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. luckjoe

    Even the Democrats are beginning to see what a mess Obamacare is. How convenient to hold off until after the 2014 mid-term elections.

    July 3, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  2. pokydoke

    There is absolutely no good reason why any citizen of this country should not have quality health care. WE SHOULD ALL BE AVAILED SINGLE PAYER HEALTH INSURANCE.

    July 3, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  3. thatgrlinaz

    Health care for Americans – good. All those new shiny helicopters, drones, planes, etc that are mandated by the GOP for "border security", costing Billions of taxpayer dollars, and slipped into their "budget" for immigration to help their defense contractor friends = BAD for Americans. While I, a federal worker with the VA over 30 yrs earning UNDER $50,000/year) had my 0.5% cost of living raise (and 18% INCREASE in my Health insurance) dictated to me by congress (who gave themselves a raise over 13%). A congress who works 2 weeks then takes 1 week off ALL year! And you all bitch about Obama care! You should be DEMANDING that the gop led congress do their job and STOP wasting taxpayer money on anti abortion and pro religion laws that create bigger government (as the gop always does and lies about). The egos of Bohener and Cantor, McCain, McConnelll, Paul and Ryan are so unjustified. This gop group has done more damage to America in 6 yrs than all the Nixon's you could jam in the white house. Keep your religion, racism, hate for women and all others not like you (meaning anyone not rich and white) OUT of our lives. Talk about creating a police state the gop is creating bigger government to monitor a women's sex life and choices. IF I want an abortion (or in some states even simple birth control), the federal and state government has NO right blocking my Constitutional right to do so. They have NO RIGHT to force their religious beliefs on ANYONE in America or other countries, like the gop does. Their Hitler like tendencies and ideas to force their will on Americans is leading us to destruction as a free country. I'd bet they are all Hitler (not Reagan) worshipers at this point. Especially the group named above. They are all bought and paid for by defense contractors, their "churches" anti union sweat shop running corporations, the filthy NRA and anyone willing to "donate" thousands of dollars. And they have their party governors in some places (lie the State of Virginia who has the most corrupt governor) around, they show their racist, anti woman, anti worker attitude will carry on way beyond Washington DC. The GOP makes me ashamed of my wonderful country, America – land of the (once upon a time long, long ago) FREE. Now only for rich white men and who they select of course. Yep, you could say I'm a little bit pissed off right now.

    July 3, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  4. mjkoch

    This insane law taxes medical device manufacturers to pay for it which means they will be passing that onto the insurance companies and consumers. Self employed people like myself who are paying $900 a month for a plan that is far from premium will be forced to pay a 40% Cadillac tax which will mean I will have to go with a policy that offers me far less than the one I have now. Does anyone realize that the actual name of ObamaCare is The Affordable Care Act? That is a joke. My self employed friends are not millionaires and all make less than a six figure income and thanks to the so called "affordable" health care act we will have to choose between having our premiums increase by $4000 a year or to go with a lesser plan. So much for change we can believe in.

    July 3, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    "Flexibility is a good thing."
    ------------------------------------------------
    It certainly. I'd rather the ACA be implemented right rather than have a adverse affect. Republicans look at this as a victory. I look at it as a minor setback. Carry on.

    July 3, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  6. nuclear mike

    It's beginning to fall apart under the reality of ObamaCare's unfixable flaws...

    July 3, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  7. Oh Well

    Really? No responses??? I can't imagine that all of the people who follow CNN and their supreme leader missed this one. It’s simply delaying the healthcare chaos this law will create until after the election. The Dems know they will be beat up and this is to smooth out the wrinkles for them in their campaigns. Obama knows how bad this is going to be and has now proved it by protecting the rats that voted for it without reading it. People, if you dislike congress so much try not to be like them. READ THE LAW and decide for yourself. We are being taxed without a voice on this one. It’s all written to be "Filled in later". But there will be no discussions or vote by our elected reps only 17,000 pages of socialist bull.

    July 3, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  8. rdavis

    hmmm...timing for elections. I don't blame Democrats for not wanting voters to be reminded of Obamacare during an election year.

    July 3, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  9. Fair is Fair

    Nothing says "affordable" like the "Affordable" Care Act.

    July 3, 2013 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  10. Moderate

    Sadly, this is a mid-term elections ploy by our President! One of the worst presidents ever. Can he do anything right? The only thing he does is "blame others" for his incompetence.

