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House passes individual mandate delay bill

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Republicans got some help from Democrats Wednesday in passing H.R. 4118, a bill that would postpone implementation of the new federal health insurance mandate tax penalty until 2015.

Members of the House voted 250-160 to send the “Suspending the Individual Mandate Penalty Law Equals Fairness Act” bill to the Senate.

All but one of the 224 Republicans who voted supported the bill.

Republicans in the House often have trouble getting many Democrats to vote for the bills they introduce, just as Democrats in the Senate now have a hard time attracting many Republican votes for the bills they bring to the floor there.

When the House voted on H.R. 4118, 27 of the 186 Democrats who voted backed the bill.

The list of Democrats who voted for H.R. 4118 included Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif. Garamendi is a former California insurance commissioner.

The individual “shared responsibility” provision in PPACA now calls for many taxpayers to have a minimum level of health coverage — “minimum essential coverage” — or else pay a penalty equal to 1 percent of their income.

Individual mandate opponents say the Obama administration has already postponed the effective date for the PPACA group coverage mandate to 2015 for large employers and to 2016 for small employers. Many argue that requiring consumers to buy a commercial product is, or should be, unconstitutional.

Supporters say that the mandate is needed to compensate for the effects of requiring health insurers to sell coverage on a guaranteed-issue, mostly community-rated basis, and that letting people who think they are healthy go uninsured increases the likelihood that they will depend on the rest of society to pay their bills if they do need medical care.

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