Groups Applaud Move to Extend Obamacare Employer Mandate Deadline

Associations largely approved of the Obama administration’s decision to delay implementing the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate—a move that particularly benefits medium-sized businesses. For those that consider the healthcare reform law’s employer mandate a bitter pill, it just got a little easier to swallow. Less than a year after the Obama administration pushed back the deadline for businesses to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage standard to 2015, it again eased the deadline for medium-sized employers and softened standards affecting larger corporations. Businesses with 50 to 99 full-time employees now have until 2016 to comply with the ACA...

Associations largely approved of the Obama administration’s decision to delay implementing the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate—a move that particularly benefits medium-sized businesses.

For those that consider the healthcare reform law’s employer mandate a bitter pill, it just got a little easier to swallow.

Less than a year after the Obama administration pushed back the deadline for businesses to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage standard to 2015, it again eased the deadline for medium-sized employers and softened standards affecting larger corporations.

Businesses with 50 to 99 full-time employees now have until 2016 to comply with the ACA rule that requires that full-time employees be offered health insurance coverage, buying them another year. While larger businesses must still comply with the 2015 deadline, the rules have been eased, requiring only 70 percent of full-time workers to be covered by 2015 and 95 percent by 2016, according to CNN Money.

The changes affect only a small percentage of employers. Only about 10,000 businesses with more than 50 employees don’t already offer their full-time workers coverage, according to an estimate by Mark Duggan of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

“While about 96 percent of employers are not subject to the employer responsibility provision, for those employers that are, we will continue to make the compliance process simpler and easier to navigate,” Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark J. Mazur told Bloomberg in a statement.

Largely Upbeat

Associations representing some of the employers most likely to be affected by the changes—including the National Retail Federation (NRF), the National Restaurant Association, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB)—all applauded the move.

However, NFIB questioned whether the law would ever be ready for implementation.

“It doesn’t always feel good to be right,” NFIB Director of Federal Public Policy Amanda Austin said in a statement. “Every time small business owners hear about another delay or random rewrite of the rules under this law, they are shaking their heads and thinking, ‘We told you so.’ Today’s news is simply the latest indicator that this law is not ready for prime time and has systemic flaws that need to be corrected permanently. Temporary delays are not enough.”

NRF, though, suggested that the most recent set of changes had the potential to make the law palatable to its members.

“I am quite pleasantly surprised,” NRF spokesman Neil Trautwein told Reuters. “This is beginning to look more like something the business community can live with.”

(iStock/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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