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Administration defends delay in employer health care mandate

Administration defends delay in employer health care mandate

The Obama administration has defended its decision to delay to 2015 health care reform law provisions requiring employers to report health care plan enrollment information and offer either qualified coverage to their employees or pay a stiff fine.

Last week, Mark Mazur, the Treasury Department's assistant secretary of tax policy, said the delay is necessary to give regulators more time to simplify the new reporting requirement.

In a briefing Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney expanded on that point, saying the decision to delay was made “because we are interested in getting it right, because we believe that getting it right will further the benefits that will be available” to U.S. residents as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is implemented.

Mr. Carney said the delay will affect relatively few employers and their employees.

“This is a situation, when you talk about the delay in the employer responsibility provision, that affects about 4% of employers with more than 50 workers. The fact is that 96% of employers, roughly, already provide insurance,” he said.

Mr. Carney also said “enormous strides” have been made in moving toward implementation of key reform law provisions. Public insurance exchanges, which the administration now calls marketplaces, “will open on Oct. 1, as advertised. And come Jan. 1, those who have applied will have insurance available to them through the marketplaces,” he said.

Separately, Obama administration officials said Chris Jennings, the White House's chief health policy adviser for six years during the Clinton administration, will be named as a health policy adviser.

He left the Clinton administration in 2001 to start a consulting firm, Jennings Policy Strategies Inc. Clients, according to the firm's website, include the Federation of American Hospitals, the California Public Employees' Retirement System, Express Scripts Inc. and General Motors Co.