The Conversation

AP Faults Businesses for Following Obamacare Rules as Written

The Affordable Care Act may not be affordable for a lot of low-wage employees of the type the program was intended to help. Despite the apparent flaw being with the design of the law itself, the Associated Press frames the issue in terms of corporate villains taking advantage of a loophole:

Because of a wrinkle in the law, companies can meet their legal obligations by offering policies that would be too expensive for many low-wage workers. For the employee, it's like a mirage — attractive but out of reach.

The company can get off the hook, say corporate consultants and policy experts, but the employee could still face a federal requirement to get health insurance.

Many are expected to remain uninsured, possibly risking fines. That's due to another provision: the law says workers with an offer of "affordable" workplace coverage aren't entitled to new tax credits for private insurance, which could be a better deal for those on the lower rungs of the middle class.

A few sentences later we learn that the law mandates that companies offer plans costing no more than 9.5% of an employees annual salary. So someone making $21,000 could be expected to pay, at most, $1,995 a year or $166 a month. According to the AP, even half that amount ($83 bucks a month) might be too much.

In running through these figures, the AP cites a spokesman for left-wing Families USA and former SEIU President Andy Stern. Stern calls the law as written "an avoidance opportunity" for businesses.

Eventually the AP gets around to talking to someone from the National Retail Federation who is forced to deny a "grand scheme to avoid responsibility." Again, these are businesses following the law as written who even before the law is fully enacted are being accused of cheating people.

Dropped casually in the midst of the AP story is one half-hearted finger wag at President Obama, "It's not exactly the picture the administration has painted." This is followed by a defense from a White House spokesman saying it's up to businesses to make things work.

The Affordable Care Act may be badly designed and destined to fall short of its goals. If so, those failures rest with the bill's authors, not with the companies who are struggling to carry on with their actual purpose even as resource consuming mandates are forced upon them by Washington.


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