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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According to a study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services and the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Kentucky will be the biggest winner in the proposed Medicaid expansion. Currently, 16.1% of Kentuckians under 65 are uninsured. The new Medicaid rules will reduce the number of poor people without insurance by 57.1%.
Kentucky voted for John McCain in 2008.
Currently, 18.7% of Oregonians under 65 and 12.8% under 18 don't have health insurance. Under the proposed Medicare rules, the number of poor people without insurance will drop by 56.7%.
Oregon voted for Obama in 2008.
Times are tough in the Mountain State: 18.6% of West Virginians under 65 are uninsured. If the state adopts the Medicare rule change, the number of uninsured poor people will drop by 56.7%.
West Virginia voted for McCain in 2008.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Hailey has already vowed to reject the Medicare expansion. Her state has one of the highest percentages of uninsured citizens: 19.9% of South Carolinians under age 65 don't have insurance. 12.7% of children under 18 are also uninsured. Under the proposed new Medicare rules, the percentage of poor people without health insurance would drop by 56.4%.
South Carolina voted for McCain in 2008. It's also where the first shot was fired in the Civil War.
Like South Carolina, Mississippi has also announced its plans to reject the Medicare expansion. And, like South Carolina, it could especially use the health care funds: 20.2% of Mississippians under 65 and 12.7% of those under 18 don't have insurance. Under the new rules, 54.9% of those poor people currently without health insurance would get it.
Mississippi voted for McCain in 2008.
At the other end of the scale, Delaware is one of the states that stands to benefit least from a Medicare expansion. Only 11.8% of people under 65 in the state are uninsured. Still, with the new rules, the number of uninsured people under the poverty line would drop by 15.9%.
Delaware voted for Obama in 2008.
With an uninsured population of just 13.3%, New York also won't get much out of the new Medicare expansion. Even so, the number of poor people without insurance in the Empire State will drop by 14.8%.
New York voted for Obama in 2008.
Arizona has one of the highest percentages of uninsured citizens: 21.2% of people under 65 and 16.2% under 18 don't have insurance. Even so, the Medicare expansion won't help the Grand Canyon state all that much: it will only reduce the number of poor people without health care by 13.6%.
Arizona voted for McCain in 2008.
Vermont has one of the lowest uninsured percentages in the country: Only 10.4% of its citizens don't have health coverage. Not surprisingly, the Medicare expansion won't help that much -- it will only reduce the number of uninsured poor people by 10.2%.
Thanks in large part to Mitt Romney's statewide health insurance program, Massachusetts is the best-insured state in the nation. Only 4.6% of citizens under 65 and 2.1% under 18 aren't insured. Not surprisingly, the Bay State will also benefit least from the Medicare expansion: it will only reduce the number of poor people without insurance by 10.2%.