The surprise announcement from the Obama administration that it will delay for one year penalizing employers that do not offer health coverage to their workers is the latest capitulation by the White House to big businesses that want to shirk their responsibility to help pay for health insurance. But the decision leaves huge unanswered questions about whether health coverage for uninsured workers will also be denied.
Yesterday, the Treasury issued a notice delaying for one year, until 2015, the requirement that employers of more than 50 full-time employees (three percent of all employers) report on whether they offer health coverage to their employees. The Affordable Care Act requires that these employers pay penalties when they do not offer qualified coverage or when their workers access coverage through the new health care exchanges. The Treasury’s notice does not change the legal requirement that employers provide coverage,
One of the biggest issues that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is meant to tackle is the lack of health coverage among low-wage workers. While there is good news for many low-wage workers in the new law, many others will still find themselves locked out of access to affordable coverage. Solving their concerns will be one more part of the huge challenge of confronting the power of mammoth low-wage employers in the new economy.
There has been a lot of coverage about the potential for fast food chains and other employers to cut the hours of some of their employees to under 30 a week in order to avoid having to offer them health coverage. To the extent that employers do cut back hours, it will accelerate a long trend toward part-time low wage work; part-timers increased from 17 percent to 22 percent of the workforce just from 2007 to 2011.
The headlines – “Many States Say ‘No’ to Health Insurance Exchanges,” to take one example – make it seem like bad news. But it’s not. It is good news that half the states are refusing to have anything to do with the new health insurance marketplaces being set up under the Affordable Care Act.
One of the biggest differences between the good version of ObamaCare passed by the House and the mediocre Senate version that became law was the question of whether the federal government or states would run the new health insurance marketplaces (called “exchanges” in the law). But resistance by Republican governors is leading to implementation of the law in a way that is much closer to the vision in the House bill.
The new health marketplaces are the centerpiece of ObamaCare, the mechanisms through which people who don’t get health coverage at work but make too much for Medicaid will be able to purchase subsidized health coverage,
I want to vote for a comprehensive bipartisan plan to address the fiscal cliff. I’m willing to take a tough vote. I’m willing to make sacrifices. I’m willing to feel the heat. But I’m not willing to solve the fiscal cliff by throwing seniors over the cliff. I draw the line at cutting benefits in Medicare and Social Security.
This week, House Republicans unveiled their fiscal cliff counterproposal. While they continue to call for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, they propose offsetting this cost by gutting Medicare benefits, including raising the age of Medicare eligibility to 67. I won’t go there. As California’s Insurance Commissioner for eight years, I know this would be horrible policy, throwing millions of seniors into the rapacious hands of an insurance industry interested only in profits for its shareholders.
Medicare is a promise we made to seniors more than four decades ago.
“The way the health care delivery system developed in this country has been a global scandal,” said Michael Hiltzik, author and Los Angeles Times columnist, as he concluded the community program he moderated Wednesday [August 22] on the effects of the Affordable Care Act.
Speaking at the National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles, expert panelists acknowledged the obvious limitations of the act, which was found constitutional (for the most part) by the Supreme Court at the end of June. They also cited new benefits flowing from the legislation. But what became very clear was that there are steps we in California can take to make reform more meaningful even without action on the federal level.
If you want to skip the context and the bad news and go straight to what we can do now, please jump down the page to Recommendations for Action.