- The Washington Times - Friday, February 28, 2014

A Republican congresswoman introduced a bill Friday that would effectively delay the most controversial part of Obamacare for one year.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, Kansas Republican, said the Simple Fairness Act would make it clear that anyone who failed to acquire health insurance this year would not have to pay a cent for failing to meet the “individual mandate,” a part of the Affordable Care Act that requires almost all Americans to hold coverage.

Ms. Jenkins cited the Obama administration’s decision to delay another mandate — twice — that requires large employers to provide health coverage to full-time workers or pay fines.

“It is not fair to give relief to businesses with big checkbooks, yet not help hard working families with relief from these unaffordable mandates,” she said.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, signaled the chamber would vote on the measure next week.

Authors of the health care law included the mandate to make sure enough healthy people entered each state’s insurance risk pool, keeping premiums in check, and so that Americans would be responsible for covering their own health costs if they can afford it.

The individual mandate was the most contentious part of President Obama’s health overhaul until the Supreme Court in 2012 upheld the mandate under Congress’ power to tax.

Persons who fail to sign up for health coverage by March 31, the end of Obamacare’s open-enrollment period for the year, will be subject to a penalty.

Under the law, a single adult who flouts the rule in 2014 must pay $95 or 1 percent of adjusted gross income, whichever is higher. The baseline penalty climbs in 2015 to $325 or 2 percent of adjusted income. In 2016, it will be $695 or 2.5 percent.

The penalties are among a series of taxes and fees designed to pay for the reforms, including government-subsidized plans on the health care exchanges and the state-by-state expansion of Medicaid, which is now optional.