The Obama administration announced Tuesday that a requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act set to take effect in 2014 will be delayed “an additional year.” The provison, known as the “employer mandate,” requires employers with more than 50 full-time workers to provide health benefits or face penalties and fines.
The new heath care law has come under fire in recent months for its confusing guidance and projected cost overruns. Retiring Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who helped write the law, warned it was headed for a “train wreck” during a budget hearing on April 17 that featured Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. A report released last month from the Government Accountability Office also pointed to challenges in opening the federal insurance exchanges on time.
“We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively,” Mark Mazur, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for tax policy, said in a statement. “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.”
Business groups were jubilant The Associated Press said. “A pleasant surprise,” Randy Johnson, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said. There was no inkling in advance of the administration’s action, he added.