The Obama administration announced a new round of changes to the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate on Monday. The changes, affecting medium and large businesses that don't already offer health insurance to employees, will give employers with medium-sized businesses another year to meet the law's requirements.
As is routine when the administration tweaks its health care law, Conservative Twitter is full of jokes. Like this one:
Another day, another delay. This should be ObamaCare's new logo: pic.twitter.com/4HGd4zXkMk— Eric Cantor (@EricCantor) February 10, 2014
If you're interested in what the changes actually mean, the Washington Post has a good break down. First, businesses with 50 to 99 employees, or just over the 50-employee threshold that triggers the mandate, will get yet an extra year to comply. So effectively, medium-sized businesses now have until 2016 to provide insurance to workers. Companies getting the extra year will also have to certify with the government that they're not firing a bunch of employees just to get a year-long extension.
Second, large companies — over 100 employees — will only have to offer coverage to 70 percent of full-time employees in 2015, as opposed to 95 percent. In 2016, those companies will have to meet the original target. And the Treasury Department also clarified the controversial question of whether volunteers count as full-time employees for the purposes of the law. As of Monday, it's clear that they do not.
An unnamed senior Treasury official told Politico that the changes were meant to improve the roll-out of the controversial Obamacare provision: "we think the phase-in approach really is a way to administer the law better. The basic idea here is that you want to get this right in the long term.”
In July, the Obama administration extended the deadline for the employer mandate for medium and larges business by a year, meaning that the provision wouldn't take effect until 2015. As Bloomberg reported at the time of the original extension, a number of employer groups argued that the law's original timeline — which would have fined businesses unable to meet the requirements by 2014 — too burdensome. Businesses with under 50 employees were always exempt from the employer mandate, which is separate from the individual mandate under the law.