House GOP knocks ObamaCare deadline delay

Greg Nash

House Republicans are criticizing the Obama administration for delaying the deadlines for employers to file health insurance forms under ObamaCare. 

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“Announcing Obamacare delays as Americans unplug with their loved ones has become routine for the Obama administration, and this Christmas season is no different,” the House Energy and Commerce Committee said in a statement Wednesday. 

“Delaying burdensome and complex requirements of the health care law won’t remedy the situation,” the panel added. “The bottom line is simple — Obamacare is not working and has been defined by rising costs, fewer choices, lost coverage, and countless broken promises.”

The Republicans on the committee are reacting to the Treasury Department’s announcement on Monday that it is extending the deadlines for employers to submit forms to their employees and to the IRS detailing the health insurance available to employees. That information is part of enforcing ObamaCare’s mandate that larger employers provide health insurance to their workers. 

The Feb. 1 deadline for providing the information to employees was delayed by two months, and February and March deadlines for providing the information to the IRS were delayed by three months. 

The Treasury Department said it was responding to employers concerned that they would not have enough time under the original deadlines. 

“As part of our efforts to implement the [Affordable Care Act] in a careful and thoughtful way, the Treasury Department and the IRS are responding to feedback from private sector businesses and insurers and providing additional time for employer and insurer reporting under the ACA for the first year,” Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur said in a statement on Monday. 

The announcement does not delay any actual requirements under ObamaCare, only the deadlines for filing forms related to them. 

As the Energy and Commerce statement indicates, though, the employer mandate itself has already been delayed twice in the past. Instead of taking effect at the beginning of 2014 as originally intended, the requirement took effect at the start of 2015 for businesses with 100 or more workers and will take effect in 2016 for businesses with 50 to 99 workers. 

“Granting extensions for a few weeks doesn't address the fundamental flaws plaguing this cumbersome program,” the statement adds. “Instead of yet another round of delays, the administration should focus on real solutions like the Patient CARE Act.”

The Patient CARE Act is the outline of an ObamaCare alternative put forward by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and others and centers on a tax credit to help people afford coverage, as many Republican outlines do.