by Max Brantley
Most employers with more than 50 employees already provide health coverage in Arkansas. The health insurance exchange work should continue for uninsured individuals and that's where real benefits to uninsured Arkansans lie. Employers are happy for a delay and it might produce useful streamlining of the rules. And so forth.
But never mind all that: You don't have to follow many people on Twitter or peruse many websites to hear the braying and chortling and see the hand-rubbing of Republicans who see this as one big step toward an Obamacare train wreck.
It is, in short, a cluster**** politically and will only encourage more resistance and foot-dragging.
While the postponement technically does not affect other central provisions of the law — in particular those establishing health insurance marketplaces in the states, known as exchanges, where uninsured Americans can shop for policies — it threatens to throw into disarray the administration’s effort to put those provisions into effect by Jan. 1.
“I am utterly astounded,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University and an advocate of the law. “It boggles the mind. This step could significantly reduce the number of uninsured people who will gain coverage in 2014.”
At the White House, Tara McGuinness, a senior adviser on the law, disputed that.
“Nothing in the new guidance regarding employer reporting and responsibility will limit individuals’ eligibility for premium tax credits to buy insurance through the marketplaces that open on Oct. 1,” she said.
Yes, except a Republican movement is already underway to delay the individual mandate, too. The opponents of the Obamacare plan adopted in Arkansas are howling. Will the Republicans whose votes were hard won to put this plan into effect stay in harness? This is not a good development.
It's going to be fun to watch U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (Club for Growth, D.C.) further blast Obamacare. And watch state Rep, John Burris, Cotton's paid political director and architect of ArkansasCare, the hybrid Obamacare implementation plan, thread their personal needles.
UPDATE: Here's a contrarian view from Talking Points Memo that says the president is not only NOT trying to avoid accountability on one aspect of his plan, but actually "doubling down" on the most crucial point.