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Oklahoma lawmakers react to Obamacare delay

by Chris Casteel Published: July 3, 2013

Members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation say they welcome the delay in the mandate on businesses with more than 50 workers to provide health insurance, though they continue to criticize the law as unworkable.

Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City: “Businesses built on the American dream are frustrated by complex requirements of the President’s signature healthcare law. Requirements on Oklahoma businesses like compliance paperwork, reporting mandates and coverage minimums have caused business owners in my district to halt growth in order to brace for the financial levies to give way.

“I’m glad the President finally gave in to the reality that this law is too far-reaching for real, law-abiding small business owners to implement. It’s time he realized that Americans comprehend the complexity of implementing the rest of the law. President Obama should permanently delay the Un-Affordable Care Act.”

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore: “While Tuesday’s announcement delays the burdensome, expensive requirement on businesses to cover workers under Obamacare, it doesn’t change the fact that the healthcare law is unworkable and unfair for the majority of Americans.

“Not only was the legislation jammed through Congress, but its delayed implementation proves the negative nature of the law. By missing the deadlines imposed by the law, the Administration is now effectively admitting that the legislation is unworkable. This yet again gives us cause and motivation to repeal the whole thing and replace it.

“It is difficult not to jump to the conclusion that this is done ahead of midterm elections in order that voters will not realize the negative impact and high cost of Obamacare. Try as it may, however, the Administration cannot fool the American people. We must continue to introduce and pass legislation that delays and ultimately repeals the implementation of this harmful healthcare overhaul.

“Despite a small victory for businesses, this law is still unfair for the majority of Americans, who will still be forced to purchase expensive insurance or suffer fines. If the Administration is going to postpone requirements for businesses, they should also delay the requirement for individuals.”

Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville: “Yesterday’s announcement by the President does not lessen the overall blow of Obamacare. The fact remains this health care mandate is unworkable and unsustainable. Jobs and businesses are at stake. This administration cannot disguise the ‘train wreck’ that is Obamacare. The American people need and deserve lasting relief by repealing Obamacare, not a temporary illusion of a solution.”

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, who moved the bill through the House when she was the speaker in 2010, defended the law and the delay in implementing the business mandate:

“With this announcement, the Administration has demonstrated its commitment to implement the Affordable Care Act with increased flexibility for the four percent of America’s businesses impacted by the employer responsibility requirement. This move will allow businesses more time to adapt their health coverage as the Administration continues its efforts to simplify reporting, and allow for testing and changes to health benefits throughout 2014. And in the end, this change will provide businesses affected by the responsibility requirement as much flexibility and transition time as possible in determining if their benefits meet the law’s requirements for minimum and affordable coverage.

“The vast majority of businesses subject to the law’s responsibility requirement already provide health insurance to their employees. Indeed, 98 percent of businesses with 200 or more employees and 94 percent of businesses with between 50 and 200 employees already offer coverage. The Administration is providing these firms simplification in what they have to report. This change will not affect upcoming enrollment in health insurance marketplaces nor a family’s ability to obtain insurance coverage that fits its needs.

“Already, this law has offered essential protections to millions of children, students, seniors, families, and small business owners. Soon, Americans will benefit from greater wellness and prevention, more choices and competition in the insurance market, and increased access to quality, affordable care. As Americans celebrate the Fourth of July – the moment of our nation’s independence – we celebrate the Affordable Care Act as a source of health independence for America’s families and small businesses.”

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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