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. Sid

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

    hire an editor – entire article can be condensed to this/rest is fluff...

    July 3, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. Big_D

    It is sad that the USA is unable to compete because we lack nationalized healthcare. I personally have moved jobs to Canada and the UK because healthcare isn't a burden to business there. This mandated insurance scam created by the GOP and Lieberman should not be blamed on Obama who wanted a public option. Our politicians are terrible and the bribery is out of hand in Washington. Our healthcare system is immoral at best.

    July 3, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  3. Dean

    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!!
    ------And there is nothing in ACA to check the insurance companies.

    July 3, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. MCF1

    Hmmm....THE most sweeping law ever passed in the slimiest way ever...dead of night on a Sunday using an end around because they didn't have the votes. And a delay of a year and obvious politics involved....

    AND CNN DOESN'T PUT THIS AT THE TOP OF THE LIST OF LINKS??????????

    Liberal media using every technique to downplay the gross INCOMPETENCE of this Obama Administration. Just hide this news one day until the 4th holiday hits. Then no one will care.

    July 3, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  5. MCF1

    Hmmm....THE most sweeping law ever passed in the slimiest way ever...dead of night on a Sunday using an end around because they didn't have the votes. And a delay of a year and obvious politics involved....

    AND CNN DOESN'T GET THIS AT THE TOP OF THE LIST OF LINKS??????????

    Liberal media using every technique to downplay the gross INCOMPETENCE of this Obama Administration. Just hide this news one day until the 4th holiday hits. Then no one will care.

    July 3, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  6. BigToxie

    Also this is a law passed by Congress – how can the administration "just say no" for a year???????? It has to be repealed to not be enacted.

    July 3, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  7. biascnn

    why is CNN hiding this major announcement?

    July 3, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  8. Big_D

    How do you feel about the GOP and Lieberman defeating the Public Option now?

    July 3, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  9. Susan

    It's tough times to be a business owner. Every local, state, and municipal government is going after businesses for extra fees and taxes. The confusion of the AHA is only the next step. The people of America, especially the Dems, need to wise up and stop treating all businesses with the same disdain that they do for large, multinational corporations. The majority are small businesses with very small, modest profit margins, and constantly using these businesses to enhance the coffers (while letting big businesses off the hook) is sinful. You'd think the so-called well-educated left would understand that.

    July 3, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  10. Fair is Fair

    Nice timing... usually this joke of an administration waits until late Friday to announce things that shed a less than positive light on their effectiveness. But since it's the July 4 holiday....

    You Obama supporters must be absolutely exhausted trying to cover for his total incompetence. Carry on... your spin is so very amusing to read.

    July 3, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  11. Name dixie

    How about the states who choose not to participate in this plan. Our state has no exchange and those. Who do not have. Internet. have not received any information on where or how to get coverage. The administration has had three years to to get this done and one more now. Wonder if it will really happen.

    July 3, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. Guest

    What's the matter, Obama, huh, huh.....

    July 3, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. Dee Bradley

    Clearly a tacit admission that this complex monstrosity is a ghastly piece of legislation which will imperil political futures. Now that they've passed it, they're shocked to find out what's in it!

    July 3, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  14. ubdumb

    Only checked to see where CNN would hide this major news. Ha ha! Found it tucked away neatly. Pathetic

    July 3, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  15. yippeeskip

    I have to agree with Cantor...

    July 3, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. BinFL

    At least the Dems put forth legislation to reform our disastrous healthcare system. What have the Republicans ever done about it? The funny thing is that the ACA was based on Romneycare and it was the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think tank) that came up with the individual mandate. So, actually this is a Repub bill for the most part. The only thing that will lower costs and provide for everyone will be universal healthcare and the Repubs will NEVER go for that and it is they who watered down Obamacare so there would not be a public option. They have no solutions and never will. As far as premiums rising, this has been the case over the last 30 years, not since Obamacare.

    July 3, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  17. goodgrubguy

    Any policy that has to be put off until after an election cycle is bad policy!

    July 3, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. bobo

    Remember....We have to Pass it, to know what's in it! LOL

    July 3, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. Karl

    Just as Nancy P said, we have to pass it to find out what's in it. Now we know....it stinks

    July 3, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. Norman

    AMAZING BinFL- If it works it's a great idea by the lean forward LEFT, since it's beginning to crumble, it's the Repubs and Rommey's fault. Cost of insurance rising....wonder why.....I'll tell you why, because I have been in the business for longer than you have had a brain. People don't buy it because they can go to the ER and get it for free. The ER can't turn them away so what should be a $50 visit to a primary care doctor has now run up a $5k ER visit. And you wonder why an the hospital charges $7 for an aspirin. All that free treatment has to be paid for by those who were responsible and opted to sacrifice and pay for those insurance premiums every months..,

    July 3, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  21. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    Businesses want certainty and clarity for future expansion and hiring. Again the Obama Administration kicked the can down the road all in the name of Politics. Obama hasn't a clue on how to lead much less be President! Don't expect any expansion or hiring by companies in the near term as a matter of fact I would expect layoffs!

    July 3, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  22. jatek12

    thanks CNN for hiding a major headline. ACA was a bad idea all along

    July 3, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. Harry101

    Big_D

    It is sad that the USA is unable to compete because we lack nationalized healthcare. I personally have moved jobs to Canada and the UK because healthcare isn't a burden to business there. This mandated insurance scam created by the GOP and Lieberman should not be blamed on Obama who wanted a public option. Our politicians are terrible and the bribery is out of hand in Washington. Our healthcare system is immoral at best.
    ____________________
    Nice connention to the GOP wait the DNC had a supermajority when this was pasted. But OK why not blame the GOP

    July 3, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  24. Dejavu

    "Casey Anthony still living in isolation" is the latest news compared to "Key Obamacare provision delayed"...lol...

    July 3, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. John Illinois

    Obamacare is a steaming pile and now everyone is seeing it. Yet, liberals remain in denial.

    July 3, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
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