The Obama administration will not begin enforcing employer mandates in the Obamacare law until 2015 – one year later than originally planned.
Mark Mazur, the Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy, announced on the agency’s blog that the administration “will provide an additional year before the … mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin”.
The blog post explained that the delay was intended to leave time to simplify reporting requirements and give companies time to adapt.
But an unnamed Treasury source said the extra year will give the White House an extra year to persuade health insurers to participate in the exchanges that make up the backbone of the Affordable Care Act.
The revised timetable, the source added, will also push back the final implementation of Obamacare’s penalties past the 2014 midterm elections, providing Republicans fewer chances to highlight the law’s potentially harmful effects on businesses’ bottom lines.
The Obama administration’s new schedule means business won’t be penalized immediately for failing to enroll all their workers in health plans and report the results to the federal government, Bloomberg News was first to report.
The Affordable Care Act includes financial penalties on companies that fail to comply if they employ 50 or more people. The Treasury Department is involved because the Internal Revenue Service, a Treasury sub-agency, will be tasked with enforcing the law and assessing those penalties.
“Obamacare is a flawed law,” said Republican National Committee Deputy Press Secretary Raffi Williams.
“It has been from day one and continues to be one now.”
“This latest announcement is just another sign that the president and his administration are afraid of the havoc that this imperfect law will wreak on everyday Americans.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair Darrell Issa, a California Republican, piled on Tuesday evening, drawing attention to the GOP’s efforts to repeal the Obamacare law in its entirety.
“The House has repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare because it will not work and is bad public policy,” Darrell Issa said in a statement.
“The President has delayed a critical component of the Affordable Care Act because it is absolutely unaffordable for American job creators and workers. It is unclear that he has the authority to do this without Congress.”
“This is another in a string of extra legal actions taken by his Administration to mask the horrible impact his law will have on the economy and health care in the United States.”
Politico noted that Tuesday’s pivot from the White House will not affect the so-called “individual mandate”, which will require most Americans to be insured. It also won’t delay the scheduled October rollout of health care marketplaces, called exchanges, set up to help taxpayers and companies find coverage that satisfies the Obamacare law.
The administration has been on a full-court press in California, Texas and Florida, enlisting the help of Hispanic advocacy groups and Spanish-language media networks to encourage enrollment in advance of the autumn start date.
The Treasury Department said it expects to publish regulatory rules in one week that will formalize the new 2015 enforcement deadline for companies.