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.

    Such a horrible move. Employers had PLENTY OF TIME to work things out and figure out what to do. There should never be any delay with getting American's covered. And p.s. pay your medical bills. If you're a deadbeat, then you don't deserve health care & really ought to be denied it.

    July 2, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  2. Michael

    This really upsets me. Why can't they have a form that just says: "I certify that all full-time employees are provided with insurance". Then the federal government can have a hotline for those to call who aren't receiving such benefit. At this point notify and fine the employer. Period. This is one more case where big business gets a delay to earn more money and screw their employees.

    July 2, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  3. Missingdata

    So this part of the mandate won't go into effect until 2015 after the midterm elections. Then we will see massive layoffs. There is no way this can work, and the Democratic Members in Congress have been pressuring the President to delay this. This is just a convenient way of kicking ball down the street so someone else will have to clean up the mess. And this is and will be a mess.

    July 2, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  4. freedom

    Key word – "AFFORDABLE" We all know this is BS! Roberts should be kicked out of the Supreme Court, Pelosi fired, and Obama impeached.

    July 2, 2013 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  5. JediMindTrick

    In other words... Obama and the Democrats want to put off implementing this program until after the election. If this thing were to begin on schedule we could see the dramatic damage it would cause across all sectors and everyone who forced this thing into being would be thrown out of office. Too bad we can't vote out the Supreme Court members who allowed this abomination to be implemented.

    This is nothing more than a cheap politic ploy to avoid paying for their mistakes at the polls.

    July 2, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  6. gstlab3

    we'll allow for the arrest a child for what was said on a gaming forum and ignore all the terroristic threats of planned and called for rioting and looting and burning of a town made by all the angry travon martin supporters in the hood if zimmerman is aquitted???

    yeah it's fair all right.,

    Is it fair to say the faked up government and the media are actually one and the same psy ops machine dividing the usa and provoking us real patriots into having to use the second amendment to undo these many crimes and injustices we all suffer in the name of a new world order run by the military industrial complex?

    July 2, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  7. hoosierman5000@hotmail.com

    Everything this president does is political. He doesn't want you experiencing hour cut backs, insurance policy removal and increased premiums before the mid-term 2014 elections. Vote for his cronies then the cancer bill will be put in full force. Worst president ever.

    July 2, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  8. big b

    If only they could've thrown a stinkbomb when that picture was taken!

    July 2, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  9. Chuck

    It's amazing how inefficient this administration is. Have they gotten anything done on time? Never mind the GOP obstruction in congress. Obama and his crew can't get their own act together.

    July 2, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  10. clara

    Mr. President,I never lost my faith on you.

    July 2, 2013 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  11. Alan

    Boy if this isn't an political ploy by Obama-rama people, I don't know what is. Wait until after the 2014 elections, them whamo drop the hammer on everyone. Just like he did in last year's election. We'll still all get it the rear end.

    July 2, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  12. Mike

    Businesses and Corps are being very smart about this. Most will charge their employees 9.5% of their income so that their employer plan will not qualify as "affordable." This allows employees the freedom to purchase an individual plan through the exchange and receive a gov subsidy. This takes the cost off of the employer and puts it on the gov. Big loop hole that will sky rocket cost for gov not businesses.

    July 2, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  13. billmelater1

    Gee I wonder why? Oh because it will have to be AFTER the 2014 election. Because they know it is a looser.

    July 2, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  14. zeebo419

    How convenient that the implementation of this portion of the ACA will occur after the 2014 midterm elections.

    July 2, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    3 years and they still can't figure it out...I guess they didn't read it. Oh yeah..my wifes hours were dropped from 35 to 27. Thanks Obama. I guess I can now get more Gov't assistance.

    July 2, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  16. U.S. Citizen

    Blatant manipulation of the electorate.

    July 2, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  17. Firstname Lastname

    The walls of truth are closing in.

    July 2, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  18. Txpharm

    Oh, of course delaying more of the onerous and job killing mandates of this junk law to save Democrats' political necks for the 2014 election. It wont help them. The dysfunction of the federal government and it's inability to manage this monstrosity is just beginning to reveal itself. More delays are coming.

    July 2, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  19. Brian

    Pleae note that while tis is being delayed they are not delaying taxing plans to fund this act. I do his for a living and there are already taxes added to each group health insurance quite that at not being delayed

    July 2, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  20. VCMD

    This is a political move to punt the issue until after the election to avoid blowing away any chance Democrats have to win back the Congress. But it will still not be able to reinstate Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of Congress!

    July 2, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  21. Deborah

    Universal medical care is the only civilized answer. No insurance fraud. Nobody dies because the insurance company denied a claim.

    July 2, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  22. mtbwalt

    Elections coming up in 2014 -=>
    Obamacare employer mandate delayed until 2015

    Obama: problem solved.

    July 2, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  23. harald

    This measure shows how rushed the entire healthcare reform really is. Already the biggest blunder in USA history. Obama can't even line his ducks up in a row and shifts the real issues into the unforeseeable future. He destroyed healthcare, now student debt, and eventually the housing market. He has a corrupted IRS government who he bribes constantly. Im glad I didn't vote for this jamoke. The people who represent him are the fools and the follies.

    July 2, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  24. California

    I have a much better idea, delay it PERMANENTLY!!

    July 2, 2013 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  25. Bill

    Flounder care to the rescue!

    July 2, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
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