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. BinFL

    @Neal – why did he half to name it after himself? Why not Americare? or something. I mean i voted for the dude and do think he's done just a good a job as any president but i am bothered by this narcism & come to think of it that's probably why the republicans are too!
    ________________________________
    Seriously guy, you need to do some research. The name of the law is the ACA or the Affordable Healthcare Act. The President nor any of the Dems named it "Obamacare". That is what the Repub haters started calling it to make sure the President's name was attached to it while they continue to try to make it fail. However, they will be the ones that fail as the law will prevail in the long run. The kinks will be ironed out in time.

    July 3, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. MattT

    Anyone else have a feeling that the timing of the Congressional elections has something to do with this?

    July 3, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. 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 3, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. b0bc@t

    Does this sound familiar? Delay reporting Bengazi as terrorism until we have "clearer intel from experts" .... Delay ObamaCare roll out until we can review and clarify what took 2000 pages to muddy up .....Delay reporting on Fast and Furious until we can get a better understanding as to how we failed so brightly. Bask in the teleprompters with the volume full blast and cameras rolling, then trip and fall flat, but spin it as a means to make things easier for us to be coralled into order.... March! March you minions... the cliff is just ahead .... The man behind the curtain... he's voting, YEAH, that's it ..... he's VOTING on OUR future FOR US! Thanks for playing!

    July 3, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  5. sne

    I am lost. I will be responsible and obligate to have an insurance, but businesses does not have any obligation for another year? So what the point of Obamacare if middle class individuals will be punished again?

    July 3, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. Jean

    I don't own a business myself but know quite a number of people that do and employ more than 50 people and they are very concerned about this law and the damage it will do to their business and their employees. Some are talking about letting people go and others are talking about not opening another office they had planned on – it's too bad that Obamcare is a job killer in so many ways.

    July 3, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  7. sailordavid

    Another Washingington plunder bust .... when will they ever end? ... Was it on CNN I heard that: It will take 25 years just to fix congress .....

    July 3, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. Garrett from Texas

    dnl6478 I own a business that has less than 50 employees. Considerably less in fact. Most of my employees are 1099 because I only need them three times a year at most (for about a month at a time) just before fashion seasons.

    But I want to grow my business until it comes to a point that I NEED 50 or more full time W2 employees year round. When I come to that threshold wall this bill is the difference between 1099 and W2, between 29 hours a week and 40 hours of work for employees, and the difference between a small affordable health plan for all W2 full timers, and elevated rates of insurance that have gone up 24% each year so far since the bill was signed.

    I am a business owner. I do NOT support Obama or Obamacare.

    July 3, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. Fair is Fair

    Congress writes laws. The executive branch enacts and enforces laws. The judicial branch interprets laws.

    Congress failed when they came up with this train wreck legislation. The SCOTUS failed when they found the individual mandate to be constitutional. And now the executive branch failed because it cannot implement it.

    Three Strikes. YER OUT!!!

    July 3, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. BinFL

    It's truly a sad state of affiairs when the citizens of this once great country would rather blame a President whose intentions with the Affordable Care Act was to provide access to healthcare to everyone as in every other industrialized nation, than blame the greedy employers who only think about $$$ instead of the health and well-being of their employees who, without them, there would be no business. With that mindset, this country will NEVER change and we will continue on our path of full control by the corporations and lobbyists. Hopefully, this law will eventually lead to universal healthcare but it is highly doubtful as greed prevails!!

    July 3, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. Kendall

    We've laid off 200 employees since January and completely changed our staffing model because of these goons. I now get daily emails of how the administration is nosing into areas of business they have NO PART in. I don't need people who have zero experience/education in my field of work telling me how to do my job. Everyday it's something different. Everyday I shake my head at the ignorance of this administration.

    July 3, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. Sniffit

    " it isn’t working the way the administration promised,” "

    BWAHAHAHA...translation: "We're doing everything we can to thwart its implementation so we can claim it isn't working."

    GOP motto: "Gov't is broken...see, we broke it!!!!"

    July 3, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. NameWaynecincu

    So Mr. President, another law that won't be enforced. Supreme Court said it was a "tax". You love taxes, enforce the law or change it.

