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President Obama threatens veto of bill eviscerating health reform law

President Obama threatens veto of bill eviscerating health reform law

President Barack Obama will veto budget legislation if it includes an amendment that Senate GOP lawmakers are expected to add to the measure that would gut key provisions of the health care reform law, the White House said Wednesday.

That amendment would:

• Eliminate the $2,000-per-employee penalty employers face if they do not offer coverage to at least 70% of their full-time employees in 2015 and to 95% in 2016 and succeeding years.

• Eliminate the $3,000 penalty for each employee who is eligible for a federal premium subsidy and uses it to purchase coverage in a public health insurance exchange. That penalty is triggered if the portion of the premium an employer charges for single coverage exceeds 9.5% of an employee's household income and the employee is eligible for and uses a federal premium subsidy to purchase coverage in a public exchange.

• Repealing a section of the Affordable Care Act that will, beginning in 2018, impose a 40% excise tax on the portion of group health insurance premiums that exceed $10,200 for single coverage and $27,500 for family coverage.

• Repeal provisions of the ACA that impose penalties on individuals who do not enroll in a health care plan. That penalty in 2015 is $325, or 2% of household income, whichever is greater. In 2016, the penalty will rise to $695, or 2.5% of household income, whichever is higher.

Repealing those provisions “would roll back coverage gains and would cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable coverage they deserve,” the White House said in a statement.

“More than 150 million Americans with employer-based insurance would be at risk of higher premiums and lower wages, or losing their coverage altogether,” the White House said, adding that if Congress approves the measure, President Obama “would veto the bill.”

Those amendments would be added to a budget measure — H.R. 3762, earlier passed by the House of Representatives — that the Senate is expected to vote on later this week. The House bill includes similar ACA repeal provisions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday in a statement that repealing the ACA provisions would “save billions in spending and eliminate more than a trillion-dollar tax burden on the American people.”

If the measure receives congressional approval and President Obama vetoes the bill, it would take a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate to override the veto.

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