1. Opinion

Reaction to delay in health care act

Published Jul. 5, 2013

Editor's note: Last week, the Obama administration abruptly postponed a key piece of the Affordable Care Act — the requirement that larger employers provide affordable health insurance or pay penalties. Originally scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2014, it has now been delayed until Jan. 1, 2015. The Times sought out the reaction of some key state figures on the issue. Here is what they said.

Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, is speaker of the Florida House.

Before the law is even out of the starting gate, the Obama administration had to admit that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unworkable, unreasonable and impossible to implement. While I agree with the result of the decision to protect businesses from the devastating impact of PPACA, I believe the president acted outside of the spirit and the letter of the law. With the stroke of a bureaucratic pen, he wiped out a federal statute. Such overreach and inconsistency will surely continue given the way the president pushed through PPACA. It's one of the main reasons why Florida cannot afford to sign on to Medicaid expansion as it is currently written.

Rather than delaying the harsh realities until the next election, President Barack Obama should take a realistic assessment of the consequences of the largest expansion of entitlements, mandates and taxes in decades, and instead work toward a free-market solution that encourages personal responsibility and incentivizes quality care. That is the solution that was offered by the Florida House this session. I believe states like Florida could do a better job providing affordable health care options that meet our unique needs if the federal law was changed.

Everyone believes that all Americans should have access to affordable and quality health care. PPACA is not the answer. Now that the Obama administration has officially acknowledged the problems with this law, perhaps it is time for them to go back to the drawing board and develop a plan that can actually work.

Leah Barber-Heinz is advocacy director for Florida CHAIN, a statewide consumer health advocacy organization.

As consumer health care advocates, we are not concerned that the delay to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act employer mandate will impact health coverage levels in Florida. To begin with, the employer mandate pertains only to businesses with 50 or more employees. Almost 97 percent of Florida businesses would not have been subject to any form of penalty anyway. Next, it is important to note that the delay does not pertain to the rest of the law. The health insurance marketplace is set to open on Oct. 1 of this year when 2.7 million uninsured Floridians will gain access to tax credits to purchase meaningful, affordable health insurance coverage with real value.

We also believe that the delay will allow large businesses additional time that they may need to better understand what is expected of them in making sure their employees have access to affordable, quality health coverage. In the meantime, knowing full well the status of the many low-income, uninsured families in our state who are working hard yet still cannot afford to access health care, Florida's businesses and advocates must continue the fight for the expansion of health care; 1.2 million people stand to gain coverage if the Florida Legislature decides to do the right thing. This expansion impacts the bottom line of businesses whether there is a one-year delay or not. There is no reason to waver — advocates and businesses alike must stay the course in the fight to extend life-saving health coverage to hard-working Floridians.

Bill Herrle is the executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business Florida, the state's leading small-business association.

Obamacare is like a poorly made garment that frays at its edges. The administration's announcement delaying the employer mandate provision of the health care law is simply the latest evidence that implementation of this terrible law is going to be difficult, if not impossible.

The employer mandate is an impediment to the growth of both our national and state economies, and Florida small business owners look at it as a direct impediment to their own growth, as well. Small business owners by nature yearn to expand their businesses and create jobs.

But the employer mandate forces them to purposely avoid hiring more than 50 employees, leaving them to figure out how to get more work done with less hands. This means less jobs and less productivity.

Delaying the implementation only perpetuates the uncertainty business owners face in developing business plans for growth and expansion. Small business owners across Florida have already spent countless time and money to determine what they need to do to comply with the law, so temporary relief is only small consolation. What we have here is a delay, but what we need is a permanent fix that doesn't penalize businesses for growing.

For over two decades, small businesses have cited rising health insurance costs as their No. 1 problem. Obamacare does nothing to address costs, and the employer mandate only exacerbates the problem.

Without a permanent fix to this tattered portion of the health care law, the pain of the employer mandate is still on the horizon, and another government-imposed burden is poised to land yet again on the shoulders of America's job creators.