RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The Obama Administration is delaying the part of the Affordable Care Act that affects businesses and the insurance they offer - again. As NPR's Julie Rovner reports, this time, the administration is calling its changes to the new law a phase-in.
JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: OK, first off, the very smallest employers, those with fewer than 50 workers? They never had to do anything, and still don't.
This latest change affects the next group up: businesses with 50 to 99 employees. They'll get an additional year, until 2016, to either offer their workers insurance, or else potentially face fines. White House Health Advisor Phil Schiliro says that for this 2 percent of the nation's businesses...
PHIL SCHILIRO: The Treasury Department concluded that a phase-in was the most commonsense way to implement the law. It would help those companies make the best decisions for themselves and for their employees.
ROVNER: They only get the extra year, however, if they promise not to cut workers to get under the threshold. For larger firms, those with 100 or more workers, the insurance requirements take effect as currently scheduled on January 1st, 2015. Although for the first year, they only have to offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time workforce, down from 95 percent.
Republicans, not surprisingly, are accusing the administration, again, of selectively enforcing only the parts of the law it likes. Sean Spicer is communications director for the Republican National Committee.
SEAN SPICER: I think there is a huge bit of irony that the administration and Democrats in Congress accuse Republicans of trying to undo a law that they have unilaterally continued to undo or delay week after week as they recognize how unpopular it is throughout the country.
ROVNER: But not everyone sees the move as purely political. Neil Trautwein of the National Retail Federation says his group is grateful for the flexibility in the new employer rules.
NEIL TRAUTWEIN: They have proactively decided to address what appears to be a problem, that being the accommodation of some not very large businesses, and the idea that you can't flip a light switch and instantly become compliant.
ROVNER: But the new rules also conveniently push some of the difficult changes for those mid-sized businesses back until after the 2014 elections.
Julie Rovner, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.