We love the smell of Red Tape in the morning. In Washington, The New York Times is reporting that the Obama administration announced on Monday that it would “postpone enforcement of a federal requirement for medium-size employers to provide health insurance to employees and allow larger employers more flexibility in how they provide coverage.” Wow, that’s such mouthful we couldn’t bring ourselves to paraphrase it. Let’s break it into smaller parts.
READ THE COMPLETE REPORT FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
First off, this delay is all part of the administration’s work to unwrap their own dense red tape. The analogy is becoming far too fitting. We throw the term around to indicate needless bureaucracy, kind of like if someone came to work and put caution tape around your refrigerator, and then made you pay a “specialist” to open the fridge and get what you want inside. But now this Obamacare red tape is taking on the stickiness of the analogy. It’s seriously a bassackwards exercise of adding something that really wasn’t necessary, and then trying to remove it, but it just gets stuck to your hand (or stuck in Congress). This makes for a time consuming mess.
Besides this new, impenetrable delay, the “employer mandate,” had already been delayed to Jan. 1, 2015. Now the administration claims that employers with 50 to 99 employees will not have to comply until 2016. According to The Times, “The requirement would be put into effect gradually for employers with 100 or more employees.” We love the word play here. Gradually? This seems like a primo example of the imbalance of power here. It’s do or die for Obamacare. The reality is that this law is so immense that it’s becoming impossible to enact. Now employers with 100+ employees will have to “offer coverage” to 70 percent of full-time employees in 2015, and then 95 percent in 2016. After that, the companies will face tax penalties.
Can we take a moment for the word “offer coverage” though? This is EXACTLY the type of language that distracts from the conversation of actual care. Coverage does not always equate to care. Care is seeing a doctor, and getting the proper treatment. Insurance is something you, or someone else, pays for in order to provide funds in the case of an unexpected expense. It really is a battle to reclaim language, perhaps seemingly futile. But we encourage everyone who supports direct care to make that distinction. Politics is uncomfortable at the dinner table. Language is something that encourages debate, and free thinking. Direct care needs more of this mentality, and less of the status quo, if-you-have-insurance-everything-is-cool attitude.
But at least there’s some hope. As was the case before today’s announcement, companies with < 50 full-time employees are “generally exempt” from coverage requirements. However, this new policy is being labeled “transition relief” and is there to “help employers adjust to requirements of the 2010 health care law.” Yes, let’s adjust to a maladjusted law, right?
What’s Congress take on this? Mixed of course. But conversation is heading into the family territory. “The White House seems to have a new exemption from its failed law for a different group each month,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. He continues, “It’s time to extend that exemption to families and individuals — not just businesses.” Meanwhile Nancy Pelosi praised the White House, saying that the final rules showed “the administration’s commitment to smoothly implement the Affordable Care Act.” Seriously, what planet are you living on, Nancy? Let us know the Cartesian coordinates. We’d love to check it out.
What about the lawyers? What do they think about all this red tape interference from the White House? The Obama administration has taken unilateral action to waive or delay various parts of the law. Can they do that? J. Mark Iwry has an answer (he’s deputy assistant Treasury secretary for health policy, talk about a mouthful). He said that the administration does in fact have broad “authority to grant transition relief.” That’s because of a timely section of the Internal Revenue Code. This section gives the Treasury secretary the authority to “prescribe all needful rules and regulations for the enforcement” of, you guessed it, tax obligations. This rule has been used to postpone other laws that might have caused “unreasonable administrative burdens or costs” to taxpayers. Thank you, Mr. Iwry and the Times for the explanation.
Death and taxes, right? In the end that’s all we can count on. It’s ironic. Our administration works so hard to capitalize on the nature of insurance that it deters the actual thing in question – improving our health. Which brings us back to that old saying. Obamacare really does seem more like it’s about the taxes, and preventable deaths. Things like heart disease and Type-II diabetes that can be avoided by people who have affordable access to healthcare. Not this administrative beast that’s causing millions to lose their existing plans and making premiums skyrocket.