Hapless health insurance

President  Obama delays enforcing the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate.
President Obama delays enforcing the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate.

The Obama Administration has announced a delay in enforcing the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, which requires most businesses to provide health insurance for its workers or pay a financial penalty. This decision suggests the President is taking a misguided and almost whimsical approach to managing his signature piece of legislation.

The employer mandate was to have taken full effect Jan. 1. Last July, though, he gave businesses with 50 or more employees until Jan. 1, 2015, to offer health coverage or face a penalty tax.

The latest change gives businesses with 50 to 99 workers until Jan. 1, 2016, to comply. Larger companies can phase in the mandate over two years and need to cover only 70 percent of their employees.

Such flip-flopping does not inspire confidence in the law’s effectiveness. When the law changes day after day, can it even be considered a law anymore?

The standard excuse for resisting Obamacare has been that it causes uncertainty among business owners, employees, and individuals. The slicing and dicing of the law fuels that uncertainty and creates additional chaos.

Furthermore, Mr. Obama is behaving as if he has the autonomy to alter laws without congressional consideration or approval. He is traveling down a slippery slope on which presidential discretion threatens to morph into unilateral decision-making.

It is heartening that the initial glitches in registering for Obamacare are getting fixed. Last month, 1.14 million people signed up for insurance in the national marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, bringing total enrollment to 3.3 million Americans.

But such gains mean nothing if the law becomes weakened with every twist and turn that Mr. Obama sees fit to make. At one point, the President said the employer mandate was essential to ensuring that Americans had coverage. Republicans condemned that assertion.

But it’s hypocritical to criticize GOP lawmakers for trying to tear the law apart when Mr. Obama seems to be achieving that on his own. It is time to stop the alterations, exemptions, and delays. Make the law work as it was written.