GOP Senators Call for Permanent Delay of Obamacare

All 46 Republican senators sign letter to President Obama calling for suspension of healthcare law

Obamacare
AP

All 46 Republican senators signed a letter on Wednesday calling on President Barack Obama to permanently delay the rest of Obamacare.

The letter comes in the wake of the Obama administration’s decision last week to delay the implementation of several key parts of the law, including that state exchanges verify the income of those applying for federal income-based subsidies.

"This law is unworkable and harmful to the economy and to American families, and your actions to delay the employer mandate are an acknowledgement of this fact," wrote the senators, led by Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R., S.D.).

"While your recent action provides temporary relief for some, we believe that all Americans deserve permanent relief from this onerous law, so that we can adopt common-sense reforms that will actually lower costs and that Americans support."

The senators noted in their letter that a majority of Americans do not support Obamacare in polls while the projected costs of healthcare and number of people who will have to pay penalties under the law are rising.

"Opposition to your health law is growing, and it will continue to grow as more Americans realize that the law is built upon broken promises and will result in higher health care costs and more taxes," they wrote.

"Given the widely-held belief by the American people that the Affordable Care Act will not fulfill its promises and will result in higher costs for American families, we implore you to listen to the American people," they wrote.

The employer mandate will not kick in until Jan. 1, 2015, after the 2014 midterm elections—a point not lost on the senators who signed the letter.

"I think it's particularly interesting that so many of the president's advocates have talked about what a brilliant thing this is, to put this off until after the 2014 elections," said Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) at a press conference announcing the letter. "If this road to the new health care plan that the president signed into law three-and-a-half years ago is such a good road to go down, why wouldn't you want voters to know about it?"

The administration waived the requirement that employers with more than 50 full-time employees provide them with health insurance on Tuesday, July 2.

The administration then quietly released a final rule late on Friday, July 5, which allows state exchanges to accept the self-attested insurance status and income of those applying for subsidies to help purchase insurance through the exchanges.

The bill is constructed in such a way that its efficacy relies on the interworking of its several parts, and the second round of waivers likely came in part because of the initial employer mandate waiver. Waiving the employer mandate deprived the government of information on what kind of insurance, if any, employers were offering their employees, while only those receiving no or insufficient insurance from work qualify for the subsidies.

Critics of the law have wondered whether the administration has waived the verification requirements in order to boost the number of people enrolling in the exchanges. The administration has asked celebrities such as sports professionals to help encourage younger people to enroll in the exchanges.

The administration’s concern is that too few people will enroll in the exchanges to create a sufficiently large insurance pool to cover those who actually need health coverage, leading to the collapse of the health insurance exchanges.

"There are too many parts of this that don't work," Blunt said. "It's like trying to ride a bicycle with one wheel. … Somebody's going to get hurt."

"And the people that get hurt need healthcare and healthcare insurance, not people who need to be part of some experiment that's half baked," he said.