Obama’s New Delay of Employer Mandate Violates Plain Language of Law

by TERENCE JEFFREY February 11, 2014

President Barack Obama's Treasury Department issued a new  regulation today that for the second time directly violates the plain and unambiguous text of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by allowing some businesses to avoid the law's Dec. 31, 2013 deadline to provide health insurance coverage to their employees.

Initially, on July 2, 2013, the administration unilaterally delayed the deadline for the employer mandate until 2015. Now, the administration is unilaterally delaying it for some businesses until 2016.

In its official summary of PPACA, the Congressional Research Service said: "(Sec. 1513, as modified by section 10106) Imposes fines on large employers (employers with more than 50 full-time employees) who fail to offer their full-time employees the opportunity to enroll in minimum essential coverage or who have a waiting period for enrollment of more than 60 days."

The text of the law itself describes an "applicable large employer" as follows: "The term ‘applicable large employer' means, with respect to a calendar year, an employer who employed an average of at least 50 full-time employees on business days during the preceding calendar year."

The final words in the section of PPACA mandating that employers with more than 50 full-time employees provide their employees with "minimum essential coverage" imposes a specific statutory deadline for doing so. It says: "EFFECTIVE DATE.-The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013."

Last summer, the administration unilaterally moved this hard statutory deadline back one year to 2015 for all employers with more than 50 full-time employees. Now, without any action by Congress, the administration is moving it back again for some employers-despite the plain language of the law.

The Treasury Department has issued a fact sheet explaining how the Obama administration's new declaration changes the meaning of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The fact sheet says:

"To ensure a gradual phase-in and assist the employers to whom the policy does apply, the final rules provide, for 2015, that: The employer responsibility provision will generally apply to larger firms with 100 or more full-time employees starting in 2015 and employers with 50 or more full-time employees starting in 2016."

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Terence P. Jeffrey started as editor in chief of CNSNews.com in September 2007. Prior to that, he served for more than a decade as editor of Human Events, where he is now an editor at large. Terry was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area, the seventh of eleven children. Both his parents were doctors of medicine. Terry writes a weekly column for the Creators Syndicate. He and his wife, Julie, have five children and live in the Virginia suburbs outside Washington, D.C.


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