House GOP Leaders Push for Delay of ACA’s Individual Mandate
Sensing an opportunity following the Obama administration's decision to delay the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate, House Republican leaders have begun seeking a similar delay to the law's individual mandate, the New York Times reports (Weisman/Pear, New York Times, 7/9).
GOP Requests Employer Mandate Decision Explanation
In a letter sent on Tuesday to President Obama, GOP leaders requested a detailed explanation of the administration's decision last week to delay the employer mandate (Baker , "Healthwatch," The Hill, 7/9).
The letter -- signed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and nine other leading House Republicans -- stated, "We agree with you that many of the provisions in the law cannot be implemented within the current time frame, but we strongly disagree with you that time will ever remedy these predictable consequences of the law" (Winfield Cunningham/Haberkorn, Politico, 7/9).
The lawmakers also asked Obama to provide an analysis of how many individuals will be moved into the ACA's health insurance exchanges as a result of the decision, as well as any corresponding changes in federal spending (Baker , "Healthwatch," The Hill, 7/9).
Further, the letter questioned the Obama administration's decision to delay the employer mandate while leaving the individual mandate intact. They wrote, "Please ... provide to Congress your justification for only delaying the employer mandate at this time and not the new mandate on individuals and families," adding, "We agree with you that the burden was overwhelming for employers, but we also believe American families need the same relief."
The lawmakers requested that Obama respond to their inquiries by Aug. 1 (Morgan, Reuters, 7/9).
GOP To Hold Vote To Delay Individual Mandate
House Republican leaders on Tuesday met to discuss strategies to delay or repeal the individual mandate, the Times reports.
During the meeting, Boehner proposed holding multiple votes, the first to codify the Obama administration's decision to delay the employer mandate for one year, then another to delay the individual mandate.
According to the Times, Republicans believe that Democrats would support the first vote to back the administration's decision, and would then be forced to approve the second measure or risk the appearance of favoring businesses over families (New York Times, 7/9).
"Is it fair for the president of the United States to give American businesses an exemption from his health care law's mandates, without giving the same exemption to the rest of America? Hell no, it's not fair," Boehner said, according to a source at the meeting.
According to "Healthwatch," Republicans also could push for a delay in the individual mandate during upcoming negotiations over raising the federal debt ceiling (Baker , "Healthwatch," The Hill, 7/9).
Several other Republican lawmakers echoed Boehner's comments, suggesting that the party is unified around its attack on the individual mandate, according to Politico (Politico, 7/9).
However, the White House and Democrats so far have shown no signs of delaying the individual mandate.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said, "If you take away the individual mandate, that would dismantle a core concept of universal coverage." He added, "We have been waiting for national health care coverage since Teddy Roosevelt, for more than 100 years. One more year is not the end of the earth" (New York Times, 7/10).
House Committees Hold Hearings Over Delay
In related news, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight on Thursday is scheduled to hold a hearing on the employer mandate delay, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports. During the hearing, lawmakers plan to ask the administration for its reasons behind the delay.
In a statement, subcommittee Chair Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) said, "Time and again, administration officials testified before our committee that all is well and the roll out of the Affordable Care Act is proceeding as planned, but the missed deadlines and ongoing delays tell a much different story."
Thursday's hearing will follow a similar one scheduled for Wednesday by the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 7/9).
According to the Times, the White House has declined to send a representative to Wednesday's hearings (New York Times, 7/9).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.