White House Delays Obamacare Mandate for Small Businesses Until 2016

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) — The employer mandate under the U.S. healthcare reform law has been delayed until 2016 for smaller companies, the federal government said Monday. 

It’s the second time the deadline for businesses to either offer their workers health insurance or pay a penalty has been pushed back. This time it affects businesses with between 50 and 99 employees, the Hill reported.

The Obama administration said while those companies will now have until January 2016 to come into compliance with the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, they will not be allowed to trim their workforce to get below the threshold, the Washington newspaper said.

The mandate initially was to have taken effect last month, but last summer the administration put it off until January 2015.

The Hill said a senior Treasury Department official said the changes are not meant to influence companies’ staffing decisions.

“We’re not trying to interfere with what the business necessities might be,” he said.

The adjusted rules are meant to give companies more flexibility by allowing them to average employee hours over the course of an entire year when determining whether a worker is part-time or full-time.

Congressional Republicans have faulted the administration for working out issues that have cropped up on the fly rather than delaying the implementation of the entire healthcare reform law or starting over altogether.