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obamacare employer mandate delayed

Obamacare Employer Mandate Delayed for Some Companies

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Mid-sized retailers are getting another break from the Affordable Care Act employer mandate that was to have taken effect at the beginning of 2014.

As passed by Congress, the law would have required companies with 50 or more full-time workers to provide employees with health insurance at government-mandated levels beginning in January. But the Obama Administration announced last summer that the requirement would be postponed until 2015.

Last month, the Treasury Department announced that the requirement will be pushed back to 2016 for companies with 50-99 workers. Companies with 100 or more employees will still be required to begin providing coverage in 2015, but will only be required to cover 70 percent of workers. Beginning in 2016, they will be required to cover 95 percent. Companies whose health care plans don’t coincide with the calendar year will be able to begin compliance on the plan’s anniversary date. Officials say the changes are intended to provide “transition relief” for businesses.

In a month that featured the Winter Olympics, “The Administration should receive the gold medal,” NRF vice president and employee benefits policy counsel Neil Trautwein says. “The retail industry appreciates the cooperation and responsiveness.”

In another development, the House is expected to vote this month on legislation that would change the Affordable Care Act’s definition of “full-time” from 30 hours to 40 hours, reducing the number of workers affected and the impact on employers’ payroll costs. Another bill is pending that would limit the law to companies with 100 or more workers rather than the current threshold of 50 employees.