July 7, 2013

Health care law creates uncertainty

The Obama administration threw another monkey wrench into health care reform last week when it announced that it would not immediately enforce a provision of the 2010 health care reform law.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, requires all companies that employ the equivalent of 50 full-time employees to offer health insurance starting Jan. 1, 2014, or face financial penalties. The administration admitted last week that many employers can’t yet comply with the law and the federal government isn’t yet able to enforce it. So it said it would delay enforcing that requirement until 2015, which critics note is after the 2014 midterm congressional elections.

This isn’t the first time the president has decided that he has the power to pick and choose which laws and which provisions of federal law he will enforce. Nor is it the first time that he has decided he can ignore Congress when it comes to changing federal policy.

The 2010 health care law is proving to be more complex and more difficult to implement than its defenders realized. And the costs and uncertainty associated with the law affect every American business and citizen.

A June Gallup poll showed that almost half of all Americans don’t realize the law will require them to have health insurance or pay a financial penalty. That provision goes into effect on Oct. 1. Obama has not delayed its enforcement, yet, but his decision to delay enforcing other parts of the law may lead some people to believe they won’t be required to have health insurance.

A story in today’s edition discusses how those who don’t have health insurance can purchase it through health care exchanges set up under the health reform law and how they can find out more about their options in those exchanges. The law provides subsidies for many who will buy insurance in these exchanges. But all of the details of how these subsidies will work still aren’t clear even to the experts in this field.

The Daily Citizen plans to continue its coverage of how this law will affect local residents and businesses. This will be just the first story to look at the complex and constantly changing impact of the health care reform law. So keep an eye out in the coming weeks for stories that address other aspects of the law.

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