Congressional Budget Office officials announced in a Tuesday statement that they will soon release an updated budgetary analysis of President Obama’s health care law following the chief executive’s decision to delay several key provisions.
Earlier this month, Obama opted to delay for a year implementation of the requirement that larger employers provide health insurance or pay a penalty and to weaken verification requirements for applicants for federal health insurance subsidies.
The changes could have several possible effects on the budget. By making it easier for employers to dump workers on new government-run exchanges, the employer mandate delay could increase federal spending.
On the other hand, if fewer businesses offer insurance, it would mean fewer people taking advantage of the tax benefits from employer-sponsored insurance, which would boost federal revenue.
But a weakening of the verification measures could lead to people receiving more subsidies than they should be, which would also boost federal spending.
“CBO and [the Joint Committee on Taxation] have not yet completed an analysis of the impact that the administration’s July 2, 2013, announcement and other recently issued final rules will have on spending and revenues under current law,” the CBO announcement said. “That analysis will be released soon.”
The announcement came in response to a bill introduced by House Republicans to codify Obama’s employer mandate delay into law. As written, Obamacare says the employer mandate goes into effect on Jan 1., 2014, and it isn’t clear that the administration had the legal authority to delay its implementation without congressional action.
When the regulatory changes were announced, CBO incorporated them into its baseline projections for Obamacare. Because all of its estimates are compared against this baseline, which now assumes the mandate delay, the House bill delaying the mandate would have no effect on either revenues or spending.
The bottom line, therefore, is that Americans won’t get a sense of how the implementation changes will affect the budget until the CBO completes its work updating the baseline.