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. J Russ

    So businesses get a extra year but individuals are still mandated to comply or be fined...............shows you who's in charge of this government regardless of which party is in charge. Yet it seems everyone on eiter sides craves a more intrusive government.

    July 3, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  2. Obamacare is great!

    I thought we were all supposed to embrace Obamacare. Why isn't the administration embracing it?

    Oh, right, the law is junk...even called a train wreck by Max Baucus, one of the authors.

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

    This is what happens when we allow our legislators to vote on legislation that none of them has read. It is what you get when a legislator says things like, "We have to pass it before we can tell you what's in it." Well, guess what. Now we know what's in it–or at least some of what's in it– and we don't like it. We want something else. The trouble is, this Obamacare crap is not the law of the land.

    July 3, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. Dean and Debra Impastato

    @ Dean..TIming is EVERYTHING in politics...after election implementation, gives them MORE of a platform to SAY(NOT DO) they are gonna ACTUALLY stop the "Trainwreck" and fix the Mess that is Obamacare NOW...More time to lie to the people who elect them...Why ELSE do you think there is this "delay"...Its Like Obama in 2008 spouting "Change" and "REAL" reform...Has it happened yet?? All i see personally is NOW it costs me deductible and Co-pay for EVERY doctor i go to see.AND my husbands Healthcare that used to be provided at NO COST to the employee, IS NOW being deducted out of his PAYCHECK....Well, OBAMA can STUFF his "Hope and Change" where the sun dont shine...If i could move OUT of this country I WOULD, at the FIRST opportunity...God Bless America and the TRUE Patriots that will STILL stand up and Fight this Tyrannical Government and its atrocious Law Makers...

    July 3, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. goodgrubguy

    BinFL ....This has always been a pipe dream of the left, it is not now nor has it ever been a republican bill. Not a single R voted for it and Ds had to use reconsiliation to pass it. To say that Rs don't want lower cost healthcare insurance or don't want everyone to have insurance is rediculous. The best way to lower cost is to allow people to purchase their own insurance across states lines and detach it from the employer making it portable. This allows companies to develop policies to attract and accomodate all types of people and different policy needs. Then a person, like me with a pre-existing condition can keep the coverage the have when they switch employers. You could always negotiate with your employer to pay for it but as a business expense not as a term of employment. I have been on my wifes insurance since I left my last job 4 years ago (Let go as a result of my cadilac policy costing too much and the penalties they would have to pay for me) I just got a new job and since I have good insurance and a pre-existing condition (Knee replacement L and in 6 months my R knee relacement), I asked to not take their insurance and increase my salary...but that can't be done or they will have to pay a fine to the gov for not offering me insurance. So now I have 2 insurance policies. You see, what folks like you think is that government can "solve" things. Not a put down..just your opinion. Rs typically don't believe that. You tout Finland, Iceland, and the UK's system as great. But that is comparing apples and oranges. Combine all of them and you have population roughly the same as New York. When you cite "Romneycare".. that was a state, deciding on something for their state with Ds running the state house and senate. Romney enlisted the Heritage Foundation to help develop it with the Ds. That should be praised yet according to Ds, everything Heritage says is the word of the devil EXCEPT Romneycare. What I'm getting at is ... This is bad legislation. Nobody on either side read it before passing bit and as time has gone on the cost went from 900B to 2.6T, the regulations are making businesses change the way they work and it is hurting the economy. And they say that there will still be tens of millions uninsured. So what have we gained? It has polorized the nation and DC (not that those jerks needed any help with that), collected 100's of millions in taxes for nothing and caused so much infighting and lying about the 2 parties that nothing can be discussed without calling the other side evil or hatefull. Let go of the letter by the name (D or R) and just look at way to remove obsticles that help our country remain the free-est, fairest and most generous country in the world. A place where innovation drives healthcare and people are free to chose the coverage they want. There will always be people that truley need help and we can focus on helping them but changing the way 300M people have to do something to acomodate them is wrong.

    July 3, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. MCFx

    Why is this story hidden?

    July 3, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  7. Richard Long

    Excellent!
    More time to shift employees from full-time w/benefits to part-time with no benefits.
    Fortunately if the immigrant amnesty bill goes though, we can clear out all the US citizens and replace them with former-illegal-immigrrants as they do not carry the Obamacare penalty.

    Living in the Obamanation is great!!!

    July 3, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  8. Michael B

    Okay I’m confused. Doesn't this delay only provide employers the opportunity for more time to provide their middle and lower class employees reasonable healthcare before they face a $3,000 penalty for each employee. So in essence the employer, by law, still has the responsibility and moral obligation to provide insurance affordability to their employees. Therefore, any failure to do so would fault employers for leaving millions of people without healthcare. How does this warrant criticism of Obamacare? How is this an admission of failure on part of the administration? I guess he shouldn't have placed a delay and offered employers the opportunity to DO THE RIGHT THING without being forced....

    July 3, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  9. stewart

    great. I still have to pay for companies that refuse to cover their employees. enough already they have had 2 years to be ready. no delays get out of my pocket and off my insurance

    July 3, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  10. John

    This is so obvious- just postpone the pile of dung until after the elections- just a attempt to avoid embarrassment in them. Eventually the media will see it is nothing but massive taxes coming and realize the impact when employers lay off of cut hours to avoid the expense.

    The "recovery" hasn't materialized fast enough, so they have to push it further off.

    July 3, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. BrianMemphis

    Liberals get played again. They'll make all types of excuses to avoid admitting this was done to help the election efforts of the Dems.

