By Elise Viebeck - 07/03/13 09:07 PM EDT
House Republican leadership roundly criticized the Obama administration's decision to delay a key component of ObamaCare for business, calling it a slight to everyone who will be required to follow the individual mandate.
In a joint statement Wednesday, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and their deputies suggested that if employers deserve relief from a requirement to offer health insurance, individuals should not be made to carry coverage.
"The president owes the American people an answer: why does he think businesses deserve a one year delay from the mandates in ObamaCare, but middle class families and hardworking Americans don't?" the leaders said.
Republicans have relished news that ObamaCare's employer mandate won't be enforced until 2015, after the midterm elections.
The provision requires businesses of 50 workers or more to provide healthcare coverage or face fines, and is part of the Affordable Care Act's larger scheme for ensuring patients' access to health insurance.
Business groups had pressed regulators for a delay, citing onerous and delayed rulemaking on the mandate. Their wishes were granted on Tuesday when the White House announced the deferral, pushing enforcement of the policy from 2014 to the following year.
Obama's critics hailed the move as a major blow to his signature domestic achievement. But Democrats on Wednesday said the delay merely responds to legitimate concerns from business.
Leaders like the House's top Democrat, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), downplayed the delay's effect on the law's implementation.
"This change will not affect upcoming enrollment in health insurance marketplaces nor a family’s ability to obtain insurance coverage that fits its needs,” she said in a statement.
"Soon, Americans will benefit from greater wellness and prevention, more choices and competition in the insurance market, and increased access to quality, affordable care,” she wrote.
"As Americans celebrate the Fourth of July — the moment of our nation’s independence — we celebrate the Affordable Care Act as a source of health independence for America’s families and small businesses."