Published on February 11, 2014

Healthcare mandate for medium-sized businesses delayed

WASHINGTON (Feb. 11, 2014) — The Obama administration has announced a further one-year delay in implementation of employer mandates under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for companies with 50 to 99 employees.

Under the White House directive announced Feb. 10, medium-sized employers will have until Jan. 1, 2016, to provide ACA healthcare coverage to all employees who work 30 hours or more a week.

Employers with 100 or more full-time employees will still have to provide coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2015. In all cases, employers who fail to provide coverage after the deadline will pay a penalty of up to $2,000 per employee.

In August 2013, the administration delayed the employer mandate till 2015. Under the original ACA legislation passed in 2010, the mandate was supposed to begin in January 2014.

"While about 96 percent of employers are not subject to the employer responsibility provision, for those employers that are, we will continue to make the compliance process simpler and easier to navigate," said Mark J. Mazur, assistant secretary for tax policy, in a joint press release from the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service.

Roy Littlefield, executive vice president of the Tire Industry Association, said the new delay further points up the flaws in the ACA and the poor planning that led up to it.

"We're glad for the delay, but this speaks to the whole program of pushing mandates on small business," Mr. Littlefield told Tire Business.

Tire dealers are better than most small- and medium-sized employers in providing healthcare coverage to their employees, he said.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) made similar comments.

"These kinds of delays and reinterpretations underline the shortcomings of the law itself," said Joe Trauger, NAM vice president of human resources policy. "Manufacturers continue to suffer under the uncertainty the ACA creates — they list it at the forefront of their challenges in the coming year."

"Every time small business owners hear about another delay or random rewrite of the rules under this law, they are shaking their heads and thinking, 'We told you so,'" said Amanda Austin, NFIB director of federal public policy.

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