Week ahead: GOP hopes to capitalize on ObamaCare delay

The sudden delay in the law’s employer mandate caught stakeholders off guard, and Republican strategists were thrilled with the news.

They said it would be a boon to GOP candidates in 2014, putting the focus back on ObamaCare and giving them another way to argue that the law is flawed.

Democrats, meanwhile, weren’t sweating the delay.

The employer mandate is not central to making the rest of the law work — at least right away — and the politics of a delay now are likely better than the politics of a rocky rollout next year, closer to the midterm elections.

Still, Republicans are hoping to capitalize on any apparent flaws in the implementation.

Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee moved quickly to schedule a hearing on the delay. The panel’s Health subcommittee will convene Wednesday to examine the issue.

For the rest of the week, Congress will be busy with longer-standing priorities.

On Monday, the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee will hold a hearing on ways to improve Medicaid, focusing in part on the expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Also on Monday, Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiGore wishes Mikulski a happy birthday at 'Inconvenient Sequel' premiere Bipartisan friendship is a civil solution to political dysfunction Dems press for paycheck fairness bill on Equal Pay Day MORE (D-Md.) and National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins will appear at an event at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to discuss the impacts of the sequester on healthcare programs.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is set to take up its annual spending bill for the Health and Human Services Department this week. The panel’s subcommittee on Labor and HHS will mark up the bill Tuesday, and it’s set for a markup in the full committee on Thursday.

Wednesday, following the Ways and Means Committee’s hearing on the employer mandate, the Senate Committee on Aging is scheduled to hold a hearing on diabetes care.

— This story was updated at 1:20 p.m. An earlier version inaccurately stated that Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsThe GOP Wonder Women who saved healthcare for 22 million Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan OPINION | GOP healthcare attack is a vendetta against President Obama MORE (R-Maine) would be attending the Monday event at Johns Hopkins.