In a column at The Weekly Standard, I argue that Republicans should use the budget debates over the government shutdown as a chance to argue for a delay of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.
The political and substantive case for a delay in the individual mandate is compelling. On a political level, what politician wants to defend giving a one-year break to corporate America but not to the little guy? That’s exactly the position Democrats are now in, and the GOP can swing public opinion their way by making this the central theme of their public case. In the coming days and weeks, there will be no shortage of opportunities for GOP members and Senators to go on TV, and they should use every chance they get to pound the message home with voters that the Democrats are the ones protecting businesses but not workers.
Substantively, the case is just as strong. The administration has delayed enforcement of the employer mandate for a year, which means some workers will not get an offer of coverage at their place of work. Because the individual mandate is still in place, they will have to go into the exchanges to get insurance or pay the uninsured tax. In two states, New Hampshire and West Virginia, there’s only one plan being offered in the exchanges. In other states, there are very few choices. Is it really fair to force American to buy insurance from one insurance carrier, or limit their choices to even two or three plans? The administration says it will start enforcing the employer mandate in 2015, which means many workers who were forced into the exchanges in 2014 will be forced out of them in 2015 when they get offered employer plans. Does disrupting insurance like this make any sense? The GOP should make these points to show that a delay of the employer mandate necessitates a commensurate delay of the individual requirement.
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