KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Administration Delays Health Law Requirement For Large Employers To Provide Coverage

Bloomberg: Health-Law Employer Mandate Said to Be Delayed to 2015
Businesses won’t be penalized next year if they don’t provide workers health insurance after the Obama administration decided to delay a key requirement under its health-care law, two administration officials said. The decision will come in regulatory guidance to be issued later this week. It addresses vehement complaints from employer groups about the administrative burden of reporting requirements, though it may also affect coverage provided to some workers (Dorning and Wayne, 7/2).

The Washington Post: White House Delays Employer Mandate Requirement Until 2015
The Obama administration will not penalize businesses that do not provide health insurance in 2014, the Treasury Department announced Tuesday. Instead, it will delay enforcement of a major Affordable Care Act requirement that all employers with more than 50 employees provide coverage to their workers until 2015 (Kliff, 7/2). 

Politico: Administration Postpones A Key Obamacare Provision For One Year
The administration said late Tuesday that the move recognized that the reporting requirements – the steps businesses have to take to show they were complying with the rules — were complex and they would try to streamline them over the next year. There will be no penalties the first year on businesses that don’t cover workers. Small businesses, with fewer than 50 workers, were already exempt from that rule. Most large businesses do cover employees now (Kenen, 7/2).

The New York Times: Obama Administration To Delay Health Law Requirement Until 2015 
The change does not affect other central provisions of the law, in particular those establishing health care marketplaces in the states — known as exchanges — where individual Americans without health insurance can shop from a menu of insurance policies. Under those provisions, subsidies are available for lower-income individuals who qualify. However, it will be difficult for officials running the exchanges to know who is entitled to subsidies if they are not able to confirm whether employers are offering insurance to their employees. Enrollment in the exchanges is to begin on Oct. 1, and they are to take effect on Jan. 1. 
(Calmes, 7/2).

CNN: Key Obamacare Provision Delayed
"We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so. We have listened to your feedback. And we are taking action," Mark J. Mazur, assistant secretary for tax policy, wrote in a post on the Treasury Department's website (Liptak, 7/2).

Kaiser Health News: Employers To Get An Extra Year To Implement Health Law Requirement On Coverage
It’s unclear what effect the announcement will have on the health law's goal of providing coverage to millions of American who do not now have it. Although many large employers do provide insurance, the benefits packages vary widely. Workers whose employers do not offer coverage, and now have an additional year to do so, will be forced to go to the exchanges to get coverage (Carey, 7/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Penalties For Big Employers To Be Delayed In 2014
Many large companies already provide coverage voluntarily, but some industries, particularly restaurant and retail and other sectors with significant numbers of lower-wage workers, had criticized the additional costs they would face under the provision. The Treasury Department said Tuesday afternoon that it was delaying enforcement of the Affordable Care Act's provision for 2014 to give companies more time to adjust (Radnofsky, 7/2).

The Associated Press: Obama Admin Delays Major Requirement Of Health Law
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" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/2).

The Hill: ObamaCare Employer Mandate Delayed Until After 2014 Midterms
While GOP leaders were quick to react, hammering the delay as evidence that the law is unworkable, Democratic leaders were quieter Tuesday evening. One exception was Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who tweeted that the decision shows President Obama is "in it for long haul to fully implement" the healthcare law (Viebeck, Baker and Parnes, 7/2).

Here is the announcement by the Treasury Department.

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