The recently announced delay of an important component of ObamaCare is raising anxiety among Democrats, according to The Hill. HHS recently announced that it was delaying for one year a provision that would allow small businesses to choose from an array of insurance plans for their employees. Most small businesses, however, won’t have that option until 2015, at the earliest, and will have only one plan option to provide their employees. As a result, it will be more expensive for the businesses to comply with the law.
In 2012, ObamaCare never rose to be a major issue in the Presidential campaign, as many expected. While Romney criticized the law extensively on the campaign trail, his arguments were muddled because, as Governor, he had supported that most unpopular feature of ObamaCare — the individual mandate.
A larger problem, however, was that for most voters the law hadn’t taken effect. The aftermath of the drama surrounding passage of OBamaCare was anticlimactic because, for most people, nothing changed. The Democrats, smartly, put full implementation of the law far beyond Obama’s reelection effort.
The implementation date, though, is fast approaching. By the midterm elections in 2014, the full impact of ObamaCare will be felt. The consequences could lead to another Democrat bloodbath, similar to the 2010 midterm elections. Democrat anxiety is likely to increase in the coming months.
Overhauling a sector as massive as health care is extraordinarily complicated, even with the most well-crafted plans. ObamaCare was not well-crafted. Two broad assumptions underlying the law have already proved flawed. First, drafters of the law assumed that every state would set up its own health insurance exchange. Only a handful have done so, leaving the federal government in charge of managing insurance exchanges across the country. These exchanges are supposed to be up and running in just 6 months. HHS is unlikely to meet that target.
ObamaCare also required states to expand their Medicaid programs, extending coverage to low-income adults without children. It was a key provision to get to universal coverage. The Supreme Court, however, ruled that states could choose whether or not to expand their programs. Around half the states have opted not to expand Medicaid, worried that their costs would increase dramatically in future years.
Taken by themselves, these two complications might be manageable. Combined with the onerous individual mandate, which takes effect January 1st, however, and the lack of plan options for small businesses, these setbacks could set in motion a tidal wave of unintended consequences.
Small businesses, who might otherwise have provided insurance coverage for their employees, may find the cost prohibitive. The may also take steps to change their business operations, to get below the threshold where coverage is mandated. Such moves will have a dramatic, negative impact on the economy.
Millions of workers will then be pushed to have to purchase coverage on the insurance exchanges. A provision in the law allowing states to negotiate with insurance carriers to offer basic, affordable health plans has also been delayed by the Obama Administration. As a result, policies offered in the exchanges, if they are even working, could be too expensive of millions of Americans.
Democrats put off ObamaCare’s day of reckoning until well after the 2012 elections. That day, however, is coming. Senate Democrats were already in a vulnerable position going into the 2014 midterms. The full consequences of ObamaCare, which will be felt by every American before the November elections, may make the Democrats’ position completely untenable.
An ObamaCare perfect storm for Democrats is building.