ObamaCare Delays Will Increase Welfare Dependency Print
By Ashton Ellis
Thursday, July 11 2013
In four days, ObamaCare went from an unpopular but understandable means-tested entitlement to an open-ended subsidy available on-demand to anyone willing to say what the government wants to hear.

Delaying ObamaCare’s employer mandate and verification requirements is a brilliant case of liberals making lemonade out of lemons.

Unfortunately for everyone else, the aftertaste will be terrible.

In two low-key announcements last week, the Obama administration unilaterally suspended two crucial parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “ObamaCare.”

The first is the employer mandate which requires large employers – those with at least 50 full-time employees – to offer affordable health insurance. In this case, affordable is defined as costing the employee less than 9.5 percent of her household income. An employer’s failure to comply triggers fines up to $3,000 per employee.

The second is the requirement that people seeking federal subsidies to help pay for ObamaCare’s expensive new insurance plans be able to prove that they qualify for the assistance.

The link between the employer mandate and ObamaCare subsidies – and why the Obama administration suspended both rules within days of each other – becomes clear when you consider how a person qualifies for a subsidy.

In order to qualify, a person must prove that her employer does not offer affordable health insurance. She then becomes subject to ObamaCare’s individual mandate, and for all intents and purposes must turn to her state-based exchange to buy a plan. All exchanges go online October 1, 2013. But since those plans must admit sick as well as healthy people, the prices for such plans will be much higher than they are today. Thus, a subsidy will be needed to make up the difference. 

The key to all this is being able to verify that a person claiming to qualify for a subsidy is actually entitled to it. Presumably, one of the easiest ways to do this is to show proof of the employer’s fine. 

But according to a blog post on the White House website last Tuesday, the Obama administration is suspending the employer mandate – and with it the employer fines – for a year. Without the mandate, large employers are saved an estimated $10 billion in penalties for 2014. But without the mandate, employees can’t get access to federal subsidies during the first year of ObamaCare.

That is, unless people no longer need to prove that their employers don’t offer affordable health insurance. In a 606-page rule inserted into the Federal Register late last Friday afternoon, the Obama administration waived for a year the requirement that exchange operators verify whether an employee actually qualifies for an ObamaCare subsidy. Moreover, the feds are giving operators “temporarily expanded discretion” to accept an applicant’s estimated income “without further verification.”

In other words, anyone claiming to qualify for an ObamaCare subsidy will get an ObamaCare subsidy, no questions asked.

So to recap, waiving the employer mandate and fines reduces by $10 billion the amount of money available to fund ObamaCare subsidies. That should tighten the eligibility requirements for receiving such subsidies. But instead, the Obama administration is expanding the pool of qualifying applicants to anyone who makes a claim, without any penalty for gaming the system.

In four days, ObamaCare went from an unpopular but understandable means-tested entitlement to an open-ended subsidy available on-demand to anyone willing to say what the government wants to hear. 

In less than a week, the Obama administration tried, perhaps successfully, to remove some ObamaCare issues from the 2014 midterm elections and put out a siren call to increase and entrench the electorate’s dependency on government handouts. By the time all of ObamaCare is fully implemented in 2015, millions more Americans are likely to be relying on unsustainable federal spending to fund their access to medical care.

To the liberal palate, that kind of outcome translates into the sweet taste of victory. For everyone else, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.