The White House is fielding a fresh round of criticism from conservatives after it delayed one key provision of the Affordable Care Act.
“This law is literally just unraveling before our eyes,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., during a House hearing Wednesday. “I don’t know how you can conclude that this is not a total fiasco.”
During a two-hour House Ways and Means Health subcommittee hearing Wednesday, Ryan and other House Republicans criticized the one-year delay of the employer mandate provision which the White House announced last week. The provision calls for businesses with 50 or more workers to provide insurance coverage to employees or pay a $2,000 fine per worker. It will now take effect in January 2015.
“The employer mandate was touted as one of the twin pillars of Obamacare upon which this massive new law depended upon,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican and chairman of the subcommittee that held the hearing. “But today you hear a different story, that the employer mandate [is] no big deal, just an afterthought that has no impact on businesses…And in fact what we hear today is that this one year reprieve is the greatest thing since sliced bread.”
Democrats who attended the hearing responded to the GOP attacks.
“I’m sure it’s tempting for those who’ve stood against reform and progress from the beginning to see this as a chance to rip Obamacare apart again, yet another time,” said Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., during Wednesday’s hearing. “The irony to objecting to the delay of a program you’ve been trying to stop is no doubt lost on this room.”
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank describes Republican criticism of the delay like this: “Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing to condemn the administration - for incomplete enforcement of the law they hate.”
For its part, the White House is ramping up efforts to promote Obamacare. The Washington Post points out the Obama administration is hiring additional staffers, formulating a public-relations strategy and reaching out to key lawmakers as the new law prepares to launch in the next few months.