Much has been said about the administration’s decision to delay the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Employers will not be penalized for failing to offer coverage to their employeesin 2014. The impact of the decision will have very little impact here in Arkansas. To the extent there is any impact at all, it is likely to be good, no matter what kind of doom-and-gloom predictions are being offered by the law’s opponents.
The truth is that here in Arkansas 93 percent of the businesses that would be required to provide health insurance for their employees already do. No one will lose coverage — or lose the opportunity to become insured — in Arkansas because of this decision. The decision simply allows business to be more deliberative in how they come into compliance with the Affordable Care Act, by allowing them more time. Flexibility is key when implementing any change in policy, not to mention one of this size and complexity.
While Arkansas knows where it’s headed in terms of health coverage — given the state’s adoption of the Private Option and the steps being taken toward developing a health coverage Marketplace — many states do not. Politics has played a big part in delaying other states’ decisions on expanding coverage to the point that it could have a negative impact on business who need to make plans for the future. The administration made the right call in delaying penalties on non-compliant businesses for one year.
Again, the impact in Arkansas will be minimal. If someone’s employer doesn’t offer affordable coverage, Arkansans can purchase coverage in the Marketplace or get coverage through the Private Option. Most uninsured Arkansas families will receive help paying for coverage thanks to the ACA, leading to a healthier workforce and healthier families regardless of whether businesses provide health insurance to their employees.
ALSO: Talking Points Memo explains what delay really means. Hint: not what Republicans want you to believe.