In a move likely to stoke the fires of conservatives, the Obama administration has postponed until 2015 a key provision of its signature health care reform law, the limit on out-of-pocket expenses that a consumer might have to pay, according to a report in Tuesday's New York Times.
The Times reports that the delay was referenced among a list of "frequently asked questions" on the Labor Department's website dating back to February.
Under the change, some insurers will be able to delay implementation of the cost caps, which limited a consumer's out-of-pocket expenses to $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family. This will allow companies to set higher limits, or have no limits at all in 2014 when the major provisions of Obamacare begin taking effect.
Last month, the administration delayed another key provision of the health care law, the one requiring companies to provide insurance to their employees or face fines. That move drew howls from the GOP, which has held more than 40 House votes to repeal '"Obamacare." The latest delay will only add to Republican talking points on the health care law, which has emerged as a key issue heading into the 2014 midterm elections.
According to the Times, the change will allow many group health plans to maintain separate out-of-pocket limits in 2014, one for doctor and hospital services and one for prescription drugs.
Although the two delays are unrelated, they do reflect what many are pointing to as a major impediment to the implementation of "Obamacare" – the fact that large insurers often maintain more than one computer system and that they do not always communicate with each other.