Health-Law Employer Mandate Delayed by U.S. Until 2015
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Posted by: Rhette Baughman
Businesses won’t be penalized next
year if they fail to provide workers health insurance after the
Obama administration decided to delay a key requirement under
its signature 2010 health-care law.
The government will postpone enforcement of the so-called
employer mandate until 2015, the administration said today.
Under the provision, companies with 50 or more workers face a
fine of as much as $3,000 per employee if they don’t offer
The move addresses complaints from employer groups to
President Barack Obama’s administration about the burden of the
law’s reporting requirements. The decision pushes the issue past
the 2014 midterm congressional elections, as Republicans have
sought to make the health law a symbol of government overreach.
"In our ongoing discussions with businesses we have heard
that you need the time to get this right,” Valerie Jarrett, a
senior adviser to Obama, said in a White House blog post
announcing the decision. "We are listening.”
The move may lead some employers to delay providing
coverage to workers. The law’s individual mandate remains in
effect, a provision that requires most Americans to carry health
Two Obama administration officials, who discussed the move
before the announcement on condition that they not be
identified, said the administration decided to wait until 2015
before enforcing the employer mandate in order to simplify
reporting requirements and give businesses more time to adjust
their health-care coverage.
Randy Johnson, senior vice president of labor, immigration,
and employee benefits at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the
nation’s largest business lobby, praised the move.
"The administration has finally recognized the obvious --
employers need more time and clarification of the rules of the
road before implementing the employer mandate,” Johnson said in
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky
Republican, said in an e-mailed statement that the delay
confirms his party’s argument that "Obamacare costs too much
and it isn’t working the way the administration promised.”
The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows
the Obama administration to set the starting date for the
employer coverage reporting requirement that’s the linchpin of
the mandate. The administration had not yet announced a date,
one of the officials said. Still, enforcement of the mandate had
been widely expected to begin in 2014, the official said.
The White House had been in discussions with business
groups over complaints about the reporting requirements, and
senior officials believe they can simplify the process, the
officials said. The administration plans to invite employer
groups to discuss ways of simplifying administrative burdens
created by the mandate, the officials said.
Most large employers already provide coverage that meets
the law’s requirements, the officials said.
The officials said the decision stemmed from a commitment
in the administration to reduce regulatory red tape as much as
possible and drew parallels to a move earlier this year to cut
the length of application forms for insurance provided through
government-sponsored exchanges to three pages from 21.
Neil Trautwein, vice president and employee benefits
counsel for the National Retail Federation, called the move "an
unexpected but extraordinarily wise decision.”
The decision could lead companies to delay their own
decisions on whether to offer coverage to all their workers,
"The administration is certainly encouraging employers to
continue and expand offerings,” he said. "We’ll see how that
To contact the reporters on this story:
Mike Dorning in Washington at
Alex Wayne in Washington at
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Steven Komarow at