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Q&A on impact of health law delay on businesses

Wednesday - 7/3/2013, 8:58pm  ET

JOYCE M. ROSENBERG
AP Business Writers

A one-year delay in a central part of the health care overhaul is likely to have its biggest impact on small and medium-sized businesses, not the number of people who will be gain health insurance coverage.

The Obama administration said Tuesday that it would postpone until Jan. 1, 2015, the effective date of what's called the employer mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act. The law had required companies with 50 or more employees to provide affordable health coverage for their workers as of Jan. 1, 2014.

That provision affects by some estimates just 4 percent of the nation's more than 27 million companies. And many of those companies are already providing insurance to their workers.

Other provisions of the ACA, including the creation of state and federal health insurance exchanges, remain on schedule. Those exchanges are where individuals and small and medium-size businesses will be able to purchase health care policies.

Treasury Assistant Secretary Mark Mazur said in a blog post that the government was responding to complaints about the law, which has many regulations and rules for businesses to follow.

"We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively," Mazur said.

Some questions and answers about the impact of the delay:

Q. How does Tuesday's announcement affect the number of people who gain coverage under the law?

A. It shouldn't have a big impact. Congressional Budget Office forecasts show that most of the people who gain coverage are expected to do so either through an expansion of the state-federal Medicaid program that begins next year or by buying a policy through new health insurance exchanges slated to start operating this fall.
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