The Obama administration is delaying health care reform’s employer mandate until 2015 to give businesses another year to prepare for this requirement.
Mark Mazur, assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy, made this news official in a blog on the Treasury Department’s web site posted shortly after Bloomberg broke the news late Tuesday afternoon.
Under the Affordable Care Act, employers with 50 or more workers are required to provide health coverage to their workers or pay a penalty. The mandate was scheduled to begin in 2014.
But Mazur noted that businesses had complained the reporting rules for this mandate were too complex and had asked for more time to comply with them.
“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,” Mazur wrote.
So the administration is pushing back the mandate’s reporting requirements until 2015.
“This is designed to meet two goals,” Mazure wrote. “First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law. Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees.”
Formal guidance on this delay will be coming from the Treasury Department within a week. The department still hopes to publish proposed rules this summer on health coverage reporting requirements for employers and insurers. Once these rules are issued, the Obama administration will “work with employers, insurers, and other reporting entities to strongly encourage them to voluntarily implement this information reporting in 2014, in preparation for the full application of the provisions in 2015. Real-world testing of reporting systems in 2014 will contribute to a smoother transition to full implementation in 2015.”
Without reporting, it’s “impractical to determine which employers owe shared responsibility payments” for 2014, so these penalties also will be delayed until 2015, Mazur wrote.
The mandate for individuals to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty is still scheduled to go into effect in 2014 — at least for now. Don’t be surprised, however, if that mandate gets delayed as well, for practical as well as political reasons.
Health care reform always was going to be hard to implement — now even the Obama administration admits it’s just not ready.
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