The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Obamacare Implementation: Delay and Do a Lot!

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


In the previous decade, Democrats joked about what they perceived to be Republican obstructionism in the U.S. House of Representatives by invoking the double-entendre epithet, “DeLay and Doolittle.”  These unflattering references applied to the two GOP congressmen, Tom DeLay and John Doolittle, who left office in 2006 and 2008, respectively. These days, and in at least one instance, “delay” may not be such a bad word.  By postponing the implementation of “Obamacare,” shorthand for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 and slated for implementation in 2014, the current Congress would do a lot to save taxpayers’ money. In today’s edition of The Washington Examiner, Paul Bedard writes the following juicy morsel in his “Washington Secrets” section: “As the debut of Obamacare nears in less than 10 months, officials responsible for implementing the complicated law are starting to warn that it will be a mess.”  Bedard quotes several Obamacare proponents as saying “We know it’s going to be messy,” and “it’s still going to be a messy transition,” and “everything is not going to be perfect on day one.” In their article, “ObamaCare and Associated Costs,” Debt.org cites the following about the schedule for implementation of the law:

  • Two key features of the law that will begin in 2014 are the “individual mandate” and the “employer mandate.” The individual mandate will require anyone not covered by an employer-sponsored health plan or a public insurance program like Medicaid, Medicare or the Department of Defense’s TRICARE program, to purchase a private health insurance policy from a list of government-certified packages, or pay a penalty for not doing so.
  • The employer mandate will require businesses that employ more than 50 people to offer health insurance coverage for full-time employees or pay a penalty of $2,000 for each uninsured worker. It also provides for a fine of $3,000 for each low-income employee who is receiving a federal subsidy for insurance in those instances where the employer is already offering coverage.

Implementation of any major policy rarely occurs without significant hiccups.  In the case of Obamacare, an ill-conceived and unpopular law affecting one-seventh of the economy, gut-wrenching convulsions are probably more likely. On February 8th, in an effort to mitigate the sequester’s potential impact on national defense, House Armed Services Vice Chair William “Mac” Thornberry (R-Tex.) introduced H.R. 607.  This bill, if enacted, would delay implementation (until 2016) of those provisions in Obamacare scheduled to take effect in 2014 or 2015.  Particularly at a time when Obama’s own acolytes are warning of potential drawbacks to implementation as currently scheduled, Thornberry estimates that a 2-year delay of Obamacare would save taxpayers $175 - $200 billion, twice the savings achieved by the first year of sequestration. In his statement, the Texas congressman said that “People and businesses in our part of Texas continue to tell me that the new health care law is a major concern for them…  We might not be able to repeal it entirely with the current state of divided government, but we can delay it, especially since the Administration will not be ready to implement it next January.” Notwithstanding the original, pro-defense intent of the Thornberry bill – in other words, if it turns out that our military weathers the sequester storm relatively unscathed – this legislation is just as timely now, in light of today’s reporting on the “messy” implementation of Obamacare, as it was in the days leading up to the sequester deadline. As the congressman noted then, “the Administration will not be ready to implement the health care bill by next January, so this bill is an opportunity to avoid a health care disaster.  It also protects defense while giving us some time to put together a concrete plan that focuses on the real driver of spending and debt, which is mandatory entitlement spending.” No matter your opinion of Obamacare, delay would be a good thing.

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