Employer mandate gets another delay

The Obama administration has again postponed a portion of the employer mandate. This time, mid-sized companies received a reprieve until January 2016 to provide employees with insurance coverage or pay penalties.

The U.S. Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service published the final rule, which also grants bigger employers a phase-in period. Rather than providing health insurance to 95 percent of their full-time employees in 2015, companies with at least 100 workers can offer coverage to only 70 percent next year to avoid a fine.

Treasury officials said the administration decided to delay the mandate based on comments submitted in response to the draft rule issued in 2012, The Hill's Healthwatch reported.

The delay marks the second time the Obama administration has postponed the employer mandate since July 2013.

And like last time, the move has prompted Republican criticism of the reform law and heightened calls to similarly delay the individual mandate. "Much like the individual mandate, the business mandate is bad for middle-class families and it will harm economic growth. But the answer to this problem is not random unilateral changes, stoking uncertainty," House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) said in a statement. "It's time to stop creating more chaos and delay Obamacare for all Americans."

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made similar comments. "If the administration doesn't believe employers can manage the burden of the [healthcare] law, how can struggling families be expected to?" he said Monday in a statement.

Insurers remained quiet after the delay was announced. FierceHealthPayer reached out to several insurance companies; however, none had any comments.

To learn more:
- here's the final rule (.pdf)
- read The Hill's Healthwatch article
- see Cantor's statement
- here's Boehner's statement