Paul Ryan: Well, as you know, the Obama administration selectively chose not to enforce one of the major tenets of this law: the employer mandate. The big question is asked, which is, "Since when could a President decide what parts of a law he wanted to enforce and not enforce?"
The law clearly says this kicks in in 2014. There's not a lot of gray area there, and so there's a constitutional issue. Is he abusing the Constitution and selectively enforcing a law that he wanted? So, that's an issue. And what about families and small businesses who have the mandate and the costs that are going to be associated with them? We're seeing figures where people in their 20s and 30s and 40s could see anywhere from a doubling and tripling of their health-insurance premiums. It's an enormous increase in cost. Businesses are cutting workers down to less than 30 hours, so there's lots of pain that's coming with the advent of this law. And why not relieve the small businesses and families from the same mandate that they're trying to relieve from big businesses?
Bill Lawrence: Now with the President saying we're going to delay this chunk of it, is that perceived as an opening for the GOP here to get in here and say, "Let's keep working towards getting rid of this whole thing'?
Paul Ryan: I think so. I think it's an acknowledgment that a major, major part of the law is not written well; it doesn't work right. The reason they did it is they can see the same figures we saw, which were perhaps tens of millions of people were going to lose the health insurance they have at their jobs. Delaying that is good, but why should we ever do that? And so, that's why I think the acknowledgment that this is a major problem basically gives credibility to the idea that we need to replace this law.
Bill Lawrence: Now if he decides to delay this portion, which he has, does he decide to go back and try to rework it, or is there is anything he can do there?
Paul Ryan: Well, yeah, you have to pass new law. But he's been completely unwilling to open up any portion of this law, so this week--because we think it's unconstitutional for him to just unilaterally say, "I'm not going to enforce this part of the law that says very clearly this happens"--we're going to vote to make the delay. So, we're going to pass in statute a delay of this mandate, but also this week we're going to delay the individual mandate for families and small businesses as well. So we're going to say, "Great, we agree with you. This is a bad policy. We should delay it, and here's your congressional authority. And then what about the families and small businesses? Here's a delay for them as well." We're going to pass those two bills this week.
Bill Lawrence: A lot of people seeing the reason this portion of the Affordable Care Act was delayed was because it wouldn't be implemented before mid-term elections, and that seems to be a strategic play right there. And I'm sure it's a strategic play that they won't say.
Paul Ryan: I would say that, but I think they've all but said that this is a political move. Their supporters say it's a political move because imagine what mid-term elections would look like if your Democratic congresswoman or congressman voted for--or somebody who's running for Congress--supported this law, and it just caused huge increases in premiums and millions of people to lose the health insurance that they liked and had at their jobs.
Remember the promise, "if you like what you want, you can keep it"? We were going to see a thorough repudiation and violation of that promise in time for the 2014 midterm elections, and so that's my guess as why they delayed it. But, back to the same point, we see similar problems happening to families and individuals in small businesses, and we should do the same relief for them as well. And this week in Congress we're going to vote for that.