    July 3, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. BrianMemphis

    So big business pressured and the admin caved? Shows you who's in charge, not the people, the companies.

    July 3, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. parshman

    Buried deep in the website, number 3 in the Health section we find this story; a story that uncovers the reality of this monstrosity know as the ACA. A delay is only a stay of execution. Why the delay? Of course, because mid-term election results would be negatively impacted if the reality of this law were felt by Democratic supporters. That's the irony here. There very ones supporting Obama are the one this law will ultimately hurt. 9.5% of your income...gone. Higher prices on...EVERYTHING, because EVERY business is going to pass on this high expense to consumers, over burdening the existing health care system while simultaneously capping profits and opening the floodgates of benefits that insurance companies must pay. During his campaign, Obama said this would not increase the deficit "one dime" (his words). He said that you could keep your insurance...yeah, if the health insurance company kept their grandfather status...which most didn't, he said that the cost of insurance would go down...mine went up 4.5% this year alone, he said signing up would be as easy as going to an exchange, and estimates have the application at 21 pages to date. If the problem was uninsured Americans, why not address that problem and leave the rest of us alone? Why impose socialist ideals on a capitalist society? Why lie, deceive and impoverish the very ones that vote you into power? Obama knows that this law would result in an uprising of protest as millions of people learn about penalties, taxes, loss of coverage, decreased wages, and scarcity of coverage. United and Aetna are already out of California. As a republican I believe that everyone needs health care. I believe that the way to offer that is to have a good paying job, work hard, and allow competition. Because health care i a necessity, we can't allow financial extortion, so we must allow fair and honest competition. That is the natural way to drop prices. We need to get out of the way of the American Dream, allow people to earn and KEEP what they make rather than mandating them to give it to a government that mismanages it. For those that can't afford insurance, provide subsidies. That's the simple, sane, workable solution. Too simple? Well, I'm not running for office. You wouldn't even have to pass that to find out what's in it. Wow.

    July 3, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  14. Joe

    The administration wanted money to explain the mandate and republicans blocked it. Hey republicans, what's your plan to address skyrocketing health care costs that are 2 times higher than any other country? Oh yeah, it's letting poor people die, is the plan.

    July 3, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. roger

    This delay also came about to help Democrats in the 2014 elections. Americans won't feel the pinch until after the elections. As usual everything about this administration is about politics and not the good of the people.

    July 3, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  16. Gene Fitzgerald

    Obamacare is a joke. It is just repackaged Romneycare, which is based on the Nixon plan from the 70s. It is time for REAL healthcare reform. We need to nationalize healthcare and get it out of the hands of employers and insurance companies. Employers and insurance companies have shown time and time again that it is all about the god almighty dollar and that they don't really have the peoples best interest in mind.

    July 3, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  17. memo2

    Obama needs to pack and go,we no need an tyranny ruler he's not fixing our present problems instead he create more problems sims to me so kind of agenda,he's health care is not only an embarrassment for this administration this is an embarrassment for all us.

    July 3, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. Clemenza

    Obamacare is a train wreck that is neither reducing costs or expanding coverage. Even the dimwits at the WH are starting to realize it and have decided to put off the employer mandate during an election year. Look for more of Obamacare to be delayed to protect the poltical hide of Democrats next year. But eventually this steam pile will go into effect. The funny thing will be watching Obama try to finish implementation as he's goig out the door in 2016 with Democrats running away from it like their hair is on fire.

    July 3, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. Ken Knerr

    How does the President change the law without going to Congress and asking them to change the law?

    July 3, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  20. mediafail2012

    Good Lord, some of you liberals need to go see a psychiatrist because you are obsessed with blaming Republicans for everything. There is nothing here that says they (Republicans) had anything to do with this being delayed and many here, as well as people all over the country, see this as Obama postponing the pain until after the midterms to help democrats.

    Speaking about the whole postponing thing, is it even legal for Obama to do that?

    July 3, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. Eric

    Business owners are not stupid they just won't add any additional employees. Most companies need to forecast a budget 3-5 years out. Bottom line is that this a jobs killer and does nothing but grow the size of government.

    July 3, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. Clemenza

    How does Obama implement enviromental laws without going to Congress? How does he implement the Dream Act without going to Congress? This adminstration governs by executive fiat and gets away with it because he has an adoring press that voted for him by over 90%. If Nixon or Bush tried to enact significant law changes without going to Congrss the press would eb on fire. Look at where CNN buried this story on their webpage.

    July 3, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    The Affordable Care Act specifically states in the body of the bill that the business mandate will be enforced as of 2014. If the president wants to change the wording of the bill he must go through Congress to amend.

    July 3, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. Bill

    Interesting how CNN buried this article. Heard the news on the radio then came here...

    Huh... not on the main page. "Politics"? Nope... hmm. How about "U.S"? Uh-uh – had to do a search, and it was the second link...

    July 3, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  25. Nodack

    Whine complain whine complain. That's all we Americans do. We don't like Obamacare. We like it the way it was before where we were the only industrialized country in the world without Universal Health care, it was twice as expensive as the second most expensive health care in the world, 45,000 Americans died every year because they couldn't afford health insurance, illness was the leading cause of bankruptcy, millions had no health care coverage, rates continued to sky rocket and no Republican ever dared me to the word health care reform. We like that so much more than Obamacare and we will continue to do everything in our power to make sure as many Americans as possible cannot afford health care because that proves how free we are.

    July 3, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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