Gibbs: Employer mandate won't happen

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs predicted Wednesday that the oft-delayed ObamaCare employer mandate will never go into effect.

“I don’t think the employer mandate will go into effect. It’s a small part of the law. I think it will be one of the first things to go,” Gibbs told a crowd in Colorado, according to BenefitsPro.com

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The website described the audience as being surprised by Gibbs’s comments

In February, the Obama Administration announced the second delay to the mandate, which requires certain businesses to either offer their full-time employees insurance or pay penalties.

Under the most recently announced delay, employers with between 50 and 99 employees have until January 2016 to offer health insurance or pay a fine. Companies with more than 100 employees must offer insurance or pay a fine of $2,000 per worker by January 2015. Those with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the penalty.

Gibbs argued that most employers with more than 100 workers already offer health insurance, and only a relatively small number of companies have between 50 and 99 employees.

The former Obama aide also recommended other “common-sense” improvements to the law, including offering “an additional layer of coverage cheaper than the plans already offered.”

Right now, catastrophic plans are available for certain young consumers, or those who qualify for hardship exemptions. It’s possible that Gibbs favors expanding those plans, although they offer fewer benefits to consumers.

“We need to have an honest discussion about improving and tweaking the law,” he said.

Despite his call for ObamaCare reforms, Gibbs said health reform “had to be done,” and the law “has real potential to work.”

“Change hasn’t been easy, and it won’t be easy,” Gibbs said. “It will be a long time before we know how this will play out.”