Republican Attempt To Repeal Individual Mandate

The United States House of Representatives voted 187 to 230 to defeat a Republican proposal to repeal the individual health insurance mandate in the new health reform law, the PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT OF 2010 (PPACA). Twenty-one Democrats joined 166 House Republicans in voting against the requirement that most Americans purchase health care coverage beginning in 2014.

Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) – the senior ranking Republican on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee – offered the proposal as a procedural motion to an unrelated bill. Despite the proposal’s failure, some Republican members believe they scored political points by forcing a vote on the new health reform law. However, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin (D-MI) stated that the vote displayed increased support among House Democrats for the health reform law, because only 21 Democrats voted in support of the Republican proposal, whereas 34 Democrats voted against the health care reform bill in March.

The Senate passed legislation on June 18 that would avert a 21.3 percent reduction in Medicare physician payment rates that became effective June 1. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to the floor and passed a six-month delay in reimbursement cuts by unanimous consent, after extracting it from a larger tax and benefits package, H.R. 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010. The $6.5 billion bill was offset with spending reductions that appeased both Republicans and Democrats.

The House, which is not scheduled to return until the evening of June 22, still must pass the “doc fix” legislation. Earlier this week, a procedural vote to end debate on the legislation failed 52 to 45 (60 votes were necessary for passage). Eleven Democrats broke with their party leaders to vote no. Many Republicans and moderate Democrats believed that the more than $50 billion net cost of the bill should be offset by spending cuts and/or federal revenue increases. The fate of the full tax-extenders legislation, H.R. 4213, remains up in the air.

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