White House Delays Obamacare Mandate Again

New rules soften the law’s employer mandate, which has already been delayed by a year.

National Journal
Sam Baker
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Sam Baker
Feb. 10, 2014, 11:16 a.m.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced fur­ther delays Monday in Obama­care’s em­ploy­er man­date — which has already been pushed back a full year.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said the latest delays are de­signed to give busi­nesses more flex­ib­il­ity and a longer trans­ition peri­od to be­gin of­fer­ing health in­sur­ance to their work­ers.

The Af­ford­able Care Act re­quires large em­ploy­ers — those with more than 50 full-time em­ploy­ees — to either provide health in­sur­ance to their work­ers or pay a pen­alty. The man­date was sched­uled to take ef­fect this year, but the Treas­ury De­part­ment pre­vi­ously delayed the dead­line un­til 2015.

Now it’s delay­ing the cov­er­age re­quire­ment even fur­ther.

Busi­nesses with 50 to 99 full-time work­ers — people work­ing at least 30 hours per week — don’t have to com­ply with the man­date un­til 2016, un­der fi­nal reg­u­la­tions the Treas­ury De­part­ment re­leased Monday.

Lar­ger em­ploy­ers aren’t get­ting an out­right delay but will have more time to fully com­ply with the man­date. Em­ploy­ers with more than 100 full-time work­ers must of­fer cov­er­age to 70 per­cent of their full-time em­ploy­ees this year, and 95 per­cent after that, to avoid pay­ing a pen­alty.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion noted that only about 4 per­cent of em­ploy­ers are eli­gible for one of the breaks an­nounced Monday, al­though those busi­nesses em­ploy about 72 per­cent of all private-sec­tor work­ers.

The vast ma­jor­ity of large em­ploy­ers already provide health be­ne­fits to their full-time work­ers. Monday’s changes are un­likely to make a sig­ni­fic­ant dif­fer­ence in how many people the Af­ford­able Care Act ul­ti­mately cov­ers.

Monday’s reg­u­la­tions also cla­ri­fy that vo­lun­teers — for ex­ample, vo­lun­teer fire­fight­ers — aren’t coun­ted as full-time em­ploy­ees, and they give em­ploy­ers more flex­ib­il­ity when count­ing work­ers’ hours. Those steps were de­signed to “kind of mit­ig­ate the way the 30-hour defin­i­tion works,” a Treas­ury of­fi­cial said.

Of­fi­cials said busi­nesses will have to at­test that they’re not cut­ting em­ploy­ees just to qual­i­fy for the ad­di­tion­al delay but noted that busi­nesses are still free to cut their work­forces for eco­nom­ic reas­ons.

Asked where Treas­ury found the leg­al au­thor­ity to phase in the em­ploy­er man­date, of­fi­cials said the de­part­ment has “broad au­thor­ity” to im­ple­ment tax laws in a way that will ease the ad­min­is­tra­tion of those laws.

“We think a phase-in ap­proach really is a way to ad­min­is­ter the law bet­ter,” a seni­or Treas­ury of­fi­cial said.

What We're Following See More »
TRUMP’S THREAT REJECTED BY CONGRESS
House Republicans Pour Cold Water On 35 Percent Tariff
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump went on a Twitter rampage Sunday morning, promising a 35 percent tariff on goods imported by businesses that leave America. Not so fast, say Republican leaders in Congress. "I don’t want to get into some kind of trade war," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a comment later reiterated by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who instead called for overhaul of corporate taxes instead of a punitive tax.

Source:
DISCUSSED CLIMATE CHANGE
Al Gore Meets with Ivanka and Donald Trump
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Former Vice President Al Gore found himself in a room with Donald Trump Monday just after meeting with Trump's daughter, Ivanka. Gore discussed the topic of climate change with both Trumps and called his discussion with Donald Trump "extremely interesting." It remains to be seen if Donald Trump will deal with the topic of climate change during his presidency.

Source:
EXPECTED TO FUND THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH SPRING
Funding Bill To Be Released Tuesday
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.

Source:
TRUMP TOWER MEETING
Mayor Bowser to Sit Down with Trump
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is making the pilgrimage to Trump Tower tomorrow, where she and Chief of Staff John Falchiccio and Senior Adviser Beverly Perry will meet with President-elect Donald Trump. In a statement, she said she'd be discussing "DC’s growth and common areas of interest."

Source:
IT’S OFFICIAL
Trump to Nominate Carson to Lead HUD
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

As has been rumored for a week, Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, his former rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a statement, Trump said, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login