House passes two bills to delay key Obamacare requirements
July 17th, 2013
07:48 PM ET
1 year ago

House passes two bills to delay key Obamacare requirements

Washington (CNN) - The House of Representatives passed two bills Wednesday postponing two key provisions of Obamacare, marking nearly 40 times that the Republican-controlled House has attempted to repeal or roll back parts of the president's signature first term accomplishment.

One measure, which passed 264-161, delayed for one year the requirement that employers provide health insurance, something the Obama administration already announced it was doing earlier this month. Thirty-five Democrats joined Republicans on the vote.

The other bill, approved 251-174, also postponed for one year the mandate that individuals sign up for health care coverage. That legislation was backed by 22 Democrats. One Republican, Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Virginia, opposed both bills.

Republicans argued it was unfair for the White House to give businesses a reprieve, but still require individuals to comply with the mandate or face a penalty.

“Why is it that working Americans have to suffer the financial burdens of an overreaching government-run health care system while the same consequences for big business are delayed a year?” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor asked on the House floor.

As it has on most other House Republican measures to change or repeal the health care law, the Obama administration threatened to veto both bills, but they are unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate

House Republicans know neither bill has any chance of actually becoming law. Wednesday’s votes were more about ramping up political pressure on congressional Democrats for the midterm elections. Obamacare continues to split the public, and GOP leaders believe a string of stories about delays and other potential problems enacting the law will create a public backlash.

The GOP campaign committees have made a top priority of putting Democrats in competitive districts - specifically those elected in 2012 - on the defensive on health care. And in fact the list of those who supported the GOP bills mirrored a list of Democrats whom Republicans believe they can defeat in 2014.

Illinois freshman Rep. Cheri Bustos is one of the House GOP's targets. She voted with Republicans on both bills to postpone the mandates and told CNN she has been hearing concerns from small businesses all over her district about dealing with Obamcare's requirements.

"If we're going to say that for small businesses then how do you separate out that it should be different for individuals, it's a consistency thing." Bustos said, echoing an argument that House Republicans made throughout the debate on the House floor.

The Illinois Democrat, who worked for a health care system before coming to Congress, said she supports Obamacare but was open to making changes to improve the law. She also emphasized the need to educate the public about the benefits.

"I think in the end if we fix some of the flaws and if we roll this out in a way that people can understand how it will help, then I think we'll be OK - over time, but I think it will be one of those over time kind of changes. This is a huge change."

But most Democrats argued Wednesday that the House vote delaying the employer mandate was a waste of time since the president already said he'd postpone that provision.

"Here we go again. Another repeal vote. Another political sideshow. And another blow to bipartisanship which is so vital to addressing a whole host of important issues including an issue important to our committee: tax reform,” Michigan Democratic Rep. Sander Levin said. “Instead of moving forward, once again my Republican colleagues are looking backwards."

House Speaker John Boehner argued that it was Congress' job to approve any change to Obamacare, citing the Constitution gives Congress the authority to draft the laws. "The idea that the president can merely go out there and make a decision about what he's going to enforce and what he isn't going to enforce is fundamentally wrong," he said.

Most Democrats did support the administration's decision to give businesses more time to implement the law, but they insisted that delaying the mandate for individuals – a centerpiece of the law – would put at risk health care coverage for millions.

Debate on the House floor showed the massive partisan gulf between the two parties on how the controversial health care law is working now.

"Delaying the employer mandate shows the train is in fact not coming off the rails, it's already off the rails,” Texas Republican Rep. Michael Burgess said.

California Democrat Jim McDermott cited new reports about health care costs dropping in many states and pointed to a report out Wednesday that premiums in New York state are being cut in half.

"There is no evidence of the sticker shock you will hear about. The promises we made Americans are being fulfilled and Republicans see a giant election map slowly losing red dots," McDermott said.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney brushed off the votes on Capitol Hill, saying they proved that Republicans were determined to do everything they could to undermine the law rather than ensure Americans received health care.

"There are few things more cynical than House Republicans who have made it their mission in life to repeal the Affordable Care Act and deny the American people the benefits that they would receive from implementation of the Affordable Care Act, claiming that they are concerned about the delay of the implementation of a relatively small provision within the Affordable Care Act," Carney said.


