WH on Obamacare Mandate: ‘Everyone Has to Follow the Law’ But ‘We’re Flexible’

July 8, 2013 - 8:34 PM

carney

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – The delayed employer mandate will only affect a small number of companies, asserted White Press Secretary Jay Carney, who said implementation of the law was on track with implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“Well everyone has to follow the law, but we made determinations that were in the interest of successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” Carney said. “We are flexible, because that’s the right thing to do and to be.

“The delay of the employer responsibility provision that affects about four percent of employers with more than 50 workers,” he said. “The fact is that 96 percent of employers – roughly – already provide insurance.”

The White House announced last week that the mandate that all employers with 50 or more employees provide health insurance, which was set to take effect in January 2014 would instead take effect January 2015.

However, the individual mandate will still take effect, requiring that all Americans buy insurance or pay a financial penalty.

A reporter asked Monday, “What do you say to all those people who have to follow the law, when they see the administration making some of these changes and they say, why do we have to follow the law and you guys can change it?”

Carney challenged the premise of the question.

“Well everyone has to follow the law, but we made determinations that were in the interest of successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” Carney said. “We are flexible, because that’s the right thing to do and to be.

“We have made clear all along when it comes to working with states that we are flexible with the way that they implement the Affordable Care Act. When we see things that can be changed in a way that makes health care reform more effective, for example, the initial 21-page application, we saw that that could be improved, and we improved it and turned it into a three-page application,” he added.

“This is a situation when you talk about delay of the employer responsibility provision that affects about four percent of employers with more than 50 workers, the fact is that 96 percent of employers – roughly – already provide insurance,” Carney said.

“Numerous experts agree on this matter that the decision to postpone this provision of the Affordable Care Act will have no significant impact on implementation overall of the Affordable Care Act. That’s because we’re interested in getting it right, because we believe that getting it right will further the benefits that will be available to more and more Americans as the Affordable Care Act is implemented,” he added.

Pressed on the matter, Carney said this does not speak to a broader problem of implementing the plan.

“You have to look at this as, when it comes to implementation, we have made enormous strides,” Carney said. “The marketplaces will open Oct. 1 as advertised. Come Jan. 1, those who have applied will have insurance available to them through those marketplaces. Meanwhile, we have already seen significant achievement in implementation take place.

“The administration has met and exceeded its goal of for 50 percent of doctor offices and 80 percent of hospital having electronic records by the end of 2013.

“The Affordable Care Act is driving competition. For example, one out of four health insurers is newly offering in the individual market where HHS is running the marketplaces, so that I think demonstrations that the creation of these marketplaces is adding to competition and therefore, having a positive impact, a downward impact, on costs in many cases, because that’s what competition can do,” Carney added.

The July 3 announcement about the delay of the employer mandate immediately fueled speculation the Obama administration was considering the potential for layoff in the middle of a mid-term election year, as the law continues to be unpopular.

In the most recent polling, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that more Americans view the Obamacare law unfavorably than favorably. The foundation's survey this spring found 43 percent with an unfavorable opinion of the law, 35 percent with a favorable view and 23 percent undecided.

Meanwhile, the House Energy and Commerce Committee has begun to investigate the decision and legality of the matter, and is seeking documents from the Treasury Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.