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Mass. health care reform law's employer mandate repealed

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Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has approved legislation repealing provisions of the state's 2006 health care reform law requiring employers to provide health care coverage for their full-time workers.

The Fair Share Employer Contribution provisions of the state's reform law — which served as the model for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — assessed a $295-per-employee fee for Massachusetts employers with more than 10 full-time workers not providing group health benefits.

A full repeal of the requirement was included in the state's 2014 budget proposal, which Gov. Patrick signed into law Friday.

In January, Gov. Patrick called on state legislators to strike the coverage mandate in advance of similar requirements included in the federal health care reform law that had been due to take effect in 2014. However, the Obama administration announced earlier this month that the implementation of the federal employer mandate under PPACA would be delayed until January 2015.

Despite the delay, Gov. Patrick said he remained intent on repealing the state-level mandate, noting that employers in Massachusetts already pay into the state's Medical Security Program, which provides health care coverage for state residents receiving unemployment benefits.

“As long as the federal mandate isn't delayed beyond that one year, we'll be fine,” Gov. Patrick said during his monthly appearance on WGBH, a public radio station in Boston. “The intent was to smooth out some of the differences between the national health care reform law and our own.”

“Experience has taught us, at least here in the Commonwealth, that employers aren't deciding to offer their employees health insurance on account of the mandate,” he added. “It's because the programs make sense, they work, and the work we've done to contain costs for both employees and employers has helped as well.”