Filed under: House
soundoff (212 Responses)
  1. Gordyb102

    More of the same from the least productive House of Representatives ever. They pass un passable legislation and twiddle their thumbs the rest of the time. Fire they all in 2014.

    July 18, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  2. First One

    These people should quit fooling around and actually do their job. It is disgusting how much they get paid to sit around and goof off like this.

    July 18, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. bcrunner

    Make better!! Don't gut it!! It's already bringing costs down....

    July 18, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. sly

    Ain't nothing dumber than a Republican. The Party of Stupid.

    Bunch of losers.

    Can anyone name ONE thing the GOP has accomplished in the past 15 years, besides getting 500,000 people murdered for the love of oil?

    Didn't think so.

    July 18, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. skione13

    So they know none of this legislation ever has a chance to become law. So they literally are wasting tax payer dollars on fruitless endeavors.

    July 18, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. Just Me

    Why do people believe that Obamacare was going after health insurance to regulate costs??? Obamacare goes after those who are not insurance (often the low income households) and FORCES them to buy it or pay a penalty to the IRS... this bill in no way shape or form assisted ANYONE with their insurance premiums to go down. I have yet to hear of anyone who has reduced their costs due to this bill.... please do some research before you assume that 'AFFORDABLE CARE ACT' really meant that the democrats cared about creating AFFORDABLE INSURANCE.... not true at all...

    July 18, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. TKO

    So everyone wants the current coverage to remain in place, but no-one wants to go ahead with the requirement that everyone be covered? Does anyone see not only the economic, but the ethical and moral issue here–you can't have it both ways. Continue the current coverage and require everyone to comply.

    OR go to single payer. Even better.

    July 18, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. Jerry Okamura

    When are the people better off paying for their own needs and wants, and when are the people better off depending on someone else to pay for their needs and wants?

    July 18, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. rosie

    Meanwhile there Americans that want insurance that cannot afford it because it it too expensive. If Congress could get their act together and lower the cost then that would be a great thing. But alas they are too stupid to do ANYTHING but whine.

    July 18, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. Makikijoe

    How is it that many of the states with the highest number of medically uninsured residents in the U.S. are represented by Republicans who do NOT support the new health care law, extending health care coverage to millions of their fellow Americans ? Texas and Kentucky are two states with very high rates of people without health insurance. Yet the Texas and Kentucky senators (Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz) are all vigorously opposed the new health care law. Instead, they or other Republicans offered weak, inadequate alternative solutions to the problem. Such as, letting people buy insurance policies across state lines, enacting tort reform and allowing people to set up tax free “Medical Savings Accounts“. Doing all of those things will not achieve covering the majority of the people who are currently without health insurance. Are Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz as concerned about the hundreds of thousands of uninsured people in their states as they are about the government getting “too big” ?

    If I had a seriously ill son or daughter I wouldn’t care how big government was …… as long as my kids had health care. One wonders how Mr. Paul can look any poor person in Kentucky, a person without health insurance, in the eye and not feel some shame. The GOP alternative proposals to Obamacare, if enacted, may have lowered costs by a small amount. But their proposals would not have covered all, or even most, of the uninsured. Britain and Canada manage to cover ALL of their citizens and they do so while using a smaller percentage of their GDP for health care. Perhaps it’s because their single payer system is more efficient. Perhaps it’s because their centralized systems have much lower administrative costs. Perhaps it’s because there is little incentive to fraud, since most doctors in those countries are paid salaries that are set. They do not get paid by the amount of procedures or by the amount of tests that they do.

    It’s strange that people in states like Texas and Kentucky, both with very high percentages of uninsured residents, are not out in the streets of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Louisville and Paducah protesting. Why are they not outraged that there are so many people in their states who have a basic need like health care that is not being met ? Why aren’t they dumping from office uncaring their Republicans senators and House members. Maybe it’s because Fox News and conservative talk radio shows have poor people focused on demonizing the President.

