White House rebuffs Gibbs’ employer mandate prediction

Photo by Mic Garofolo Photo by Mic Garofolo

Robert Gibbs’ prediction at the 2014 Benefits Selling Expo that Obamacare’s employer mandate will be the “first to go” from the law made national headlines. And it also quickly elicited responses from Obamacare allies.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., maintained Sunday that PPACA’s employer mandate will — and must — remain part of the law.

Appearing Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pelosi said that the “employer mandate, the individual mandate are an integral part” of the law, “This is an initiative that has strong pillars in it that relate to each other.”

She also touted last week’s announcement that 7.1 million people have signed up for Obamacare and said the high participation might convince more Democrats who distanced themselves from the law to embrace it and its success.

Pelosi’s comments followed a more immediate response from White House press secretary Jay Carney that his predecessor’s prediction was simply wrong.

Gibbs, the former White House press secretary and longtime advisor to President Obama, predicted last week during a keynote address that the administration would soon kill the employer mandate.

“I don’t think the employer mandate will go into effect. It’s a small part of the law. I think it will be one of the first things to go,” Gibbs said.

The employer mandate — a key piece of Obamacare — has been delayed twice already. Under the latest delay, employers with between 50 and 99 employees have until January 2016 to offer health insurance or pay a fine, and employers with more than 100 employees must offer insurance or pay a fine of $2,000 per worker by January 2015. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are exempt.

Gibbs noted there aren’t many employers who fall into the mandate window, he said, and the delays point to the fact that the mandate “will never happen.”

Carney insisted the employer mandate would not be delayed again.

“As the final rules put out in February made clear, this will be phased in next year,” Carney said.

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