July 2nd, 2013
06:21 PM ET
10 months ago

Key Obamacare provision delayed

Updated at 11:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 2

Washington (CNN) - The requirement that businesses provide their workers with health insurance or face fines – a key provision contained in President Barack Obama's sweeping health care law – will be delayed by one year, the Treasury Department said Tuesday.

The postponement came after business owners expressed concerns about the complexity of the law’s reporting requirements, the agency said in its announcement. Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses employing 50 or more full-time workers that don't provide them health insurance will be penalized.

"We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so. We have listened to your feedback. And we are taking action," Mark J. Mazur, assistant secretary for tax policy, wrote in a post on the website of the Treasury Department, which is tasked with implementing the employer mandate.

Mazur said the extra year before the requirement goes into effect will allow the government time to assess ways to simplify the reporting process for businesses. Penalties for firms not providing health coverage to employees will now begin in 2015 – after next year’s congressional elections.

The new delay will not affect other aspects of the health law, including the establishment of exchanges in states for low-income Americans to obtain health insurance.

Supporters of the employer mandate note that most firms already provide health insurance to full time workers, and downplay the effect the requirement would have on small businesses, citing figures showing the vast majority of small businesses employ fewer than 50 workers.

But opponents claim the employer mandate is a potential job killer, saying businesses near the 50-worker cutoff will be unlikely to ramp up hiring if it means they're required to provide employees health insurance.

READ MORE: Myths about Obamacare

“The administration has finally recognized the obvious – employers need more time and clarification of the rules of the road before implementing the employer mandate,” said Randy Johnson, a vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business group.

Obama's administration has previously expressed openness to making the health care law easier to implement, and acted to shorten applications for health insurance on government-run exchanges from 21 pages to three.

On Tuesday, Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett – who acts as the White House’s liaison to big business – wrote the new delay was indicative of the administration’s determination to implement the health care law effectively and fairly, and that it wouldn’t affect other aspects of Obamacare.

“While major portions of the law have yet to be implemented, it’s already a little more affordable for businesses to offer quality health coverage to their employees,” Jarrett wrote, adding later: “As we implement this law, we have and will continue to make changes as needed. In our ongoing discussions with businesses we have heard that you need the time to get this right.”

READ MORE: How the next battle over Obamacare could be the ugliest yet

Yet many Republicans – and even some Democrats - have continued to express serious concerns about the roll-out of Obamacare. On Tuesday, GOP lawmakers said the delay of the employer mandate didn’t go far enough.

“This announcement means even the Obama administration knows the 'train wreck' will only get worse,” House Speaker John Boehner wrote.

"Obamacare costs too much and it isn’t working the way the administration promised,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, wrote in response to the decision, adding: “The fact remains that Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced with common-sense reforms that actually lower costs for Americans."

Rep. Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, was more succinct. "The best delay for ObamaCare is a permanent one," he wrote on Twitter.

Many allies of Obama, including major labor unions, did not immediately weigh in on the delay. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in response to the decision, "Flexibility is a good thing."

"Both the administration and Senate Democrats have shown – and continue to show – a willingness to be flexible and work with all interested parties to make sure that implementation of the Affordable Care Act is as beneficial as possible to all involved. It is better to do this right than fast," Adam Jentleson continued.

Yet even some Democrats have voiced concern about the roll-out of the health law – Sen. Max Baucus, a key Democrat who helped craft the legislation, expressed serious anxiety in April about its implementation.

"The administration's public information campaign on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act deserves a failing grade. You need to fix this," Baucus told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a hearing.

"I just see a huge train wreck coming down," he added later.

READ MORE: Six companies cashing in on Obamacare


Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (796 Responses)
  1. the truth85

    Wish I could see the face of the obama supporters when they realize you are forced to pay costly premiums or pay the fines. It not free you morons. Uneducated and Uninformed people destroying this country.

    July 3, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. BinFL

    @Norman – AMAZING BinFL- If it works it's a great idea by the lean forward LEFT, since it's beginning to crumble, it's the Repubs and Rommey's fault. Cost of insurance rising....wonder why.....I'll tell you why, because I have been in the business for longer than you have had a brain. People don't buy it because they can go to the ER and get it for free. The ER can't turn them away so what should be a $50 visit to a primary care doctor has now run up a $5k ER visit. And you wonder why an the hospital charges $7 for an aspirin. All that free treatment has to be paid for by those who were responsible and opted to sacrifice and pay for those insurance premiums every months..,
    ________________________________________________________
    What's your point? Of course premiums have gone up due to those who use the ER for their healthcare...anyone with insurance pays for those who don't. That was the purpose for a mandate so that everyone would have insurance which, if the insurance companies would stop the greed, would lower premiums because the pool would be much larger. Why not blame the Repubs – it was your god Reagan that mandated ER's to take people without insurance. It was the Repubs that insisted there be no public option in Obamacare which keeps out in 3rd world country status as all other industrialized countries have universal healthcare. Don't you ever wonder why the Repubs hate Obamacare when it was based on Romneycare which has an individual mandate. There is only ONE reason – they don't want it to succeed because of their hatred for the President who signed it into law and they are doing everything possible to make it fail.

