Late Monday afternoon the Treasury Department and IRS announced there will be a delay of enforcement of Obamacare’s employer mandate until 2016 for businesses with 50-99 employees.
There will be no delay for any company who reduces the number of employees below 99 to qualify for the extra year away from Obamacare.
The employer mandate requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees, (defined as someone who works at least 30 hours a week), to offer health insurance benefits or face a $2,000 per worker tax.
By offering an unexpected grace period to businesses with between 50 and 99 employees, administration officials are hoping to defuse another potential controversy involving the 2010 health-care law, which has become central to Republicans’ campaign to make political gains in this year’s midterm election.
Even the nation’s largest employers got a significant concession: They can avoid a fine by offering coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent starting in 2016. Under an earlier proposal, employers with at least 50 employees would have been required to offer insurance, beginning 2015, to 95 percent of those who work 30 hours or more a week, along with their dependents.
The regulation finalized by the Treasury Department involves one of the biggest issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act: how the law’s employer mandate plays out in practice. The mandate has enormous ramifications for how businesses classify their employees and how much these men and women work.
Initially, these requirements — which affect firms employing 72 percent of all Americans — were supposed to take effect this year, at the same time that most individuals faced a new obligation to obtain health insurance or risk a tax penalty. Last July, the administration announced it would delay the regulation for a year after many employers and some unions complained about the law’s reporting requirements and classification system for workers.
A senior administration official, who briefed reporters on the proposal on the condition of anonymity because the rule was not yet public, said the Treasury Department decided to allow medium-sized businesses more flexibility because they “need a little more time to adjust to providing coverage.”
It is unknown where the President gets the constitutional authority to change the details of a law passed by Congress.