The Obama administration announced Monday it is giving small businesses an extra year to comply with an Obamacare rule requiring that they provide their workers with health coverage or pay a fine.
Under the so-called employer mandate, all businesses with more than 50 workers provide health-care coverage or pay fines of $2,000 per employee. The rule was initially supposed to go into effect in 2014, but last year, the administration pushed back its enforcement by a year. Now, companies with 50 to 100 full-time employees don’t have to comply until 2016. Businesses with fewer than 50 workers are still exempt, while businesses with 100 or more employees must still comply starting in 2015.
The Treasury Department also announced other ways it is phasing in the rule’s enforcement: For instance, to avoid a penalty, employers must offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time workers in 2015 and 95 percent of them starting in 2016. Additionally, the requirement that employers cover their workers’ dependents will not apply in 2015, as long as the employers are taking steps to provide that coverage in 2016.
The Treasury Department also clarified other aspects of the rule’s enforcement; for instance, volunteers for a government or tax-exempt entity (such as volunteer firefighters and EMT responders) are not counted as full-time employees under the employer mandate.
Republicans on Monday pounced on the news of a new delay to once again call for a delay of the individual mandate, as well as a repeal of the Affordable Care Act all together.
“The White House seems to have a new exemption from its failed law for a different group every month,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. “It’s time to extend that exemption to families and individuals—not just businesses. The real answer is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with reforms that lower costs and that Americans support.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, similarly said, “Once again, the president is giving a break to corporations while individuals and families are still stuck under the mandates of his health care law. And, once again, the president is rewriting law on a whim.”