Administration delays healthcare employers' mandate

July 2, 2013 at 7:31 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) -- The Obama administration said Tuesday it would delay a key provision of the Affordable Care Act to give U.S. employers "more time to comply with the new rules."

White House adviser Valerie Jarrett announced the delay in a post on the White House blog.

"As we implement this law, we have and will continue to make changes as needed," Jarrett wrote. "In our ongoing discussions with businesses we have heard that you need the time to get this right."

Acknowledging concerns the law will require new data collection and reporting systems, she said the administration is "cutting red tape and simplifying the reporting process."

"Some of this detailed reporting may be unnecessary for businesses that more than meet the minimum standards in the law," she said. "We will convene employers, insurers, and experts to propose a smarter system and, in the interim, suspend reporting for 2014.

"As we make these changes, we believe we need to give employers more time to comply with the new rules," Jarrett wrote. "Since employer responsibility payments can only be assessed based on this new reporting, payments won't be collected for 2014. This allows employers the time to test the new reporting systems and make any necessary adaptations to their health benefits while staying the course toward making health coverage more affordable and accessible for their workers."

Administration officials said other elements of the ACA -- commonly known as Obamacare -- will not be delayed, The Hill reported.

Brad Dayspring, spokesman for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a twitter message the delay shows implementation of the ACA is "a wreck."

Randy Johnson, U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, welcomed the delay and said it indicated the administration "has finally recognized the obvious -- employers need more time and clarification of the rules of the road before implementing the employer mandate."

The delay is likely to result in more people buying individual healthcare coverage through the insurance exchanges created in the new law, with open enrollment beginning Oct. 1, The Hill said.

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