Will the real mandate please stand up?

I had hoped to post some straightforward news here for you to reconcile two seemingly contradictory announcements from Washington about the “Affordable” Care Act. I’m sorry to say that I’ve fallen short so far. I welcome comments from readers who can translate all this for our mutual benefit. Everything about the ACA will hit home in New Hampshire just as in the other 49 states.

June 28: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services posted its “final” rule on the HHS mandate, saying that employers who refuse to subsidize contraception and abortion-inducing agents for their female employees are still subject to sanctions. I recommend this advisory from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty about so-called “accommodations.”  

July 2: The U.S. Treasury Department announced that the reporting requirements imposed on employers by ACA will be suspended until 2015. Those requirements are in themselves a mandate. So we have a paperwork mandate that won’t be enforced, by order of the executive branch, acting without the consent of the legislative branch, which passed the ACA.

Confusing, if not dizzying. According to the Becket Fund statement cited above, the July 2 announcement “says nothing about the $100 per employee daily tax penalty [for failing to comply with the HHS mandate], which is in a different statute and subject to an entirely separate reporting requirement not mentioned in the Treasury statement.”

I take all this as an affirmation by the current Administration that concerns over excess paperwork are a good reason to change a mandate, while concerns about religious liberty are not.

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