Health & Human Services

In Hawaii, Businesses Like Longtime Employer Health Insurance Mandate

Unlike its 49 counterparts, Hawaii has been living with a strict employer mandate for nearly 40 years.
September 9, 2013

Obamacare’s requirement that large companies offer health insurance may be polarizing for much of the nation — but it had Hawaiians at Aloha.

Unlike its 49 counterparts, Hawaii has been living with a strict employer mandate for nearly 40 years. And as businesses nationwide celebrate a one-year delay in the similar Obamacare requirement that they cover workers, supporters of Hawaii’s law say theirs is proof that the rest of the country could adjust — and even learn to like it.
 
“For the most part, the business owners here want to take care of their employees. They’ve embraced [the law],” said Brian Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the Hawaii Health Connector, the state health insurance exchange being set up to expand coverage under Obamacare.
 
That’s been the case in Massachusetts, too, which introduced a gentler version of the employer mandate and an individual mandate in 2007. Both have been broadly accepted.
 
In Hawaii, there’s no momentum to repeal the state rule, even among those Republicans who are skeptical. State Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom says he’s introduced repeal bills that have been nonstarters even within his own caucus.

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