Obamacare Delays: A User's Guide

Government delays cost control measure in latest of series of Obamacare hiccups

August 13, 2013

The decision to delay a provision that was meant to limit the out-of-pocket health costs paid by individuals is the third such deferral of a key Obamacare component since July.

"The administration has delayed until 2015 a significant consumer protection in the law that limits how much people may have to spend on their own health care," the New York Times reported on Monday.

The provision limited out-of-pocket and deductible costs to $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family.

However, "federal officials have granted a one-year grace period to some insurers" that enables them to either eradicate these limits or increase the threshold and set higher maximums.

The change was published on the Department of Labor’s website in February, but went unnoticed until it was explained in Part XII of "FAQs about the Affordable Care Act Implementation."

The modification joins a growing list of provisions that have been pushed to the side in what critics say is an effort to soften the blow of a flawed piece of legislation.

The employer mandate was delayed for a year in July. Officials pointed to feedback from businesses as the reason for the delay, noting there were "concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively."

The administration announced that same week that Health and Human Services (HHS) would rely on consumers’ "self-reports" to determine eligibility for Obamacare benefits. Critics said the change would invite fraud.

The president’s signature legislation has been plagued by delays and repealed provisions since its initial passage.

When the administration was "unable to meet tight deadlines" the decision was made to defer the small business insurance marketplace, removing "the option [for employers] to provide workers with a choice of health plans" and instead limiting them to a single plan, the New York Times wrote.

The Government Accountability Office reported that U.S. officials "missed deadlines and remain behind schedule on key parts" of the law, and that a number of states had "failed to complete many of the tasks assigned for implementation."

Congress in 2011 "repeal[ed] the healthcare reform law's 1099 tax reporting requirement, the first provision of the Democrats' law to get the ax," according to the Hill.

An internal inspection last week found HHS was also behind on "tests related to protecting privacy."

Instances such as these have led Republicans to encourage repeal of the law.

"Our goal is to repeal all of Obamacare," House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio.) noted during a May press conference.

"I would remind you that the president has signed into law seven different bills that repealed or defunded parts of that law. Is it enough? No. Full repeal is needed to keep this law from doing more damage to our economy and raising health care," Boehner said. "Republicans will continue to work to scrap the law in its entirety so we can focus on patient-centered reforms that lower costs and protect jobs. Because jobs is what this is all about."

Republican members of the House voted to delay the individual mandate and called on the Senate to take similar steps.

Lawmakers such as Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Mike Lee (R., Utah) have taken a more contentious approach, urging Republicans to refuse to vote for a continuing resolution if it includes funding for the Affordable Care Act.

Lee reiterated his support for the plan in light of the todays report.