implemented. While logic says that these should have been the states that would have jumped at the opportunity to push the federal government out and do it their own way, political posturing has resulted in the exact opposite. They consciously chose to hand over their power to the federal government while simultaneously complaining about federal overreach.
Fortunately, West Virginia leadership has generally avoided this sort of politicking in favor of attempting to do what's best for state residents and state finances. Governor Tomblin chose to expand Medicaid which should provide insurance to nearly 100,000 additional West Virginians while shoring up the state budget. Meanwhile, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner has worked very hard and transparently in trying to get our state-partnership exchange going.
Last week's ACA announcements ultimately have little overall impact on the law other than smoothing implementation at the state and federal level. Large employers will have an extra year to understand the mandate and get their house in order to prepare for 2015 while more individuals will be able to access insurance through the Marketplace. Claiming that it is proof that the ACA is broken and using it to call for repeal, however, is further evidence that opponents are more intent on pushing for the ACA to fail than they are improving it to help the American people.