WASHINGTON — Colorado Republicans seized on the news that the Obama administration would delay the health-insurance mandate for certain employers another year, condemning the move as politically expedient and unconstitutional.
“If it’s bad enough that the administration has to delay the law a second time, after it was delayed earlier, it simply should be repealed. The individual mandate should be repealed too,” Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman said in an interview off the House floor Tuesday.
The Treasury Department announced Monday that companies with 50 to 99 employees would not be fined for failing to provide health coverage until 2016, well past the mid-term elections. Employers with 100 or more employees could consider their obligations fulfilled by having 70 percent of their workers covered instead of 95 percent.
In July, the administration announced it would postpone the employer mandate from 2014 to 2015.
The new change comes as medium-sized businesses have lobbied Congress and the Obama administration to delay the mandate, predicting that many companies would be forced to cut back on worker hours.
“(Obama’s) doing an end-run around the Constitution and his own law,” Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, said. “This is an attempt by this president to save his (Democratic) Senate majority.”
The Democratic caucus holds a 55-45 edge in the upper chamber. With support for the Affordable Care Act underwater, Republicans think they have a strong chance of capturing six seats in this year’s election to propel them into the majority.
In contrast to Republicans, Colorado Democrats have refused to comment on the delay.
Reps. Diana DeGette and Jared Polis declined to discuss the postponement with a reporter as they left a House floor vote Tuesday.
Heading to a House Finance Committee hearing, Rep. Ed Perlmutter also waved off a reporter and said he did not have time to discuss the matter.
“I got to speak with Janet Yellen,” Perlmutter said, referring to the new chairwoman of the Federal Reserve.
Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have not issued a statement on the delay on their congressional websites.