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POLITICS: PennAve

Robert Gibbs predicts elimination of employer mandate

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Obamacare,Health Care,PennAve,Employer Mandate,Robert Gibbs

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs predicted on Wednesday that the Obama administration would scrap the employer mandate, which has already been delayed twice.

“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, President Obama's former top spokesman, said at the Benefits Selling Expo in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Earlier this year, the administration delayed the employer mandate for a second time, giving companies with between 50 and 99 employees until 2016 to offer insurance coverage to their workers or pay a fine.

Critics say the administration granted the extension to limit blowback from a core element of the law that would kill jobs.

The White House counters that the employer mandate affects just a small fraction of people, given that most larger companies offer insurance coverage to their workers.

And administration officials have resisted calls to eliminate the employer mandate.

"You can make predictions all the time and they turn out not to be true," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday, hitting back at Gibbs' suggestion.

For his part, Gibbs said Democrats should be open to making improvements to the president’s signature domestic initiative.

“We need to have an honest discussion about improving and tweaking the law,” Gibbs said.

Still, the former Obama adviser endorsed the controversial health law.

“Change hasn’t been easy and it won’t be easy,” Gibbs said. “It will be a long time before we know how this will play out. But the law has real potential to work.”

This article was posted at 10:05 a.m. and has been updated.

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