So Much For the “Obamacare Implementation Fiasco”

I alluded earlier to the fact that last week’s delay in implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate (plus another postponement of income reporting requirements associated with qualification for Obamacare premium tax credits) is being universally touted by conservatives as another “fiasco” proving that the law is a big ol’ disaster in the making. Unsurprisingly, the often-wrong-but-never-in-doubt Jennifer Rubin was the most categorical about it, entitling a post: “Everyone now agrees: Obamacare can’t be implemented.”

In a very quick and very definitive smackdown, Rubin’s WaPo colleague Ezra Klein replied:

I asked around. Peter Orszag, who helped design Obamacare from his perch as head of the Office of Management and Budget, disagreed with Rubin. “Delaying the employer mandate makes successful implementation more likely, not less likely,” he told me.

Larry Levitt, vice president of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, agreed. “There’s nothing about the delay in the employer requirement that suggests Obamacare can’t still be implemented,” he said. “If anything the delay removes some potential administrative complexities from the plates of the implementers, and avoids the problem of some employers reducing the hours of part-time workers to get around the requirement.”

Timothy Jost, a health law expert at George Washington University, was even blunter. “Implementation just got easier rather than harder,” he said.

Well, so much for “everyone.”

As those interviews indicate, the thinking among health-care experts is closer to the precise opposite of Rubin’s bombastic headline: The Obama administration has decided to accept some bad media coverage now, and some higher costs later, in order to make Obamacare much, much simpler to implement next year.

It will be interesting to see if Rubin responds. Having jousted with her on radio a couple of times and experienced her remarkable ability to stay on message and shout down any contrary information, I suspect she’ll move briskly along to the next GOP talking point.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.