It's been another disastrous week for the Affordable Care Act, the signature piece of legislation to mark Barack Obama's presidency.
Any time you have something as massive as the $2.7 trillion a year spent on health care in this country, you can expect problems, but implementing major reforms, like the individual mandate and state health exchanges by 2014, are proving to be a nightmare.
The Department of Health and Human Services used the Fourth of July holiday in hopes the press would downplay the fact that implementation of the employer mandate would be delayed until 2015. This is a critical feature of ObamaCare, requiring that companies with 50 or more employees provide government-approved health coverage by Jan. 1, 2014. The complexity and confusion has made that target date impossible.
Even the unions, President's Obama's strongest allies and the group that made his re-election possible, are protesting. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a hotel workers union, and a food workers union, warned in a letter this week to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that unless major portions of ObamaCare are fixed, it "will destroy the very health and well-being of our members."
"When you and the president sought our support for the Affordable Care Act, you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat," it stated. "Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour workweek that is the backbone of the American middle class."
The letter went on to state that the law undermines the standard 40-hour workweek by encouraging employers to drop their employees' hours to under 30 hours per week.
"We believe that there are common-sense corrections that can be made within the existing statute that will allow our members to continue to keep their current health plans and benefits just as you and the president pledged. Unless changes are made, however, that promise is hollow," it stated.
The administration also received bad news on another front this week. A U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey of 1,300 small business executives showed that because of the uncertainty and regulatory burdens, the majority of small businesses say they do not have plans to hire next year. Small business owners overwhelmingly voiced support for removing regulatory barriers. They also favored action to address entitlement spending, and 81 percent responding that the immigration system is broken and needs to be reformed.
A whopping 71 percent of small businesses say the health care law makes it harder to hire, and only 30 percent say they are prepared for the requirements of the law. One-quarter of the businessmen say they are unaware of what is required under ObamaCare.
As for the employer mandate, one-half of small businesses say that they will either cut hours to reduce full time employees or replace full time employees with part-timers to avoid the mandate. Twenty four percent say they will reduce hiring to stay under the 50-worker mandate.
As if that isn't bad enough news for this administration, a whopping 77 percent of the small businessmen in the survey believe that Obama has the U.S. economy on the wrong track.
It's time to scrap entirely or at least retool major portions of this massive health care bill which officials from both parties are now referring to as a "train wreck."
By Jim Zbick