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Capitol Hill Update

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On Wednesday, July 17, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills that would delay for one year both the employer mandate and individual mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, Public Law 111–148).

H.R. 2667, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act, would delay to 2015 the implementation of the penalties and reporting requirements that require employers with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance to their full-time employees. The bill passed by a vote of 264 to 161 (with 8 not voting). Business groups in Washington largely supported this “employer mandate delay” bill, based on the view that a delay would allow employers to put more short-term focus on growing their businesses and hiring more workers, rather than navigating the health care law’s complex requirements. The delay bill was considered by the House on Wednesday on the heels of the Obama administration’s recent decision to delay enforcement of the employer mandate for one year.

H.R. 2668, the Fairness for American Families Act, would delay until 2015 the requirement that all adult Americans buy insurance. It passed the House by a vote of 251 to 174 (with 8 not voting).

During the floor debate, House Republicans said it was unfair that the administration is delaying the employer mandate for businesses until 2015, while still requiring individuals to purchase insurance by 2014. House Democrats countered that extending the effective date of the individual mandate would drive up health care premiums and undermine the foundation of the PPACA.

Upon passage, the two bills were combined and sent to the Senate as one bill. The legislation is unlikely to be taken up by the Democratically-controlled Senate. 

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