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The CBO, in response to a request from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), has determined that the Obama administration's decision to delay by a year the requirement in Obamcare that large employers provide health insurance to employees or pay a fine will have a relatively small impact in costs to the government or numbers of people remaining uninsured. About half a million people who do not currently have insurance will continue to be uninsured, the CBO estimates.
All told, as a result of the announced changes and new final rules, roughly 1 million fewer people are expected to be enrolled in employment-based coverage in 2014 than the number projected in CBO’s May 2013 baseline, primarily because of the one-year delay in penalties on employers. Of those who would otherwise have obtained employment-based coverage, roughly half will be uninsured and the others will obtain coverage through the exchanges or will enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), CBO and JCT estimate. In particular, fewer than half a million additional people are expected to be uninsured in 2014 than the number projected in the May baseline.
Additionally, federal spending will be increased by less that one percent for 2014, CBO estimates. The government won't be receiving the penalties from large insurers not providing the coverage, and will be paying subsidies to those who don't have coverage extended to them at work and decide to purchase it on the exchange. "Most large employers," the report notes, "currently offer health insurance coverage to their employees, and because the delay is only for one year, CBO and JCT expect that few employers will change their decisions about offering such coverage."

Half a million is too many, but is a lot fewer than those who will fall into the gap created by states refusing to expand Medicaid. Because, as the CBO notes, most employers who have 50 or more employees—94 percent of them according to the Kaiser Family Foundation—do provide coverage. That kind of shoots a hole in the Republican theory that providing health insurance to employees will break the free market.

Ryan, in requesting this analysis, undoubtedly thought he'd find some smoking gun about how much this delay was going to cost the federal government (even though he has been adamantly opposed to the very idea that large employers should have to provide insurance to workers). He sure as hell didn't ask the CBO to do this because he's worried about how many people will stay uninsured. He didn't get much in the way of ammunition with this one.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 07:48 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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