July 2nd, 2013
06:21 PM ET
1 year 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. H. K. Fears

    Aren't we a nation of laws? Can the administration decide when and how a law is implemented?

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

    It's good to know that we have a President with common sense & flexibility. Everything created by our lawmakers has been known to face challenges related to implementation. The propaganda against the Patient Protection / Affordable Care Act of 2010 only confuses the creators of that propaganda. Their sole purpose for creating it is to confuse voters which just happen to be workers & employers and those which were able to work at some period of time & now are on Social Security , SSDI , or SSI. Implementation would be so much easier without the opposition whining & crying. After all the Healthcare received by those in Congress ( which oppose good healthcare for others ) is not getting repealed but they keep faking outrage so much that you would think that the Affordable Care Act did repeal their PORK BARREL HEALTHCARE PLANS. Should we mail them pacifiers with instructions on how to use them ??? No we don't need to because their pork barrel healthcare plans pay for everything & the ultrCONservatives won't work.

    July 2, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  3. Drew

    Perhaps they are doing this because they know that it's their only chance of not having as many losses in the 2014 midterm elections.

    July 2, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. Nathan

    Please. This is an obvious attempt to de-fang this political issue for the 2014 midterm elections.

    July 2, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. laminblake

    Well, well, guess Obama had enough scrutiny for 1 year. He doesn't want us to think badly of him when this disaster hits.

    July 2, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    They won't be ready if we give them 50 years more. They don't want to provide employees with health care, and they will drag their feet forever. We would have been so much better with a single payer system. Businesses would be relieved of this responsibility. But of course the health insurance gravy train would have ended. So we got what we have to placate them. No matter where you go in our system of health care, someone is going to be crying like a baby because you tell them we have to make some changes or the whole system will crash and bring the rest of the country down with it. They want you to change everything except what concerns what they are doing.

    July 2, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  7. Santex

    Boehner,McConnell and Cantor just don't know how to shut up. Now is NOT the time to preen and posture, now is the time to be quiet and let the thing fall on it's own weight. Save your celebration for the end of the game not the end of the first quarter.

    July 2, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. essmeier

    The Republican health care ideas are much better than Obamacare. Oh, wait. I forgot. The Republicans don't have any healthcare ideas.

    July 2, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  9. gijam1225

    This is wonderful. I now have a chance at finding a full-time job having only just graduated. Let's hope this leads the way to a repeal our major revision.

    July 2, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  10. UnChicago

    Here we go...a year delay turns into a decade.

    July 2, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  11. Kevin B

    This is just the first of many problems with this bill. Can the Administration really pick and choose what gets rolled out and what doesn't? Please repeal the who things and start over in a bi-partisan way instead of the ram-rod job done by President Obama and the Democrats.

    July 2, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  12. Santex

    Boehner,McConnell and Cantor just don't know how to shut up. Now is NOT the time to preen and posture, now is the time to be quiet and let the thing fall on it's own weight. Save your celebration for the end of the game not the end of the first quarter.

    July 2, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  13. JAKE

    SCOTUS said this is the law of the land. Don't see how the President has the authority to change the law unilaterally. Sorry Dems, you own this catastrophe.

    July 2, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    How convenient, that the mandate will take effect after the next election. I don't think the majority of Americans have a clue what's in this healthcare bill. I know people whose hours have been cut already, and I know people who have chosen to quit their jobs, because living off of tax payers is a more profitable lifestyle.

    July 2, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  15. padres47

    It was going to be so great, they postponed it? When are the next elections? Why wouldn't want the love for the Affordable Care Act to have time to blossom with real people, so that voters know what they are voting for in 2014?

    July 2, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  16. The people

    hahahah take that "berry"

    stupid president.

    July 2, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  17. BillSanford

    Granted, the ramp up to obamacare is abysmally goofed up. But face it... the REAL reason for this move is the 2014 National Elections.

    Valarie Jarrett says:
    “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,”

    This is pure lying. The opposite is true, but THIS White House disgraces themselves continuously by lying about what is obvious to most folks.

    Scrap obamacare; Start over; Include ALL the people this time... and READ the Bill, several times, before putting it to a vote.

    July 2, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  18. truth

    I guess this is an 8 count for obamacare......bet on a knockout before total implementation

    July 2, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  19. Name

    Too bad this was not decided earlier, some companies and or organizations already cut our hours in half so that we now fall below the thirty hour a week cut off, which means our take home pay is also cut in half and we are still without insurance....thanks for helping us out!!!!!NOT

    July 2, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Postponed until after elections! That is all that need to be written.

    July 2, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  21. sevensins

    More like "hurry up and make something up" What a cluster. They put it in and we still don't know whats in it, along with everyone else..

    July 2, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  22. Darrell

    >Penalties for firms not providing health coverage to employees will now begin in 2015 – after next year’s congressional elections.

    There's your kernel. They're shoving Obamacare under the rug until after elections and then not do anything about it for another 2 years.

    July 2, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  23. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Republicans are raising obstacles to Obama's health-care plan for no reason other than an attempt to regain lost support from voters. No "train wreck" is about to occur, and Republicans know it.

    July 2, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  24. Raven

    Waiting until after the Midterm elections.

    July 2, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  25. Obahtr

    It's crumbling!

    July 2, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
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