The White House is tweaking Obamacare deadlines again, or as Speaker John Boehner put it, "once again, the president is rewriting law on a whim." The employer mandate, which requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide health coverage or pay a penalty, was originally set to go into effect on Jan. 1 2014, but in July, employers were given a one-year extension. On Monday, the administration relaxed the employer mandate even further, giving employers with 50 to 99 workers until 2016 to comply. The mandate will also go into effect more gradually for employers with 100 or more employees, which will need to offer coverage to 70 percent of full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent in 2016 to avoid penalties.
Just as they did over the summer, Republicans responded to the change by calling for the individual mandate to be delayed or repealed, though doing away with the employer mandate is more feasible. Many argued that it's unfair to delay the mandate for businesses but not individuals (people enrolling in Obamacare did get quite a few extensions in the past few months).
Though the Republicans' objections about fairness are basically the same as they were a few months ago, they updated them with an Olympics theme. "If unilateral delays were an Olympic sport, the White House would sweep the gold, silver, and bronze," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton. "The White House is in full panic mode, and rather than putting politics ahead of the public, it is time for fairness for all." There was also this solid contribution from Eric Cantor:
Another day, another delay. This should be ObamaCare's new logo: pic.twitter.com/4HGd4zXkMk— Eric Cantor (@EricCantor) February 10, 2014
Of course, the administration argues that it's totally fair to make changes to ease the transition for businesses. "In the tax code, the [Treasury] secretary has very broad authority to implement tax law in a way that benefits the tax administration and we think phase-in approach really is a way to administer the law better," an administration official told Politico. "The basic idea here is that you want to get this right in the long term."