KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Employers Get Extra Year To Carry Out Health Law Coverage Mandate

The Obama administration's surprise announcement will delay penalties for one year -- until after the mid-term elections -- and raises doubts about the implementation process at a crucial moment. Officials said the extension was a response to business requests for more time to navigate complex regulations.

Kaiser Health News: Delay In Major Health Law Provision Raises Doubts At Critical Stage Of Rollout
The Obama administration's decision Tuesday to delay a major component of the Affordable Care Act -- the requirement for employers with at least 50 workers to offer health coverage -- postpones another feature of the law and hands ammunition to critics who contend it is unworkable. But it could have a relatively small effect on the number of Americans who gain medical insurance next year. The law's other two major provisions, expanding Medicaid and requiring individuals to obtain coverage or pay a penalty, were projected to add far more people to the ranks of the insured than the employer mandate, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Those measures are still in effect, although many states have opted not to expand Medicaid next year (Hancock and Appleby, 7/2).

Kaiser Health News: Employers To Get An Extra Year To Implement Health Law Requirement On Coverage
The Obama administration Tuesday announced a one-year delay in the Affordable Care Act's requirement that businesses with 50 or more employees offer coverage to their workers or pay a penalty. Administration officials said the delay was in response to employers' concerns about the law's reporting requirements (Carey, 7/2).

The New York Times: Crucial Rule Is Delayed A Year for Obama's Health Law
In a significant setback for President Obama’s signature domestic initiative, the administration on Tuesday abruptly announced a one-year delay, until 2015, in his health care law’s mandate that larger employers provide coverage for their workers or pay penalties. The decision postpones the effective date beyond next year’s midterm elections (Calmes and Pear, 7/2).

The Washington Post: White House Delays Health-Care Rule That Businesses Provide Insurance To Workers
The White House on Tuesday delayed for one year a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that businesses provide health insurance to employees, a fresh setback for President Obama’s landmark health-care overhaul as it enters a critical phase. The provision, commonly known as the employer mandate, calls for businesses with 50 or more workers to provide affordable quality insurance to workers or pay a $2,000 fine per employee. Business groups had objected to the provision, which now will take effect in January 2015 (Goldfarb and Somashekhar, 7/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Law Penalties Delayed
Some companies had bet the law was going to be overturned by the Supreme Court last year, or by a new presidential administration after the 2012 election. After it withstood those legal and political challenges, some firms said there was too little time remaining before the provision was due to kick in. "They realized they were not ready, and we were not ready," said Neil Trautwein, vice president at the National Retail Federation, an employer trade group. "At the very least, this will give retailers and chain restaurants a chance to breathe." The decision follows media reports that companies had already cut back on some workers' hours to avoid exposure to penalties under the new health-care law. Those who work fewer than 30 hours a week aren't counted as full-time employees, according to the law (Radnofsky, 7/2).

Los Angeles Times: Obama To Delay Healthcare Law’s Employer Mandate
The one-year delay, announced by the Treasury Department late Tuesday in response to complaints from businesses, marks a major retreat in implementing the 2010 Affordable Care Act. It also underscores the immense pressure the administration is under as it tries to roll out the extremely complex law. By next year, most Americans were supposed to be guaranteed access to health coverage even if they have preexisting conditions (Levey, 7/2).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Administration Delays Central Element Of Health Care Law Until After 2014 Elections
Tuesday’s move — which caught administration allies and adversaries by surprise — sacrificed timely implementation of Obama’s signature legislation but might help Democrats politically by blunting an election-year line of attack Republicans were planning to use. The employer requirements are among the most complex parts of the health care law, designed to expand coverage for uninsured Americans (7/2).

Politico: Key Obamacare Rule For Business Delayed For Year
The delay, revealed just as the administration was stepping up efforts to educate the public about enrollment this fall, is at least partial proof of what Republicans have been predicting for months: that the health law is way too complex to be ready to go live in 2014. And that’s a message that may well resonate all through next year - including the 2014 midterm elections (Norman and Haberkorn, 7/3).

NPR: U.S. Pushes Businesses' Health Insurance Deadline To 2015
U.S. businesses that had been looking at possible penalties if they don't provide health insurance to their employees by January are getting an extra year before they must comply with the new law, the White House says. The requirement, part of the health care overhaul known as "Obamacare," affects all companies that have at least 50 employees (Chappell, 7/2).

USA Today: Obama Administration To Delay Part Of Affordable Care Act
The announcement by the Internal Revenue Service comes after numerous complaints from businesses that the requirements were too complicated and difficult to implement in time. … Other key parts of the law, including the health exchanges where individuals can buy insurance, are on schedule. The exchanges will open on Oct. 1, wrote Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Obama, in a White House blog released Tuesday (Kennedy, 7/2).

Politico: 6 Questions About The Obamacare Mandate
The bombshell announcement came from the Treasury Department on Tuesday night, catching even the administration’s close allies by surprise: A key part of Obamacare will be postponed for one year. The employer mandate — or as the administration calls it, the shared responsibility rules — was put on hold. Businesses won’t have any new requirements to cover workers, or penalties if they don’t, until 2015. The news came just as the White House was building momentum for its public education campaign and trying to send out signals that everything was on track for enrollment to begin in October. Tuesday’s announcement throws such assurances off course (Haberkorn, Millman and Norman, 7/2).

Reuters: U.S. To Delay Key Health-Reform Provision In 2015
The move raised questions about the future of other provisions of the law, including the mandate for individuals to obtain health coverage in 2014, and followed widespread complaints from businesses and their lobbyists about reporting requirements for employers with 50 or more full-time workers (Morgan, 7/2).

Marketplace: Affordable Care Act Mandate Delayed (Audio)
Late this afternoon the Obama administration said it's gonna delay a key part of the Affordable Care Act -- the part that would force companies to provide health insurance coverage for their workers or pay a $2,000 fine. Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Mark Mazur, wrote on the department’s Web site: "We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively. 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."

McClatchy: Obamacare 'Employer Mandate' Delayed Until 2015
After months of conferring with fretful employers, the Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will delay enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s so-called "employer mandate" until 2015. A signature provision of the federal health care overhaul, the contentious measure would have required firms with more than 50 full-time employees to provide affordable health insurance or face a penalty of $2,000 per employee in 2014, when the law was set to be fully implemented (Pugh, 7/2).

PBS NewsHour: Key Provision Of Health Reform Law Delayed Until 2015
Delaying the law's "employer responsibility" provision would give employers more time to comply and give the government more time to consider ways to "simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law," according to a blog post from Mark J. Mazur, the assistant secretary for tax policy at the Department of Treasury. Most of the employers impacted by the delay already offer coverage to workers, Mazur said. He added that the announcement did not delay the Oct. 1 scheduled start of the online marketplaces, or exchanges, or the subsidies intended to help individuals with low to middle incomes purchase coverage or the requirement that most individuals purchase coverage or pay a fine (7/2).

Fox News: Administration Delays Key ObamaCare Insurance Mandate
The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it is delaying a major provision in the health care overhaul, putting off until 2015 a requirement that many employers offer health insurance. The announcement was made late Tuesday by the Treasury Department, at the beginning of the holiday week while Congress was on recess. It comes amid reports that the administration is running into roadblocks as it prepares to implement ObamaCare (7/2).

NBC News: Employers Get An Extra Year To Provide Health Insurance (Video)
On Tuesday the government said they could have more time to get it done. Saying the goal is to implement reform in "a careful, thoughtful manner", assistant Treasury secretary Mark Mazur said the administration would spend the extra year finding ways to simplify the process (7/2).

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