The Corner

Three Years of Obamacare: $31 Billion in Regulation Costs, 71.5 Million Hours in Compliance

President Obama’s signature health-care law, which turned three over the weekend, has already accounted for $31.3 billion in regulatory costs and liabilities, as well as 71.5 million hours of paperwork, according to a study from the American Action Forum (AAF) released Monday.

It would take more than 35,000 full-time employees working year round to fully comply with the monstrous Red Tape Tower the law has become.

Those figures have grown substantially since last year’s AAF review of Obamacare’s regulatory impact, which found that the law had imposed $12.4 billion in costs and roughly 50 million paperwork hours, indicating a sharp increase in the law’s burden on the economy as many of its chief components begin to come online.

Although the Obama administration has long argued that insurance companies would bear the brunt of costs associated with new health-care regulations, the study argues that individuals and small businesses are likely to feel the impact in some form.

Pending regulations that would mandate nutrition labeling could cost more than $750 million, impose 2.6 million paperwork hours, drive up foods prices, and cause some businesses to forgo certain food products, the study found. The administration has identified $0 in quantified economic benefits for the rule, yet has conceded that a potential consequence could be that “consumption of these foods will fall, further reducing profits for some, or all, of these establishments.” Another proposed rule would require businesses to account for the value of food served at meetings, at a cost of $1.9 billion and 8 million hours of paperwork.

The report notes that by the administration’s own estimates, Obamacare contains nearly a dozen regulations that would significantly impact small businesses, at a cost of $1.9 billion and $11.3 million hours of paperwork. The reality is almost certainly greater, and will continue to grow as more aspects of the law are implemented in the coming months. “If past is prologue, the 2014 report on ACA burdens will catalogue higher costs, more paperwork, and additional layers of red tape on the U.S. healthcare system,” the study concludes.   

Andrew Stiles — Andrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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