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July 5, 2013

A Delay, Not a Derailing

The decision by the Obama Administration to delay by one year the requirement that employers provide their workers health insurance  should have little impact in Virginia. We ran the numbers and it turns out that nearly all private Virginia businesses with 50 or more employees already offer health insurance – 97 percent. Nationally, it’s 96 percent.

That makes the claim that the Affordable Care Act has been derailed by this decision seem overblown. After all, the markets for private health insurance the law will establish – called exchanges – are still scheduled to be open for business October 1, and the tax credits to help people purchase a plan on the exchanges are still on track.

Plus, the employer mandate is just one aspect of health reform. The heavy lifting to reduce the number of people who lack health insurance comes from Medicaid expansion, setting up the new exchanges and the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance.

So while opponents of the Affordable Care Act are busy scattering seeds of chaos about this delay, Virginians should instead pay attention to what is going on with the state’s efforts to open the exchanges and track the progress of Medicaid expansion. 

–Sookyung Oh, Policy Analyst

The Commonwealth Institute

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