    July 18, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. bear

    Interesting situation. The young people mostly support Obamacare and Obama. They will be the ones footing the bill under the mandate. The necessity of the mandate is to get healthy young people who do not use much healthcare to buy insurance at a much higher price so that the price can be lower for older unhealthy people and those with pre-existing conditions. Since I am 61 and retired, I really appreciate all these young people being willing to pay much more money so I and my peers can enjoy playing golf and traveling while paying lower health insurance rates.

    July 18, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  12. david

    well here we go again! this will be the 40th time for this and will add to the $50 million the house has spent on repealing health care. do these over paid and under worked morons in the house really think this is a good use of tax payer money and time to keep doing things that have a snowballs chance of passing the presidents desk or the senate? the tea party is so sure that they represent the people than why don't they grow some of their own and start their own party instead of tearing up the GOP that used to work for the people before party!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 18, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  13. Chuck

    Congress gets free health care for life and they don't want to do anything to help average Americans with healthcare. They take money from big pharmaceuticals to keep prescriptions costs high in the US. Canadians pay far less for the same prescriptions so Congress makes it illegal for Americans to get prescriptions filled in Canada. They only care about themselves and staying in office. Neither the Republicans or the Democrats give a damn about average Americans. Obama-care may not be perfect, but it's a start. Don't let the GOP gut it.

    July 18, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. gary

    Superstorm of Stupid. Repeal and replace with ?????

    July 18, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Be careful what you ask for. Make sure the individual mandate delay includes a delay of the subsidies.

    July 18, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. rc

    So what if "King" Obama said he'll repeal a certain provision? He's charged with carrying out law, not making it. That is Congress's job, so it's just due diligence to put it on the books to push back the requirement for businesses by a year. As for individuals, it makes perfect sense to give individuals the same reasonable amount of time. I and many other people hope that these delays are implemented. I and many other people don't want Obamacare in any form. In fact, businesses are planning to start employing people for no more than 30 hours a week, so that they won't have to pay health insurance benefits for full-time workers, because it is so costly to them.

    This entire time, the problem has not been that not everyone has health care. No one had health care before World War 2. No, the problem is that health care itself is too freaking expensive, that because insurance exists and prices are in a black box, doctors charge ridiculous numbers because they are allowed to. When you look at someone that doesn't have any health insurance but doesn't need it and wouldn't use it most of the time anyway, and then you look at going to the hospital and being charged $10 for a single aspirin pill, $150 for a blanket, $1400 for a 3 hour room visit...which is more messed up?

    July 18, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. aed939

    Health insurance reforms: One simple rule: Insurance providers may offer plans according to plan terms and features, but not according to customer characteristics. That means, they can offer plans that customers prefer, that may or may not include contraception, no-copay preventative care, etc. But there will be greater competition to drive premia down because insurance providers will not be able to price discriminate by state.

    July 18, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  18. Mike

    Keep in mind that costs are going to go down on the backs of someone else. There is no free ride and companies are NOT going to cut intio their profits to be cahritable. So, for all the bleeding heart do gooders that find this BarryCare such a great thing....wait til you get the bill. Someone will just be paying more in order for the "downtrodden and disadvantaged" to get their free or cheap health care. Its just hilarious that people actually think when something is free that its truly free or reduced cost. The cost is reduced because someone else is eating the cost or subsidizing it.

    July 18, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. wiseup:

    do away with these congressmens health care as it is now and let them figure out how they are going to cover their health care for them and there families. sentors like cruz and paul and other tea party representatives preach on the need to decrease federal spending but over 40 times had wasted tax payers money voting to repeal Obama care knowing full well it would go no where. Republicans had a chance to contribute ideas to plan. The Repblicans led by Boehner could contribute was lets start over. so repubs stop whining.

