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The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation formally authorizing the Obama administration's one-year delay of coverage and reporting requirements for employers under the health care reform law.
The House on Wednesday also passed a separate bill calling for a one-year enforcement delay of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's coverage mandate for individual insurance buyers.
House Republicans overwhelmingly supported both bills, as did a smattering of Democrats.
However, President Barack Obama promised to veto both measures even before the votes.
The Authority for Mandate Delay Act, H.R. 2667, which would codify the administration's plans to delay implementation of the employer mandate until 2015, was approved on a 264-161 vote.
The Fairness for American Families Act, H.R. 2668, which would delay the individual mandate to purchase health coverage, was approved on a 251-174 vote.
The U.S. Treasury Department earlier this month announced — via a blog post — that the administration had decided to hold off until 2015 the enforcement of provisions of the health care reform law requiring most employers to provide qualified, affordable health coverage to their employees, citing logistical issues.
Before the votes, the Obama administration said the president would veto both bills, even if approved by the Senate. The legislation on the employer mandate is “unnecessary” and the bill seeking to delay the individual coverage mandate would lead to higher insurance premiums and a greater pool of uninsured U.S. residents, the administration said in a statement.
“Enacting this legislation would undermine key elements of the health law, facilitating further efforts to repeal a law that is already helping millions of Americans stay on their parents' plans until age 26, millions more who are getting free preventive care that catches illness early on, and thousands of children with pre-existing conditions who are now covered,” the administration said in the statement.
However, after Wednesday's House votes, U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., said the Obama administration erred in the way it granted employers the one-year reprieve from the law's coverage and reporting requirements, as well as its refusal to extend the same relief to individuals.
“The White House may believe it can unilaterally delay implementation of Obamacare's employer mandate, but only Congress can change the law,” Rep. Griffin, the primary sponsor of the bill to delay the employer mandate, said in a statement. “Unlike the president, we know it's not fair to give businesses and labor unions relief from Obamacare's job-crushing provisions and leave families to deal with the disastrous consequences.”
The Obama administration has defended its decision to delay to 2015 health care reform law provisions requiring employers to report health care plan enrollment information and offer either qualified coverage to their employees or pay a stiff fine.