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Effects of new health law are increasingly arbitrary

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: July 8, 2013

THE Obama administration abruptly announced that businesses won't face Obamacare tax penalties for another year if they fail to provide employee insurance, but the individual penalty will still go into effect. This means Democrats — who typically vilify “Big Business” — are now protecting companies from the tax man while arguing that those same businesses' workers should be treated more harshly.

The employer mandate was already causing businesses to cut workers' hours, fire employees and/or restrain growth to avoid Obamacare penalties. Delay of the employer mandate is not terrible news, although the associated uncertainty won't aid business growth. But if the employer penalty is bad policy, which even President Barack Obama is tacitly admitting with this delay, then why is it good policy to penalize workers?

It's not, of course. But little about Obamacare is either realistic or reasonable.

Take Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, which offers states larger federal matching funds for adding patients than what is provided for those already in the program. In a column, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal noted the real-world impact of the Medicaid provision: “Is it fair that under an expanded Medicaid program, the federal government would pay a greater portion of the Medicaid dollar for an adult with no children above poverty, than for a single mother with children who live in poverty?” If the government is going to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize health care, shouldn't it focus most on the truly needy?

Or consider the law's many new insurance mandates. The Wall Street Journal recently noted healthy citizens could see their insurance rates double or even triple on the individual market. These are the same people most likely to be hit by the individual penalty. They will soon have the choice of paying far higher insurance costs for coverage they seldom need, or paying a fine.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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