Morning Action: Yet Another Obamacare Delay
OBAMACARE DELAY. The Obama Administration has postponed another part of Obamacare’s employer mandate by two years for mid-sized employers, allegedly in response to “complaints about the law’s definition of a full-time worker as one who works 30 hours per week, rather than the conventional definition of a 40-hour week.” Employers who have fewer than 100 workers also will have one extra year to comply, until 2016, while employers with fewer than 50 workers are already exempt from employer mandate (sub. req’d):
The Obama administration is again delaying parts of the health care law requirements that employers provide health insurance for their workers, under an IRS final rule released Monday.
The changes in the rules mean that less than 2 percent of companies — those with more than 100 workers — will have to offer coverage to their workers next year. Most of those companies already offer health benefits to their staff. And those that don’t will get extra leeway in meeting the law’s requirements.
The temporary relief for employers comes after the Obama administration already delayed the penalties for employers once. In July 2013, the administration announced that it would not enforce the penalties until 2015.
The Heritage Foundation notes this decision was made because “Hurting workers doesn’t play well in an election year.”
BENGHAZI. A House panel finds there was insufficient security planning in Benghazi (sub. req’d):
In advance of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, White House officials didn’t sufficiently prepare for the Sept. 11 anniversary, leaving some U.S. personnel more vulnerable, according to a forthcoming report from House Armed Services Committee Republicans.
“In preparing for the Sept. 11 anniversary, White House officials either failed to comprehend the situation in Libya and elsewhere or ignored the dramatically deteriorating security situation there,” a committee aide said, noting that White House officials inflated the extent of their preparations.
HEALTH CARE. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) 74% and Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) 77% discussed alternatives to Obamacare at our Conservative Policy Summit (sub. req’d):
House Republican leaders are looking for areas of common ground within the GOP conference as they work toward a vote this year on an alternative to the health care law, Georgia Republican Tom Price said Monday.
Both Price and Tennessee Republican Phil Roe have introduced bills (HR 2300, HR 3121) to replace the 2010 overhaul (PL 111-148, PL 111-152), and their measures were the topic of a Monday panel at Heritage Action for America’s 2014 Conservative Policy Summit.
But Price said that the goal for the vote is to find the elements that the various Republican health care proposals share. He named a number of familiar GOP ideas as examples, such as the expansion of Health Savings Accounts, the ability to buy coverage across state lines, association health plans and likely some type of medical liability overhaul.
DEBT LIMIT. Republicans are closing in on a debt limit plan (sub. req’d):
With the timeline for action on the debt limit severely pinched, House Republicans are narrowing their options for potential add-ons to legislation that would extend the government’s borrowing authority. GOP leaders at a Monday evening conference meeting zeroed in on repealing a cut to some military pensions and changing the formula Medicare uses to calculate physician reimbursements, hoping to win support from enough Republicans without repelling Democrats and triggering a crisis. Majority Leader Eric Cantor has signalled floor action before the chamber breaks on Wednesday to allow for a Democratic Caucus retreat and the President’s Day recess next week.
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) 91% said Americans should not lose tax benefits because they have a traditional view of marriage:
Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID) today said a growing “climate of intolerance and intimidation” convinced him to introduce a bill to protect Americans from losing a tax benefit or otherwise being penalized by the federal government because of their religious views on marriage.
The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act is narrowly tailored to prevent the government from targeting those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman, Labrador said in the closing session of the Conservative Policy Summit convened at The Heritage Foundation by its political action arm, Heritage Action for America.