Obama Administration Delays Employer Health-Care Mandate for One Year

Evan Vucci/AP Photo

WASHINGTON - Implementation of the employer health-care mandate, one of the most vaunted provisions in President Obama's health care law, will be put off for a full year, the administration said today.

In passing the Affordable Care Act, Democrats included - and promoted - the requirement that companies with 50 or more employees will have to provide health coverage to their employees, or face fines. That was supposed to begin in 2014, but the U.S. Treasury announced today that the requirement won't be implemented until 2015.

Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur wrote today on the Treasury's website:

The Administration is announcing that it will provide an additional year before the ACA mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin. This is designed to meet two goals. First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law. Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees. Within the next week, we will publish formal guidance describing this transition. Just like the Administration's effort to turn the initial 21-page application for health insurance into a three-page application, we are working hard to adapt and to be flexible about reporting requirements as we implement the law.

Businesses had voiced "concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively," Mazur wrote, and the administration is giving them another year in response to those concerns.

The delay will likely fuel criticism of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have said is overly burdensome on employers and as a whole will be difficult to implement.

In delaying the employer requirement, the administration will push it past an important political deadline: the 2014 midterm elections. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act is expected to be a topic of discussion in campaigns over the next few years, but Democrats running for House and Senate in 2014 won't have to answer questions about a newly applied employer mandate.