U.S. businesses that had been looking at possible penalties if they don't provide health insurance to their employees by January are getting an extra year before they must comply with the new law, the White House says. The requirement, part of the health care overhaul known as "Obamacare," affects all companies that have at least 50 employees.
The Obama administration announced the change Tuesday, citing "ongoing discussions with businesses" about the new health insurance requirements in the Affordable Care Act.
A post on the White House blog explains that the delay will be accompanied by an effort to simplify the process of reporting data about each worker's health insurance status.
"As we make these changes, we believe we need to give employers more time to comply with the new rules," senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett wrote this afternoon. "Since employer responsibility payments can only be assessed based on this new reporting, payments won't be collected for 2014."
In the meantime, employers, insurers and others will be strongly encouraged to start reporting the data voluntarily, Mark J. Mazur writes on the Treasury department's blog. He notes that the government expects to publish rules about what information must be reported, and how, this summer.
"Real-world testing of reporting systems in 2014 will contribute to a smoother transition to full implementation in 2015," Mazur writes.
As Bloomberg reports, the delay pushes a contentious part of the new health care law until after next year's midterm elections.
The news agency adds that the change was deemed "an unexpected but extraordinarily wise decision" by National Retail Federation vice president Neil Trautwein.