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.
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“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.”
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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.
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They know it is a failure!
My son has been living on his own without help for the last 4 years. After his rent and utilities he has a grand total of $175.00 left for food, toiletries and clothes to name a few. Needless to say there is nothing left over for him to go out to have a breather. California will not give him food stamps because he makes to much money. Imagine that. And now with the 175.00 dollars he has left over after rent and utilities they expect him to buy insurance and still be able to live. Come on folks. So how is OBAMACARE going to help him?
If it's so good why postpone it?
If businesses that are supposedly keeping this nation together can't realize people need healthcare, goodnight america.
i think that shows how much everybody no's that this is a mess
Translation: Implementation is delayed until after the 2014 Mid-Term Elections
Sure Mr President do this after you leave so you don't have to be blame for pushing this do our throats.
What about the kids? They will be dying in the streets now.
Thank god common sense has prevailed. O bummer care will do more to kill jobs and waste taxpayer money than anything else out there.
All I know is that I received a letter from my health care provider, saying that because of Obamacare, my premiums will go UP, my current policy will be ELIMINATED and I will get charged for "benefits" that I didn't select, don't need and don't want to pay for. Great. There was some blather in there about an "Exchange", but in this woman's jaded eyes, the response to that is 'Yeah right!!!" Evan self-employed, I've managed to keep my health insurance, expensive as it is. But when this becomes law, I may have to drop insurance and pay the stupid fine, because I can't afford $1000 per month premiums.
We need to pass this bill to see what's in it. Famous Last Words?
LOL...no responses??? Where are all the defenders of this disasterous bill hiding. Two articles about this delay and there are ZERO COMMENTS????
This is a diversion to avoid the train wreck before the mid term elections, pure and simple. Everyone knows the law is a disaster.
Don't want everybody to see the mess before the 2014 midterms
This is EXCELLENT new s for me. I've been looking for a job, and because of Obamacare, employers are only hiring part-time, and mostly temp positions. Maybe I can get a REAL job now!!!
In Europe, pregnant women are guaranteed to have a 1-year maternity leave. However in the USA, employers are not even obligated to provide a week of paternity leave, which is the best scenario anyways. Health system in America is driven by profits; medical schools teach future doctors how to write prescriptions, instead of actually providing a cure. Infants are given 20 or more antibiotics, containing copper and industrial grade chemicals. Before you name Europeans socialists, think how much profits corporations share with you, because the whole system only benefits them. Food standards are the worst in the world here, which doesn't surprise when people closely connected to GMOs and high fructose corn syrup sit on the FDA board. Don't be fooled – both Democrats and Republicans serve one master: the corporations and their shareholders. It doesn't matter who wins election at the end.
First of all, can Obama even do this? The law passed by Congress (remember them) clearly states a 1/1/14 start date and there is NO wiggle room on that. Nevertheless, anyone who doesn't think Obama is doing this 100% because of the 2014 elections is a naive fool.
Most cynical POTUS over.
Still backing down in the face of opposition. Where is that Socialist dictator that people have been screaming about for the last five years? Woudn't mind seeing him about now.
A reminder to America. ZERO Republicans voted for Obamacare. ZERO. Don't say we didn't warn you.
I work for Bob Evans Farms Inc. They are just finding ways around this law, They will only allow 10 full time employees which in each individual store will be favoritism so You wont be able to get full time unless they say so, Im one of the best at my job, But since some have worked there for 20 years they will get this spot before me, Regardless of their ability to do the job, The rest will only be able to get no more than 29 hrs or they get fined by the government, There's no more partial benefited employees. My boss tells me that I may get 10 hrs I may get 29, Every 5 weeks a computer generates a schedule and that's what you work, Dosn't matter if you have a family and you've worked day term shifts for 6 years, The full time employees can only be full time If they agree to be a " Specialist" and If you refuse to work a day they need you due to whatever reason, Your full time will be stripped from you, I have a co-worker that has softball games with his daughter, Even tho hes been employed full time to Bob Evans for over 16 years, They tell him he cant have those days off anymore because If hes a specialist then he has to work when the computer says so. I agree with Obama care, I think its a good idea. But ONLY if these businesses are forced to follow rules and not find "loop Holes" and screw they're employees, They just want to not pay for insurance, How is this fair? And why is every business doing this? ( from what I've been told) I get 28 hrs now and I have a son to support, They tell me to get the medical card, My housing and electric are income based, But diapers and all the other necessities in life are not. This is going to literally kill the lower class. Does anyone seem to care? No. Simply because they're pockets get fatter.
The sad part about this is that many part-time workers who approached or exceeded the hours limit have already been fired. I know of many waiters who have been let go because they were "working too many hours".
Listened to our feedback??? REALLY??!! Thats funny, cause I thought most of our "feedback" was that noone WANTS IT!!
I should have voted for Hillary!
They are just putting off this mandate because they know it will hurt them badly in the elections. Hoping the recessed economy, which was already punished by this the largest tax increase in USA history, will have recovered somewhat by then. But it is still just bad law.
What a joke – That the richest Country on earth can't get right what every other first world nation (which also outlives the US on average) has done for years – universal healthcare – only proves what millions have already said for decades: it's a nation that doesn't represent its people, but only the interests of the rich elites, even if it kills itself in the process.