White House Delays Key Obamacare Provision for a Year

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The administration will give a one-year extension to medium and large businesses to meet the requirements of a major Obamacare provision requiring them to provide affordable healthcare to their employees.  

That "employer mandate," Bloomberg explains, was the subject of protest by a number of employer groups who said the cost and complexity of meeting the law's requirements by 2014 was too burdensome. Now, businesses with more than 50 employees have until 2015 before facing fines for non-compliance, and Obama and company will take another year to simplify the process. Bloomberg's scoop cites two unnamed officials, referencing an apparent Fourth of July news dump intended for release "later this week." The delay will move the implementation of the provision, which conservatives have recently argued is one of the the bill's weakest links, until after the midterms. 

The delay fits into the territory of holiday news dumps, no doubt, because it's basically a giant, well-lit soap box atop a red carpet for opponents of Obama's health care reform. Since taking over the House of Representatives in 2011, Republicans have staged 37 votes to repeal the entire 2010 law. And while today's employer extension leaves other parts of the law intact, including those already in effect, and the still-standing 2014 deadline for the individual mandate, conservatives are happy to step up and talk about how the announcement renders the whole law vulnerable. Here's a sampling (emphasis ours): 

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House Speaker John Boehner: "The president's health care law is already raising costs and costing jobs. This announcement means even the Obama administration knows the 'train wreck' will only get worse. I hope the administration recognizes the need to release American families from the mandates of this law as well. This is a clear acknowledgment that the law is unworkable, and it underscores the need to repeal the law and replace it with effective, patient-centered reforms."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: "Rather than continuing to delay the predictable pain until another election day has passed, we should scrap this entire law and instead implement patient-centered reforms before any more damage is done to our economy or the health care families depend on. The best delay for ObamaCare is a permanent one." 

Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican Leader: "Obamacare costs too much and it isn’t working the way the administration promised. And while the White House seems to slowly be admitting what Americans already know, and what I hear consistently in my travels around Kentucky regarding the regulatory burden on employers, the fact remains that Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced with common-sense reforms that actually lower costs for Americans." 

WaPo Columnist Jennifer Rubin: "The Obama administration has undermined its sole claim to greatness." 

The Heritage Foundation: "The problem is not just Obamacare’s employer mandate—the real problem is Obamacare itself." (Heritage, of course, is often cited as an early influencer of Obamacare —something the organization has vehemently denied, not entirely convincingly, since the bill's passage.)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.