House passes Obamacare mandate exemption bill, White House issues veto threat

The White House threatened to veto a bill that passed the House Tuesday designed to protect individuals from being fined for not having insurance due to the collapse of their Obamacare co-op.

Democrats slammed the CO-OP Consumer Protection Act of 2016  — spearheaded by Nebraska Republican Rep. Adrian Smith — alleging it is another tool for Republicans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“This is unnecessary given consumer protections already available,” the administration said in a statement. “Moreover, it would create a bad precedent for using exemptions from the individual-responsibility provision to address unrelated concerns about the Affordable Care Act.”

Republicans noted the collapsing co-ops are not the only issue with the president’s landmark health-care legislation.

“The news about the Affordable Care Act gets worse every day,” House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said in a statement. “Premiums are going through the roof, choice and access are falling through the floor, and insurers are fleeing exchanges throughout the country. On top of this, all but six of the 23 CO-OPs created under the law have failed.”

Families face a maximum of a $2,085 penalty, with individuals being hit with a $695 per adult fine and an additional $347.50 fine for each dependent over the age of 18, or 2.5 percent of their income if they choose not to purchase insurance. Opponents of the ACA argue Americans shouldn’t be penalized for its failures.

“So these people are left without insurance through no fault of their own—insurance they were forced to buy—and what is the response? What does Obamacare say? Tax them. Tax them for not having insurance,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on the floor. “Now, I don’t know about you Mr. Speaker, but isn’t that a little crazy? How can you punish people for not having insurance when the CO-OP they bought their insurance from goes under?”

But the White House is adamant the mandate is necessary for ACA to work.

“The individual-responsibility provision is a necessary part of a system that prohibits discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions and requires guaranteed issuance,” the White House said. “The provision helps prevent people from waiting until they get sick to buy health insurance or dropping health insurance when they believe they do not need it. Weakening the individual responsibility provision would increase health insurance premiums and decrease the number of Americans with coverage.”

H/T: BizPac Review

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