House votes to delay health law mandates


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Republican-led House has voted again to curtail President Barack Obama’s health care law, saying the administration’s decision to delay a key provision showed the plan was unworkable.

Two months after voting to repeal the president’s signature legislative achievement, the House passed a pair of bills Wednesday aimed at the law’s mandate that all Americans have health insurance.

The first would codify the administration’s move to postpone enforcement of penalties on large employers that don’t offer coverage; the second would extend that same delay to individuals. The two bills stand no chance of being approved by the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.

“If the president believes that the employer mandate is too much for the employer community, how about basic fairness for American families and individuals?” House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

Republicans have questioned the administration’s authority to take the “unilateral” step, announced July 2, to delay the employer mandate by a year so it does not take effect until 2015.

Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., the author of one of the bills, said it would “make what the president did legal.” “I think this is one where Democrats and Republicans can come together, agree with the president that it’s a burden and postpone this,” he said.

Both votes, though, were almost entirely along party lines. Just four Democrats voted for delaying the employer mandate, and all but one opposed delaying the individual mandate.

It marked the 38th attempt by congressional Republicans to repeal part or all of the law, according to Democrats who keep a tally.

“I’ve lost count; I think they have, too,” jabbed White House press secretary Jay Carney.

Obama plans to tout the health care law on Thursday, highlighting a provision the White House says saved consumers $3.9 billion in 2012. The 2010 law requires insurers to provide rebates to customers if the companies don’t spend at least 80 percent of the premiums on medical care.

“They go about the business again of trying to overturn a law that’s providing enormous benefits and, as we’ve seen again, will provide even more benefits to the American people, Carney said. “We’re going about the business of implementing the law that provides those benefits.”