    July 3, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  11. Frank Tillery

    Any legislation can have flaws or possible problems in implementation. Our legislation process is far from perfect. The good thing is the administration has acknowledged these possible problems and have decided to delay implementation of this portion of the law. Listening to the business community who will be directly impacted by this legislation is good. I would be easier if Congress would work with the administration to iron out any possible problems legislatively, but they have spent more time trying to repeal the legislation. It ain't perfect, but those of us in our nation who need help with healthcare appreciate the effort by our government. In the end, the administration acted as they should.

    July 3, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  12. John

    The most important/telling part of this article is this line:

    [The mandate will be delayed until] "after next year’s congressional elections."

    July 3, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  13. Kenih

    Obama still hopes he can get control of the House. That's what this is all about. Consider that last year they delayed the Medicare Advantage cuts for a year because they feared they would lose the senior vote. Expect delays to the individual mandate to be next. I'm sure they will come up with a good excuse that CNN will then push.

    July 3, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  14. Mo

    Healthcare needs to be addressed, but why can't the Obama Administration admit the ACA, as it currently stands, is seriously flawed. Now they are delaying parts of it (good... repeal all of it). I think they are kicking this down the road so they can blame someone else for their bad legislation. No one can ever expect anyone in Obama world to take responsibility. For that matter, no one in government on either side is ever held accountable.

    July 3, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  15. John Jingle

    Look all those losers in the headline photo! What a bunch of rat bastrds. Leading the way, Olamebama the Worst President in the history of the United States, hands down.

    July 3, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  16. Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

    This is such BS. I don't agree with the mandates but these buisness have had YEARS to prep. How about a delay on the PERONAL mandate?

    July 3, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  17. John

    It is now up to Obama to decide what laws happen and when they will happen?
    Libs, tell us how great this boondoggle is again?

    July 3, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  18. Joe

    This sounds more like political posturing to prevent fines for zillions of companies from occurring just prior to the next election . Typical Obama tactic to keep the negative press away from the democraps...

    July 3, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  19. Joe

    Can you say "2014 elections"...Hahahahaha Democrats dont want to wollow in the pile of crap they have created

    July 3, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  20. John S.

    Of course this is a mess, and being delayed until the bureaucrats can figure out how to make it look like less of a mess.

    - To pay for the few with terrible conditions- but heart-wrenching, emotionally charged stories- many healthy people must pay a higher premium.

    - Firms that employ those healthy people must participate to balance out the costs.
    If every McDonald's lowers employee hours to under 30 (or if McD's is exempt thanks to political connections), then there are fewer healthy people to cover the costs of the very expensive policies.

    So, once again, the government has promised to give away things for "free," and then later been forced to admit that the "free" program will actually cost far more than promised- and far more than any competently-managed private firm would have charged.

    Spend your money as you like, but please stop voting to force me to give the government the money I earn, instead of letting me use my paycheck to support my own family. My family needs the support more than another incompetent bureaucracy that promises to give away something for "free."

    July 3, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  21. Al

    This admission of a law that is going to break the back of people and business had to be delayed, 2014 is an election year, and if the mandate would have been allowed to proceed, there would many less Democrats elected. For with this mandate it will cause business to cut workforce in order to keep the margin at present level. Businesses are in business to make money and not give it away. Most companies, let make it clear good companies, offer insurance, it's the individuals choice if he or she wants to pay for it.

    Had the law been good and effective, there would not have been needed a delay, until after election year has passed, remember it was an all Democrat that voted this into law with lies and back door deals, all the while knowing that it would cause business to let people go from jobs.

    July 3, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  22. Wilson

    The only reason this is being done is because if it wasn't, then in 2014 democrats would be toast because of obamacare. They still might be if the low-informed voter decides to pay attention.

    July 3, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  23. Goblin King

    This law and this administration is a joke. It would be funny, if we all weren't forced to be part of it.

    July 3, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  24. Neal

    I just love the headlines CNN puts out. This one should read..." Obama to postpone key Obamacare provisions till 2015, so he can get your vote before he sticks it in and breaks it off"
    Obama is Devious, Deceptive and Morally Depraved

    July 3, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  25. Guest

    Obamacare: Health care so good we're going to delay a year in giving it to you

    July 3, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
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