Delays Won't Solve Problems With Obamacare, Republican Leaders Tell President

By Susan Jones | July 9, 2013 | 10:30 AM EDT

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, joined by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington. (AP File Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

( - The Obama administration's decision to delay a key provision of the Affordable Care Act for businesses, but not for individuals, is raising new "questions and concerns," House Republican leaders told President Obama in a letter dated July 9.

Last week, the Obama administration announced it would give companies with 50 or more full-time employees an extra year (until 2015) to comply with the requirement that they provide "minimum essential" health insurance coverage to workers or else pay a fine. The law also brings new reporting burdens to employers requiring them to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan to the IRS.

"We agree with you that many of the provisions in the law cannot be implemented within the current time frame; but we strongly disagree with you that time will ever remedy these predictable consequences of the law," the Republican leaders wrote to Obama.

"Many have predicted the problems that your Administration now acknowledges, and each provision you delay continues to demonstrate that the entire law is unworkable."

The Republicans are asking the president to explain why his administration has delayed enforecement of the employer mandate until 2015; but not the individual mandate, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or else pay a fine.

They also want a list of all other Obamacare provisions that "you expect to delay prior to Oct. 1, 2013."

The Republicans, noting that the decision to delay the employer mandate was made only after "substantial review," asked the administration to provide its analysis regarding the following items:

-- the legality of the decision to unilaterally delay the mandate. (Some members of Congress argue that the Obama administration does not have the constitutional right to change the law on its own.)

-- How the Internal Revenue Service and state Health Care Exchanges plan to verify and prevent fraud regarding individual eligibility for premium tax credits and subsidies. (On the day after July 4, the Obama administration quietly announced that, rather than verifying the incomes and insurance options available to consumers, the health exchanges could simply rely on what applicants tell them through 2014.)

-- Changes in federal spending and revenues;

-- The change in the number of individuals receiving subsidies through the exchange for calendar year 2014;

-- The change in the number of individuals expected to pay the individual mandate penalty for calendar year 2014;

-- The change in the number of employers who currently provide health care coverage;

-- Changes in enrollment in Medicaid for calendar year 2014; and

-- The number of individuals working part-time involuntarily and business reducing the number of hours employees work to below 30 hours.

"Because the unilateral changes to this complicated law were surely made with a great deal of data, review and input, we believe it is reasonable to request answers to these questions by July 16, 2013," the letter concluded.