(NaturalNews) The Obama administration has issued yet another delay to a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, a move that has thrown further confusion into an already complex - and deteriorating - healthcare situation.
The Treasury Department said on Monday that it was further delaying an Obamacare mandate requiring employers to provide insurance coverage to their workers. It is the second time that the mandate has been pushed back by the administration; initially, the requirement was set to kick in January 1.
The new rules allow mid-sized employers - those with between 50 and 99 employees - to put off providing them with health insurance coverage until 2016. That also means that those employers won't be penalized by the federal government until then as well.
Larger companies are getting a break too, as reported by The Washington Post:
Companies with 100 workers or more are getting a different kind of one-year grace period. Instead of being required in 2015 to offer coverage to 95 percent of full-time workers, these bigger employers can avoid a fine by offering insurance to 70 percent of them next year.
Another political ploy by the White House?
According to reports, the administration is trying to sell the new delay as pragmatic; officials said the decision was made in response to concerns from businesses that were likely going to struggle financially with the requirement to cover their workers. As such, the dual-phase-in period was required.
Critics of the decision were quick to note that it appeared, once again, that the administration was attempting to provide political cover for Democrats who supported the unpopular law in the run-up to the 2014 (and now 2016) elections.
And as expected, Republicans voiced no small amount of criticism, using the new delay as further justification that the entire law should be scrapped as unworkable and unaffordable. Also, GOP lawmakers repeated earlier claims that the administration's insistence that the individual mandate remain in place while businesses and other groups get a break is patently unfair.
"If unilateral delays were an Olympic sport, the White House would sweep the gold, silver, and bronze," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in a statement. "The White House is in full panic mode, and rather than putting politics ahead of the public, it is time for fairness for all."
Still, the new delay did have its supporters, many in the business community - though not all business groups were enthusiastic. The National Restaurant Association, which has nearly 500,000 members, praised the phase-in, because employees in the industry work odd, irregular hours, and most don't get any benefits.
"It's welcome news, as is anything that helps employers figure this out and gives them time to comply," said the group's director of labor and workforce policy, Michelle Neblett.
Eventually, unless the law is repealed, employers will have to pay
However, Joe Trauger, the National Association of Manufacturers' vice president of human resources policy, said the writing is still on the wall and that, eventually, employers are going to have to shell out the money to cover employees they are not presently covering.
"What they've released is doing what they can to make some things that are not great policy more livable," he said, according to the Post. "But at the end of the day, it's not great policy."
As Natural News has reported, Obamacare has already had a major effect on employment. Specifically affecting employment is the law's requirement that employers - eventually - absorb billions more in new costs to provide health insurance that is becoming increasingly expensive (though the law was supposed to lower the cost of insurance) [http://www.naturalnews.com].
If employers aren't cutting jobs outright because of Obamacare's mandate, they are reducing employee hours below the level of what the law recognizes as full-time employment - 30 or more hours per week [http://www.naturalnews.com].