President Obama thinks he already saved your employer plan

At this point, everyone generally accepts that the President’s purported one-year delay in forcing you to lose your individual health insurance policy (and, more importantly, corralling you into the Obamacare exchange) was political grandstanding amounting to almost no practical benefit.  At last check, 19 states had rejected the so-called “fix.”  For those that have adopted it, congratulations on delaying the inevitable.

The Obama administration has recently tried to reframe the narrative of this fiasco by focusing on the fact that only 5% of Americans purchase an individual health insurance policy.  After all, why concern ourselves over the health plan of 14 or 15 million Americans when their sacrifices will benefit the much grander scope of universal utopia?

Another speech from Obama, another huge disappointment

Obama gives State of the Union

Last night during a joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama gave his fifth the State of the Union address where he laid out his agenda for the next year. As was anticipated, the speech carried over the Leftist themes of last month’s inaugural address and was more aggressive in tone.

Despite recent GDP numbers showing that the economy contracted in the last quarter of 2012, President Obama started off the hour long speech by repeat a familiar line, explaining that “[t]ogether, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger.”

After a couple of shots at Congress, President Obama spent a few minutes discussing the sequester, claiming that “both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion – mostly through spending cuts, but also by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.” Obama claimed, “we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.”

If only that were true. In Cato Institute’s response to the State of the Union address, Michael Tanner explained, “Let’s be absolutely clear — there have been no spending cuts under this President.”

In 2010, the first year that this President was responsible for the budget, the federal government spent $3.4 trillion,” noted Tanner. “Last year, the federal government spent $3.5 trillion, and for the first four of last year, we’re spending at a fast pace than the first four months of last year.”

Shocker: Leftist minimum wage policy forces businesses to pass costs to consumers

MasterPark Airport Parking

Travelers who park their cars at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, located in the town of SeaTac, Washington, will see first-hand how the city’s $15 minimum wage is being passed onto consumers in addition to negatively impacting workers, as Matthew Hurtt recently explained.

MasterPark Airport Parking, a valet parking service, is charging customers a 99-cent per day “living wage surcharge,” listing it on receipts with taxes and other fees patrons pay, according to the Washington Policy Center:

Many SeaTac businesses have tacked on an additional fee to mitigate the increased cost of labor. On the receipt below, a $6.93 “living wage surcharge” was added to a $84.00 parking charge. That is the equivalent of a 8.25% tax.
Contrary to what supporters claim, increasing the minimum wage does not create jobs and stimulate the economy. The higher wages are not free money. The increased cost must either be absorbed by the employer, which is impossible for many who already operate on shoe-string profit margins, or it must be passed on to workers, in the form of reduced hours and benefits, and consumers, in the form of higher prices. Either way, someone pays.

MasterPark explains the surcharge on its website, pointing out that it “covers a portion of the resulting increase in operating costs.” Here’s the copy of the receipt that a customer recently received:

This part-time worker needs a second job, not a wage hike

The Seattle Weekly News recently ran a piece in which they lead with the story of Jason Harvey, a man who has worked a part-time, minimum wage job at Burger King for eight years, and his struggle to make ends meet, part of the publication’s case for a living wage:

A checked flannel jacket thrown over his Burger King uniform and scrunched-up shopping bags under his arm, Jason Harvey clocks off work at 3 o’clock one drizzly January afternoon and sets out to get groceries for the week. His destination: the Ballard Food Bank.

Using shortcuts he’s learned over the years, it takes Harvey 10 minutes to walk to the food bank from his Market Street workplace, where he earns the minimum wage, which rose slightly in the new year to $9.32 an hour. He finds that neither his salary nor the $120 a month he receives in food stamps is enough to feed himself. Hence his trip to the food bank.

Keep in mind that the minimum wage in Washington state is more than $2 higher than the federal minimum wage, currently at $7.25 per hour. So a full-time worker earning minimum wage in Washington would bring home around $373 per week before taxes.

But Harvey doesn’t work full-time. As a result of his employer cutting workers’ hours to avoid Obamacare’s employer mandate tax, he works just 28 hours, earning a just under $261 a week before taxes (emphasis added):

Report predicts higher health premiums for 65% of small businesses

The actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services predicts that Obamacare will lead to higher health insurance premiums for 65% of small businesses, affecting some 11 million employees:

The report, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary, is the latest piece of bad news for the president’s signature domestic achievement. While the law was designed to curb rising health costs, some consumers have seen their premiums or other out-of-pocket costs increase this year, or had their plans canceled altogether.

The report analyzed employers with 50 or fewer full-time employees that buy outside insurance policies for workers, a group it estimated at 17 million people in 2012. It focused on a piece of the 2010 law that prevents insurance companies from pricing policies based on customers’ health status.
The report concluded that about 65% of small businesses, or plans covering 11 million people, would see an increase in insurance premiums under these so-called community-rating provisions of the health law. About 35% of employers would see a decrease for plans covering six million people. These employers aren’t required to pay a penalty under the federal health law if they don’t insure workers.

