Published 8/1/2013

ACA Employer-Coverage Mandate Delayed

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) insurance mandate for employers, which would have required companies with 50 or more employees to start offering qualifying health insurance coverage to workers, has been delayed for one year. The mandate had originally been scheduled to go into effect in 2014.

“We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively,” stated Mark J. Mazur, assistant secretary for tax policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. “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.”

The year-long delay will give the Treasury Department additional time to simplify the new reporting requirement and to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers move toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees.

According to Mr. Mazur, the Treasury Department expects to publish proposed rules this summer, after which the Administration will work with employers, insurers, and other reporting entities to “strongly encourage them to voluntarily implement this information reporting” in 2014.

“Real-world testing of reporting systems in 2014 will contribute to a smoother transition to full implementation in 2015,” he stated. Employers are strongly encouraged to maintain or expand health coverage during the 2014 “transition period.”

Republican legislators responded immediately, taking the opportunity to push their message that the health law is too complex.

“Obamacare costs too much and it isn’t working the way the administration promised,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said after the announcement. “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in my travels around Kentucky regarding the regulatory burden on employers, the fact remains that Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced with common-sense reforms that actually lower costs for Americans.”

The announcement will not delay the individual mandate or the Oct. 1, 2013, scheduled start of the online marketplaces and subsidies intended to help individuals purchase coverage.