On the heels of last week’s employer mandate delay and a few other smaller – but not insignificant – delays in ACA implementation, it’s not surprising to see that Republicans in Congress are pushing hard for a delay of the individual mandate too, with Speaker Boehner echoing many of his conservative colleagues’ position with his thoughts on the matter: “Is it fair for the president of the United States to give American businesses an exemption from his health care law’s mandates without giving the same exemption to the rest of America? Hell no, it’s not fair.“
It’s anyone’s guess what will happen in Congress between now and the end of the year. States like Colorado that opted to run their own exchanges and got going on the process soon after the ACA passed in 2010 are likely to be less impacted by relaxed federal guidelines, since they’re probably exceeding minimum standards already. Patty Fontneau, CEO of Connect for Health Colorado (the Colorado exchange) noted in a meeting this week that the delay of the employer mandate doesn’t change anything for the Colorado exchange, since the exchange will be offering health insurance for individuals and small businesses, while the employer mandate focuses on businesses with more than 50 employees. If anything, the delay would mean that that Connect for Health Colorado might have more eligible enrollees, since some people who work for large employers might still be on their own to purchase individual health insurance next year instead of getting it through their employers (as might have been the case if the employer mandate had not been pushed back a year).
Adding to the confusion is the Senate bill that was introduced this spring to officially define full time as 40 hours a week (S 701, Forty Hours is Full Time Act of 2013). Since the employer mandate for large businesses to provide health insurance to their employees only applies to full-time employees, the definition of full time is critical to the discussion. While most of the public generally accepts the idea that full time is 40 hours a week (although my nurse friends who work three 12 hour shifts per week most definitely consider their job to be full time…), the ACA is worded so that employees working over 30 hours per week (assuming there are at least 50 total employees) would have to be provided with health insurance in order for the employer to avoid a fine. Senate Bill 701 has received a lot of attention in the media, but Govtrack gives it a 0% chance of being enacted, so it appears that the 30 hour rule in the ACA will likely still be in place when the employer mandate goes into effect in 2015.
Getting back to the issue of the individual mandate, there are a few […]