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Topics: Obamacare

Questions on the Obamacare mandate 'suspension'

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Beltway Confidential,Michael Barone,Obamacare,Health Care,Medicare and Medicaid,Analysis

“A stunning development”– that’s how my Washington Examiner colleague Philip Klein characterized the Obama administration Treasury Department’s “suspension” for one year of the Obamacare employer mandate. Phil asks some good questions about this. I have some more.

What part of the law authorizes the Executive Branch to “suspend” the law? The Constitution requires that the president faithfully execute the laws. It does not say he can decide whether to enforce them or not. (History note: King James II’s continual suspensions of the law were one of the main reasons he was ousted in the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89.)

If the administration does not have legislative authority to suspend the law, who can challenge that in court? Or can a plaintiff challenge the application of another part of the law, on the grounds that its non-suspension is a denial of equal protection of the law? Actually, that last one is a stretch.

Was this a response to the numerous reports of businesses reducing work hours below 30 hours a week so they wouldn’t be subject to the employer mandate? If so, what reason is there to believe they won’t continue doing so? Jan. 1, 2015, is not so very far away.

Won’t employees never offered employer-provided insurance or suddenly not provided with it going to flood the health insurance exchanges? Are the exchanges prepared to handle this? Won’t that increase the number of healthy people choosing not to buy insurance on the exchange, thus tending to increase premiums for those who do buy insurance?

What other parts of the law will be suspended?

Will the one-year delay squelch the chorus of small businessmen crying in distress? Or will it just prolong it?

Will voters think that the administration has shown a willingness to compromise or that it is in disarray?

What does this say about the competence of the architects and administrators of Obamacare?

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Michael Barone

Senior Political Analyst
The Washington Examiner