    July 3, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. Paulie

    The mandate CANT be delayed as its written and passed. It cant be changed it can only be repealed. Sorry vote seeking lying democrats!

    July 3, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  15. lexgreen

    “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.

    They're all a bunch of incompetant, uninformed clowns who shouldn't be in office. They are members of the worst Congress', with the worst legislative record, in recent memory. While America was struggling to recover from the crash of '08, they were the wrong people in the wrong job at the wrong time. And they had no ideas or intent to suggest any reforms until the Affordable Care Act appeared. Their repeal agenda is a classic example of how pathetically irrelevant their global 'do nothing' agenda has been from day one.

    I hope American's remove these individuals in the election of 2014. Our country can do a lot better than this.

    July 3, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  16. mom of 4

    Oh now here's a surprise! They know that people are realizing that that Obamacare is a dreadful mess that will bankrupt the country and delay care for millions. They don't want the re-election of the stupid Democrats who voted for this garbage to be in jeopardy.

    July 3, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  17. Peter

    This is great news. My wife's family owns a farming business that employs 500 migrant farm workers. The company does provide health insurance but with Obamacare would have to take the penalty. The business has been struggling for a couple of years and with Obamacare would probably have to fold. Now we have another year to get back on track. Implementation of Obamacare has been a major concern. I am sure that most people do not realize the impact Obamacare will have on businesses and employment. I believe that every family will know someone who gets hurt by it.

    July 3, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  18. Pete

    The ACA Act is not a train wreck as people are saying its just another way businesses can drag it out and in eventuality it'll help America and its citizens and ignorents here would rather suffer under skyrocketing premiums that's all because insurance companies are going unchecked!!Remember people republicans historicly have never put anything on the table to benefit America and its people unless you count all the senseless unfunded wars republicans have been getting us into,tax breaks for the 1%ers,does that count with their agenda of making their reps rich at our kids,tax payers expense,not in my book ..Can you say unpatriotic,treasonistic,republicans are that and more and if you are republican put facts here and dispute it,I doubt you can!!

    July 3, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  19. William Waugh

    A modern nation, with a political party that clearly is not interested in the welfare of every citizen, is unwittingly undercutting the benefits if being capitalist. National health care is a proper safety net for the responsible needy. The constant bullheadedness of the House demonstrates zero interest in dismantling greed and corruption in the health care and insurance industries. -it is soo obvious; if you are not already in the club ( Bush called it his base) you never will be!

    July 3, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  20. Malory Archer

    Kendall

    We've laid off 200 employees since January and completely changed our staffing model because of these goons. I now get daily emails of how the administration is nosing into areas of business they have NO PART in.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, those rightwing nutcases are notorious for sending out alarmist chain emails espousing the evil of everything Obama. However, they're chock full of fabrications and outright lies.

    July 3, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  21. BigToxie

    Now think about this – they have a mandated taxes added to many items now to fund this, a $1 per person tax to health insurance companies that is for each covered person in America now, adding 1,000's of IRS workers to regulate this – all of this plus much more is not beling delayed. It is still being charged and those new hires are not being furloughed for a year!
    Also this is a huge story for our country affected millions – happened last night – and is already dropped down to a bottom section your have to search for.

    July 3, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. EdL

    The delay will obviously be, or is seen to be, helpful for Democrats in the 2014 election.

    July 3, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  23. mickey

    do you think that lobbyist for big business was entering the whitehouse after midnight thru the rear entrance with briiefcases full of cash?i do!

    July 3, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Congress failed when they came up with this train wreck legislation. The SCOTUS failed when they found the individual mandate to be constitutional. And now the executive branch failed because it cannot implement it.
    ---------------------
    So, the right wing feels that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Government shouldn't be allowed to force you into buying something that you feel you don't need or want. Is that right?

    Well, if that's the case, then why are Republican state legislatures and governors everywhere are all working on, or have already passed, legislation that requires women to *pay* for an ultrasound, or in some cases worse?

    July 3, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  25. Dean

    Penalties for firms not providing health coverage to employees will now begin in 2015 – after next year’s congressional elections.------–Wonder why the Democrats want this implemented AFTER the election...............

    July 3, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
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