The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 13, 2013

Costs mounting, revenues shrinking for Obamacare

By Al DeKruif
The Mankato Free Press

---- — By Al DeKruif

President Obama has delayed by one year the implementation of the employer mandate, including the penalties for not offering insurance and the employer IRS reporting requirements of Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act). These were due to go into effect Jan. 1 and required every business with 50 full time employees or more to either supply health care to their employees or pay a fine of $2,000 per employee. Full-time under Obamacare is 30 hours or more.

Many, including me, believe the Obamacare employer mandate is bad policy and should be repealed. It provides an incentive for employers to convert full-time workers to part-time workers and it will place significant new administrative burdens and costs on employers.

Many businesses have already begun the process of cutting part time workers hours back to less than 30 hours per week to save their companies thousands of dollars in penalties.

Although some suspect the administration is delaying the mandate to minimize impact on the mid-term elections of 2014, the administration claims they are addressing the distress over lay off of employees, the reduction in working hours, and the fact that the government needed more time to help businesses understand the mandate and reporting aspects of the program.

Why, one might ask, will this program be better if implemented one year later than it would be if rolled out in its originally scheduled time? The money this program is intended to bring in is estimated at $10 billion (http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/03/heritage-obamacare-delays-costs-10-billion-at-least/) and is an important part in the Democrat funding mechanism for Obamacare. How will leaving Obamacare more under funded than it is already projected to be, be better?

The employer mandate and its penalties (”employer responsibilities payments”) are now scheduled to be rolled out Jan. 1, 2015 or 2 months after the November 2014 election. However, since the individual mandate still goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014, the working public will learn soon enough that “free” health care isn’t free. That upsetting fact alone could be enough to swing the 2014 election.

Private citizens will have to work hard to price shop for Obamacare coverage rates on the newly developed government health-care exchanges and many will need in-person help when they learn that if everything isn’t filled out properly they will be breaking the federal law “under penalty of perjury.” (So much for user friendly!)

Some will learn there are personal fiscal cliffs in Obamacare. For example, according to calculations using the MNsure.org calculator, Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom reported that if a 63-year old couple earns $62,000, they are at approximately 400 percent of the poverty rate and, due to federal taxpayer-funded subsidies; they will pay only $5,892 for coverage.

But if they earn $1,000 more, they pass the 400 percent upper limit for subsidies and will have to pay more than $20,000 per year — about 32 percent of their annual income. So much for that pay raise you always wanted!

Now our Democratic Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar want a full repeal of the Medical Device Tax (http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/199462401.html) that is supposed to help fund Obamacare by about $30 billion, but is hurting our Minnesota businesses. They and our own Congressman Tim Walz should not have voted for this ill-conceived program in the first place.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi once famously said Congress would have to pass this bill so we could see what’s in it. Three years and 2,700 pages later, we’re all beginning to see why they should never have passed Obamacare.

Al DeKruif is a former District 25 state senator. He is the owner of DeKruif Enterprises and Sakatah Trail Resort. He lives in Madison Lake.