WASHINGTON (AP) — If businesses get an extra year to meet a new health care mandate, why not everybody else?
Republicans, seizing on the White House delay for employers, are demanding that the Obama administration give individual Americans an equal break. But the White House says that's just a thinly disguised gambit for dismantling the entire health care overhaul.
What to believe?
"If businesses can get relief from Obamacare, the rest of America ought to be able to get relief as well," declares House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.
"A delay in the individual mandate is repeal by another name," responds White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri. She described it as a political attempt to sabotage health care for the uninsured.
The battle of the mandates is the latest clash in the long-running political fight over health care — a fight that's far from over.
Under President Barack Obama's big overhaul, most people will be required to have insurance starting next Jan. 1, and larger businesses were supposed to offer affordable health care to their employees who average 30 hours of work a week.
Here are some questions and answers in the aftermath of the administration's sudden delay of the employer mandate:
Q: So what are the law's mandates?
A: One is for individuals and another for employers. The individual requirement takes effect in 2014; the employer mandate has been delayed until 2015.
Under the health care law, virtually all Americans must carry medical insurance, either through an employer or a government program, or by buying their own policies. Most people are unaffected because they already have coverage.
Q: If you don't have it, how do you get it?
Middle-class individuals and families with no access to job-based health insurance will be able to buy subsidized private coverage through new markets that open Oct. 1. Low-income people will be steered to an expanded version of Medicaid in states that accept it.