By Christopher Goins
Sen. Ben Cardin, a strong advocate for 2010 Affordable Care Act, said that he was disappointed in the Obama administration for delaying the penalty on large employers who don’t offer insurance.
"As you know the president extended for one year the new requirements on large companies," Cardin told a roundtable of health care providers in Waldorf on Monday. "I was kind of disappointed. I was hoping that we could implement it."
He said he ultimately understood the administration's decision to relax requirements for employers with 50 or more full-time workers for a year, noting that the administration has been "overwhelmed."
Cardin, Hoyer talk healthcare law in southern Maryland
Cardin made his comments alongside U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) at a roundtable with Southern Maryland politicians and healthcare providers to discuss the implementation of the healthcare law.
In July, the Treasury Department decided that it will give large employers until 2015 before they have to comply with mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements, rather than 2014.
Cardin noted that much of the law has already been implemented for children and seniors, and claimed that healthcare costs have "declined significantly over the last couple of years" because of the 2010 law.
"We judge that [this is] the first time recently we've seen health care costs actually grow slower than the growth rate of our economy," Cardin said. "And that's a pretty good sign."
Cardin admitted that premiums were rising.
"Before the passage of the affordable care act we found that the insurance companies were reducing coverage and increasing their costs," he said. "And today the increase in premiums are a better value for the dollar than we had in the past."
He said he would be monitoring the premiums to make sure health care stays affordable.
Challenges getting young people to sign up
Hoyer said that he, Cardin and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are concerned about the near 10% of uninsured people who don't know how to get insurance.
"Young people of course, ‘the invincibles’ as well call them, they never think they are going to get sick," Hoyer said.
Cardin told the local officials and providers that they have the best ways to communicate with constituents about the health care law and the most credibility to persuade people to sign up for the health care programs they're eligible for.
“We need your help," Cardin said.
Many of the healthcare stakeholders at the meeting agreed that they had a difficulty in convincing the younger demographic -- "the invincibles" -- of the importance of preventative care evaluations. One audience member said that young people bring up objections like "I don't need to see a doctor" and ask "why should I pay" for federal subsidies he or she feels is unnecessary.
"We need to leverage what they look at," said Dianna Abney, the health officer at Charles County Department of Health, on using social media to inform young people about the benefits in the healthcare law.