President Obama’s unilateral decision to rewrite his signature health care law by not enforcing the employer mandate will increase deficits by $12 billion in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan asked the CBO to re-score Obamacare shortly after Obama issued his employer mandate delay regulations on July 5. In a letter to Ryan released Tuesday, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf writes:
As a result of the Administration’s announcement and recently issued final rules, the net cost is now estimated to be $1,375 billion—$12 billion more than previously estimated. The largest change is a $10 billion reduction in penalty payments by employers that would have been collected in 2015. (Penalties assessed for 2014 would have been collected in 2015.) Costs for exchange subsidies are expected to increase by $3 billion. Other small changes, including an increase in taxable compensation resulting from fewer people enrolling in employment-based coverage, will offset those increases by about $1 billion, CBO and JCT estimate.
The CBO also reported that Obama’s mandate delay would cause an additional 1 million Americans to lose their current employer health insurance. About half of those people would regain less generous coverage from Medicaid and the other half would go without health insurance entirely.
The CBO did not estimate the impact of a permanent employer mandate delay, but it did say such a policy change would result in “larger” budgetary and coverage effects than the current single year delay.
Since Obama unilaterally delayed the employer mandate without any input from Congress, there is nothing stopping him from making it permanent as long as he is still president.