Eric Cantor speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 8, 2014.
Douglas Graham/Getty

Small firms get a small break on Obamacare


When it comes to rolling out the Affordable Care Act, few good deeds go unpunished. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor quickly unsheathed his pea shooter Monday, when the IRS and the Treasury Department released final regulations for the so-called employer mandate—the requirement that most employers either sponsor health plans for their workers or help the government cover the subsidies those workers receive in the health-insurance exchanges.  

“Another day, another delay,” Cantor tweeted. “This should be ObamaCare’s new logo.”

The congressman’s mock-up depicted the malfunctioning fifth ring in the Sochi Olympics insignia as the “O” in Obamacare.

His followers loved it—“@EricCantor change your title to ‘America’s Funniest Majority Leader’!” one replied—but the barb was an odd response to the administration’s news. The final rule simply grants one small class of employers (the 2% with 50 to 99 full-time workers) a little more time to start paying into the system. Cantor’s reaction suggests he’d rather deny it.

“Companies with 50-99 employees that do not yet provide quality, affordable health insurance to their full-time workers will report on their workers and coverage in 2015,” the Treasury Department explained in a Monday afternoon statement, accompanied by a fact sheet and a 227-page rule, “but have until 2016 before any employer responsibility payments could apply.”

The administration previously granted businesses with 50 or more employees an extra year to start including health care reports in their tax returns. Smaller ones were always exempt. Under the final rule, any business with 50 or more employees will still have to file annual health care reports starting next year. But the tiny fraction with fewer than 100 workers will have until 2016 to start providing coverage or paying a “shared responsibility” fee with their taxes.

Meanwhile, people who aren’t covered by their employers will still be eligible for affordable care through the new health insurance exchanges.

Another day, another red herring.