GOP bill would delay individual mandate until 2016

Newly introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives would delay the individual mandate until 2016, essentially postponing the individual mandate until its employer counterpart takes effect.

The bill (H.R. 4064), which was introduced by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) in response to the Obama administration's postponement of the employer mandate last week, aims to provide consumers with the same additional time mid-size businesses have before they must purchase insurance or pay a fine, The Hill's Healthwatch reported.

"If the employer mandate is delayed until 2016 then there's no good reason for the individual mandate to be in effect right now," Scalise said yesterday in a statement. "Hard-working taxpayers and their families deserve the same relief from the Obamacare train wreck that select corporations are being offered by the White House."

The Affordable Care Act is challenging people affected by it, co-sponsor Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) said in the statement. She added that the legislation "simply requires the president to fix this sad imbalance created by the failed implementation of his new healthcare law."

The problem, however, with delaying the individual mandate is that fewer young adults will sign up for insurance coverage. They're generally considered crucial for insurer success in the post-reform market, since young adults are often healthier and cost less to cover.

"One reason this approach by Congressman Scalise, if you took it seriously, is so harmful is that a key objective is to keep premiums as low as possible and that means that every effort should be made to get as many people enrolled and to include in that enrollment younger and healthier people," Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, told The Times Picayune. "Obviously what Scalise is proposing would have the opposite effect."

To learn more:
- read the bill and Scalise's statement
- check out The Hill's Healthwatch article
- see The Times-Picayune article

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