Although the latest delay in enforcement of the Affordable Care Act was meant to help out small and medium-size businesses by giving them more time to figure out their health care plans, the continual changes to the deadline might lead even the staunchest supporters of the mandate to question whether it actually has teeth.
On Monday, the Obama administration announced that most employers won't face fines until next year for not offering their employees health insurance. Under the original terms of the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, companies with at least 50 full-time workers would have had to start paying fines at the beginning of this year if they failed to comply. Last year, the administration delayed that deadline until the beginning of 2015.
According to the most recent announcement, companies with 50 to 99 full-time workers will have until 2016 to begin providing insurance to employees and avoid fines. Larger companies will be able to avoid some penalties until 2015, as long as they provide coverage to at least 70 percent of their workers, The Wall Street Journal reported.
White House officials say the latest delay was in response to the need of businesses and aimed at allowing federal and state exchanges more time to get their Small Business Health Options Programs (SHOPs) ready. But the more the administration delays enforcement of the Affordable Care Act, the less likely employers will be to believe the new deadlines for compliance will actually be enforced. A boy-who-cried-wolf situation seems to be developing, and if you scrambled to hit the 2014 deadline, this new delay has to be an aggravating development.