Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

Obamacare delay will have 'some impact' on South LA patients, says clinic CEO

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Large and medium companies will have one more year until they're required to provide their employees with health insurance under Obamacare, the Obama Administration announced last Tuesday, which gives those companies until 2015 to fulfill the requirement or face fines.

The requirement — which is part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and was originally set to go into effect on the first day of 2014 — means that companies with 50 or more workers must provide affordable health insurance to their full-time employees or else risk tax penalties.

In South Los Angeles, the delay will have "some impact." That's according to Jim Mangia, the president and CEO of St. John's Well Child and Family Center.

"There are patients of St. John's who will have to have insurance through their employers that are not currently providing it," he said. "A large number of our uninsured patients are currently employed."

Meaning those South L.A. patients who work in companies with at least 50 employees would have received health insurance through their employers by the beginning of next year. Now, because of the delay, that likely won't be the case until at least 2015.

"I think you'll see another year of significant numbers of people who are employed and are not being provided insurance by their employers," said Mangia. "And community health centers will continue to eat the cost of that. And hopefully, the Medicaid expansion and other parts of health care that will be implemented will help offset some of that, but I think providers are going to be carrying this for an additional year in serving the uninsured before businesses are forced to insure them."

According to Mark Mazur, the U.S. Treasury's assistant secretary for tax policy, the reason for the delay is the level of concern among business groups "about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively."

Mangia called the delay "unfortunate," adding that St. John's "will continue to provide the services and the care to the population."

"But we want to see this law implemented," he said.

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