The Obamacare shared responsibility provision (aka "play or pay"), originally set to begin this Jan. 1 but delayed this past summer until Jan. 1, 2015, has now been delayed again, but only for employers with 50 to 99 employees. Mid-sized employers now won't have to comply until Jan. 1, 2016.

The shared responsibility provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was written to require employers with 50 or more full-timers (defined as those working 30 hours a week or more) to provide health insurance or pay a $2,000 "shared responsibility" assessment for every employee beyond the first 30 who are uninsured.

That provision was pushed back by executive fiat to Jan. 1, 2015, for all affected employers. Now the lower-tiered chunk of these employers will have another 12 months to get in line. To qualify for the extension, employers must certify under penalty of perjury that they have not reduced their work forces just to get under the threshold, IRS final regulations released yesterday state..

In addition, the IRS announced at the same time that employers with 100 or more employees will have to provide insurance only to 70 percent of their workers, not 95 percent as written in the law. The 95-percent solution will kick in on Jan. 1, 2016. The announcement also exempted from the mandate volunteers and seasonal workers employed for six months or less each year. Teachers and other school employees, however, will count as full-time workers even if they get three months off each year.

Firms with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from the shared responsibility provision and all reporting requirements of the ACA.

In response, Republicans were quick to call for the complete repeal of Obamacare.

"Once again, the president is giving a break to corporations while individuals and families are still stuck under the mandates of his health care law. And, once again, the president is rewriting law on a whim," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "If the administration doesn't believe employers can manage the burden of the law, how can struggling families be expected to?"

The Treasury Department announcement claimed these actions were "transition relief" under the IRS's authority to mitigate tax obligations that prove "burdensome." The announcement also held open the possibility of further delays: "As these limited transition rules take effect, we will consider whether it is necessary to further extend any of them beyond 2015."