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Obamacare Roundup: The New York Times Is Starting to Get It


The delay of Obamacare’s employer mandate continues to generate coverage—even the Times is getting into the act. The Grey Lady released a piece today that profiles Shanty Grill, a representative restaurant that is heaving a sigh of relief over the delay of the mandate. But the delay hasn’t stopped the restaurant from making preparations for the future, when the mandate will come back into effect: the owner has laid off some workers and cut back the hours of some others to keep his employees below the 50 person mark at which the mandate kicks in. Here’s the money quote:

Still, he said he was greatly relieved that he might not have to provide insurance to more workers after all. The only drawback is that the restaurant could not grow.

“No more expansion,” he said.

The harmful side-effects of the employer mandate are becoming clearer everyday—so clear that the New York Times can’t ignore them anymore. And even though employers everywhere are happy about the delay, the reasons for it don’t inspire confidence for the implementation of the other parts of the law. The WSJ reports that the administration’s implementation failures have a lot to do with the temporary reprieve from the mandate:

Among the questions the administration hadn’t answered in time: Should companies be required to report month-by-month details about who they employed? Should employers who already offer insurance be subject to the same rules? What happens if workers say they weren’t offered adequate insurance but employers say they were?

To make it all work, businesses and the Internal Revenue Service, which is in charge of handling this element of the law, needed new computer systems, which couldn’t be built before the rules were written.

This is not the only computer problem the rollout is facing. It now also appears that the extra penalties smokers were threatened with will also be delayed a year due to “a computer glitch.”

The end result of a lot of this news is that employers will be more likely to shift their employees onto the exchanges. Over at NRO, Reihan Salam pivots off of a Yuval Levin post arguing that increased pressure on the exchanges was one of the motivations behind the mandate delay. More people in the exchanges and out of their employer plans means less adverse selection, but, as Salam points out, this will come at a much greater taxpayer cost. Read Salam’s whole piece to get a sense of the hard numbers at work here.

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