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Health care delay's cost pegged at $12B

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By Reuters
Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 8:06 p.m.

WASHINGTON — President Obama's decision to delay implementation of part of his health care law will cost $12 billion and leave 1 million fewer Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance in 2014, congressional researchers said on Tuesday.

The report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is the first authoritative estimate of the human and fiscal cost from the administration's unexpected one-year delay announced on July 2 of the employer mandate — a requirement for larger businesses to provide health coverage for their workers or pay a penalty.

The analysts said the delay will add to the cost of the overhaul's insurance-coverage provisions during the next 10 years. Penalties paid by employers would be lower and more individuals who otherwise might have had employer coverage will need federal insurance subsidies.

“Of those who would otherwise have obtained employment-based coverage, roughly half will be uninsured (in 2014),” CBO said in a July 30 letter to Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Under Obama's health care law, employers with 50 or more full-time workers were supposed to provide health care coverage or incur penalties beginning on Jan. 1. But the requirement will now begin in 2015.

The delay intensified doubts about the administration's ability to implement Obama's signature domestic policy achievement and stirred Republican calls for a similar delay in another mandate that requires most individuals to have health insurance in 2014.

The Republican-controlled House followed up the administration's decision by voting on July 17 for its own measures to delay the employer and individual mandates. Neither piece of legislation is expected to succeed in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

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