House to Vote Next Week to Delay Individual Mandate
House Speaker John Boehner today announced that the House will take votes next week on a one-year delay to both the employer mandate and the individual mandate in the president's signature health care law.
Boehner's vow was instigated by the Obama administration's decision last week to postpone implementation of the mandate for businesses.
Thursday, the speaker ticked off examples of the types of people who would have to overcome the burden of the mandate - young professionals with student loans, single parents and families - and contrasted their struggle with financial companies, government contractors and big banks who stand to benefit from the administration's decision to delay the mandate for employers.
"It's unfair and indefensible," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "Is it fair for the president to give American businesses an exemption from the health law's mandates without giving the same break to individuals and families across the country? Hell, no, it isn't!"
The House is taking the second vote on the employer mandate not only because some lawmakers question whether the administration has the unilateral authority to delay the regulation, but also to put Democrats on the record "for their hypocrisy" over support for the delay for businesses, according to a senior Republican leadership aide.
"We remain committed to repealing Obamacare," Boehner reiterated. "It's wide open to fraud and abuse. In short, it's a train wreck."
Earlier this week, Boehner joined several GOP leaders and committee chairmen in a letter to the president asking him to justify delaying the employer mandate while leaving in place the mandate on individuals and families.
"We agree with you that the burden was overwhelming for employers, but we also believe American families need the same relief," the Republicans wrote Tuesday. "Each provision you delay continues to demonstrate that the entire law is unworkable."
Asked whether Boehner's move is appropriate given the administration's decision regarding employers, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi completely rejected the necessity to delay implementation of the individual mandate.
"No, absolutely not," Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "I don't think it's virtuous at all."
Pelosi, who counts the law's passage among the cornerstones of her speakership, also asserted that the interpretation of the administration's move is inaccurate. She explained that a "certain reporting" requirement by businesses that "could be perceived as onerous" was delayed in order to review "how it would work and how it could be better."
Pelosi indicated that employers are still encouraged to maintain or expand coverage during the 2014 transition period and the new start date in 2015 does not affect employees' access to the premium tax credits available under the ACA or any other provision of the law.
"It was not a delay of the mandate for the businesses, and there shouldn't be a delay of the mandate for individuals," she said.
A senior Democratic leadership aide noted that Democrats "do not expect employer behavior to change" as a result of the delay, and added that just four percent of businesses were subject to the requirement.
The House has voted three times on full repeal of the health care law, and nearly 40 times in total to disrupt, defund or dismantle it. Republicans note that seven of those efforts have been successful, saving taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.
Late Thursday, Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., introduced H.R. 2667, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act which would delay the employer mandate. Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., introduced H.R. 2668, the Fairness for American Families Act, which tackles the individual mandate.
In the wake of the delay for employers, Sen. Jerry Moran has introduced legislation in the upper chamber that would further disrupt the law's implementation.
Moran, R-Kans., has introduced two amendments to an appropriations bill. One would redirect $15 million from the law's Individual Payment Advisory Board to the Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) Payment Program which provides federal funds to the country's freestanding children's hospitals graduate medical education program. The other amendment would transfer $1.35 billion now allocated to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Program to implement health insurance exchanges to the National Institutes of Health. That $1.35 billion would be used to support biomedical research.