House To Take Another Swing at Delaying ACA Mandates Next Week
On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that the House will hold back-to-back votes next week to delay the implementation of both the employer mandate and individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act, The Hill reports.
Background, Boehner's Comments
Republican lawmakers have sensed an opportunity to delay the ACA's individual mandate following the Obama administration's decision last week to delay the employer mandate until 2015.
Since the White House's announcement, House Republicans have adopted a populist tone, criticizing the White House for not also delaying the individual mandate. For example, Boehner in his weekly address said it is "unfair" and "indefensible" for President Obama to "protect big business from Obamacare but not individuals and families" (Berman, The Hill, 7/11).
"If you're a software company making billions in profits, you're exempt from Obamacare next year. But if you're a 28-year-old struggling to pay off your student loans, you're not," Boehner said, adding, "If you're a big bank or financial company, you don't have to comply with Obamacare. But if you're a single parent trying to make ends meet, there's no exemption for you."
Boehner said the employer mandate delay demonstrates that "even the administration admits the health law is unworkable" (Winfield Cunningham, Politico, 7/11). As a result, he said, "Next week the House will vote to delay both the employer and individual mandate" (The Hill, 7/11). According to Kaiser Health News's "Capsules," the votes would be the 38th and 39th time the House has voted to repeal all or part of the ACA.
White House, Democrats Defend Delay
Administration officials and supporters of the law have defended the delay, saying it was necessary to give businesses additional time to comply with the mandate.
They note that the delay will affect few businesses and will cause few individuals to go without coverage because the majority of businesses with 50 or more employees already offer health insurance. They also stress that those few who will be left without employer-sponsored coverage will be able to purchase plans through the law's health insurance exchanges beginning Oct. 1 and might qualify to receive federal subsidies to help offset the cost.
Many Democrats have rebuffed the GOP over its criticism of the employer mandate delay but say they are not surprised. During a House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health hearing on the delay, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said, "The irony of objecting to the delay of a program you've been trying to stop is, no doubt, lost on this room " (Carey, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 7/11).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.