By Eric Brown
The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it would push back the deadline for large employers to provide health insurance for their workers, a key part of the health care reform, until 2015.
Under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, businesses with more than 50 employees were to be required to provide health care for all full-time workers by Jan. 1, 2014, or pay a $2,000 fine for each uninsured employee. The New York Times notes that the Obama administration's new deadline of Jan. 1, 2015, is past the 2014 midterm elections, as Republican lawmakers continue to call for a repeal of the entire Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare."
"As we implement this law, we have and will continue to make changes as needed. In our ongoing discussions with businesses we have heard that you need the time to get this right," top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said in the administration's official announcement. "We are listening. So in response to your concerns, we are making two changes."
In the same post, Jarrett also announced that the administration planned to make it easier for employers to report to the government about their workers' health care status. Jarrett described this measure as "cutting the red tape and simplifying the reporting process."
Republican lawmakers endorsed postponing the employer health care deadline, but many state that they won't give up the fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act entirely.
"A delay -- conveniently past the 2014 election -- only adds to the uncertainty these job creators face because of Obamacare," Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said to Reuters. "The only reasonable recourse is to fully repeal this law."
At the same time, administration officials attempted to use this move as a positive point for Obama, stating that he is listening to the concerns of the business community.
"We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively," Mark J. Mazur, an assistant Treasury secretary, wrote on the department's Web site. "We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so."
While the deadline for employers to provide heath care has been pushed back, the Affordable Care Act also includes a provision stating that all Americans without health insurance may suffer tax penalties starting on Jan. 1. Tuesday's announcement didn't change that deadline.
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