De­lay of man­date lat­est de­tour for ‘Oba­macare’

The Covington News - - NEWS -

I, as well as most Amer­i­cans, have been watch­ing the un­fold­ing of the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act, also known as “Oba­macare,” on a daily asis. It truly is a mov­ing ve­hi­cle.

The lat­est de­tour of this ve­hi­cle was the de­ci­sion at the be­gin­ning of July to de­lay the em­ployer man­date un­til 2015.

This was a foun­da­tion build­ing block of the Health Care Bill in that it re­quired em­ploy­ers of 50 or more peo­ple to of­fer health group cov­er­age. This cov­er­age had many guide­lines and re­stric­tions as far as its cov­er­age and pric­ing. Any em­ploy­ers that did not com­ply were sub­ject to a penalty of $ 2,000 per em­ployee, not count­ing the first 30 em­ploy­ees.

In an ef­fort to off­set this, many em­ploy­ers, es­pe­cially large em­ploy­ers, started down­siz­ing man­power hours to un­der 30 per week.

This mag­i­cal num­ber, “un­der 30,” was the num­ber at which they did not have to of­fer this cov­er­age to an em­ployee.

Even though this lat­est an­nounce­ment has given th­ese same em­ploy­ers lag time to lessen this im­pact, it may have come too late. I say this be­cause this man­date was based on the num­ber of em­ploy­ees in the last half of 2013 who had 30 or more hours a week of work. Pru­dent em­ploy­ers started at the be­gin­ning of this year to im­ple­ment changes in hours to lessen this im­pact.

Ex­am­ples in­clude Wal­mart, which has in­creased its “tem­po­rary worker force” from 1 per­cent or 2 per­cent to just un­der 10 per­cent.

Last Fe­bru­ary, CY Farms in New York de­cided to down­size its pro­duc­tion and staff by cut­ting 25 worker po­si­tions to fall un­der the 50- em­ployee bench­mark.

The state of Vir­ginia passed a law in Fe­bru­ary lim­it­ing hourly wage work­ers to 29 hours per week. This af­fected about 7,300 work­ers.

School sys­tems have been hit es­pe­cially hard with this man­date. Arizona’s Mari­copa Col­leges cite plans to cut hours of 700 ad­junct fac­ulty and 600 part­time work­ers. Iron­i­cally, they are “not post­pon­ing our de­ci­sion in light of the de­lay,” said spokesman Tom Gariepy.

Ivy Tech Com­mu­nity Col­lege, which now re­lies heav­ily on “ad­junct fac­ulty,” has adopted a pol­icy cap­ping ad­junct cour­ses, since the spring. Ac­cord­ing to Di­rec­tor Jeff Fan­ter, the school does in­tend to “to stay the course and not bounce back and forth due to the man­date de­lay.”

Ac­cord­ing to In­vestors Busi­ness Daily, the aver­age work­week for non­super­vi­sory re­tail work­ers, which reached a post- re­ces­sion peak of 30.8 hours in Jan­uary 2012, has steadily fallen to 30.1, as of June.

This is a small sam­pling of em­ployer reaction, and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how this ad­vances through 2014.

The govern­ment in­di­cates that it de­cided to de­lay the em­ployer man­date due to the its com­plex­ity and the costs of com­ply­ing with this law. They also in­di­cate that bu­reau­cratic is­sues still need to be ironed out and that the uptick in part- time, rather than full- time em­ploy­ment, is not due to the 30- hour em­ployee man­date is­sue.

This newly an­nounced de­lay has fu­eled op­po­si­tion to the law. Colum­nist Charles Krautham­mer called the Pres­i­dent’s 2010 health­care re­form law a “bait and switch” and said the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­cent move to de­lay the em­ployer man­date is un­con­sti­tu­tional.

The ques­tion is also raised as to the dis­cre­tionary power to de­lay the em­ployer man­date, but not the in­di­vid­u­ate man­date.

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