'Obamacare' Employer Mandate delayed

July 9, 2013 

The Affordable Care Act — popularly referred to as Obamacare — was due for full implementation beginning January 2014. First 5 Madera County and the Madera County Public Health Department began countywide discussion as to how the widely anticipated Affordable Care Act will impact Madera County and strategies to mitigate information gaps for the community.

Last week week, the US Treasury Department delayed the "Employer Mandate," a significant component of the act that will mandate all employers with more than 50 employees to give those workers health insurance or pay a fine. These employers now have till 2015, instead of 2014.

"This mandate, absent adequate education and planning stands to have significant implications on Madera County's economy which is built on small businesses," said Chinayera Black Hardaman, executive director of First 5 Madera County. "We are all hopeful that this delay will help our businesses better prepare for the mandate."

However, the "Individual Mandate" of the act designed to extend access to affordable, quality health care to millions of additional Americans regardless of age or pre-existing condition will take effect January 2014 as planned. For example, a "sliding scale" health insurance subsidy will be provided based on income for individuals and families earning between 138 and 400% of the federal poverty level. This means that a family of four earning up to $93,700 will now be eligible under provisions of the ACA through the new "Covered California" health care system.

"Even with many details yet still unknown, we should continue the conversation, the learning, and the collaboration on how the ACA will work here in Madera County," says Van Do-Reynoso, Madera County Public Health Director. "We continue our planning to convene community forums in August and September to discuss the impact of the ACA on specific areas such as small business, immigration, behavioral health, access to care, and prevention services."

First 5 Madera County is committed to improving the lives of children and families in Madera County. For information on how you can learn more about the upcoming forums, call First 5 Madera County at (559) 661-5155.

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