    July 18, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. John

    So instead of working to make the ACA even better for the American people the GOP is trying to get rid of it. And replace it with ? oh that's right nothing, because they care for our health so much right? If anything should be more apparent, this continuing hatred of the ACA by the GOP is a dead giveaway that the bought and payed for GOP is not to be trusted to do anything for the American people but only for their money men. They have directly affected the economic recovery by their blocking any bills that would help create jobs. Mitch has fillibustered over 390 times in the last few years and brags about it. Such careing he shows us. Our bridges,roads,and dams are falling apart, but the GOP says no money for that as we have to watch our spending. Do they know that they are affecting our safety and economy by not working to fix these problems? Yep, they do. And don't care. They don't want to help us because they feel that that would help Obama. And no way are they going to do that. So they will hurt all of us to spite Obama. Nice move exlax. I feel that any person in Washington and anywhere else who is opposed to rebuilding our infrastructure just because it would make Obama look good is nothing more then a traitor and should be treated as such.

    July 18, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. Lynn

    Here in NYS they released the cost of the plans through the approved providers for the ACA. The cheapest one is is $277 per month (bronze plan-single) and is offered by a company called Freelancers. ??? Have no idea who the heck they are. The moderate plan silver averages around $425 (Freelancers) to $650 a month for single coverage. We have to multiply that by 2.85% for family coverage. $1200 a month for family plan is NOT affordable by any means....not at all.

    July 18, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  22. b0bc@t

    The idea that the president can change tax policy, healthcare and immigration policy through directives, rather than through legislation in Congress is an insult to every American and every civics class taught in the country. His efforts should be in shaping up the houses of Congress, through consultation and compromise, rather than declaring "this bill is dead if it reaches my desk." Even SchoolHouse Rock had this in cartoon form. Maybe it should be played in the White House for the Obama girls, so we can see if this attitude of 'my way or the highway' might skip a generation and let them convince him over a tropical vacation somewhere. There seems to be nobody listening to the public today.

    If the NY rates will drop by 50% under ObamaCare, doesn't that indicate that the premiums were inflated by that much or more, before this legislation was put in place to enrich the insurance companies even further, mandating that people pay these thieves to further their obscene abuse of the public, with the government's blessing? Why should the businesses that are qualified get a pass, while the people get to pay right away? Aren't corporations people too? If unincorporated, the burden falls on an individual as the business owner, who gets a break, but the worker HAS to pay now? Are we designing a caste system in America with owners exempt and workers on the hook? Please explain it like I was a two tear old, so it makes sense to my feeble mind. I want to think like a Democrat, but my lobotomy isn't covered. It must be a part of those thousands of pages of legalese they dropped in our laps to "fix things" for the common man, like me.

    July 18, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  23. LDH2O

    “Why is it that working Americans have to suffer the financial burdens of an overreaching government-run health care system while the same consequences for big business are delayed a year?” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor asked on the House floor.

    He KNOWS the answer – Because technical procedures are not yet in place for businesses but they are n place for people (the exchanges are coming up). If there are problems with the people mechanisms as there are for the business mechanisms then I expect that they would be delayed also.

    July 18, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. annieL

    The President spoke at around 11 a.m. today on the positive benefits of the ACA, backed by citizens who have received rebate checks from insurance companies (not from the government) because of Obamacare requirements that the companies spend at least 80% of premium dollars on actual healthcare. I saw it on C-Span after the fact because the online "news of the day" was, once again, the Trayvon Martin case instead of information we need to know about our new healthcare choices. It is now after 2:00 p.m. EDT and CNN hasn't even posted a blurb about what the President said. We will have to dig for our own facts about Obamacare to find out if we can buy our insurance on the exchanges and qualify for a premium discount, qualify for expanded Medicaid in our states, and much other "need to know" information. Obviously, the so-called "news" media, just like Republicans in Congress, don't feel any responsibility to inform us honestly and clearly about something as important as our healthcare.

    July 18, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. annieL

    Lynn in New York, if the insurance premiums on the exchange are not affordable for you based on your income, you will qualify for subsidies that lower the premiums you actually pay. Nobody ever said healthcare or the insurance that pays the bills will ever be "cheap." The cost of everything we have to buy has gone up over the years. A car is not cheap. A home is not cheap. Food is more expensive. Gasoline and home utilities. Everything. I hope you are one of the many who will qualify for premium subsidies that make your insurance affordable for you. But you will have to do your own research because our news media are not doing their job to inform us.

    July 18, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
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