By Christine Harbin Hanson
Earlier this month, the House approved postponing the harmful health insurance mandates in the President Obama’s health care law for one year. These mandates should be repealed entirely because they will have such onerous effects on American individuals and businesses, but delaying them is a strong step in the right direction and it signals waning support for the President’s signature healthcare law.
Even though the Supreme Court upheld that the federal government has the power to require all Americans to buy health insurance and tax them if they don’t comply, the individual mandate has myriad additional problems, both in policy and in principle. The burden of this so-called tax will overwhelmingly fall on the middle-income individuals and families who continue to struggle in the down economy.
The employer mandate is similarly unworkable for American businesses. Under the President’s health care law, if an employer has more than 50 employees and fails to provide them with insurance, the employer must pay a $2,000 per employee fine to the IRS. This mandate will lead many of the nation’s employers to hire fewer workers, scale back hours, or drop their current health insurance coverage completely. Delaying the employer mandate even has the support of President Obama; in the week before the House vote, he announced in a blog post that his administration will delay enforcing this onerous provision until 2015.
The legislation passed with an easy margin. First, the House approved Congressman Tim Griffin’s bill to delay the mandate for employer with a 264-161 vote. Shortly afterward, representatives approved Congressman Todd Young’s bill to delay the mandate for individuals with a 251-174 vote.
Following the vote, President Obama claimed that House Republicans were responsible for carrying the bills, but a closer look at the roll call vote reveals that the effort was more bipartisan than he would probably care to admit. Twenty-two House Democrats voted to approve delaying the individual mandate; 35 voted to approve delaying the employer mandate. Clearly, support and opposition to the mandates doesn’t fall cleanly along partisan lines. Support for the health care law may be falling among members of the President’s own party.
The legislation sits in the Senate now. Although there are signs of increasing Democrat support for delaying the mandates, the Senate is extremely unlikely to take up the measure. That’s why it’s so important that people call up their Senators and let them know that they oppose the mandates included in the health care law. If the upper chamber of Congress fails to take up the issue and send it to President Obama for his signature, then the individual mandate will go into effect in 2014 as scheduled.
Christine Harbin Hanson is a Policy Analyst for Americans for Prosperity