Obamacare Business Mandate “Poorly Written.”

July 8th, 2013

Chuck Todd, NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent offered this commentary of the President’s decision to delay the implementation of the business mandate by a year.

CHUCK TODD: Well, they’ll admit that the business mandate was poorly written, that they normally would have sought a legislative fix, what E.J. was talking about, but they can’t get a legislative fix out of the House.

Todd’s reference to the mandate being “poorly written” relates back to the manner in which Obamacare was passed, as I discuss at length in Unprecedented. Following the election of Scott Brown, the Administration could not send the law back to the Senate, where it would have normally gone through the reconciliation process, and many kinks would’ve been worked out. Instead, the President pushed the bill passed on Christmas eve, 2009 in the Senate–a bill that was never meant to be the final version–forwards. Because of this history, we are stuck with an incomplete bill that was never fully worked out. The delay of the business mandate is likely one of many unforeseen consequences of the hasty manner in which this law was passed. The time for a “legislative fix” should have been in 2009 or 2010 when the law was being debated. Not four years later when the law is about to be implemented.

In any event, the White House never sought a legislative fix. Rather, by  executive prerogative  they are simply delaying the implementation of the law. Further, to avoid the law’s requirement that subsidies be tied to reporting under the business mandate, the Administration is turning to the honor system, asking people to attest what level of care their employer is providing.

Update: Ezra Klein, in noting that delaying the mandate makes the implementation of Obamacare easier, also calls attention to the poorly-drafted legislation that could stand to be fixed (a talking point must’ve gone out):

The White House would surely prefer that the legislation was drafted slightly differently, and that Republicans in Congress were more willing to work with them on tweaks and changes that could improve the law. But that’s not a luxury they have. So the Obama administration is choosing to absorb some bad media coverage now in order to make implementation much easier next year.

Whether you think the White House is making the right policy call will depend on whether you prefer slightly lower costs to a smoother rollout. But so far as Obamacare’s implementation goes, it just got easier, not harder.