Bowing to pressure from business groups, the Obama administration announced today it will give some small businesses another year to comply with Obamacare’s employee health insurance requirement.
Businesses with more than 50 but fewer than 100 employees will have until Jan. 1, 2016, to provide health insurance coverage for workers or face a $2,000-per-employee fine. The employer mandate was supposed to go into effect this year. But in July, President Barack Obama announced he would give businesses one more year to provide coverage for their employees. Republicans called for further delays, but the president refused.
Today’s announcement comes after ongoing complaints from small businesses and pro-business lobby groups over the complex reporting requirements but won’t apply to all employers. Businesses with 100 or more employees will still be required to provide insurance or pay a fine by the beginning of 2015.
The administration did make a concession for larger employers: They only have to cover 70 percent of workers during the program’s first year. After that, they must cover 95 percent of workers.
Administration officials claim only 2 percent of companies covered by today’s announcement don’t already offer employee health insurance.
Republicans said today’s announcement amounted to an admission that the wieldy and intrusive healthcare reform package is unworkable. “This law is a disaster that is wrecking our healthcare system and our economy,” said Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. “Delaying the pain is untenable—we must act now to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a system that increases access while reducing costs.”
The law’s critics also pointed to the delay as proof that the administration is playing favorites, and possibly pandering to Democrats’ re-election fears. The administration has not delayed any of the law’s requirements for individuals, despite its growing unpopularity.