Employers hail year-long delay in Obamacare mandate

    An hotelier in Bethlehem, Pa., is one of thousands of company executives who say they’re glad about an Obama administration plan to postpone a major provision of the Affordable Care Act.


    Under Obamacare, large companies that do not provide health insurance must pay a penalty. Companies with 50 workers or more are supposed to offer health insurance to any staffer who works 30 hours or more each week  — but that plan is on hold until 2015.

    The rule puts his business at a disadvantage, said Bruce Haines, managing partner of the Historic Hotel Bethlehem

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    “There’s no advantage to grow your business,” he said. “It’s penalizing us, and it doesn’t penalize the more limited service hotels, that are under 50 employees or can get under 50 employees to exempt themselves.”

    Supporters of Obamacare see the decision as a year delay in the law’s intent to provide affordable health-care coverage.

    The National Federation of Independent Business, a small business advocacy group — which has been an outspoken opponent of Obamacare — linked WHYY/NewsWorks with Haines.

    In recent months Haines and his team have been dreaming up scenarios in an effort to comply with the law by 2014.

    “So there’s no way we can get under 50 employees, we looked at that,” Haines said. “Should we spin off our food service operation? We looked at that last year, and now are spending hours trying to manage our operation with less than 30-hour employees.”

    Hotel Bethlehem has 175 employees. All the hotel’s full-time staffers already have access to health coverage through work.

    Haines says the company pays an average of $6,000 to provide that insurance, and before this week’s delay announcement, it was a big financial worry to suddenly add those costs for workers who average 30 hours a week.

    Unhappy company managers complained about the Obamacare rule and looming penalty, according to Michael Rosenfeld with Model Consulting who advises companies in Pennsylvania about employee benefits.

    That pushback, he says, is partly behind the Obamacare delay.

    “The government doesn’t really have their act together and this wasn’t really well thought out,” Rosenfeld said.

    “If you look at what happened, no one really prepared for this because of the election primarily and they were waiting and hoping this would go away.

    “So, everyone’s scrambling including the government and the states to get this all together by 2014, so I guess they just came to the realization that it was too much in too short a time,” he said.

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