On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed its version of a bill which would grant those receiving insurance through the Affordable Care Act a one-year exemption from federal penalty should the health care exchange to which they are enrolled cease operations.
Sixteen Democrats broke ranks and joined House Republicans in passing legislation 258-165. The White House has vowed to veto the bill.
Under current federal law, a penalty of $695 is levied should citizens not have health insurance.
Under the House bill, enrollees who register in an Obamacare co-op which fails would be free from the obligation of paying a penalty.
The measure was assailed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which argued Congressional Republican intend to remove the “individual responsibility” clause, which requires most Americans to have a health care plan.
Asserting the bill was a “step in the wrong direction,” OMB issued a statement insisting Obamacare provided options for those who lose coverage through a grace period in which enrollees can find a new plan.
“These options are available to all consumers in these circumstances, not just those enrolled in coverage through co-ops,” the statement read. Passage of the bill would “increase insurance premiums and decrease the number of Americans with coverage.”
Contradicting the OMB’s assessment and criticism from House Democrats who asserted the bill was an attempt to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) told reporters that the executive agency was burdening the middle-class.
“It’s just wrong, it’s wrong, to hold these working families financially responsible for a co-op’s failure because it went under due to factors beyond their control,” he said.
As of the end of July, following the failure of two health care exchanges in Oregon and another in Connecticut, only one-third of the Obamacare co-ops remain in operation.
Exchanges in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and one which served enrollees in both Iowa and Nebraska have failed since the law’s implementation, leaving only eight of the original 23 functioning.
[RT News] [Photo courtesy lessgovernment.org]