House Approves Bill To Repeal SGR, Delay Individual Mandate
On Friday, the House voted 238-181 to approve a Republican-sponsored bill (HR 4015) that would offset the cost of repealing and replacing Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula by delaying enforcement of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate through 2019, Wall Street Journal reports.
Twelve Democrats and all House Republicans voted for the measure (Peterson, Wall Street Journal, 3/14). According to The Hill's "Floor Action," Democrats were "under pressure" to vote against the measure after their loss last week in a special election in Florida, which raised fears that the ACA could lead to significant losses for their party in November's midterm elections (Kasperowicz, "Floor Action," The Hill, 3/14).
According to MedPage Today, the prospects for the bill are dim because it is unlikely to proceed to a vote in the Senate, where the Democratic majority opposes delaying the individual mandate. Meanwhile, the White House has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches President Obama's desk (Pittman, MedPage Today, 3/14).
The White House commended the GOP for attempting to address the long-running Medicare payment issue, but it argued that delaying the individual mandate would be at the risk of "higher numbers of uninsured Americans, higher premiums for those who remain insured and fewer premium tax credits for middle-income families" (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/12).
White House Official: Individual Mandate Delay 'Will Not Happen'
In related news, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer on Sunday reaffirmed that delaying the individual mandate delay "will not happen," the Washington Times reports.
During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Pfeiffer also defended the Obama administration's recent decision to delay the employer mandate for certain small businesses. He noted that the implementation of other large federal programs, like Medicare and its prescription drug benefit program, included similar delays. He said that "giving people some additional transition time" is "very consistent with how laws are implemented" (Sherfinski, Washington Times, 3/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.