The opening of Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar's 8:28 p.m. report on President Obama's latest round of extra-legal, extra-constitutional manuevers relating to the Affordable Care Act — scratch that, it really isn't the Affordable Care Act as written any more; it really is "Obamacare," defined as "whatever Obama and his administration have done to the ACA as originally written" — is a keeper. That's why the report is also here for future reference.
Alonso-Zaldivar's first sentence tells you everything you need to know about the administration's management of Obamacare's implementation. As such, I'll be surprised if it survives revisions later this evening. It isn't about making sure Americans get quality health insurance. It isn't about first-rate care, or efficiency, or any other objective relating to a benefit the American people might see, touch, or feel. See the AP story's headline and first sentence after the jump:
ANOTHER DELAY IN HEALTH LAW'S EMPLOYER REQUIREMENT
Angling to avoid political peril, the Obama administration Monday granted employers another delay in a heavily criticized requirement that medium-to-larger firms cover their workers or face fines.
While it's nice that the AP reporter identified the true motivation, which is entirely about Obama and his party, While it's nice that the AP reporter identified the true motivation, which is entirely about Obama and his party, what both the headline and Alonso-Zaldivar's opening sentence describe as a singular item is really a collection of delays (as identified in AP's own report):
In one of several concessions in a complex Treasury Department regulation of more than 200 pages, the administration said companies with 50 to 99 employees will have an additional year to comply with the coverage requirement, until January 1, 2016.
For businesses with 100 or more employees the requirement will still take effect in 2015. But other newly announced provisions, affecting technical issues such as the calculation of working hours, may help some of those firms.
... Monday's moves by the administration seemed calibrated to reduce that (political) risk.
... Administration officials and the law's supporters said the concessions were the sorts of reasonable accommodations that regulators make all the time when implementing major new legislation. The Treasury department said Secretary Jack Lew was well within his legal authority in making the changes.
In other provisions announced Monday, the administration said:
- Companies will not face fines if they offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015, although they will have to ramp that up to 95 percent by 2016. The law defines "full time" as people working an average of 30 hours a week per month. That concession is expected to help firms who have a lot of workers averaging right around 30 hours.
- Volunteer firefighters and others who give of their time will not be considered employees for under the law. Some volunteer fire departments worried they might have to shut down if forced to provide health insurance.
- Adjunct faculty members at colleges will be deemed to have worked 2 hours and 15 minutes for each hour of classroom time they are assigned to teach. Officials said that means someone teaching 15 hours a week in the classroom would be considered "full time" and eligible for coverage, but someone teaching 12 hours may be considered part-time.
- A one-year delay in a requirement that employers offer coverage to dependents of full-time workers. Companies that are working to meet the goal will have until 2016 to comply.
That's at least five changes: the four just listed, the one for employers with 50-99 employees noted at the report's beginning, and possibly others in the identified but not obtained "complex" Treasury document.
Today's move is certainly consistent with what Obama said today (or "quipped," if you're an establishment press pool reporter desperately trying to cover the president's keister): "... as a President, I can do whatever I want."
I guess so, as long as you ignore the oaths he swore in January 2009 and 2013.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.