UPDATE: Obama admininstration delays major requirement of health care law

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 | 6:01 p.m. CDT; updated 7:00 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 2, 2013

WASHINGTON — In a major concession to business groups, the Obama administration Tuesday unexpectedly announced a one-year delay, until 2015, in a central requirement of the new health care law that medium and large companies provide coverage for their workers or face fines.

The move sacrificed timely implementation of President Barack Obama's signature legislation but may help the administration politically by blunting a line of attack Republicans were planning to use in next year's congressional elections. The employer requirements are among the most complex parts of the health care law, which is designed to expand coverage for uninsured Americans.

"We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively," Treasury Assistant Secretary Mark Mazur said in a blog post. "We have listened to your feedback and we are taking action."

Business groups were jubilant. "A pleasant surprise," said Randy Johnson, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There was no inkling in advance of the administration's action, he said.

Under the law, companies with 50 or more workers must provide affordable coverage to their full-time employees or risk a series of escalating tax penalties if just one worker ends up getting government-subsidized insurance.

Originally, that requirement was supposed to take effect next Jan. 1. Business groups complained since the law passed that the provision was too complicated. For instance, the law created a new definition of full-time workers, those putting in 30 hours or more. But such complaints until now seemed to be going unheeded.

The delay in the employer requirement does not affect the law's requirement that individuals carry health insurance starting next year or face fines. That so-called individual mandate was challenged all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled last year that requirement was constitutional since the penalty would be collected by the Internal Revenue Service and amounted to a tax.

Tuesday's action is sure to anger liberals and labor groups, but it could provide cover for Democratic candidates in next year's congressional elections.

The move undercuts Republican efforts to make the overhaul and the costs associated with new requirements a major issue in congressional races. Democrats are defending 21 Senate seats to the Republicans' 14, and the GOP had already started to excoriate Senate Democrats who had voted for the health law in 2009.

Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett cast the decision as part of an effort to simplify data reporting requirements.

She said since enforcing the coverage mandate is dependent on businesses reporting about their workers' access to insurance, the administration decided to postpone the reporting requirement, and with it, the mandate to provide coverage.

"We have and will continue to make changes as needed," Jarrett wrote in a White House blog post. "In our ongoing discussions with businesses we have heard that you need the time to get this right. We are listening."

Republicans called it a validation of their belief that the law is unworkable and should be repealed.

"Obamacare costs too much and it isn't working the way the administration promised," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "The White House seems to slowly be admitting what Americans already know ... that Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced with common-sense reforms that actually lower costs for Americans."




Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Michael Williams July 3, 2013 | 8:24 a.m.

"Tuesday's action is sure to anger liberals and labor groups, but it could provide cover for Democratic candidates in next year's congressional elections."

I'm unsure what's going on here, but the thought that this delay is politically motivated for the 2014 elections causes me to throw up in my mouth.

Looks to me like a whole bunch of the President's supporters just got thrown under the wreck.

With this delay, did the President help the economy by removing uncertainty for businesses who want to hire but haven't? Or did it just delay the uncertainty another year or so and prolong this mess?

Beats me.

(Report Comment)
frank christian July 3, 2013 | 9:33 a.m.

"Or did it just delay the uncertainty"

I bet, it just delayed it. We can now compare our economy with that of France for last 40 years. 8% unemployment, 2% annual growth, with nearly unlimited governmental spending. Spells "success" for this prez and these liberal democrats.

(Report Comment)
Ed Lane July 3, 2013 | 2:17 p.m.

Apparently this jarrett thing is obozo's backbone!!!!! The lies circling around obozo's gourd make him look a little silly.

(Report Comment)
Ed Lane July 3, 2013 | 2:23 p.m.

This jarrett person must be a replacement for this president's backbone. The lies circling around this president's head make him look a little silly and hypocritical!!!!!!!!

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote July 3, 2013 | 2:58 p.m.

Hello Frank,

Per capita government spending is actually down since Obama took office:

It rose significantly during the Bush era, which included steep tax cuts.
Thus from the linked article:
"What we have isn't a spending problem. That's under control. What we have is a problem with Republicans not wanting to pay the bills they themselves were largely responsible for running up."

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield July 3, 2013 | 3:01 p.m.

Regarding Jarrett:

Regarding tax cuts, you're doing your part by not taking the mortgage deduction, right, Chris?

(Report Comment)
frank christian July 3, 2013 | 5:06 p.m.

Thanks, Chris for bringing us the new chart that "has been making the rounds today". It, however has nothing to do with what BO has done to help our economy back to its previous levels.

I maintain that he is happy as a lark, with all three of the factors I mentioned and his stated intentions for our future will make our lives far worse. If he can regain total control of our Congress, he will destroy us, as a nation.

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.