Raising taxes in the Obama depression is bad politics so the Whitehouse Chief of Staff tried to change their tune a bit by saying it is not a tax.
The Supreme Court stated that mandating insurance coverage was not allowed by the Government under the Commerce clause but is Constitutional as the most bizarre tax in the history of the United States. So for all intents and purposes, this is a tax. There is no ifs ands or buts about it.
The Whitehouse failed at trying to state otherwise and I don’t expect them to keep trying.