    July 3, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. padres47

    The individual mandate will now be even worse. In California, employees of landscapers have been reported to say they can't afford any insurance and don't want medical insurance. Since employers of low-wage workers will not be providing any new insurance that isn't already in place, their workers will be all alone to purchase individual insurance. Mr. Train, meet Mr. Wreck.

    July 3, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Obamacare delayed ???

    But.. but...
    WE
    MUST pass this bill NOW !!! !!! !!! !!! !!!

    PORK !!! Any one want some PORK ???

    FIG LEAFS !!! Any one want some FIG LEAFS ???

    "You have to pass the bill to find out whats in it"

    TELL Mr. Putin.... AFTER the election....

    HEY america... AFTER the election in 2014

    REMEMBER
    "I" did TELL you..... That "I" AM... Just too AWESOME !!!

    NOW...
    Let's ALL sing Hymn # 3
    What a friend WE have in.... THE IRS

    July 3, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. tarura

    We don't need health insurance – we need health CARE.

    July 3, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  6. BinFL

    @goodgrubguy – BinFL ....This has always been a pipe dream of the left, it is not now nor has it ever been a republican bill. Not a single R voted for it and Ds had to use reconsiliation to pass it. To say that Rs don't want lower cost healthcare insurance or don't want everyone to have insurance is rediculous.
    __________________________________
    Oh please! If the Repubs were so concerned about healthcare reform and lowering costs why didn't they do anything about it during the six years they had full control of Congress. You, like most commenting here either didn't watch the debating that went on in Congress prior to passing Obamacare or are just repeating what you've heard on Faux News. The Repubs were very instrumental in watering down Obamacare and not including a public option – for anyone to believe the Repubs had no say in the final legislation makes them delusional as they had plenty to say about what went in it and what was left out making sure their insurance company buddies got the best deal. The one mistake the President made was not vetoing the bill until a public option was included.

    July 3, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. Snif$h1t

    The most corrupt, inept, incompetent President and White House administration in WORLD History....

    July 3, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. Fish

    The President is again surrendering to Wall Street just as he did during the health insurance debate. He surrenders faster than the French!!! Hell I'm on Medicare so it doesn't matter to me but if the President plans to implement his ideas he better stick to his guns or the rabid right will shove them up his a$$. Get the point???

    July 3, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  9. Jim Smell

    I have an idea. Get the government out of health care business, prices go down almost immediately. Then. Simply let the free market work. Plus. A Novel idea. Let Americans make choices based on their own needs and financial ability.

    July 3, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  10. alan

    obamacare is like Osama Obama; going down like his popularity

    July 3, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. Grego

    I think they should delay the elections one year as well.

    July 3, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. poopyonastickmakesmesick

    Shady- postpone this key component of Obamacare until after the 2014 elections. I hope people can see through this ploy.

    July 3, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. ANC

    Obamacare is no more affordable than private insurance, Nodack!!! The new taxes and the costs to implement this government-run insurance program is absurd! Not all people are fortunate enough to afford any kind of health insurance.

    July 3, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Skyler

    Love this president. It's smart to delay this to get more businesses on board.

    July 3, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  15. Glenn NM

    Oh shut it, Boehner. The only train wreck here has been your leadership as Speaker of the House in both the 112th and 113th Congresses. Healthcare in this country is a joke, and other than proposing the usual "free market" approach which does nothing but inspire collusion between the medical and insurance industries, leading to the exorbitant and insane healthcare pricing we currently "enjoy", the Republicans have absolutely no plan to fix healthcare. And why? Because all of their rich buddies wouldn't make nearly as much money ripping off the American public.

    July 3, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  16. julnor

    We have to delay the implementation of this part of the bill because the whole thing is so unpopular we must do everything we can to keep it out of the news near the 2014 elections.

    July 3, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. Sigh

    I work in welfare, and while I'm all about Universal Health Care, this provision needs to be eliminated or revised entirely. Many employers have responded to this by slashing hours so that their workers won't qualify for "full-time" status and they won't have to provide coverage. And guess what that means? More people flocking to government benefits to compensate for lost wages.

    July 3, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  18. Steve

    Neo-coMs are at it again.

    July 3, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  19. Bill in STL

    So the employer mandate is out but the personal mandate and penalties are still there. I wonder what happens to those that were relying on the employer to cover medical insurance costs? Now they have to get their own and face a large deductible as well as face a penalty... So who's side is he on? the "little" people or business????

    July 3, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  20. Rob

    i for one knew, before Obama was re-elected, that people would eventually lose their jobs, have their hours cut, or lose their insurance and be forced to shoulder the burden of insuring their families themselves.. so it's not like this information wasn't out there .. now I see people posting the " we have to pass it to see what's in it" quote as if to blame Pelosi for people not knowing.. unfortunately their are people who only listen to the tone of Obama's voice without understanding exactly what it is he is saying... Obama won re-election because thousands and thousands of people who did not want him re-elected chose to sit on their couch and not vote... Democrats are pulling out all the stops strategically and if they are to be defeated, people have to get up off their butts and vote to make sure this train wreck is stopped .. at this point everyone that didn't vote needs to have the attitude that 'if you want something done.....'...AND GET OUT AND VOTE !

    July 3, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  21. sally

    Isn't Obama Care a law? How dies the administration get to change the rules without the house and senate? Where is the balance if power? I don't see any comments on this. ????? This seems serious to me.

    July 3, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
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