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While an unconventional move, the administration's decision last month to delay by one year to 2015 a provision in the health care reform law that will require employers with at least 50 employees to either offer coverage or pay a hefty fine was driven by political necessity, President Barack Obama said.
The delay, President Obama said at a news briefing last week, was done “in consultation with businesses all across the country” who were “concerned about the “operational details” of the mandate.
Last month, Treasury Department officials said the delay was needed to simplify how employers are to report health care plan enrollment information to the government.
In a “normal political environment,” such a change could have accomplished through the passage of a simple, bipartisan bill, President Obama said.
“In a normal political environment, it would have been easier for me to simply call up the Speaker (of the House of Representatives) and say, 'You know what, this is a tweak that doesn't go to the essence of the law — it has to do with, for example, are we able to simplify the attestation of employers as to whether they're already providing health insurance or not — it looks like there may be some better ways to do this; let's make a technical change to the law.' That would be the normal thing that I would prefer to do,” President Obama said.
But referring to the lack of bipartisanship on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, “We are not in a normal atmosphere when it comes to Obamacare,” he said.
“We did have the executive authority to do so, and we did so,” referring to the one-year delay.
Employers would have until 2016 to comply with a health care reform law provision requiring them to offer coverage to full-time employees or pay a fine under legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate.