WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will delay the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for employers to provide health insurance until 2015.
In a Treasury Department statement, Mark Mazur, the assistant secretary for tax policy, said there have been concerns about the “complexity of the requirements” employers would have to deal with to give its employees mandatory health insurance. These complexities caused the White House to delay the mandate for employers another year to give more time to implement them effectively.
“This is designed to meet two goals. First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law. Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees,” Mazur said.
Mazur continued: “We recognize that this transition relief will make it impractical to determine which employers owe shared responsibility payments for 2014. Accordingly, we are extending this transition relief to the employer shared responsibility payments. These payments will not apply for 2014. Any employer shared responsibility payments will not apply until 2015.”
Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett posted in a White House blog that the move is was made to cut the red tape and simplify the reporting process.
“We have heard the concern that the reporting called for under the law about each worker’s access to and enrollment in health insurance requires new data collection systems and coordination. So we plan to re-vamp and simplify the reporting process,” Jarrett wrote. “Some of this detailed reporting may be unnecessary for businesses that more than meet the minimum standards in the law. We will convene employers, insurers, and experts to propose a smarter system and, in the interim, suspend reporting for 2014.”
Despite the delay, Jarrett says the Health Insurance Marketplace will still open Oct. 1, 2013.
House Speaker John Boehner released a statement saying the administration knows the Obamacare “train wreck will only get worse.”
The health law requires companies with 50 or more workers to offer affordable coverage to their employees or face potentially large fines if just one worker ends up getting taxpayer-subsidized insurance.
The Affordable Care Act is President Barack Obama’s signature legislation since taking office. Dubbed “Obamacare” by his critics, Obama signed the legislation into law in March 2010.
A recent Associated Press analysis found that nearly 2 in 3 uninsured low-income people who would qualify for subsidized coverage under the health care law may be out of luck next year because their states have not expanded Medicaid.
Figures from the Urban Institute finds a big coverage gap developing, with 9.7 million out of 15 million potentially eligible adults living in states that are refusing the expansion or are still undecided with time running short.
That a majority of the neediest people who could be helped by the law may instead remain uninsured is a predicament unforeseen by Obama and congressional Democrats who designed a sweeping extension of the social safety net. The law’s historic promise of health insurance for nearly all U.S. residents would not be fulfilled as envisioned.
It’s the direct consequence of last summer’s Supreme Court decision that gave states the right to opt out of the Medicaid expansion, combined with unyielding resistance to the law from many Republican state lawmakers.
Expanding Medicaid is essential to Obama’s two-part strategy for covering the uninsured.
Starting next year, middle-class people without job-based coverage will be able to get tax credits to help them buy private insurance. But the law calls for low-income people to enroll in Medicaid, expanded to accommodate a largely excluded group: adults with no children at home. Expanded Medicaid would cover about half the 25 million to 30 million people who could be helped by the law.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have decided to accept the expansion, which is fully financed by Washington for the first three years and phases down gradually to a 90 percent federal share.
Among those are six states led by Republican governors. But the majority of low-income Americans newly eligible for Medicaid under the law live in states such as Texas, Florida and Georgia, where political opposition remains formidable.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)