Obamacare Mandate Delay Projected to Leave Additional 1 Million Uninsured

The delay, proposed in the latest House Republican counter to the health care law, would save the government $9.5 billion over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office projects.

Rocky rollout: HealthCare.gov.
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Clara Ritger
March 5, 2014, 8:07 a.m.

Roughly 1 mil­lion more people would forgo health in­sur­ance this year if Obama­care’s in­di­vidu­al-man­date pen­alty were delayed, ac­cord­ing to pro­jec­tions from the Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice.

House Re­pub­lic­ans last week un­veiled a pro­pos­al to shift back by one year the im­ple­ment­a­tion of the tax pen­al­ties for con­sumers who choose not to com­ply with the Af­ford­able Care Act’s re­quire­ment to pur­chase health in­sur­ance. The House is sched­uled to vote on the pro­pos­al Wed­nes­day, and Re­pub­lic­ans have the votes they need to pass it.

Ac­cord­ing to CBO’s new cost-be­ne­fit ana­lys­is of the le­gis­la­tion, delay­ing the in­di­vidu­al-man­date pen­alty would save the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment some $9.5 bil­lion over the next dec­ade, due to lower en­roll­ment in Medi­caid and de­creased spend­ing on health in­sur­ance tax cred­its made avail­able to con­sumers who pur­chase cov­er­age on the law’s ex­changes.

Of the 1 mil­lion ex­pec­ted to forgo cov­er­age, CBO es­tim­ates that half would have en­rolled in Medi­caid or CHIP — the Chil­dren’s Health In­sur­ance Pro­gram for low-in­come youth — and half would have been covered by em­ploy­ers or ob­tained in­sur­ance in the ex­changes.

The meas­ure has vir­tu­ally no chance of be­com­ing law, however, as it is likely won’t go any­where in the Demo­crat­ic­ally con­trolled Sen­ate, and it would face a near-cer­tain veto from Pres­id­ent Obama.