OVERNIGHT HEALTH: ObamaCare’s employer mandate pushed back again

The Obama administration on Monday announced it is delaying the employer mandate in ObamaCare until 2016 for some businesses.

This delay in the mandate — the second so far — would only apply to businesses with between 50 and 99 employees, who would have until January 2016 to decide whether to offer insurance to their employees or pay a penalty. Businesses would also be barred from cutting their workers in order to fall under the threshold.

The employer mandate, a cornerstone of the healthcare reform law, was initially set to take effect in January, but the administration announced in July that companies would have until January of 2015 to comply. A senior Treasury Department official stressed that the new language on the mandate was not meant to influence decisions about hiring or downsizing. Ben Goad at The Hill reports.

Momentum: Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.) on Monday became the first Democrat to co-sponsor Republican legislation to repeal the definition of “full-time employee” under ObamaCare. In a joint statement with Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.), the author of the Save American Workers (SAW) Act, Lipinski said the legislation would keep part-time workers from potentially losing hours under the healthcare law.

Young said three other Democrats have also committed to co-sponsoring the bill, but did not reveal their names. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

Mum: The top U.S. doctor group is staying silent on how best to pay for fixing Medicare's flawed physician payment system after lawmakers unveiled a reform framework last week. 

The American Medical Association (AMA) said Monday that it supports the bipartisan, bicameral proposal but would not comment on pay-fors until lawmakers offer their own ideas. The comments underscore the fragile nature of negotiations over how to pay for the roughly $150 billion permanent "doc fix."

Industry players, especially hospitals, are loath to undergo more cuts in the name of greater pay stability for Medicare doctors. Last week's announcement of legislation to repeal the sustainable growth rate intensified an already heated lobbying battle on Capitol Hill.

Elise Viebeck at The Hill reports.

Smokes: Eight Democratic senators are urging leaders of the nation's drug stores to pull cigarettes and other tobacco products from their shelves.

In a letter sent Monday to Walgreen Co., Rite Aid Corp. and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the senators said the industry should follow CVS Caremark's lead and refuse to carry tobacco products. The letter, spearheaded by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), is part of a renewed effort by the federal government to highlight the negative health impacts of smoking.

Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

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Pro-Medicaid GOP legislators out-fundraising their rivals in Arizona.

Medical marijuana gains traction in the Deep South.

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