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House backs one-year delay of health care reform law individual mandate


The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a measure Wednesday that would delay the health care reform law individual mandate by one year, putting off until 2015 the requirement that individuals enroll in a health plan or pay a fine.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, individuals who do not have health insurance are subject to penalty of $95 or 1% of income, whichever is greater, starting this year.

The penalty is to increase substantially in succeeding years.

However, in a 250-160 vote Wednesday, the House approved delaying the individual mandate until 2015.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., sponsor of H.R. 4118, said the delay for individuals is only fair since the Obama administration recently delayed the employer mandate by one year for smaller employers and eased — also for one year — mandate requirements for larger employers.

“The legislation is about fairness, as it would authorize the same delay for individual Americans that the president is giving businesses,” she said in a statement.


In the Senate, where Democrats are in the majority, the bill would face an uphill battle to win passage. But the White House said even if the bill passes Congress, President Obama would veto it.

Delaying the mandate would result in “increased cost shifting of uncompensated care to health care providers, workers and businesses,” the White House said in a statement.

Earlier, the Treasury Department delayed and eased the health care reform law requirement that employers offer coverage to 95% of their full-time employees or pay a $2,000 per full-time employee penalty.

The Treasury Department delayed that requirement by one year to 2016 for employers with 50-99 employees.

For employers with at least 100 employees, under the Treasury Department rules they are exempt from the penalty in 2015 as long as they offer coverage to at least 70% of their full-time employees, with the 95% coverage requirement not starting until 2016.