These premium hikes have been mostly tied to the individual market, but most don’t realize that small-to-large businesses as well as their employees are also going to be hit with higher costs.

It’s time to separate health coverage from employment

The Obama administration’s latest employer mandate delay is causing some to question their support of the law, or at the very least, express frustration with the way in which President Obama’s signature domestic achievement has been implemented.

Among those expressing frustration is Ron Fournier, the senior political columnist at the National Journal.

In a column yesterday, Fournier explained that he is “getting sick of defending Obamacare,” pointing the White House’s politicization of the law, the thoughtless manner in which it was implemented, and changes and delays of various regulations. The journalist also made some of the same comments on Fox News on Monday evening.

“Advocates for a strong executive branch, including me, have given the White House a pass on its rule-making authority, because implementing such a complicated law requires flexibility,” Fournier wrote. “But the law may be getting stretched to the point of breaking. Think of the [Affordable Care Act] as a game of Jenga: Adjust one piece and the rest are affected; adjust too many and it falls.”

“If not illegal,” he continued, “the changes are fueling suspicion among Obama-loathing conservatives, and confusion among the rest of us. Even the law’s most fervent supporters are frustrated,” latter adding that he falls in the “frustrated category.”

Administration delays yet another Obamacare provision

Less than a week after delaying the expiration of the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) program, the Obama Administration will delay the enforcement of yet another Obamacare provision, according to a report this weekend from The New York Times:

Tax officials said they would not enforce the provision this year because they had yet to issue regulations for employers to follow.

The Affordable Care Act, adopted nearly four years ago, says employer-sponsored health plans must not discriminate “in favor of highly compensated individuals” with respect to either eligibility or benefits. The government provides a substantial tax break for employer-sponsored insurance, and, as a matter of equity and fairness, lawmakers said employers should not provide more generous coverage to a select group of high-paid employees.

But translating that goal into reality has proved difficult.

Officials at the Internal Revenue Service said they were wrestling with complicated questions like how to measure the value of employee health benefits, how to define “highly compensated” and what exactly constitutes discrimination.

The administration has delayed several provisions of Obamacare, most notability the employer mandate in July 2013. According to a report from the Congressional Research Service early last fall, the administration had amended or delayed the law 19 times — a number that has increased in recent months.

Millions of business health plan cancellations could be looming

The millions of health insurance policy cancellations that Americans are receiving have been well-publicized and created a political firestorm for President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. But it may just be the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

President Obama and his apologists have insisted that the health plan cancellations only hit a small portion of the public — “fewer than 5 percent of Americans,” they say, though, that equates to as many as 15 million people. But the “grandfathered plan” regulations — which are responsible for the cancellations — affect more than just a small portion of the market.

Stan Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) estimates that employer-based health plans may see substantial changes in 2014 that could affect anywhere between 50 million and 100 million Americans:

A new and independent analysis of ObamaCare warns of a ticking time bomb, predicting a second wave of 50 million to 100 million insurance policy cancellations next fall — right before the mid-term elections.
An analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, shows the administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges. They predict up to 100 million small and large business policies could be canceled next year.

ObamaCare analysis shows higher premiums on state exchanges

ObamaCare premiums

The so-called “Affordable Care Act” has proven to very unaffordable for many Americans who will see higher insurance premiums on the health insurance exchanges that they would from employer-based coverage, according to an analysis by the National Journal:

For the vast majority of Americans, premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they’re currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data. Adding even more out-of-pocket expenses to consumers’ monthly insurance bills is a swell in deductibles under the Affordable Care Act.
Whether the quality of care in the new market is comparable to private offerings remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: The cost of care in the new market doesn’t stack up. A single wage earner must make less than $20,000 to see his or her current premiums drop or stay the same under Obamacare, an independent review by National Journal found. That’s equivalent to approximately 34 percent of all single workers in the U.S. seeing any benefit in the new system. For those seeking family-of-four coverage under the ACA, about 43 percent will see cost savings. Families must earn less than or equal to $62,300, or they, too, will be looking at a bigger bill.

NBC News talks to businesses about employer mandate, finds most cutting hours

Despite the one-year delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate, businesses still say provision to be a headache for them and their employees. NBC News recently talked to nearly 20 business owners, finding that nearly all of them say the employer mandate is forcing them to cut employees’ hours:

NBC News spoke with almost 20 small businesses and other entities from Maine to California, and almost all said that because of the new law they’d be cutting back hours for some employees – an unintended consequence of the new law.

At St. Petersburg College, a public university in Florida where most of the faculty is part-time, 250 have had their hours reduced for the fall term because the college said it can’t afford to offer them health insurance.
Many businesses are reluctant to talk about cutting hours for fear the public will view them as stingy or uncaring about their workers. But [a Subway franchisee] said that many small businesses have very small profit margins and that while he already provides health insurance to senior employees, offering health insurance to many more workers would require him to pass a significant price increase on to his customers.

This employer mandate requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer health insurance benefits or face a punitive tax. Because ObamaCare defines a full-time employee as someone who works 30 or more hours a week, many employers have been scaling back hours or hiring only part-time workers.

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