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House pipes PPACA bills to Senate

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Members of the House have approved three Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act fixer bills with nearly unanimous consent.

The bills are H.R. 1814, the Equitable Access to Care and Health Act bill; H.R. 3474, the Hire More Heroes Act bill; and H.R. 3979, the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act bill.

H.R. 1814 would create a new religious exemption to the PPACA individual “shared responsibility” coverage mandate. PPACA already exempts taxpayers who belong to religions that oppose use of health insurance from the mandate. This bill would extend that exemption to others who explain their own objections on their tax returns.

H.R. 3474 would help employers avoid the PPACA employer coverage mandate by letting them exclude some veterans from “full-time equivalent” employee calculations. This bill would let an employer near that threshold keep a veteran out of the FTE count if the veteran had Tricare or other VA coverage.

H.R. 3979 would let employers exclude the hours of volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians from FTE calculations.

At press time, members of the House were considering a fourth bill, H.R. 4138, the Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law Act bill, on the floor.

The ENFORCE the Law bill would give the House and the Senate the ability to sue in court to get the president to execute federal laws.

Republicans introduced the bill in response to concerns about administration efforts to adjust some PPACA provisions – such as provisions requiring commercial individual and small-group health insurance products to offer specified benefits and meet specified underwriting standards by Jan. 1, 2014 – by postponing moves to enforce the provisions by the effective dates given in PPACA.

The Obama administration said the president would likely veto H.R. 4138 if the bill reaches his desk.

Republicans and Democrats voted entirely or almost entirely along party lines on the procedural votes leading up to the final vote on passage of H.R. 4138.

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