GOP measure could delay O-Care mandate

Republicans in the House and Senate introduced legislation Thursday that would establish a new trigger to block the Affordable Care Act’s contentious employer mandate from taking effect next year.

Already the subject of multiple hiccups, the ObamaCare provision requiring companies to either offer their workers healthcare insurance or pay penalties would be subject to additional delays under the so-called Certify It Act.

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A trio of Tennessee Republicans — Sen. Lamar Alexander and Reps. Stephen Fincher and Dianne Black — penned the bill, which would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Government Accountability Office to conduct annual studies looking at the mandates costs.

A finding that the mandate would have a negative impact on small-business health insurance premiums or job creation would delay its enactment for the following year, the lawmakers said.

“Republicans want to repair the damage ObamaCare has done and prevent future damage,” Alexander said. “This bill says, ‘Let the facts speak for themselves — if premiums are going up and jobs are being cut, then delay the mandate.’ ”

The mandate requires that firms with more than 50 full-time workers offer health insurance or pay a penalty. Its backers contend the requirement is crucial to the Affordable Care Act's overall scheme of expanding access to healthcare coverage.

The administration has pushed back the mandate's starting date by a year, however, to January 2015.

Some businesses got an additional reprieve earlier this year, when federal health officials announced that employers with between 50 and 99 workers have until January 2016 to offer health insurance or pay a fine.