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. J G

    Let's just do the right thing and repeal Obamacare. It was a horrible piece of legislation when enacted and hasn't improved since.

    July 2, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  2. sharon

    Wow, what a blow. Hopefully "he" explains the rationale behind forcing individuals to comply while letting big business off the hook. Smells like election maneuvering once again. How transparent can one be? I've had it with this guy.

    July 2, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  3. liberal disease

    guy never had a job or owned a business how could he know what its like to have to pay for everyone's health insurance!
    Typical leftist dummy beurocrat!!

    July 2, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  4. morsekeely

    Smart political move by Obama for the 2014 elections!

    July 2, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  5. liberal disease

    I will now hire 10 more people!!! Thanks Barry!!

    July 2, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  6. donmiller

    you bet because the demorats are scared to death of the 2014 elections. this wont help i have heard enough of this

    program wont change a thing in the elections

    July 2, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  7. David S.

    This delay has nothing to do with helping businesses and much more to do with delaying the implementation to get past the 2014 elections. there are many vulnerable Democrats and they dont want this wildly unpopular law to be a campaign issue especially when there will be plenty stories of people losing their jobs due to its implementation.

    July 2, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  8. ProtectAmericanJobs

    That's good – We've got to do something about the ridiculously high health insurance premiums that are being paid by employers and the their employees. Both of whom are paying an unfair share of the burden of costs for the uninsured, who's healthcare costs are averaged in to the hospital's and healthcare provider's costs and then passed onto the insurance companies premiums, Medicaid and Medicare. I run a business that employs 21 employees and our premiums have been going up anywhere from 18-34% every year for the last 12 years. Something's got to be done, but let's get it right.

    July 2, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  9. Data Driven

    How many times are you going to quote Baucus about the PR CAMPAIGN by the Administration, CNN? This is apropos of what, exactly?

    Anyway, this is a pointless cave by the Administration. "Boo hoo, it's complicated" - spare me, business guy. Life is complicated; business even more so. Is Obamacare more complicated than reading the terms of a lease? Of service contracts? Of tax forms? Of environmental regulations? Of local, state, federal labor compliances? Answer: NO.

    So, dumb business owners who don't know how to read stuff have successfully prevented their employees from getting health care for another year. WEAK, Obama. Don't you see that next year they'll find another excuse?

    July 2, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  10. betterdays

    Postponed until after the midterm elections. Shock.

    July 2, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  11. veragas

    A transparent move by the Obama administration to get past the 2014 midterms without losing any seats to this disaster.

    July 2, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  12. ForTheRecord

    Thank GOODNESS !!
    I was only on page 1,378

    July 2, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  13. same old same old

    Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.

    July 2, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  14. ruth

    I say throw the whole obamacare out........

    July 2, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. pellegrino

    So they will cut everyones hrs in half and instead of 50 emplyees they will hire a 100 part timers so they dont have yo pay insurance

    July 2, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  16. Roger

    Democrats know if this thing goes into full affect before an election they will lose big. I would bet money this will be delayed again until after the 2016 elections. Its all part of the plan; Its not whats best for America, its whats best for them. On a side note: You have to love the fact CNN put "Myths about Obamacare" link right in the middle of the story for their low information readers.

    July 2, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  17. Chris

    I guess if I call this administration a bunch of clowns, they'd track my post, wouldn't they?

    July 2, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  18. OurConstitution

    How convenient! I guess we don't have to 'find out what's in it' until after the election.

    July 2, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  19. Adam

    So happy to see we have a President who listens to the people and their concerns. Good job President keep up the good work.

    July 2, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  20. Charles van Heck

    Not a victory but it does give time to continue the struggle to eliminate Obamacare and the other totalitarian actions by the tyrant. Accidents can happen in a year.

    July 2, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  21. Chicago

    Seems like the disaster has to be postponed until after the elections or the voters will finally wake up and vote against those who passed this monstrosity!

    July 2, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  22. ProtectAmericanJobs

    That's good – We've got to do something about the ridiculously high health insurance premiums that are being paid by employers and the their employees. Both of whom are paying an unfair share of the burden of costs for the uninsured, who's healthcare costs are averaged in to the hospital's and healthcare provider's costs and then passed onto the insurance companies premiums, Medicaid and Medicare. I run a business that employs 21 employees and our premiums have been going up anywhere from 18-34% every year for the last 12 years. Something's got to be done, but let's get it right.

    I didn't vote for President Obama, but at least he had the balls to take this issue on. Although it would have been better if they could have worked together to come up with a better plan.

    I don't care which side fixes it – Just fix it.

    Wouldn't it be More Productive if Our Elected Leaders Started Working Together as AMERICANS for AMERICANS and AMERICA, instead of just bickering, stalling and posturing for the next election as democrats and republicans! The American People have had it with this unproductive BS! The way that both parties having been operating for years just stinks! Neither party has really been looking out for the best interests of the US Citizens who elect them and who they're supposed to represent.

    Both parties have sold out the bulk of the American citizens, who they're supposed to represent, by allowing the incursion of illegal aliens and the "out-sourcing" floodgates to open wider and wider without taking any sensible measures to stem the tide.

    It shouldn't be all about Democrats or Republicans! It should be about Americans, especially our elected officials, doing the right thing for our country and its citizens. All the single-minded, left versus right, ideological one dimensional bull has got to go!

    July 2, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  23. CHRIS

    What difference does it make 30 million or more will not get Obamacare. Its not free

    July 2, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  24. Oh boy

    Right after the elections.. Total ploy

    July 2, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  25. Bill Smells

    Headline should read, "Democrats realize 2014 elections will be a disaster because of ObamaCare."

    New Democratic rallying cry, 'Delay the Pain!"

    July 2, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
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