Author Topic: House votes to delay Obamacare's individual mandate  (Read 217 times)

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Offline mystery-ak

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House votes to delay Obamacare's individual mandate
« on: March 05, 2014, 05:31:29 PM »

House votes to delay Obamacare's individual mandate

By David Morgan and Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON Wed Mar 5, 2014 4:14pm EST

(Reuters) - The Republican-led House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to delay for one year the tax penalty Americans will pay under President Barack Obama's healthcare law if they decline to enroll in health coverage for this year.

The measure passed by a vote of 250-160, with 27 Democrats joining with 223 Republicans to back the legislation. But the bill is expected to go nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate and would face a White House veto even if it succeeded.

The vote, part of a Republican election-year attack strategy against the 2010 healthcare law known as Obamacare, marked the 50th time House Republicans had passed legislation to try to repeal or dismantle it.

Supporters of the bill cast the new legislation as an issue of fairness, arguing that individual consumers should be granted a delay on the penalty because the Obama administration had postponed the implementation of some Obamacare provisions that apply to businesses.

Analysts say an individual mandate delay would undermine the law's aim of extending health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans by destabilizing new private insurance marketplaces established on the expectation the penalty would encourage people to enroll in coverage.

More than 4 million people have already enrolled in private insurance through the marketplaces. The open enrollment period ends on March 31.

One of Obamacare's most unpopular provisions, the individual mandate requires most Americans to be enrolled in health coverage by March 31 or pay a tax penalty that is being phased in over three years.

The penalty is set to rise from the greater of $95 per adult or 1 percent of family income for 2014 to $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of family income for 2016. The 2014 penalty is due, along with individual income tax returns, by April 15, 2015.

The House legislation would set the 2014 penalty at "zero" and start the clock for the three-year phase-in to start running again on January 1, 2015.

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Offline rangerrebew

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Re: House votes to delay Obamacare's individual mandate
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2014, 05:35:25 PM »
So what?  Tammy Fay Boehner has already abdicated the power of the House to Obama.
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. Abraham Lincoln

Offline mountaineer

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Re: House votes to delay Obamacare's individual mandate
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2014, 07:59:52 AM »
Obammy doesn't need Congress to do anything, anyway.
Obama offers 2-year extension for canceled health plans
By Associated Press
March 6, 2014 | 7:45am

WASHINGTON — Warding off the specter of election-year health insurance cancellations, the Obama administration Wednesday announced a two-year extension for individual policies that don’t meet requirements of the new health care law.

The decision helps defuse a political problem for Democrats in tough re-election battles this fall, especially for senators who in 2010 stood with President Barack Obama and voted to pass his health overhaul.

The extension was part of a major package of regulations that sets ground rules for 2015, the second year of government-subsidized health insurance markets under Obama’s law – and the first year that larger employers will face a requirement to provide coverage.

Hundreds of pages of provisions affecting insurers, employers and consumers were issued by the Treasury Department and the Department of Health and Human Services. It will likely take days for lawyers and consultants to fully assess the implications.

The cancellation last fall of at least 4.7 million individual policies was one of the most damaging issues in the transition to a new insurance system under Obama’s law. The wave of cancellations hit around the time that the new website was overwhelmed with technical problems that kept many consumers from signing up for coverage. It contradicted Obama’s promise that you can keep your insurance plan if you like it.

The latest extension would be valid for policies issued up to Oct. 1, 2016. It builds on an earlier reprieve issued by the White House.

Other highlights of the regulations include:
•An extra month for the 2015 open enrollment season. It will still start Nov. 15, as originally scheduled, after the congressional midterm elections. But it will extend for an additional month, through February 15 of next year. The administration says the schedule change gives insurers, states and federal agencies more time to prepare. This year’s open enrollment started Oct. 1 and ends Mar. 31.
•New maximum out-of-pocket cost levels for 2015. Annual deductibles and copayments for plans sold on the insurance exchanges can’t exceed $6,600 for individuals or $13,200 for families. While not as high as what some insurance plans charged before the law, cost sharing remains a stretch for many.
•An update on an unpopular per-member fee paid by most major employer health plans. The assessment for 2015 will be $44 per enrollee, according to the regulations. Revenues from the fee go to help insurers cushion the cost of covering people with serious medical problems. Under the law, insurance companies can no longer turn the sick away. The per-person fee has been criticized by major employers. It is $63 per enrollee this year, and is scheduled to phase out after 2016. Some plans, including multi-employer arrangements administered by labor unions, will be exempt from fees in 2015 and 2016.
•Treasury rules for employers and insurers to report information that’s crucial for enforcing the law’s requirements that individuals carry health insurance, and that medium-to-large employers offer coverage. Although officials said the reporting requirements have been streamlined, businesses see them as some of the most complicated regulations to result from the health care law. The Internal Revenue Service will collect the information, because it is in charge of dispensing tax credits for individuals and small businesses to buy coverage as well as levying fines on those who fail to comply. The individual mandate is already in effect; the employer requirement begins to phase in next year.
•Notice of a potential delay, optional for states, in a promised feature of new health insurance markets for small businesses. The feature would allow individual employees – not the business owner – to pick their coverage from a list of plans. The health insurance exchanges for small businesses have been troubled by technical issues this year. Small Business Majority, a group that supports the health care law, said it’s disappointed. The administration says no final decision has been made.

It’s not clear how many people will actually be affected by the most closely watched provision of the new regulations, the two-year extension on policies that were previously subject to cancellation. The administration cites a congressional estimate of 1.5 million people, counting those in individual plans and small business policies.

About half the states have allowed insurance companies to extend canceled policies for a year under the original White House reprieve. The policies usually provided less financial protection and narrower benefits than the coverage required under the law. Nonetheless, the skimpier insurance was acceptable to many consumers because it generally cost less.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which represents state regulators, was skeptical of the change.

“Creating two tiers of plans – the compliant and non-compliant – could result in higher premiums overall and market disruptions in 2015 and beyond,” said NAIC president Adam Hamm, who is North Dakota’s insurance commissioner. Although Hamm is a Republican, the NAIC is nonpartisan.

Separately, the House on Wednesday voted to delay for one year the penalty faced by individuals under the law if they fail to sign up for health insurance. It was the 50th time Republicans have forced a vote to repeal, gut or change Obama’s health overhaul.
“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but rather he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” Samuel Adams, April 16, 1781.

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