Delay in Healthcare Reform

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The Affordable Healthcare Act is a law passed under the Obama Administration aimed at providing health coverage to Americans without health insurance at an affordable cost. The Act is a hotly debated topic among U.S. representatives. ModernHealthcare.com (2013) has issued an article outlining the debate as well as providing an update that Republicans have voted to delay the core provisions of Obama’s Act, also known as Obamacare. Republicans have taken measures to delay and stop the law from being implemented by citing its overly complicated nature. There is tremendous disagreement in terms of the actual cost of the Act, economic impact, and how to even implement its various components.  

The Republicans, in general, have taken a strong stance against the Act’s supporters, the Democrats. According to the Republican Dave Camp “this administration cannot make its own law work.” This reflects the overall sentiment among Republicans that the Act was far too complex and was passed without a true understanding of how to implement the components and how exactly they were supposed to work. 

The delay was fueled by a shift in Democratic vote. After the passage of the Act, employers started to realize the inherent difficulties in moving forward. Employers are faced with a tough challenge – either provide affordable healthcare options for workers or face stiff taxation penalties. When employers started to crunch the numbers and realize the increased cost, they started to push back and voice their concern with elected officials.  

President Obama has responded to the Republican delay by delivering a speech at a press conference. At the conference, he plans to deliver positive data that support the historic and current success of the Act’s provisions. Those successes seem to be debatable dependent upon who is asked; however, Obama argues that consumers are already receiving rebates from insurance companies from the provisions enforced by the Act. The Obama Administration will also provide data that “8.5 million consumers who have received an average consumer rebate of about $100.” There is clear evidence that voters may benefit from the Act, but at what cost to taxpayers and businesses.

There are a number of critics of healthcare reform that say Obamacare will destroy jobs. According to the Economist (2013) “employers may reduce the employment status of some employees from full-time to part-time to avoid the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Under the current Act, employers are required to provide affordable healthcare to employees who work full-time, or over 30 hours per week. To counter that possibility, many employers may choose to reduce the working hours of full-time staff to fewer than 30 hours per week. The outcome could be that full-time jobs become part-time jobs overnight. 

In addition to the potential negative impact on full-time jobs, the question of funding is looming. Politicians can’t seem to agree on the exact funding mechanism and what role the Act will play in the overall budgetary deficit. The mechanism of payment is a combination of an additional tax burden on workers, businesses, and citizens. The Democrats argue it is a new program that will be covered by inherent provisions and the Republicans argue that it is just another bill that the U.S. cannot afford to pay. 

The lack of understanding and direct conflict in the arguments between Democrats and Republicans leaves the voter confused. While the Democrats seem to be focused on marketing positive results to voters directly, the Republicans are truly concerned with the economic impact of funding such a large program. The one common theme is that both sides seem to agree that the sheer magnitude of the Act’s material is nearly incomprehensible in such a short timeline. A fog of uncertainty plagues this debate and the outcome is just that – uncertain. 

References

Cassata, D. (2013). (2013). “House Votes to Delay Parts of Healthcare Law.” ModernHealthcare.com. Retrieved on Sept. 22 2013 from, http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20130718/INFO/307179934  

Will Obamacare destroy jobs?. (2013). Economist, 408(8850), 27-28.