Individual mandate delay bill nears vote

(AP photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (AP photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

House members have another chance to derail the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act individual mandate.

House leaders want to bring H.R. 4118, the “Suspending the Individual Mandate Penalty Law Equals Fairness Act” bill, to the floor sometime this week.

The House Rules Committee plans to set bill floor debate guidelines at a meeting Wednesday. 

PPACA now calls for many taxpayers who fail to have minimum essential coverage in 2014, or qualify for an exemption, to pay a penalty of 1 percent of taxable income for the 2014 tax year.

Affected taxpayers would have to pay the penalties when they file their 2014 taxes.

H.R. 4118 would set the penalty for 2014 at zero. 

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., the lawmaker who introduced the SIMPLE Fairness Act bill, said in a statement that the Obama administration has already delayed the effective date of the PPACA employer mandate one year.

“It is not fair to give relief to businesses with big checkbooks, yet not help hard working families with relief from these unaffordable mandates,” Jenkins said in a statement.

Carriers, and others, have argued the individual mandate penalties are too low, and that setting up an affordable, guaranteed-issue, community-rated health insurance system requires the use of mandates to keep low-risk people in the risk pool.

Letting low-risk people go without health coverage also increases the risk that they’ll become a burden to providers, carriers and the feds when they do need care, supporters argue.

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