House Passes Budget Legislation Repealing Employer Mandate
October 27, 2015 09:19 AM
On Friday, October 23, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation by a vote of 240-189 that would repeal the employer mandate, along with several other provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The other provisions include: the individual mandate, the “Cadillac tax” on high-cost insurance plans, and the medical device excise tax. The legislation (H.R. 3762) addresses the changes using a procedure known as budget reconciliation, which allows Congress to pass budget-related legislation with only 50, rather than the normal 60, votes in the Senate (for more information about reconciliation, see previous NAHC Report article here).
While an earlier version of the legislation contained language repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), that language repealing IPAB was since removed from the bill for procedural reasons. However, the House has already passed separate legislation repealing IPAB, which has yet to be passed by the Senate (see previous NAHC Report article here). The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) supports the legislation repealing IPAB.
President Barack Obama is almost certain to veto the legislation in the event that it is passed by the Senate. However, some Congressional Republicans have stated their belief that, even if the bill does not become law, sending it to the President’s desk for the first time would be a victory on its own, and could pave the way for future changes.
“With this bill, we can finally confront the president with the reality confronting working families every day: higher costs and lower quality,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is widely viewed as the frontrunner to become the next Speaker of the House following Speaker John Boehner’s resignation. “We can put on the president's desk a bill that will dismantle Obamacare and lay the foundation for a patient-centered system. This bill would give patients more control over their health care, and now I urge the Senate to approve it.”Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, said that sending the bill to the President’s desk will demonstrate that “Congress is doing its job.” He also said that, while budget reconciliation is not a “silver bullet” or “a cure-all,” it is “a gridlock busting process.”
However, despite the lower vote threshold required, Senate passage of the reconciliation bill is not yet assured. A group of Senate Republicans recently expressed their opposition to the bill based on the fact that is does not repeal enough of the ACA. “If this bill cannot be amended so that it fully repeals Obamacare pursuant to Senate rules, we cannot support this bill,” said Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). In addition, some moderate Republicans might oppose the measure because of its inclusion of language defunding Planned Parenthood. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has not yet stated when the Senate will consider the legislation, but he has stated the Senate could possibly amend the legislation.
NAHC supports a legislative repeal of the employer mandate. In its 2015 Legislative Blueprint, NAHC stated: “Home care employers do not have the ability to control service pricing like most other employers that are affected by the employer responsibility provisions in the health care reform legislation. It is counter to the philosophy of health care reform that consumers of private pay home care services would need to pay higher rates for care.” Stay tuned to NAHC Report for further updates on this legislation.