Questions, Answers On Latest ACA Delay
By Jay Hancock, Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey, Kaiser Health News Staff Writers // February 13, 2014
ANOTHER UNILATERAL OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ACA CHANGE
ABOVE VIDEO: CBS’ Major Garrett reports on the Obama administration’s action to give mid-sized businesses an extra year to comply with the health care law’s regulations. Half of the U.S. businesses affected by the employer mandate already offer insurance coverage, but those that didn’t lobbied for more time.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In July of last year, the Obama administration unilaterally, without Congressional input or approval, delayed implementing the employer mandate, a major component of the Affordable Care Act, for a year.
The one year reprieve pushed the mandate out to January 1, 2015, not only allowing the administration time to alleviate concerns among business owners about implementation of the mandate, which penalizes employers with more than 50 employees if they fail to provide a minimum standard of affordable health insurance, but also taking a controversial component of the law off the table before the 2014 midterm elections.
President Obama, who has aggressively articulated his intention to push his agenda unilaterally with his “pen” and “phone,” is at it again with his administration’s recent announcement that the law’s employer mandates would again be revised so that businesses with 50 to 99 employees will not have to offer minimum coverage until 2016, and those with at least 100 employees are required to offer minimum coverage to only 70 percent of their workers in 2015, instead of the previous target of 95 percent.
It is very clear that moving into this election year Republicans will be focused on the problematic issues surrounding the implementation and roll-out of Obamacare. The last thing the administration and Democratic congressional proponents of the law want is more political fallout related to employers ramping up for the employer mandate by possibly reducing worker hours to avoid coverage requirements and putting potentially hundreds of thousands of American workers in jeopardy of losing employer-provided health insurance coverage prior to the 2014 elections.
An excellent Kaiser Health News Q and A on the impact of the President’s move is excerpted below. It covers how the change will affect businesses and may affect you, as well as the political dynamics surrounding the decision.
—Dr. Jim Palermo, Editor-in-Chief
KAISER HEALTH NEWS – On Monday, the Obama administration announced another delay in rolling out the Affordable Care Act, weakening the requirement to offer coverage next year for large employers and postponing it for smaller ones. Here’s what it means.
There have been other delays in health-law implementation. What’s different about this one?
This is the second big change to rules for employers. The ACA requirement for employers with at least 50 workers to offer minimum coverage – or pay a fine — was supposed to take effect in January. But after getting complaints from business, the administration said last summer it would wait until 2015 to penalize employers that didn’t offer coverage.
Now the administration has moved the deadlines again. Companies with 50 to 99 employees won’t have to offer minimum coverage until 2016. And companies with at least 100 employees are required to offer minimum coverage to only 70 percent of their workers in 2015, down from a previous target of 95 percent.
Will this affect me?
If you work fulltime for a large company, probably not. Most employers with at least 100 workers already offer a medical plan because it helps them hire and retain talent, not because of a government rule.
“For the majority of large employers… neither the employees nor the employer are going to see that much of a difference,” says Steve Wojcik, vice president for public policy at the National Business Group on Health, a big-business coalition.
Employers with staffs under 50 have always been exempt from the coverage requirement. (Still, many do offer health insurance.) They are likely to be untouched, although growing businesses that had been reluctant to go over the 50-worker threshold may feel freer to hire.
Companies most affected are those in the 50-to-99 employee slot and large retailers and restaurant chains, many of which don’t offer coverage to many employees now.
“I imagine we’ll have some employers in that space who were not offering coverage before and were gearing up to offer it in 2015,” said Edward Fensholt, director of compliance services for Lockton Benefit Group. “They’ll probably be delighted with the delay.”
CLICK HERE to read the entire Q and A on KaiserHealthNews.org.