Republicans in the House and Senate are rallying around new legislation that could further delay one of the most contentious provisions of President Obama’s health care law.
The Obamacare mandate requiring medium- and large-sized companies to provide health coverage to workers or pay a penalty has already been delayed twice so far. The Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that a one-year delay would cost the federal government about $10 billion in lost revenue.
Still, GOP lawmakers are eyeing a way to push it back at least another year.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, along with Reps. Stephen Fincher and Dianne Black – all Tennessee Republicans – have introduced legislation called The Certify It Act that would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Government Accountability Office to conduct annual studies examining the mandate’s impact on small businesses and job creation, The Hill reported Thursday. The bill says that if the studies conclude there are negative affects stemming from the mandate, its implementation would be delayed by a year.
“Republicans want to repair the damage Obamacare has done and prevent future damage,” Alexander said in a statement. “This bill says, ‘Let the facts speak for themselves – if premiums are going up and jobs are being cut, then delay the mandate.’ ”
The purpose of the employer mandate is to stabilize workplace-sponsored health coverage. Roughly 44 percent of Americans currently receive coverage through their employers, a recent Gallup poll found. Other studies show that more than 170 million employees, retirees and dependents are insured through employers.
For now, the provision is scheduled to take effect in 2015 for large companies and in 2016 for firms with 50 to 99 workers – though some analysts have questioned whether the mandate will ever take effect at all. Earlier this year, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he expects it to be repealed. He even suggested that scrapping the employer mandate would “improve the law.”
Gibbs isn’t alone. Liberal blogger Ezra Klein called the policy “one of the worst ideas in recent memory” as far back as 2009 in The Washington Post.
If the provision is scrapped altogether, the Rand Corporation estimates it would cost upwards of $149 billion in lost federal revenue over the next decade.
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