House Republicans said Tuesday that President Obama sided with big business over average Americans when he gave large employers a one-year exemption to compliance with his health care overhaul, and staffers said the GOP is planning a series of votes that would force Democrats to align themselves with the embattled law.
In a letter to Mr. Obama, Speaker John A. Boehner and his lieutenants said the White House's sudden decision to put off the Affordable Care Act's "employer mandate" until after the mid-term elections is "only the latest unilateral delay or change to the law taken by your administration."
The administration announced the delay in a pair of blog posts July 2, catching many people off guard and prompting a flurry of attacks from Republicans, who say the delay has exposed flaws in the overall law.
The mandate requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer adequate health insurance or face hefty fines.
Supporters of the law say the delay will have little real-world impact — many large employers already offer coverage — but even the law's backers acknowledge that the delay will cut revenue that had been expected from companies that would have paid penalties for flouting the law.
Mr. Obama has not proposed a delay to the requirement that all Americans acquire health insurance, known as the "individual mandate."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said it isn't right for only one group to have "their Obamacare sentences delayed."
"Maybe next week it will be some other group," Mr. McConnell said, accusing Mr. Obama of picking and choosing how the reforms are implemented. "But it's his call. He'll decide what the law is."
In a closed-door meeting with his House GOP colleagues, Mr. Boehner vowed to redouble efforts to dismantle the law. The House has attempted to repeal all or part of the law more than 30 times, but their efforts have died in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
House staffers in the meeting said Mr. Boehner talked about holding a series of votes to force Democrats to take positions on some of the thorniest questions. The first vote would ask House members whether they support or oppose the delay to the employer mandate, while a second vote would delay the individual mandate for a year, to match Mr. Obama's delay of the employer mandate.
Sen. Jerry Moran, Kansas Republican, said he will propose an amendment to a health spending bill on Thursday that would delay the enforcement of the individual mandate. Other Republican senators called on Congress to defund the law and start over on health care reform.
The White House has said the delay will affect only 4 percent of employers with more than 50 workers.
Spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that the administration is trying to be flexible in how the sweeping law is implemented because of the business community's concerns about the mandate's complex reporting requirements.
Mr. Boehner and GOP leaders on Tuesday asked Mr. Obama to outline any changes in the number of employers that will offer health coverage, and how the delay could affect federal revenues and Medicaid enrollment next year.
The letters ask for answers by Oct. 1 — the date when insurance markets tied to the health care law are set to begin open enrollment.
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